Thursday, January 26, 2012


We have come to reclaim the house of history. We are dedicated to the revision of the role of the African in the world's great civilizations, the contribution of Africa to the achievement of man in the arts and sciences. We shall emphasize what Africa has given to the world, not what it has lost.

Ivan Van Sertima, author of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America published 1977.

Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima was born on January 26, 1935 in Kitty, Georgetown, Guyana. In 1935 at the time of Van Sertima’s birth Kitty was a village near the capital city of Georgetown, British Guiana which was then a colony possessed by the British Empire. Surprisingly British Guiana was the only possession of the British on the entire South American continent. Van Sertima who is considered one of the architects of the modern Africentric education movement received his primary and secondary education in Guyana before moving on to Britain and eventually the United States. After completing his secondary education Van Sertima worked as a Press and Broadcasting Officer in the Government Information Services in Georgetown from 1956 to 1959. He moved to Britain in 1959 and lived there until 1970. While living in Britain Van Sertima worked for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and worked towards a degree in African languages and literature at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. He received his B.A. degree, with honours, in 1969. In the meantime he compiled a dictionary of legal terms in Kiswahili based on field work he did in Tanzania in 1967 and wrote a series of essays on Caribbean literature Caribbean Writers: Critical Essays which was published in 1968.

Van Sertima immigrated to the USA in 1970 where he entered Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey as a graduate student. He began his more than 30 year teaching career at Rutgers when he was hired as an instructor in the school's new African Studies department in 1970. He completed his M.A. degree in 1977 and was hired as Associate Professor of African Studies in the Department of Africana Studies in 1979. In 1977 Van Sertima published his ground breaking study of African presence in the New World before Columbus and other Europeans. In publishing They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America Van Sertima acknowledged the support he received from another Guyanese scholar Jan Carew (born September 24, 1920 at Agricola, East Bank Demerara.) Carew, the author of more than 30 books including the 1994 published The Rape of Paradise: Columbus and the Birth of Racism in the Americas introduced Van Sertima to a 1920 published trilogy (Africa and the discovery of America) by Leo Wiener which piqued his interest in learning more about the history of Africans in the New World and led to his research and writing They Came Before Columbus. Van Sertima used his skills and training as anthropologist, historian and linguist in researching and writing this seminal work His work has inspired African scholars internationally and is an invaluable contribution to African centred curricula. Because of people like Van Sertima, today African centred education is a viable option. Van Sertima contributed to the revolutionizing of academia from a Eurocentric point of view to not just including Africa and Africans but correcting misinformation. His book included the often ignored African history before any European set foot on the continent. He shared with all who read his book that Africa had a rich history which had been deliberately distorted, misrepresented and white-washed by European historians. The thought that African seafarers reached the Americas centuries before Columbus; during the ancient period congruent with the Olmec civilization period (1500BCE to 400BCE) and other meetings during the late medieval era of the Aztec Empire had not been widely known before Van Sertima’s book was published. He gathered evidence, from pictures of the now famous Olmec heads, religious symbols, agricultural sea crossings and favourable Atlantic Ocean currents to Mesoamerican writings, to prove his findings. Although scholars (mostly European archaeologists) before him had made the connection between the Olmec heads and their similarity to Africans, Van Sertima went further in gathering other evidence (including linguistic) to prove that Africans had lived in the Americas long before Columbus lost his way and stumbled upon this New World. Van Sertima writes about an encounter between Columbus and the native people he found on Espanola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1496. The Indians gave proof that they were trading with black people. “The Indians of this Espanola said there had come to Espanola a black people who have the top of their spears made of a metal which they called “gua-nin,” of which he [Columbus] had sent samples to the Sovereigns to have them assayed, when it was found that of 32 parts, 18 were of gold, 6 of silver and 8 of copper.” According to Van Sertima, the word “guanin” could be traced to several “Mande languages of West Africa” including Mandingo, Kabunga, Toronka, Kankanka, Bambara, Mande and Vei.

