Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Why am I doing this?

Group of rural Ugandan children in song for visitors from abroad.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

I was having a nice chat by telephone last evening with my friend Janine Smith, an outstanding multi-talented performing artist from Brooklyn, New York (Yo B.K.!, Yo Man). Janine lives here in Germany and tours with her very popular and funky Blues/Soul/Jazz fusion band Voodoo Child. Janine also instructs and leads inter-racial, multi-national choirs in northern Germany. You can find out more about her on the Voodoo Child website and perhaps iTunes website.

Anyway, Janine is a real intelligent and sympathetic soulmate for me (sometimes), and last night we were discussing Africans living here in Germany and in Africa and all the difficult issues facing them here and there and everywhere.

So I was discussing with her the latest news out of Darfur, the child-trafficking crisis across West and Central Africa and into Europe and the Middle East, gender-related issues for the women and girls of Africa, and the latest atrocities in the D.R.C. and Burundi and Oh My God... you know. This usually bums Janine out because she is a real sensitive artist and a New York sister and so forth.

So Janine says to me,
"...but Bill (that's my other name)...but Bill The Beast is so Big! What can we do to help these people when The Beast is all over the place in Africa?".

So I answered Janine,
"Look here Baby, ordinary people like you and me have to get in there to help 'em out, no matter how small the effort might seem. We have to dance at the edge of the Abyss if necessary and pull 'em out! What are we going to do, let monsters like Omar (al-Beshir) wipe out the people of Darfur and southern Sudan and do nothing, be silent about it and let all these people just die?'

'Be silent like people were back in the 1940's when Jews and ethnic groups all across Europe were being rounded-up and trucked away and murdered by the millions, and then pretend we didn't know anything about it. I can't do that, not me. The ghosts of my ancestors__ of my grandmothers and grandfathers won't let me rest if I don't do something, when there is something I can do to help. Not me doggone it___I can't be silent no more!"

I think what I said to Janine last night goes for a lot of us around the world, no matter our color or our nationality or ethnic group or religious beliefs or whatever we think makes us so different from one another. Of course we can't all express it in the rich cultural lingo of the descendents of black African slaves taken from the continent more than 300 years ago, but don't worry about that.

I didn't start this weblog to be some kind of activist or protest website, but as a platform for ideas and communication exchanges and a way to easily publish things on my mind and on the minds of those who visit this blog. It is obviously focused on Africa and her peoples and natural biodiversity.

I've received some very nice and encouraging comments and acclaim about Jewels in the Jungle over the past 90+ days it has been online from people deeply involved with humanitarian and economic development work as well as colleagues and professionals from the technology and academic world. I really appreciate those nice comments and thank all who have offerred them.

I am convinced that such simple and easy-to-use web publishing tools like Blogger and Movable Type and Radio Userland can go a long way in helping peoples in the developing world to connect to one another and to people throughout the (cyber) world.

Blogging can be a solid first step into the exciting world of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) for millions of people who have something to say or to share. The costs to start is either very low or absolutely free.

So stay tuned to our Jewels in the Jungle blog as we dig deeper into the technology and make some changes and improvements over the next months. In the tradition of the great Saint Louis and Chicago blues musicians of my home " we're gonna rock this sucka" over the next many months. Maybe Janine of "Voodoo Child" could write a little song for "Jewels in the Jungle".

I definately intend to mercilessly rock Omar's World down in Khartoum and all of his ilk across the continent, until people like him are gone from Africa for good.

Until we can look at photos like the one of these lovely Ugandan children and know in our hearts that they are going to be allright. We've got some work to do, Baby.

No comments: