07 April 2013

A Matter of Firsts

I decided that today I would give honor to those who have come before me, the/my Ancestors by acknowledging some of the FIRSTS that have presented themselves in my life. Of course, I have considered that this might sound like a bit of bragging on my part and it is, in a way. I am bragging about the doorways that I have stepped through because I honor ancestors.

I began to realize as I started to write this that the courage to have "firsts" is something inherited. My grandmother was the first in her family to attend University. This must have been fairly difficult for a woman born in 1901. My grandfather on my mother's side was the youngest barrister in the history of Trinidad. That must have been quite an accomplishment for an African-Caribbean man of those times--some time in the 1920's. So the urge to push the limits that are imposed by others runs through my blood.

I won't go into all of the firsts in my life, just a brief reflection on the most recent ones. I came to Belize as a priestess in an African Traditional Religion and with me came my empowerments, those energies for whom I am the caretaker. That was a first. To enter a country like Belize that had no tradition like this. I set out to "legalize" the practice of Ifa/Orisa and did so. That was a first. And other firsts related to that are the first empowerments, the first initiations in the history of Belize have been done. I am proud to say this because in some small way Belize can never be the same.

And now, another first and the reason for the strange looking picture above. I have been making goat milk cheese for a couple of years, focusing on soft cheese. I decided to branch out and make cheddar cheese and the picture above is evidence of my very first product. More importantly, I believe that this is the first goat milk cheddar ever made in Belize.

But what does this have to do with you? There is something to be said about being aware of what you do that is unique, original, rare. It gives you a space in life and in history that you may not have felt before. Rather than feeling that you are just taking up space, going through mundane motions of life, examine the lives of those who came before you. There are firsts there that you have taken for granted. You are unique, you have much to offer and everyday in the most casual and yet significant of ways, you can make history.

05 April 2013

A Slight Turn of the Wrist

I have had the same coffee pot for a few years. Every morning I make coffee and pour the lovely deep brown liquid into my cup and every morning for the entire time that I have had the pot some of the precious liquid spills on the counter.

Nearly every morning, for as long as I have had the coffee pot, I have thought about how poorly engineered the coffee pot was. I have asked myself why the company did not test the pot before releasing to the public. In Belize, we get a lot of inferior products, usually the rejects of some manufacturer so all along I felt that I had a basis for thinking my thoughts.

It happened a couple of weeks ago, as I was pouring my coffee and some of it was dribbling on the counter, that I decided to hold by wrist in a slightly different angle. The moment I did that, the "problem" was solved.

When something in our life is dribbling all over, meaning not doing what we expect it to do, how often have we decided that the reason for the "problem" is due to the action or inaction of someone else? How often do we think, "if only she/he would do better", I would not be experiencing this? Perhaps you have a basis (at least in your mind) for this way of thinking. Maybe people have let you down. Maybe you have been disappointed. This basis may have some truth to it. You didn't make it up, it really did happen. BUT...

The person who let you down is not a part of this. Not really! Think about how often the bumps in your life simply required a slight turn of the wrist, a simple change of mind, a widening of perspective? Think back to a situation, now removed from your emotions and consider what a slight alteration in you could have done. The point to all of this that the seat of transformation, for any situation is ourselves. A change of mind in a bad situation may move you to do something different or it may propel you out of the situation. That change rests with you.

It is when our explanations are fixed and rigid, when we fail to try something new with ourselves that we find ourselves at dead ends, feeling that we have to accept cleaning up our mess rather than solving our mess. I am glad to report that I have not had to clean up coffee off the counter in the last two weeks. A couple of times, I started to go back to my old way of holding the pot but once I checked myself, all poured smooth.

I hope that your turn of the wrist is also successful.

18 February 2012

The Frustration of Bad Internet

It is really frustrating to not have had Internet along the way. It is an obvious way of keeping African people isolated. Now that I am sitting in Hawasa, Ethiopia with a high speed Internet but cannot upload my photos to this blog, I am even more frustrated. Interestingly since people only make, on average, about $1200 a year, they still cannot have access to Internet even if they new what it was. Our continent is a real dilemma.

So, the blog will be perhaps scattered in some ways as I make comments. In the next 5 days, I will be in Addis Ababa and feel certain that the connection will be the same as here. I will try to get my photos uploaded.

One more point, as inspiration. You learn a lot when you take a risk and make mistakes. I feel my computer/android device knowledge has grown significantly by being frustrated with the equipment.

01 February 2012

A Reflection on the Journey so Far

Cape Town is a city and South Africa is a country that, not surprisingly, has not fulfilled the dream portrayed by Nelson Mandela. Racial equality is a myth perpetuated by the ability of Blacks to move around freely. Like the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, "integration" is not the same as equality. After the years of Apartheid, how can freedom of movement alone raise a people to a competitive level with the whites of the society? The people who benefited economically from the system, as it was, are still in ownership of those businesses. They did not have to give up anything, although to hear them talk, they have given up a lot. The devastation of Apartheid is poignantly shown in the area of Cape Town called District Six. Once a vibrant area that combined many cultures, in the Apartheid system, the groups were not allowed to intermingle. Black Africans were isolated in the townships and other ethnic groups were separated into their own areas. What was once a bustling area was completely destroyed and leveled. Even now, District Six is acres of cleared land within the city. No one has been able to lead its restoration. So the empty land lies in solemn testimony to what hatred and power can do.

Most of the countries of Southern Africa are struggling with how to obtain justice, and balance for all the people who live there. It is a difficult problem with solutions that come with significant price tags. How do we restore our greatness without becoming the monsters that we have had to live under? How do we right our world so that it, once again, reflects our world view?

What is clear is that the ravages of white supremacy and racism are clearly evident in the lives of everyone. From Cape Town all the way to Nairobi and beyond, no doubt, Black people are severely separated from their cultures and traditions. Everywhere along this journey, you meet John and Sara and Fred. You hear a lot about being "born again" or you hear the morning call to prayer of Islam. Ancestors, ritual, respect, belief are things of the past. It is not a pretty picture in a land that is inspiring in its beauty and wealth.

You Know We Like Good Food

Just so that your mouth will water, I would be re-miss if I did not talk about the first rate food in Cape Town. Just look at these selections and you can see what I mean.

Now for the first quiz on this trip. The first 3 people answering every question correctly will win a prize from South Africa.

1.  How many official languages are there in South Africa? What are they?

2.  What is the capital of South Africa?

3.  Cape Town is known for its beautiful surroundings. What is the name of the mountain that is prominent in the Cape Town skyline?

4.  Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on what island and for how long?

5.  In what year did Apartheid end?