In 1979 Van Sertima founded The Journal of African Civilizations which he described: "The Journal of African Civilizations, founded in 1979, has gained a reputation for excellence and uniqueness among historical and anthropological journals. It is recognized as a valuable information source for both the layman and student. It has created a different historical perspective within which to view the ancestor of the African-American and the achievement and potential of black people the world over. It is the only historical journal in the English-speaking world which focuses on the heartland rather than on the periphery of African civilizations.”

On July 7, 1987 Van Sertima appeared before a United States Congressional committee to give testimony that challenged the conventional wisdom that Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. In 1998 he published Early America Revisited with his meticulous research and attention to detail he again proved (adding to his earlier work) that Africans lived in the Americas and influenced the culture of this part of the world before any Europeans. Van Sertima who transitioned on May 25, 2009 was the author of 15 books including Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern 1983, African Presence in early Europe 1985, Black Women in Antiquity 1988, Great Black Leaders: Ancient and Modern 1988, Egypt Revisited 1989, The Golden Age of the Moor 1992 and Egypt: Child of Africa 1994. During African History Month (February) do more than attend entertainment events, read and discuss the work of Van Sertima and other historians who have rescued our history from the margins of Eurocentric history books. For more information on African history during February visit on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 7:30 and Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


In 1803, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British imperial government conquered the Dutch colony of Berbice and took over the management of a number of presumed government slaves. These comprised persons on four estates and others – mainly artisans – in New Amsterdam, the colony’s capital who were known as winkel (that is “shop”) slaves. The Colonial office had sent a circular dispatch to the governors on January 24, 1831 ordering them to set free all escheated slaves immediately.

Excerpt from Unprofitable Servants: Crown Slaves in Berbice Guyana 1803-1831 by Alvin O. Thompson published 2002

The “escheated slaves” referred to in the January 24, 1831 circular dispatch were “owned” by the British government. Some of these enslaved Africans lived in what is now Winkle in New Amsterdam, Berbice. It is well known that slavery was finally abolished on August 1, 1838 throughout the British Empire after a four year “apprenticeship” in most of the Caribbean. What is not as well known outside of Guyana is that a group of enslaved Africans who were “crown property” and members of the winkel group gained their freedom 7 years earlier. Passing through Winkle, New Amsterdam on my way to Stanleytown during a recent visit to Guyana I remembered that as children we had heard stories of the “Winkel people.” That glimpse of Winkle also started me on a quest to learn more about the Village Movement that Africans began after they were freed from chattel slavery in Guyana. I visited the New Amsterdam public library and the Georgetown public library in search of information about the Village Movement of Guyana but there was not much to find in either library. In both libraries I found a booklet about Victoria Village on the East Coast Demerara and that seemed to be the extent of books about the Village Movement in both libraries. At the Georgetown public library, after some probing I unearthed a book I had read about on the Internet about Plaisance/Sparendaam on the East Coast Demerara: Plaisance From Emancipation to Independence and Beyond by Beryl Adams-Haynes published in 2010. Further investigation yielded information that the book was also available at the University of Guyana Berbice Campus Library located at Tain on the Courentyne and could not be taken out but was available for a two hour loan in the library. I am still puzzled and disappointed at the lack of books about the Village Movement in the Guyana public library system. It was in Toronto that I eventually found a copy of Thompson’s 2002 published Unprofitable Servants: Crown Slaves in Berbice Guyana 1803-1831 at the Toronto Reference Library. In spite of the fact that it is the only copy in the Toronto Public Library system, I was happy to have the opportunity to read the book since it yielded much information about the “Winkel slaves” and the area of Winkle, New Amsterdam.

The intriguing and little known history of this group of enslaved Africans includes the fact that they were highly skilled and a “versatile group of artisans, capable of working in iron, copper and brass.” The enslavers also described them as “decidedly the most intelligent body of Negroes in the Colony.” Their skill as artisans was exploited by government (through the Winkel Department) as well as private citizens because they were hired out to work on plantations while the British government pocketed the money they earned. In Unprofitable Servants: Crown Slaves in Berbice Guyana 1803-1831 Thompson writes: Payment for winkel work done for private individuals was made to the Colonial Treasury. This was under the charge of the Governor of the Colony who received a commission of 10 per cent. It was not surprising to read that: “Graft and corruption were the frequent bedfellows of several officials involved in the department.” I have to wonder how many families in Britain are still benefitting from the coerced unpaid work that came directly from the “winkel slaves” of Berbice and when we will receive reparations.

