Saturday, May 31, 2008

start all over--make a new beginning

a new favorite that i am PASSIONATE about! what great souls and sages exist in this world. today I celebrate Tracy Chapman.
My heart is filled up with the prayer that I might be allowed to be a part of the New Beginning.

Watch New Beginning.

"The whole worlds broke and it aint worth fixing
Its time to start all over, make a new beginning
Theres too much pain, too much suffering
Lets resolve to start all over make a new beginning
Now dont get me wrong - I love life and living
But when you wake up and look around at everything thats going down -
All wrong
You see we need to change it now, this world with too few happy endings
We can resolve to start all over make a new beginning

Start all over
Start all over
Start all over
Start all over

The world is broken into fragments and pieces
That once were joined together in a unified whole
But now too many stand alone - theres too much separation
We can resolve to come together in the new beginning

Start all over
Start all over
Start all over
Start all over

We can break the cycle - we can break the chain
We can start all over - in the new beginning
We can learn, we can teach
We can share the myths the dream the prayer
The notion that we can do better
Change our lives and paths
Create a new world

and start all over

The whole worlds broke and it aint worth fixing
Its time to start all over, make a new beginning
Theres too much fighting, too little understanding
Its time to stop and start all over
Make a new beginning

Start all over
We need to make new symbols
Make new signs
Make a new language
With these we'll redefine the world

And start all over

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ladysmith "white" mambazo

The South African acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo are legendary. I would say they are counted as a global gold standard for acapella virtuosity. One of their classic songs that is known around the world is the song "Homeless."

Now look at these white guys singing the classic. They do such an astonishingly great job. It is quite a feat. Far from diminishing the greatness of the skill of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, watching these guys perform this so spectacularly gives me a fuller appreciation of the musical genius of the piece. The performance is is so good complete with clicks and the endearing Ladysmith Black Mambazo type choreographed gestures. Sweet sweet sweet! They are the group Voices Unlimited from Salzburg performing at the "Musikverein" in Vienna. How it delights me to see great gems from the African heartland being valued as great masterpieces in the global cultural treasury.

And here is the real thing. "Homeless" sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo themselves at the Nobel Peace concert. EEGH-- eegh eegh-- eegh eegh!

I first saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform in Harare Zimbabwe in the late 1980s at Paul Simon's Zimbabwe Graceland tour concert.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"its a battle and I am my greatest opponent"--Badi

Here is some more Hip Hop from a Baha'i artist... Badi with his fabulous new album "Departure." The album is full of calls for social justice and global mindedness. Click over to the MySpace page and experience it.

This post is about the track entitled "I don't know." The Baha'i standard of chastity is high and it can be pretty difficult to maintain the standard as a Baha'i youth immersed in a highly sexualized society. One generally would not say that abstinence and chastity would make it on the list of what makes
a handsome dude cool. But just listen to Badi's track "I don't know" and you will see just how cool it can be.

In the song he reflects with us on how intricately the issue is related to responsible relationships, respect for women, respect for self. This is all achieved in a dialogue with himself in the face of peer pressure coming from a voice that is constantly chiming in to encourage him to make his move "You know she's feelin' you... You know she likes you..."

Here are a few of the lines I managed to jot down while listening to it. You need to listen yourself though. Please do forgive me for always being so demanding :) Well you are here reading and this is my soap box.

is this love is this love is this love that i am feeling
i am not quite sure so let me pull the reel in
i try to decide justly but don't trust me because I am not even sure
if i even trust myself
i don't want you to just be a picture on a shelf
before i know you i need to look into myself

i don't know i don't know man i don't know man
i am trying my best to act like a grown man

When they say why? tell them that its human nature
But sometimes nature can overtake you
it is hard to control it when i'm in the moment
it's a battle and i am my greatest opponent
Yeah i can see your interest in me
But i don't want to fall into false intimacy
like some type of consumer
lookin' for product
that is ripe for the pickin
a wife in the kitchen

sometimes i wonder if they even looking for love
i wonder if they even know what real love consists of
now i don't want to tell you how to run your business
we are one and the same there is no difference between us
but regardless of who it is
one things for sure...when i recognize godliness
thats when i will know

i don't know i don't know man

now maybe she's the one for me
maybe she could keep me company
she could be the one i care for
the one that i will always be there for
we could make a lifelong commitment
i don't know if i should do this when...


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

citoyenne du monde entier

Zap Mama...I know I have posted about her before but she really is my FAVorite! I suppose technically Zap Mama is the group and the fabulous WOMAN I speak of is Marie Daulne. If you are ever feeling down I prescribe watching one of her videos on YouTube. 100% guaranteed to cheer you up with no side effects or your money back :-) Love love love her. She is my heroine.

