Archive for the Awareness Category

Free West Papua

Posted in Awareness, Humanity, Oceania with tags , , , on September 24, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

The indigenous people of West Papua are sending this message to the UN and the world:

“40 years ago, all UN members, including the UK, recognised our right to self-determination but until now we have never been allowed to exercise our right freely and legally. We did not want to become Indonesian in 1969and after so many years of Indonesian oppression we certainly do not want to be Indonesian now. We want to be free!”

Benny Wenda – West Papuan Independence Leader in the United Kingdom & Chair of the Koteka Tribal Assembly –  FREE WEST PAPUA CAMPAIGN

HISTORY LEADING TO THIS MESSAGE//

In 1957, Indonesia was involved in a dispute with the Netherlands for control over West New Guinea. After four unsuccessful resolution claims to the UN General Assembly, they then tried a threat of military force disguised as diplomacy. Backed by ties with the then Soviet Union, Indonesia was seen as a “real threat of war”. The US then persuaded the Netherlands to accept a compromise involving “self determination” for the indigenous people.

On August 2, 1969, the Indonesian dictator Suharto claimed that 100 percent of the Melanesian people of West Papuan chose to be annexed by Indonesia. This was called the Act of Free Choice. Since then when peaceful protesters try to voice their objection they are met with a military response of killing, torturing, and imprisonment.

Indonesian Crimes Against Humanity:

  • Arrest without trial
  • Police violence and torture
  • Bombed and machine gunned villages
  • Evictions with no prior warning
  • Homes burned to the ground

Many of the people that the police have forced from their homes include families with pregnant mothers, children, and the elderly.

Support the Papua National Consensus Collective Leaders in their petition to the UN General Assembly. In accordance with the International Standards of Human Rights, the principles of International Law, and the Charter of the United Nations, the people of West Papua have the right to self-determination. Show your support by signing the petition.

Special thanks to Andrew for sharing this petition!

Reclaiming Our Names Reclaims Our Identify

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, Spotlight with tags , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Some ask, “What’s in a name?” The answer is, “Our identity.” Names signify one’s origin. Most African names have meaning and were traditionally given with that in mind. African names were a reflection of the child’s personality, heritage, or birth.

Colonial names have replaced traditional African names since the 1700’s. Countries, rivers, natural wonders, and kingdoms of Africa were routinely renamed by European colonizers. Even school children of Africa were renamed with ‘Christian’, English, German, or Spanish sir-names by colony, missionary teachers or baptisms. As a result of the slave trade, people of the African Diaspora were given the names of plantation owner’s as a sign of his ‘ownership’. After 300 years of slavery, the people of the African Diaspora no longer knew their forefathers’ names. Heritage records, family trees, and often even birth records were not kept on enslaved people. Records of heritage were maintained better on horses and dogs.

Since the 1960’s people of African descent have been returning to names of their forefathers. Of course for people of the African Diaspora, these are not actual family names, yet they serve as a link to lost family ties. Independence of African countries won:

  • Independence
  • Renaming of the country
  • Renaming of  her children
  • Renaming of  her landmarks

Many people understand the need to return to our natural names. Others do not. Some think it is a dishonor to our parents who named us. Consider it a gift of honor to our parents.  Honor for all those before us that had no real choice in the lost of family names. Consider it honoring our parents with names that reflect pride in our identity. Consider it a way of saying “thank you” to all those who came before us. This is my gift:

  • A bridge to our forefathers
  • Pride in our identity
  • Independence  of the effects of slavery

My identity is not reflected in Deborah Mazon. My identity is in Mijiza Zeyzey. I am part of the African Diaspora. I am reclaiming my identity. I am giving the gift of independence, pride, and gratitude to my family.

Life in the Slums of Kibera

Posted in Awareness, Humanity, Mother Africa, Our Health with tags , on September 19, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Imagine your baby falling to the floor onto a sheet of reused plastic as he enters the world. Imagine no one is there to catch him.  No doctors, or midwives, to assure his safe arrival, only well meaning neighbors. This is how babies born poor come into the Kenyan slum of Kibera.

Families in slums often consist of mothers with no husbands; no jobs; no money. Children of these slums exists with no food; no education; no future. Husbands wonder in and out. They have lost hope of being a providing husband and father. They are the product of growing up in slums without learning productive skills. They are the sons of fathers who like them had nothing to pass on. They are the husbands of women who out of necessity have had to be the backbone of the family.

Hopelessness is the biggest threat in slums. Without hope what is there? There is the lack of opportunity and the promise of death. Without hope, people are vulnerable to crime, imprisonment, and the spread of disease.