Although the Colonial office had sent a circular dispatch to the governors on January 24, 1831 ordering them to set free all escheated slaves immediately it was not until November 17, 1831 that the Africans of Winkle, New Amsterdam, Berbice were given their certificates of freedom. Lord Goderich, the secretary of state for the colonies sent a follow-up letter to Benjamin D’Urban who had been appointed governor of British Guiana on March 4, 1831 and would have missed the original dispatch of January 24, 1831. This letter directed D’Urban to set the winkel people free and give them land grants. D’Urban who disagreed with the concept of emancipating enslaved Africans resisted, even arguing that the Africans did not deserve freedom (imagine Durban Street in Georgetown is named after this character.) D’Urban also argued that the labour of the winkel slaves was too important to the public works department and high government officials. He doubted that they were capable of living on their own and he was concerned about disrupting “their happiness with the state of comfort they enjoyed.” Unfortunately D’Urban was not the only white person who thought Africans enjoyed being kept as chattel and working without pay to enrich white people. That was a popular thought that allowed white people to continue enslaving Africans under brutal and inhumane conditions for more than four hundred years.

This history unfortunately is not taught in the Guyanese public education system. It is very sad and disappointing that the history of Africans is not readily available to their descendants never mind non-African Guyanese. At what point did people stop caring or began suffering from group amnesia? It seems a long way from the days when elders passed on their knowledge to the youth. In this day and age when information is more readily available there is a puzzling lack of African history in the libraries and schools of Guyana. Maybe it is the lack of information about the history of their ancestors that has the descendants of those enterprising and hardworking Africans selling the land their ancestors sweated to buy. Some of the descendants of Africans whose blood, sweat and tears bought abandoned plantations and established scores of villages between 1839 and 1850 seem to have lost their way. Thankfully there is at least one organization in Guyana that is addressing the lack of African culture and history in Guyana. The African Cultural Development Association (ACDA) founded in 1993 and based in Georgetown, located at 9 Thomas Road, Thomas Lands opposite the National Park is valiantly filling the void. With a school on the premises (Centre of Learning and Afro-centric Orientation) ACDA is educating the next generation and indeed all Guyanese; they need the support of Guyanese in Canada. After attending the 20th Kwanzaa celebration hosted by ACDA in December I am in awe of the work this group has done. During the Kwanzaa celebration the Education Management Committee of ACDA presented scholarships to students who excelled in their educational achievements. ACDA is also the sponsor of Emancipation Day (August 1st) activities at the National Park, (Maafa) African Holocaust Memorial Day on October 12 and was heavily involved in activities to recognize the UN designated International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD) last year.

Inspired by the work of ACDA members I have decided that my 2012 New Year’s Resolution is to learn more about the history of Guyana’s Village Movement, learn the names of the villages established by Africans in Guyana and how they have survived. I am off to a great start because both of my parents were born in such villages and during my trip to Guyana I did visit Courtland/Fyrish/Gibraltar, the village where my father was born.

This is a list of some of the villages in Guyana that were established by Africans after Emancipation:
1. Victoria
2. Buxton
3. Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara
4. Golden Grove, West Coast Berbice
5. Plaisance
6. Belladrum
7. Litchfield
8. Nabaclis
9. Den Amstel
10. Agricola
11. Hopetown
12. Friendship
13. Sandvoort
14. Gibraltar/Fryish Courtland
15. Beterverwagting
16. Baracara
17. No. 53 Union
18. Kildonan
19. Liverpool
20. Sisters
21. Ithaca
22. Prospect
23. Dingwall (No.40 village)
24. Joppa (No.43. village)
25. Phillipi (Corentyne coast 37 Km from New Amsterdam )
26. Seafield (No.42 village)
27. Kingelly (West Coast Berbice)
28. Lovely Lass, West Coast Berbice
29. No.41 village
30. Bagotville
31. Dartmouth Village
32. Eversham Village
33. Airy Hall Village
34. Calcutta Village
35. Recess Village
36. Weldaad Village
37. Anns Grove Village
38. Bachelors Adventure
39. Good Intent
40. Preseverance
41. Woodlands and Friends Retreat (No.10 village)

