Saturday, June 25, 2011


Aretha made me do it! That’s right “the” Aretha Franklin the Queen of Soul. The whole thing began innocently enough with an e-mail from one of the other programmers at CKLN 88.1 FM. That is who we were at the time (now The e-mail informed me that the Toronto Dominion Jazz Festival would be headlined by a free concert with Aretha Franklin. Well! A free concert with the Queen of Soul performing! I knew that come hell or high water I had to attend. Now understand that I had never attended any Jazz Festival event in the many decades I have lived in Toronto but this was a not to be missed event. I thought about this for weeks and told everyone I knew about it. I was a bit concerned when I read a few days before the event that the organizers were expecting 10,000 people to attend the concert. Visions of overcrowding and people stampeding and knocking me over, trampling me in their rush to see the Queen danced through my mind. I gave myself a good talking to and decided I would risk it just to see the Queen herself.

Friday, June 24 dawned not so bright; rain and clouds ruled the morning. I was still thinking about those 10,000 people who might attend the concert and I also thought about the wet ground that would result from the intermittent showers. However by 5:00 p.m. I had made up my mind very firmly that I would attend the concert. Since the information I was given had put the start time of the concert at 8:00 p.m. I thought if I arrived at the venue before 7:00 p.m. I would be early enough to get a seat at the front (my preferred location whenever I attend any event.) When I arrived at Metro Square at 6:45 p.m. there was quite a crowd including a long line-up of people attempting to enter a large tent. As I looked at the line I knew there was no way I was joining that long line. I made my way over to where a group of people were sitting facing a stage with a photograph of Aretha Franklin displayed and information that identified the stage as the Toronto Star stage. There were no seats except those that several people had brought from home. Well being a very enterprising person, I gathered some copies of the free newspapers and spread them on the ground quite close to the stage and sat down to await the arrival of Ms Franklin. In conversation with a woman who was sitting in her brought from home chair I received the sad information that Ms Franklin would be performing under the large tent and those of us sitting in front of the Toronto Star stage would not see her perform live but we would see the performance on the big screen that graced the stage. I was disappointed but much as I love the Queen of Soul I was not getting up to join that long line. It would not have done me any good anyway because my new friend told me that people had been lining up since 10:00 a.m. and then they were allowed into the tent beginning at 4:00 p.m. Wow! There was no hope that I would get under that tent to see the live performance so I settled down to wait for 8:00 p.m.

At 8:30 p.m. we heard that the performance would begin at 9:30 p.m. Well, at 9:30 p.m. we were still waiting. Happily there was a young man who entertained us in the meantime. He was a good singer but we were there to see and listen to Aretha Franklin. Anyway, at 10:00 p.m. there she was! Yeah! The cheers, screams, people were standing up in front of me so I could not even see the performance on the big screen. I had to stand up also. The performance was amazing. I danced throughout the performance. I did not know that I would remember those dance steps from my teenage years but I did! Wow! What a night.

By now you might be wondering what as I mentioned at the beginning of all this did Aretha make me do. Well let me tell you. I had not sat on the ground in decades. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I do not do very well even at outdoor events where there are chairs because I am always looking out for creepy crawlies and at the first sight of one (or even if I imagine there is one) I have been known to begin screaming blue murder and running away from the sight and site. But there I was sitting with just some sheets of newspapers protecting my behind from the damp ground because of Aretha. The last time I sat on the ground I was a ten year old member of Girl Guides in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana. Now many decades later I was willingly subjecting my behind to this mistreatment all because of Aretha.

That is not the end of the matter though. I had always prided myself and promised myself that I would never chase after a celebrity like some star struck fan. Never say never! When the performance finally ended there I was with my camera aimed in the direction that we all guessed (the presence of police and security was a dead give away) Ms Franklin would appear. In preparation I had deleted photographs of family members (I saved them on my computer) to ensure I had lots of room for the photographs I planned to take of the Queen of Soul. As she appeared in the buggy driven by her security people I did not have an opportunity to get a photograph of her because a young woman who was part of the event security pushed me aside (very rude) and spoiled the photograph. I had to delete it. Instead of leaving to go home (it was way past my bedtime) I found myself chasing after the buggy (I do not know what possessed me!) The buggy stopped in front of three trailers and there I was; me and a host of other people trying unsuccessfully to take pictures of Ms Franklin (thwarted by security.) Would you believe I stood there (with many other people) until almost 1:00 a.m. hoping that Ms Franklin would make an appearance so that I could get a proper photograph of her? When she did appear there was no opportunity to get a photograph of her because of the security people. I felt especially bad for a woman in a wheel chair who had been patiently waiting along with the rest of us. She was almost in tears because she did not get that photograph she wanted so badly. I found myself waiting for the subway train at 1:19 a.m and eventually got home at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Still without a photograph of Aretha Franklin but the performance was amazing, she is a true Queen of Soul! I hope I have an opportunity to see her again and to get a photograph. I live in hope!