Child Brides of East and West Africa

Posted in Awareness, Humanity, Mother Africa, Our Health with tags , , on September 16, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Why would a man marry a child? In Africa girls as young as 7 are forced to marry men age 20 and over. At this age children’s minds and bodies are still developing. Forcing children to perform as adults is abusive. As a result girls suffer both mentally and physically. At age 7 girls should be in school and at play. These functions are important in development. Because their bodies are not developed enough for sex or giving birth tears between their bladder, vagina, and rectum occur. This condition is called obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula robs thousands of girls of urine and bowel control. She is then rejected by both her husband and community. The problem does not stop there. Left untreated it could lead to infections, kidney failure, and death. Other problems that occur are:

  • Children of child brides are at higher risk of developmental diseases.
  • Child brides are at higher risks of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Child brides are not educated.
  • Child brides often have at least 5 children.
  • Child brides often live in poverty.
  • Child brides often endure abuse from their husbands and in-laws.
  • Child brides suffer high mortality rates.

Marrying young girls is a violation of human rights. When sex is involved it is legalized rape of a child. Even in countries where it is not legal, it is accepted, and often expected. Parents are willing to sell their daughters into marriage because girls are not valued as much as boys. In many countries this is just the start of limited rights for women. The role of women is often reduced to:

  • Providing sex
  • Giving birth
  • Performing hard labor

A Tribute to the Displaced of New Orleans – Five Years Later

Posted in Awareness, Humanity, North America, Spotlight with tags , , , on August 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

On August 29, 2005, 18 to 25feet waves caused by Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Before that day, New Orleans was a city with an unique culture. Like her native dish of gumbo, New Orleans developed her flavor from a blend of African, French, Spanish, Native American, Caribbean, and Acadian ancestry.

Known as ‘The Birthplace of Jazz’, a name she earned for her festivals, music, and swag. The rhythm of New Orleans was celebrated by local residents and tourist during:

  • Funerals
  • Mardi Gras
  • Satchmo Summer Fest
  • French Quarter Festival
  • Voodoo Music Experience
  • Live Music Clubs and Halls

Katrina was a category 5 hurricane. New Orleans was under a mandatory evacuation. About 1.3 million people lived in New Orleans, with 62.9% of African descent. Those with the means to transportation left the city; an estimated 150,000 remained. Those who remained lined up to weather the storm in the Louisiana Superdome. Stranded tourists went to the highest floors of their hotels. There was no federal or state aid to evacuate those who remained. For years before the hurricane, local officials had requested state aid to update the levies (similar to dams).

Five years after the massive evacuation over 100,000 people remain displaced. Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 180,000 homes and much of the city’s infrastructure was destroyed. Up to 80% of New Orleans was underwater. Rebuilding has not created affordable homes for the displaced.

The lack of response to request to updated levies and the lack of evacuation aid for the poor, allowed a natural disaster to become a genocide attempt to the city. Much of New Orleans’ flavor has been ‘watered’ down. It has been a lost to the city.

Women of a New Tribe

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, North America with tags , , on August 16, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

The concept of ‘Women of a New Tribe’ developed from the belief that African Americans were a “new people born of an American experience of survival, struggle, and triumph.”  Jerry Taliaferro, photographer and creator of the ‘Women of New Tribe” exhibit says:

“Women of a New Tribe is a photographic celebration not just of the beauty of the Black American Woman, it is a celebration of the beauty that God gives to all women”

The exhibit premiered on June 14, 2002 in Charlotte, NC. It has traveled from city to city photographing local teachers, businesswomen, volunteers, activists, homemakers, wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Europe, Latin America, Mother Africa, North America, Oceania, South America, Southeastern Asia, Spotlight with tags , , on August 15, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Do you know the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, MoCADA? It is located at 80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 1999 by its Executive Director, Laurie Cumbo. Originally  located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in 2006, with the help of a cultural affairs grant from New York City and private money, it relocated.

Its mission is to ‘rewrite history’ so to give an accurate account of the historical, artistic, and cultural contributions of people of African descent to the world. Due to the arrogance of racism many of these facts were never documented or celebrated as achievements of the descendants of Africa.

‘Ain’t I a Woman’, a group exhibit featuring paintings, videos, and works of mixed media is currently on display until December 19, 2010. Featured artists include:

  • Eric Alugas
  • Andrea Chung
  • Elizabeth Colomba
  • William Mwazi
  • Kenya (Robinson)
  • Phoenix Savage
  • Damali Abrams
  • Francis Simeni

The exhibit offers an insight on African Diasporan Women as they choose to be seen. Its name was borrowed from an 1885 speech given by Sojourner Truth. The exhibit is in keeping with her work as an activist to promote taking ownership of one’s image and identity.

For more details contact MoCADA