Monday, January 16, 2012


I recently had the nightmarish experience of being trapped in New York City with no American currency. This happened after I had enjoyed a fun-filled sun-soaked two weeks in Guyana and had to make a connecting flight from the USA to Toronto. Not being much of a traveler I did not realise that the travel itinerary should have been printed and kept close to my heart. After making it safely back home and reading the emailed information from the travel agency the information clearly stated that there was an airport change for my connecting flight from the USA to Toronto. Not having noted that information before the plane arrived at the New York City airport it took a precious few minutes for me to realise the connecting flight was leaving from the airport in New Jersey and that I needed to pay for transportation to get there from the airport in New York City. Americans are leery of accepting currency from other countries including their neighbour to the North (Canada) how much worse to try convincing them to accept currency from a South American country they had never heard of. Thanks to modern technology where money can instantly be transferred from country to country in the correct currency I was able to pay the exorbitant amount of money demanded by the taxi driver. The excruciating journey took three hours where I almost bit my fingernails to the quick and was tempted to pull off my headwrap and throttle the taxi driver (that is a joke, I am not a violent person.) As we swept through the Holland Tunnel on the way to New Jersey the good taxi driver informed me that I had to pay a toll of 18.00 dollars as well as the taxi fare and tip. Imagine the nerve of this man after I was already stressed from knowing I was going to miss my flight now telling me that I had to add more money to the exorbitant among of the fare. I was polite, after all he was in the powerful position of driving the taxi, it was dark and I did not have the phone numbers of my various relatives who live in that area. Some dreadful images flashed through my mind of what could become my fate. Thankfully, although I missed my connecting flight and had to be on standby for a later flight, I am back in Toronto, in my own home. While I was enjoying the warmth of the sun and being with family and friends in Guyana I dreaded coming back to the cold but just the thought of being trapped in an airport in the USA with no money makes me happy to be back.

My two week adventure began on a high note when my sister called and told me that my 7 siblings were giving me an early birthday present of a trip to Guyana. I was ecstatic since my last trip to Guyana was more than 12 years ago. The plan was for us all (now 8 since my brother Ras Kelly transitioned in December 2007) to be in Guyana at the same time (the first time since 1977 that we would all be in our homeland at the same time.) We did not all travel together which would have been ideal. Beginning on December 19, 2011 we left in groups (some accompanied by spouse, children and grandchildren.) I was a member of the final group to leave Toronto. There were 6 of us traveling on that day; my sister, my brother, his wife and child, my youngest sibling travelled later the same day. Our flight was delayed for a few hours which meant that my youngest sibling arrived at Timehri airport in Guyana just a few hours after we did. That was fortunate for my sister and I who were traveling to the East Coast Demerara while my brother and his family were travelling in the opposite direction to Linden. The drama began after my brother and his family left for Linden when the aggressive taxi and mini-bus drivers spotted two women waiting for transportation. Although we assured all comers that we had transportation arranged they would not give up in their efforts to convince us to travel with them instead. We had to wrestle our suitcases from a few enthusiastic people. We were thankful when my youngest sibling arrived at Timehri. The reaction from the mini-bus and taxi drivers underwent a change since my youngest sibling is male. There was none of the aggression displayed to which my sister and I had been subjected. Respect was the order of the day from then on and we safely made it to my father’s home. We did have a grand re-union when everyone travelled to my father’s home the day after we arrived. We visited some of the areas where we had lived on the East Coast Demerara before a group of us travelled to Berbice and some to Linden while others remained with Papa on the East Coast Demerara.

