The participants in “The Beginning…Before We Were African-Americans” – the 17th Annual Youth Black History Reality Show’s theme – focused on the African continent.
The stage lit up with song, dance and oration with director Melba McCarty, writer Robert Whiting, choreographer Valerie Betts, including drummer Terry Handy, Dr. Reinhold Schlieper, audio/visual; and TV production teacher Tracey Hicks of Flagler Palm Coast High School (FPCHS).
The free event was presented by the Youth Black History Committee of the African American Cultural Society (AACS) – Jeanette B. Wheeler, chair; Richard Barnes, Patricia Bottoms, Melba McCarty, Harriett A. Whiting, and Annette Williams.
The show was recently presented at the AACS center.
While each performer worked to uncover the African American experience, suffice it to say that each one has an opportunity to qualify for a scholarship from the AACS upon graduating from high school.
Past scholarship recipients Bryanna Ivey, a Daytona State College student, and Jessica Crockett, who is now an attorney, cheered the performers on.
Emcee/high priest/griot Alex Harvey began cueing the audience:
Celebration of ‘homeland’
Harvey said, “Africa, our homeland, is where people were free and happy. They celebrated all occasions – weddings, death and birth – with dance and music. We have rhythm, people,” he quipped.
That rhythm was accomplished through African dance, performed by Oslyn Bryant, Samira Taite-Headspeth and Nia Felton.
Audience members were shown a video put on by the TV production students of Flagler Palm Coast High School. The video recording focused on Africa’s rich, natural resources.
Having said that, Africa, in the beginning, was and is a region that’s lush, nourished, and thick with green and vibrant forest trees and tropical flowers, and animal species numbering in the thousands, which can only be found in this region of the world.
Africa has deposits of copper, uranium, zirconium, titanium, cobalt, silver, gold, precious
gemstones, such as diamonds and rubies, in addition to deserts, mountains, rivers, and ocean shores. The land mass is vast!
“This is Africa, my ancestral home,” said the video announcer, “Africa, our ancestral home, home to the Twa people, who were our first ancestors, and who – more than 200,000 years old – began to set civilization into motion.”
We were the pioneers
Our beginning, life, and environment tell us about who we are, and who we serve.
What happened? asked one quizzical young man from the group with Zavion Betts, Daniel Esannason, Audrey Harrison and Sheldon Harrison.
“While our people are survivors, no matter what was thrown at us, we found a way, and we will make a way,” affirmed Harvey amid the cheering, young crowd.
For 140,000 years, Africans were the only humans here on earth until we left Africa, and that was 60,000 years ago, when ethnicities and other languages were developed. We were the pioneers.
The next stops are extrapolations from discoveries and developments recorded by the high priestesses:
High Priestess Jada Simpson mentioned that Egypt’s Nile River is the longest river in the world – measuring 4,100 miles long – and both the Nile and the Amazon Rivers are two, very large rivers, which flow from south to north.
Simpson said that during ancient times, farmers would work on temple and pyramid-building projects until the Nile River stopped overflowing.
High Priestess Edwina Mezo Brown said that Africans were using the solar year over 6,200 years ago, and the concept of time and a calendar to know when to plant, harvest crops, and prepare for events – such as the annual over-flowing of the Nile River. The 365¼ day calendar that is used today was influenced by the African calendar.
Solar year lesson
Interestingly, Brown said that the African solar year is perceived through a deck of cards:
For example, 52 cards represent the 52 weeks in a year; 24 even cards in a deck typify the 24 hours of the day; 13 cards in a suit represent 13 new moon and 13 weeks between each season.
High Priestess Oslyn Bryant attributes Queen Hatshepsut (1429-1415 BCE) – wearing a false beard for acceptability and the first to wear kohl eyeliner – as the first woman to rule Egypt.
The high priestess said that the queen oversaw the construction of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony, and built over 1,000 years prior to the Parthenon.
High Priestess Samira Taite-Headspeth denotes that King Djoser commissioned Imhotep, the world’s first genius, to build the Saqqara Complex, an archaeological pyramid structure in Kemet, or what is now called Egypt.
Imhotep, who lived from 3000 BCE to 2950 BCE, was a physician, astronomer, architect, master sculptor, philosopher, vizier to the king, and an inventor, who used stone for building
Diaje Betts opened with the invocation.
And, following the centerpiece, “The Beginning…Before We Were African-Americans,” the journey refrained with stops along the Americas, expressed by Sofia Curtain, High Priest Demetrius Harrison, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church liturgical dancers and youth group, the AKA # CAP Orators, Delta Gems, young singer Aminah Taite-Headspeth, Edwina Mezo Brown, and all performers dancing to a rendition by the Soweto Singers.
Get your copies of the Daytona Times from Toney’s Barber Shop, 218 St. Joe Plaza Drive, Palm Coast; and from the African American Cultural Society, 4422 U.S. 1 North, Palm Coast.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.
Belated birthday wishes to Loretta Pete, March 13; Ruthie Saunders, March 14; Ronald Ambrose, March 16; Deven M. Price, Maxine Hicks, Patrice Henderson, March 17; and Myles Baker, March 18.
Birthday wishes to Reginald Pincham, Sabrina Weaks, twins Stephanie Morales and Stephen Carr, March 19; Christopher W. Robinson, March 21; Mason Sword, Rory Ragoonan, Arthur Pete, March 22; and Evangelist Robin Campos, March 24.
Happy anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law, Ronald and Blossom Coaxum of the Bronx, March 24.