We are halfway through the United Nations’ designated International Year for People of African Descent and still not a word from any level of government here in Canada in recognition of the year. We are more than halfway through Black Music Month and although the month has been recognized with a proclamation by the Mayor of Toronto for more than 20 years, Rob Ford has not seen fit to continue the tradition. It would seem there is a message here for us. Not to worry, we have overcome way more than this seeming disrespect and neglect. As a people we survived more than four hundred years of brutal, horrific chattel slavery. We are here today because we are the survivors. As Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley sang in his song Survival (released 1979): We're the survivors, yes the Black survivors! Yes, we're the survivors, like Daniel out of the lions' den Black survivors. And music was used as a survival tool by enslaved Africans; whether it was chanting, singing work songs or religious songs. Whether Africans were enslaved by the British in Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica, the French in Haiti, the Portuguese in Brazil or the Spanish in Argentina, Colombia and Peru, our music comforted, encouraged and fired the imagination. Even in the midst of the brutality, horror and terror of slavery our music contributed to how we survived. The African traditions of the griot was transported on the slave ships and survived the many generations and hundreds of years of disconnect to give birth to calypsonians and dub poets. From Peru, the powerful poetry of Nicomedes Santa Cruz ( and his sister Victoria Santa Cruz ( is comparable to the poetry of Bob Marley as he urges us to “Chant Down Babylon” or Maya Angelou as she encourages us to understand “Why the Caged Bird Sings” or why “Our Grandmothers” would not be moved.

Recognizing the similarities of our experience (regardless of our birthplace) as African people who have used music to survive; in his May 28, 2010 proclamation for African American Music Appreciation Month US President Barack Obama wrote: Throughout our history, African-American music has conveyed the hopes and hardships of a people who have struggled, persevered and overcome. Through centuries of injustice, music comforted slaves, fueled a cultural renaissance, and sustained a movement for equality. Today, from the shores of Africa and the islands of the Caribbean to the jazz clubs of New Orleans and the music halls of Detroit, African-American music reflects the rich sounds of many experiences, cultures, and locales

Not everyone understands that this as a “Black thing.” In his 1999 published book A Change Is Gonna Come: Music Race & The Soul of America white American professor Craig Werner writes: “It’s not just a black thing. When West Africans confronted the nightmare realities of slavery, they improvised ways of surviving that have come down to us through the voices of Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke, the instruments of Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane, and the communal explorations of Sly and the Family Stone and the Wu Tang Clan. While those strategies are grounded in the specific history of blacks in what Bob Marley called “Babylon,” they’re available to anyone who doesn’t call Babylon home. Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and Steve Cropper have their place in the story.” Werner whose biography proclaims that he is a professor of Afro-American Studies and teaches courses on Black Music and American Cultural History follows a well known European tradition of claiming and renaming racialized people’s culture and history. Admittedly the good professor has named some names in his book and has received high praise from a couple of African American professors including Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. However, in spite of efforts to pretend that white people can understand or share in our history of brutal oppression where we were stripped of everything including our names and language, our experience is unique. Our music documents this horrific experience, whether in calypso by Slinger “the Mighty Sparrow” Francisco: I’m a slave from a land so far. I was caught and I was brought here from Africa or reggae by Bob Marley: Ole pirates yes they rab I, sold I to the merchant ships minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit. Who else has a history of gazing for the last time at the land of their birth after being brutally torn away from friends and family, forced en-masse onto slave ships and taken on a terrifying journey into the unknown at the mercy of strange looking people who would rip families apart by selling children away from parents? Many never completed that journey, murdered or starved to death on the voyage into hell; because hell is what the ones who survived encountered when they arrived at journey’s end. Many were unceremoniously thrown overboard to perish in the Atlantic and it has been said that if the waters of the Atlantic disappeared we could walk on the bones of our ancestors from here all the way back to Africa. Sharks followed those ships because they could be sure of a meal of African bodies. Countless others were worked to death within five to seven years, especially in the cane fields of Brazil and the Caribbean.