It was the first time that some of the spouses, children and grandchildren were visiting Guyana. There was some anxiety expressed by the people who had never visited Guyana before. One very young relative was distressed because she was not sure how she would communicate with Guyanese since according to her she did not “speak Guyanese.” We thought it was hilarious but her feelings were hurt that her concerns were not taken seriously. She did have a point though because while we were traveling in Guyana when I heard a young secondary school student declare “Ahbe deese na gat kinna” I knew that my young relative and the non-Guyanese among us could not translate that the young man was saying “We have no allergies.” Apart from the language challenges for our non-Guyanese kin, they had to deal with vicious hordes of mosquitoes that seemed to take especial delight in attacking defenseless children. The children all returned to Canada covered in mosquito bites from head to toe. Apparently the mosquitoes got to them when any part of their bodies touched the netting provided for protection. Since I never lost the art of sleeping carefully under mosquito netting the few times I was bitten happened outdoors when mosquitoes would sometimes settle quietly on your skin without the warning buzz. By the time you realized what was happening it was too late they had already done the dastardly deed and only the pain of the sting remained.

Apart from the nuisance of mosquitoes the two week stay in Guyana helped me to reconnect with my people and my culture. The family get-together hosted by one of my brothers at his home in Stanleytown included family who were visiting from Canada, the USA and various Caribbean Islands. Reconnecting with relatives I had not seen in at least three decades was well worth the visit. It was surprising to witness the changes in appearance of people who I knew when they were younger and are now middle aged parents and grandparents. One relative who I last saw when he was a whiny, cry-baby eight year old is now married with children and surprisingly a senior police officer. I thought about reminding him of his whiny, cry-baby eight year old self but did not want to embarrass the officer within hearing of his family and colleagues. There were connections and reconnections of family and friends. There were plans to remain connected through e-mail, phone calls and facebook.


The first genocide of the 20th century took place in Namibia, Southern Africa and was perpetrated against the Herero people of Namibia. The perpetrators of this dreadful crime against humanity were the Germans who had colonised Namibia during the 19th century. The Germans (along with several other European tribes) had appropriated African land during the infamous Scramble for Africa where several white men representing 14 countries spent three months (November 15, 1884 - February 26, 1885) carving up and laying claim to the African continent. Following the Scramble for Africa, white men, women and children moved onto African land as though it was their right to occupy this land. Wholesale theft of African land was the order of the day. White people presumptuously took the best land (where they established farms or began mining for minerals) displacing the Africans who had lived there for generations. They stole African cattle, forced the Africans to work on "white owned" farms or in “white owned” mines and compelled the Africans to pay taxes to European governing bodies established in each European controlled African country. The Germans who occupied Herero territory in what is now Namibia not only stole the land and cattle of the Herero but as Herero leaders regularly complained, German men routinely raped Herero women and girls. In her 1994 published book "White Women and the dark continent: gender and sexuality in German colonial discourse from the sentimental novel to the fascist film" Marcia Klotz writes: "Although records show that Herero leaders repeatedly complained that Germans were raping Herero women and girls with impunity, not a single case of rape came before the colonial courts before the uprising because the Germans looked upon such offenses as mere peccadilloes."

Not only did the Germans in Namibia steal African land and cattle (the livelihood of the Africans) and rape African females, they also passed restrictive laws creating a dual system which relegated the Africans to second class citizenship in their own country. These laws were reinforced by the presence of large groups of German soldiers. The aim of these blood sucking colonizers was to dispossess the indigenous peoples of their land for the use of Germans as well as create a source of raw materials for a market of German industrial products. On January 12, 1904, the Herero people led by Chief Samuel Herero rose up against German colonial rule. The vicious and inhumane German retaliation included torture of Herero men, women and children, their confinement in concentration camps and the use of Herero girls and women as sex workers for German soldiers. German military leader Lothar von Trotha is considered the mastermind of the atrocities committed against the Herero people. Among the actions he directed was massacre of the Herero by machine gun wielding German soldiers, exiling the Herero people, forcing them into the Namib Desert and poisoning the few wells where they could have access to water thus causing most of them to die of thirst. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Herero were killed while about 15,000 escaped to live in neighbouring countries. Many of the Herero were used in inhumane experiments by German scientists during the four year period 1904-1908. The Nama people also challenged the German theft of their land only to suffer a similar fate. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 Nama (50% of the population) were massacred by the Germans. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst.

