By MELLO AYO
Next month, a vision held by Brother Adisa S. Oji, Chief of MACPRI, Founder of Oware Canada, will finally come to fruition at Knowledge Bookstore, located at 177 Queen Street West, Brampton.
It will be the first Business and Community Capacity Building Market Place held to support the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) of Peel and similar organizations in the GTA.
Please be sure to attend this historic beginning, which will be held on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7.
Bring family, friends, co-workers, group members or guests. It is likely that you will not see this on primetime news or read about it in primetime newspapers. The reason why you will not see or hear this mentioned in mainstream media is because this event does not match a strong prevailing bias.
There is a common narrative manufactured for people of African ancestry which has become popular in the mindset of the western media and its purveyors of cultural thought. It is a narrative of backwardness, persistent impoverishment, violence, mayhem and destitution. This viewpoint is displayed, for example, in late night infomercials and in the glossy brochures of well-meaning aid organizations displaying the wanton and emaciated faces of dark, desperate looking, but otherwise beautiful African children begging for charitable support.
One can be forgiven for believing this is the whole truth about people of African ancestry and while these conditions cannot be denied, we must be mindful that this is a subtext, not the full context. For amid injustice, brutality and marginalization, exploitation and war, there is an even greater story of profound humanity and achievement by African people moving with great dignity in the face of extreme odds and adversity.
Where would we be had it not been for the massive contributions made by Africans in the fields of art, architecture, astronomy, economics, literature, philosophy, political science, mathematics, medicine and more?
How easily we are made to forget these great accomplishments and turn attention instead to the vulgar and distorted representation of the African diaspora in western media. How quickly we are to forget the foundation built by the ancestors and descendants of African people. How casually we dismiss and overlook the growing self-empowerment of those who choose self-liberation and Ujamaa over victimhood and selfish individualism.
The accomplishments of people of African ancestry lie not only in antiquity and modern history but are also emerging today. In Toronto and throughout the GTA, there is a groundswell of a new and exciting crop of scholars, poets, writers, thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators who are following in the footsteps of those who went before, pioneering new paths while contributing to the greater good. For example, groups such as the Harriet Tubman Organization, the African Canadian Heritage Association, Success Beyond Limits, Tabono Institute and the Black Community Advisory Council in Peel Region, to name a few, are creative community builders each playing their respective part in nurturing and showcasing African artistry, excellence, economic viability and the strength of Ujamaa.
Ujamaa refers to the principle and act of cooperative economics. Ujamaa is also one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa and is practiced by individuals and communities for mutual benefit. While the goal may be economic sustainability, the impact spreads beyond material gain and contributes to community wellbeing, solidarity and improved quality of life for all concerned.
Taibu Community Health Centre in Scarborough is an example of what joint collective effort can achieve. The Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation is another, as is B.E.L.L.A.S. and Broken Heals, two programs for women envisioned by motivational speaker, Nicolle Coco LaRain and Natasha Helwig, respectively.
Community building takes many forms. On June 6th and 7th, it will be Brother Oji’s turn to add to his expanding body of achievement. And he is not alone. Brother Oji and partners are creating empowering opportunities for wealth creation and community achievement, locally and globally. African artistic producers across Ghana are involved. Knowledge Bookstore is playing their part. It is a creative beneficial way to build sustainability and community self-reliance through mutual and cooperative creative business ventures.
This is the new liberation. Chances are this revolution will never be televised or make the front-page news, Share newspaper excepted. Or will it? We will wait to find out. In any case, it does not matter. This revolution will go on regardless.
By attending, you will be witness to another narrative mostly erased or subdued in western media and core belief. You will be a witness to Ujamaa. Better still, be a participant.
To learn more, contact BCAN at 905-460-9514 ext.223 or Knowledge Bookstore at 905-459-9875; or contact MACPRI at email@example.com.