The music that comes out of that experience is black music which no other group can claim. Yes it is a black thing, it is black music. Others may offer a pale copy of black music but let us be clear that anything else (rock and roll, rock etc.,) offered by anyone else (Elvis Presley, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eminem etc.,) is an imitation of black music regardless of what it is renamed or how it is repackaged. An article published the June 2003 edition of Ebony Magazine with the headline Why White stars are ripping off rap and R&B says it very well. “Al Jolson did it in the 1920s. Sophie Tucker did it in the 1930s. Elvis Presley did it in the 1950s, and the Beatles and Rolling Stones did it in the 1960s. This disturbed a number of people who said, with Langston Hughes, "You've taken my blues, and my jazz, and my gospel, and gone." And the taking is not over. For in 2003, White singers and performers are still looting the historically Black music sanctuary of hip-hop, R&B, soul jazz and the blues. Dwight Edwards, associate professor of music at Atlanta's Emory University, says it's shamefully ironic that throughout the annals of time, White artists with limited talent and vast resources have become fast millionaires by impersonating Black performers, whereas some of the greatest Black artists, performers and lyrical geniuses die practically penniless.”

It is almost the end of June but you can still celebrate Black Music Month by attending the free performance of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin on Friday, June 24 at 55 John Street. For more on Black Music Month visit on Tuesday nights 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. throughout June.


When I was a child and even a young adult I never thought about the importance of my father’s presence in my life. I did take stock when as an adult attending an event in Toronto a few years ago I listened to a man speaking about the hurt and betrayal he felt at the lack of his father’s presence in his life. I recently read an essay on fatherhood written by US President Barack Obama and realised that I was fortunate to have had my father as a constant presence in my life from childhood to adulthood. Like the man who spoke about his father’s absence from his life, President Obama lamented the lack of his father’s presence also. He acknowledged that he has made efforts to be a presence in his children’s lives because his father was not there for him. In his essay President Obama expressed that he has grown to understand what his daughter's need from him as a father. He wrote: "Through my own experiences, and my continued efforts to be a better father, I have learned something over the years about what children need most from their parents. They need our time, measured not only in the number of hours we spend with them each day, but what we do with those hours. I’ve learned that children don’t just need us physically present, but emotionally available – willing to listen and pay attention and participate in their daily lives.” Sometimes men make various excuses for their non-presence in the lives of their children not realizing the hurt this causes to the children throughout their lives. There are also many men who are very involved in their children’s lives and even act as role models and father figures for fatherless children. There are fathers who feel that taking care of their children is a baby-sitting chore and there are fathers who take absolute joy in parenting their children.

This year we celebrate our fathers and father figures on Sunday, June 19. When we hear about men who are shining examples of fatherhood they are mostly famous fathers like President Obama, Bill Cosby, Samuel Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and Dr. Ben Carson. However, there are many men in our community whose names and faces might never appear on television, in a book or magazine who are very involved in their children’s lives and are excellent examples of fatherhood. These fathers spend quality time with their children and are caring, loving parents. There were several of these fathers attending the recent Muhtadi International Drumming Festival at Queens Park. One young father Kwabena was there with his wife and children, 7 year old Makeba and 4 year old twins Abena and Kwabena. It was obvious that Kwabena is a caring and loving father who is very involved in his children’s lives. The children were comfortable accessing Dad’s arms, back, lap and shoulders when they were tired of dancing and playing. On Saturday, June 11 as I was traveling to Kipling subway station I noticed a young African Canadian man who appeared to be in his late 20s traveling with his son who seemed to be about 3 years old. This young man was very patient with the antics of his child, answered his many questions and even allowed the little boy to play games on his cell phone. What a confident, happy child he was having the undivided attention of his father! At Kipling subway station as I was trying to find my way to the passenger pick-up area I spoke with a very helpful father and son team who steered me in the right direction. The very confident and chatty 7 year old Delano told me that he was planning to buy a Father’s Day gift for his Dad.