In 1985 a Minority Rights Group published a report which included the following information: General Von Trotha issued an extermination order order; water-holes were poisoned and the African peace emissaries were shot. In all, three quarters of the Herero Africans were killed by the Germans then colonizing present-day Namibia, and the Hereros were reduced from 80,000 to some 15,000 starving refugees. See P. Fraenk, The Namibians (London, Minority Rights Group, 1985). In 1985, the United Nations' Whitaker Report classified the aftermath of the German's vicious and inhumane attack on the Herero people as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the 20th century. Although the German government recognized this and apologized in 2004, it continues to resist paying financial compensation to the Herero people.

In October 2007 members of the Von Trotha family travelled to Namibia where they apologized for the actions of their ancestor Lothar Von Trotha who was responsible for the genocide of the Herero from 1904-1908. Wolf-Thilo von Trotha spokesman for the Von Trotha descendants said: "We, the von Trotha family, are deeply ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago. Human rights were grossly abused that time, we say sorry, since we bear the name of General Lothar von Trotha. We however do not only want to look back, but also look to the future."

It is ironic that the Van Trothas do not want to look back at the atrocities their ancestor perpetrated against the Herero since the Germans continue to benefit from their colonization of the African continent. The riches they extracted from the continent continue to grow and none of it has been returned to the continent. Chief Maherero, descendant of the chief who led the uprising in 1904 used the occasion to draw attention to the unresolved Herero demand for reparations from the German government. He said: "We demand a dialogue with the present German government to obtain restorative justice." Another member of the von Trotha family, Ulrich von Trotha who emphasied that his family was on a private visit is reported to have said: "Our family cannot become involved in the demand for reparations from a government."

On August 16, 2004, Germany offered its first formal apology for the colonial-era genocide in Namibia. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany's development aid minister officially apologized for atrocities committed by Germans. She admitted that the massacre was equivalent to genocide, without explicitly mentioning the concentration camps and slavery that also existed, both of which were well documented by the Germans. Wieczorek-Zeul ruled out paying reparations to the Herero people. She reiterated that the apology was for crimes committed by a previous government: "Everything I said in my speech was an apology for crimes committed under German colonial rule." A group of Herero has filed a case against Germany in the United States demanding $4 billion dollars in compensation. Chief Riruako, through the Chief Hosea Kutako Foundation, recently filed a lawsuit against three German companies in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, asking for $2 billion (U.S.) in reparations, asserting the companies were in a "brutal alliance" with imperial Germany in the Herero War. As we enter 2012, the Herero have still not received reparations from the Germans for the 1904-1908 atrocities committed against them by the colonizing Germans.


We are at the end of 2011, designated by the United Nations as the International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD) The UN did not designate this year out of the goodness of their heart after experiencing an epiphany about the lived reality of Africans internationally. They were urged to designate an international decade for people of African descent by Africans in the Diaspora especially those whose ancestors were enslaved in Central and South America. The compromise was declaring 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent. Although Canada is a signatory of the declaration which was done in 2009, no level of government in this country bothered to recognize the year and none of the political parties acknowledged the year. We can see the level of respect 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. Many of us are brainwashed into thinking that these high numbers are warranted. However if you follow that thought then you are agreeing with the white supremacist xenophobic idea that our community is inherently criminal. 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 to the past year really useful? Is making several New Year’s resolutions really useful? At the beginning of 2011 I made a list of goals I planned to complete before the end of 2011. I did a good job of completing those goals, reading the 15 books I planned to read and had conversations with people who spoke Kiswahili. Those were my goals and I was able to achieve success because they were not unreasonable. I even 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 about the past year. 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 improve those areas? 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.

As 2011 comes to a close people will enjoy their holiday gifts, spend time with family and count down to midnight on December 31 to welcome 2012. 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, dust yourself off and start all over again. Wow! That sounds like a serious boxing match! Anyway, 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 ( 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 new-comer 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 and As African American inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant has written in Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color, her 1993 published book: 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.

2012 will be here in the next few days whether or not we are ready. We can make it as memorable as 2011. I intend to do so, learning from mistakes made in 2011. 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 8 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!!