Learn from last year’s mistakes to make this one better

MURPHY BROWNE (Abena Agbetu)

We are at the end of 2011, designated by the United Nations as the International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD).

The members of the UN did not designate this year out of the goodness of their collective hearts after experiencing an epiphany about the lived reality of Africans internationally. Actually, they had been urged by Africans in the Diaspora to designate an international decade for people of African descent, especially those whose ancestors were enslaved in Central and South America. Declaring 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent was a compromise.

Although Canada is a signatory to the 2009 declaration, no level of government in this country bothered to recognize the year and none of the political parties acknowledged it. We can see the level of respect (or disrespect) that we are afforded by the powers that be. No wonder there is no acknowledgement that African-Canadians suffer the highest level of incarceration compared to our numbers in this province. (It is important to note here that many in our community have been brainwashed into believing that these high numbers are warranted.)

Some organizations took the initiative to recognize the year with no government support. In any case, it does not matter what happens in our lives, time marches on regardless and whether our year has been amazing or dreadful, it does come to an end and a new year begins.

For some people, the stress of last minute shopping and decorating for the festive season takes a toll by New Year’s Day. Some very organized people begin planning in January, or at least by June, for December. As we approach 2012, is looking back at the past year really useful? Is making several New Year’s resolutions useful?

At the beginning of 2011, I made a list of goals I planned to complete before the end of the year. I did a good job of completing them, reading the 15 books as I had planned and holding conversations with people who spoke Kiswahili. Those were my goals and I was able to achieve success because they were not unreasonable. I actually had time to read way more than 15 books and had the opportunity to meet and chat with a lot more African people than those who speak Kiswahili.

Looking back at the past can be a good thing if we make changes to ensure that we do not repeat what we did not like. As you look back at 2011, think about what you would like to change and think about what you would repeat for 2012.

So now you have looked back and seen some areas that you would like to improve, how are you going to do it? Do you have a plan? Make sure it is one that will be realistic and will work better than the one from last year. If you make elaborate plans, you may be disappointed by the end of January.

The past year was certainly memorable as it has had its ups and downs but now it is time to open a new calendar for 2012.

Some people are looking forward to graduating from school; some will welcome new members into their family, start new friendships, renew or strengthen old friendships etc.,. I have been very fortunate to have wonderfully supportive family and friends encourage and help me through some rough and tough times this past year.

Some incidents could be considered betrayals by people who are entrusted with power to make decisions that affect the lives of others. When these things happen you have to roll with the punches, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Wow! That sounds like a serious boxing match!

One of the serious incidents of 2011 was the decision by the members of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to revoke the license of the campus community radio station CKLN 88.1 FM on January 28, 2011 and compel the end of broadcasting on April 15, 2011.

CKLN had been licensed by the CRTC in 1983 as a Ryerson University-based campus-community radio station which broadcasted at 88.1 MHz on the FM dial. There were protests from the community and even support from mainstream media (http://www.torontosun.com/2011/04/19/crtcs-a-dinosaur-2) at the high-handed decision of the CRTC but it did not make a difference; they are all powerful. After almost 28 years of providing an alternative to mainstream corporate radio, giving a voice to traditionally marginalized communities, CKLN 88.1 FM was silenced. It was a shock to those of us who had been programmers at CKLN, some for the entire time CKLN has existed.

As a relative newcomer in 1998 I began co-hosting Radioactive Feminism on Sunday mornings as part of a collective of women, did a short stint as co-host of The Unheard Voice of the African Woman and began hosting Tuesday Word of Mouth in August 2004.

CKLN 88.1 FM is gone and those of us who remain have moved on from Ryerson University to Regent Park where we continue to broadcast on the Internet (for the foreseeable future) at www.ckln.fm.

As African-American inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant has written in her 1993 book, Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.”

The same can be said for organizations or radio stations. I learned and grew from my experience as a broadcaster with CKLN 88.1 FM and had the opportunity to interview many of the people whose work I value including Professors/authors Rex Nettleford, Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, George Elliot Clarke, Afua Cooper, Verene Shepherd, David Hinds, Njoki Wane, George Dei, Molefi Asante, Danielle L. McGuire and many others.

The New Year will be here in the next few days, whether or not we are ready. We can make it as memorable as last year. I intend to do so, learning from mistakes made.

For the first time since 2003, I am not involved in planning a community Kwanzaa celebration. I enjoyed the experience and will miss doing that, but after eight years, I think it is okay to take a break. I plan to welcome the New Year with family and friends (some I have not seen for three decades) and, regardless of who complains, I am sticking to sparkling cider, Cydrax or Peardrax while counting down to midnight to welcome the New Year, 2012.

Happy New Year!! Heri za Mwaka Mpya!!


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