My father was a very young man (early 20s) and my mother still in her teenage years when they were married so when I was born they were both very young parents. As the first born child of my parents I had a very special relationship with my parents and grandparents. I heard many stories from relatives about the special relationship I enjoyed with my father when I was a baby and toddler. One of my favourite memories is of my father rescuing me from the flooded school yard of Kitty Methodist School on William Street, Kitty in Georgetown, Guyana. I was about 6 years old and although we lived next to the school on that day of the flood my mother with two younger children could not leave them at home to get me from school. The sight of all that muddy water which drove us to the top floor of the school was a scary sight for a 6 year old. Then there came my Papa, striding through the muddy water, still dressed in his police uniform, lifted me up on his shoulders and took me home. I cannot remember a time during my childhood when I was not proud of my very handsome, always nattily dressed father who in my estimation stood head and shoulders above everyone else’s father. A recent anonymous quote I read which made me chuckle may have been some people’s experience but was never mine: When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

Children blossom when they are loved and feel loved by their parents and other adults in their lives but no-one however well meaning can replace the presence of a caring dedicated father in a child’s life. In the North American culture the ideal images of a family to which we are all treated is the nuclear family with a father, mother and children. Television sit-coms like The Cosby Show and other television images tell us that is the ideal. Growing up in Guyana where there were extended families and even blended families where children who were not related biologically were members of extended families it did not seem to have the same effect on children who did not have a biological father in their lives. Speaking with some of those people who now live in North America and are influenced by the television images, they cite the lack of a father when they fail to achieve the “North American dream” life.

At the recent birthday party my niece held for her son Ameen’s 5th birthday the family gathered (minus Papa) who decided to move back to Guyana to enjoy his retirement. I admired the younger generation of fathers in my family interacting with their children, their nieces, nephews and other young relatives. I realised how many years have passed because there was LeAndre our very first nephew, like me so many years ago, the first born of our family’s next generation. I commented: “It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating LeAndre’s 5th birthday now he is a father.” My nephew, like many of his generation, is a proud father, very caring, loving and involved. To all the fathers and father figures, Heri ya siku ya kina Baba! Happy Fathers Day!


I had looked forward to the weekend of June 4 and 5 being a wonderful and enlightening weekend. It was the first weekend of Black Music Month 2011. Preparing to write this article I attended several music related events on the weekend beginning with the 12th Muhtadi International Drumming Festival on June 4. I got there too early and not much was happening so I went to the bookstore Accents on Eglinton (1790 Eglinton Avenue West) where there was an all day celebration of Afro-Peruvian culture. My main reason for going to this event was to learn more about the Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca. I first read about Susana Baca in 2002 when she won the Latin Grammy Award (from the Latin Recording Academy) for Best Folk Album for her Lamento Negro CD. There was much more to learn about Afro-Peruvian culture and the contribution of the Afro-Peruvian community to the culture of Peru. Much of the dance moves, music and some musical instruments of Peru have obvious but mostly unrecognized African roots. The history of Africans in the Americas is mostly ignored and so are the contributions except in sports, dance and music.
The celebration of June as Black Music Month began in June 1979 when then President Jimmy Carter signed the first proclamation. He did so at the urging of Kenny Gamble (of the famous songwriting team, Gamble & Huff) and Ed Wright who are the founders of the Black Music Association. In 2000, the United States government officially recognized Black Music Month after radio personality Dyana Williams and Congressman Chaka Fattah tirelessly worked to get the African American Music Bill (House Resolution 509) passed through legislation. On June 2, 2009 President Barack Obama declared June African-American Music Appreciation Month. Part of the proclamation reads: The African-American music tradition also reflects creativity and individualism. Blues, jazz, soul, and rock and roll synthesize various musical traditions to create altogether new sounds. Their novel chord progressions, improvisation, and mood showcase individual musicians while also creating a cohesive musical unit. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we recall the known and unknown musicians who helped create this musical history.

I thought about President Obama’s words from his 2009 proclamation as I sat in a room at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) on Sunday June 5. I had read that there would be a discussion about jazz by a Jonnie Bakan who teaches jazz history at the University of Western Ontario and since I intended to write about “Black Music” which includes jazz I left Queens Park to the sounds of amazing drumming and walked over to OISE.

The topic of discussion was advertised as Jazz and the Popular Front: The Making of 'America's Classical Music' where this jazz “expert” (since he is teaching the subject he must have some expertise) would discuss “how the re-articulation of jazz as a respected form of American "Classical Music" was only made possible by, and mediated through, the growing working class movement of the depression era.” The discussion was also to educate us about the fact that although today jazz is considered a classical American Music genre “jazz did not always command this kind of lofty cultural status. On the contrary, in the early decades of the twentieth century the music that came to be called "jazz" was widely disparaged as a "lowbrow" form of entertainment, frequently associated with moral depravity, and openly feared as an expression of "the Negro influence" in American culture.” Even after reading all that I was not prepared for what I encountered (after all the presenter was an educator at one of Canada’s institutions of higher learning.) The good “professor” spoke about the role of communism and European labour activists in lifting jazz to where it is today as an American classical art form. He spoke about the dreadful images of minstrelsy when white people dressed in blackface and denigrated the culture of African Americans (he did not mention that all the while they were stealing the art form.) I was a bit alarmed when he showed some of those disturbing images. What finally caused me to leave the room in disgust and despair was; after mentioning a few times that he intended to show a video where Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was dressed as a “jungle savage” the good “professor” proceeded to show the video. He explained that at the time the recording was done (1932) many African American performers played the stereotypical roles portrayed in the video including lazy, shiftless men complete with bulging eyes, making inarticulate sounds. After observing two white men in the room giggling at the images on the screen the good “professor” pointed out that even though the images might be funny the video showcased Armstrong’s talent as a musician. I commented that the images were not funny instead I found them disgusting. I was surprised that no one else in the room (of mainly white progressive, left leaning even some socialists) objected to the images. Ignoring my comment and obvious discomfort with the images the good professor carried on blithely showing the disturbing images. However those images were enough for me. I could not subject myself to more abuse and spirit injury. Instead I quietly left the room, desperately clinging to my temper; I was not going to lose it because I knew that just 10 minutes away the 12th Muhtadi International Drumming Festival was in full swing. That is where I returned to forget the nastiness and spirit injury I had experienced in that room at OISE.

The energetic, talented members of the Ngoma Dance and Drum Ensemble were performing when I returned to Queens Park. What an amazingly talented group of young people! The healing process for me had begun and continued as I allowed the spirit of the drum to move me. By the time the Muhtadi World Drummers finished performing Arima Tonight, Sangre Grande Tomorrow Night (a calypso first sung by Wilmoth Houdini in 1931) I was ready to relegate the dreadful spirit injuring experience to the back of my mind. I was too busy dancing to the healing power of the drumbeat to let anyone steal my joy of being alive and capable of moving to the beat of the drum. The upbeat mood and skilled performances by the Tivoli Drummers visiting from Grenada and the Baro Dununba drummers was icing on the cake (we were also celebrating Muhtadi’s birthday but somebody forgot the cake.) The annual drumming festival turned out to be more than a healing place for me it was also a family get-together with some of my sistren including Amma Ofori, Nzingha Saul and Sistah Afiya. We almost “mash up the place” but it was for a good cause.

That experience reminded me of the importance of self care. We as African people have to guard ourselves against spirit injury sometimes by leaving an injurious situation. Before I left that room at OISE I did think about waiting until the end of the presentation and fully expressing my feelings to educate people with white skin privilege about the injurious nature of their oblivion to spirit injury of racialized people. However I was not in the mood to educate when I weighed that against the opportunity to be in a space where I knew I could feel the healing power of the drums. This music helped the enslaved Africans survive the brutality of their enslavement by Europeans and it definitely helped me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


On Sunday May, 1 as I boarded a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus travelling a downtown Toronto route I was extremely distressed to witness an African woman being harassed by a white woman on a motorized scooter. I had previously witnessed this white woman harassing racialized passengers and TTC staff. The bus driver, a racialized man did not intervene probably relieved that he was not the target of the woman’s vitriolic attack. She seemed especially angry because the African woman wore a hijab and she went on at length about her superiority as a practicing Christian whose God is love. It was almost hilarious listening to this woman harangue everyone who was not white and Christian (who she identified by our headwraps and hijabs) as she spoke of her God’s love for his people (presumably white Christians.) Her professed love of God did not prevent the Islamophobic and racist rant she unleashed on all those she suspected of not being Christian. After listening to the insults being heaped on those of us she assumed were not Christians and beyond the pale of God’s covenant/interest/love I felt compelled to point out to her that Christians were not the only group of people who believed in God and left her in open-mouthed shock as I disembarked from the bus. She had not recovered her wits in time to make a comeback before I exited the bus. Okay maybe I could have recited the 23rd or the 91st Psalm and that may have shut her up but I doubt it.

After getting home with no further mishaps (no more religious challenges from strange white women) and settling down to read my recently purchased May 2011 edition of the New African Magazine I was pleasantly surprised to find that no less a personage than Archbishop Desmond Tutu agreed that God is not the purview of Christians, people of other faiths believe in God. In bold letters the headline screamed: Desmond Tutu ‘God is not a Christian’ Hurrying past the “letters to the editor” section and important and intriguing stories with such headlines as: Nelson Mandela The “family” showdown and Who are the people of Libya? and of course referring to Muammar Al Gathafi (that is how they spelled his name in the New African Magazine) Kissing him today, raining bombs on him tomorrow, plus Nigeria Chief Justice under Fire! There it was on page 86 almost at the end of the 90 page magazine! Accompanied by a photograph of the dear Archbishop, full head of grey hair, lips pursed, an intense look from behind rimless glasses, one hand outstretched as if determined to convince all who came in sight. On page 86 the full title of the book at last revealed: God is not a Christian – Speaking Truth in Times of Crisis with the further information that it was written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and published on May 5, 2011 by Rider Books. Wow! Well if Archbishop Desmond Tutu could write a book with such a title, I had to read that book. The excitement kept me up late into the night reading the two page article several times, making notes and early the next morning I was off to the library in search of the book. I was a bit disappointed that although the Toronto Public Library (TPL) has ordered 21 copies of the book God is not a Christian: and other provocations they have not yet been delivered but I placed my name on the “hold” list. I was also surprised that the name of the book in the New African Magazine article was God is not a Christian – Speaking Truth in Times of Crisis and at the TPL it was God is not a Christian: and other provocations. I had to get to the source of this mystery of the changing names (When I was a child I dreamed of being a detective, not surprising because my Dad was a police officer) and off I went to solve the perceived mystery. Several weeks later I have some information from a mysterious source that a decision was made at the final printing to use the subtitle: And other Provocations. I cannot reveal my source but I assure you that there have been some very provoked Christians since the book was published. Oh they have lambasted the dear Archbishop (and naturally some of them had to comment on his race and make derogatory remarks about Africans in South Africa) for daring to write that Christians are not the only group that believes in God. Some of the good Christians who have access to post anonymously on the internet used some very un-Christian language calling the dear Archbishop everything except a child of God!

Not surprisingly there was not this much furor last year when a white Christian published a book with a similar theme (God Is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu...: God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, as Us.) Just to give an example of the very innocuous remarks that have some Christians up in arms at what Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written. “God is clearly not a Christian. His concern is for all his children. To claim God exclusively for Christians is to make God too small and in a real sense is blasphemous. God is bigger than Christians and cares for more than Christians only. He also wrote, very sensibly, I mean who can argue with this rationalization: My God and, I hope, your God is not sitting around apprehensive that a profound religious truth or major scientific discovery is going to be made by a non-Christian. God rejoices that his human creatures, irrespective of race, culture, gender, or religious faith, are making exhilarating advances in science, art, music, ethics, philosophy, the law, apprehending with increasing ability the truth, the beauty, the goodness that emanate from him. In this day and age of rabid Islamophobia we need to think very carefully about these words from the dear Archbishop: We must not make the mistake of judging other faiths by their least attractive features or adherents. It is possible to demolish the case for Christians by, for instance, quoting the Crusaders, or the atrocities of the Holocaust, or the excesses of apartheid. But we know that that would be unfair in the extreme, since we claim them to be aberrations, distortions, and deviations. Honestly, how can any rational, right thinking person find anything to quarrel about when they read: I hope I have done enough to convince diehard exclusivists that the Christian cause is served better by a joyful acknowledgment that God is not the special preserve of Christians and is the God of all human beings, to whom he has vouchsafed a revelation of his nature and with whom it is possible for all to have a real encounter and relationship.

If you are looking to start your summer reading list this is as good a book as any to begin with. Good news! You do not have to wait until the TPL gets its 21 copies of the book it is available at bookstores in Toronto including A Different Booklist at 746 Bathurst Street. In this year of observing the International Year for People of African Descent we need to at least begin the practice of buying our books from African Canadian bookstores.