Here is a video of the song Gati from the album Supermoon.

and the lyrics for which I attempt a translation according to my limited French:

citoyen, citoyenne du monde entier !!

citizen, "citizeness" of the whole world !!

ce chant

this song

cette melodie jolie

this pretty melody

le pouvoir

has the capacity

de nous faire danser

to make us dance

le pouvoir

has the capacity

de nous faire chanter

to make us sing


si vous ete pret

if you are ready

on va commencer

we will begin

alors soulevez vous

so rise up!


je vais les faire

I am going to do


my... dance

avec le peuple

with the people

nous sommes le peuple de dieu

we are the people of God

Allah u Akbar, dieu il et grand

Allah u' Akbar, God He is great

Allah u Akbar, dieu n'est pas petit

Allah u Akbar, God He is not small

The video is so happy but the song has its roots in a very tragic event! I just read this on Wikipedia:

Marie Daulne, the founder and leader of Zap Mama, in Isiro, (pronunciation: "ee SEE roh" or [IPA] /i 'si ro/), one of the largest cities in the north of Orientale, Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo,[4] the fourth child of Cyrille Daulne, a Walloon (French-speaking Belgian) and Bernadette Aningi, a Bantu woman from Kisangani, formerly Stanleyville, the third largest city in Congo Kinshasa.[1] When Marie was only a week old, her father was attacked and killed by Simba rebels, who were opposed to mixed-race relationships.[1] ... Her mother escaped into the jungle...Daulne pays tribute to those pygmies who rescued her family in the song "Gati" from Supermoon.[6] "They saved my family and many others during the Congolese rebellion," Daulne says, "and they deserve recognition for that."[6]
Marie and her sisters were eventually airlifted out to Kinshasa with their mother and flown to Belgium because their father had been a Belgian citizen.[1] "... What I know that I learned from my mother is to be strong and to stay positive in any kind of situation; that's the best weapon to survive. That's what I learned, and this is the main message I pass into my music," says Daulne.[2]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Islam: Empire of Faith

Dear readers,
If I had the authority to require you to do anything or assign you some homework I would insist that you watch this PBS documentary Islam: Empire of Faith. Honestly, I feel in this day and age of such misunderstanding and prejudice that each individual should take it upon themselves to do everything they can to gain some understanding of Islamic civilization. And here is an easy and fascinating way to do so. I found this program breathtaking. It is so well made and so engaging with use of dramatization and beautiful photography and narrated by Ben Kingsley....AND guess what!! The ENTIRE progam (160 min) is available online!! I simply MUST URGE you to watch it. Learn about the life of Muhammad, how he united the warring tribes of the Arabian desert, and gave divine impetus to a grand civilization that has had an enormous influence on Western civilization. Among His teachings are the oneness of God and the establishment of unity and peace among peoples. He also taught a powerful message of social justice and tolerance. Islamic civilization fostered the advancement of science, knowledge, the arts and architecture. Yes, you also get to learn about the wars and power struggles.
You can watch it here:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

ceasefire--emmanuel jal

I just purchased the album "Ceasefire" by Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim. I am just LOVIN' it!!

emmanuel jal was a child soldier in Sudan. now he is a musician and uses his music as a way to raise awareness about the plight of child soldiers. Emmanuel Jal is a Christian. Abdel Gadir Salim is a Muslim and an oud playing legend in Sudan. In this musical collaboration they send the peoples of the world a powerful message of peace and reconciliation across this increasingly contentious divide as well as make musical magic that not only unites cultures and beliefs but also unites tradition and modernity.

From a review on

"Jal and Salim do not mix their music thoroughly on most of Ceasefire, instead allowing Salim's elegant desert blues-- played on oud, accordion, saxophone, wooden drums, and bass-- to rub up against the sequenced beats and funky flow of Jal, who raps in Nuer, Arabic, English, Dinka, and Kiswahili-- sometimes bouncing between four different languages in the space of one verse.
It works surprisingly well, and not just because the two musicians appear on some of each other's tracks. What really is striking about it is how effortlessly Salim's organic, traditional percussion and Egyptian-influenced singing style fits alongside Jal's more 21st century sound. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics of both men reflect on the hope for lasting peace in their country (a peace already encroached upon by the Darfur violence). Jal opens "Aiwa" (Arabic for "yes") with a verse in Nuer that translates to "I would love to sing in all the people's languages/ With this chance that I have I want to express/ The whole of my heart to the whole of the world." The chorus trades Nuer lines with Arabic affirmations, something that would have been next to impossible only a year ago."

here are some images of emmanuel from Globe for Darfur

and here is a video of emmanuel performing one of his top songs, Gua, at the 2006 Festival of World Cultures in Ireland.

another prominent former child soldier who is working hard to raise awareness about this issue and who has captured the public imagination is
ishmael beah.
I assigned his powerful, masterfully written and moving autobiography of his experiences as a child soldier in sierra leone, "a long way gone," in one of my classes this past semester.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

fundamental principles

Ben Heine is a Belgian cartoonist. One of his drawings of a Baha'i artist named Mona was featured today on Baha'i Views.

Here is Ben Heine's portrait of a Tanzanian political cartoonist named Simon Regis. I love the representation of the pencil as a potentially powerful weapon for the conquering of the minds through the raising of awareness, the obliteration of ignorance and the exposing of injustice, and for bringing social issues to our attention for our reflection...

Peoples around the world struggle with the cultural dilemmas that are raised by globalization. On the one hand English is now the lingua franca that is used for global citizens to communicate and interact with each other and endeavor to understand each other. On the other hand, the necessity of learning and using English threatens the maintenance, assertion, and development of local languages, cultures and identities around the world. Cultural identity adn a wealth of unique perspectives and world views are bound up within language. In the almost two decades that I have been studying and speaking Chinese, new worlds and understandings have been made available to me that I would not have had access to otherwise. While it would be impossible for me to ever be able to learn all the languages of the world, I suppose I can console myself that the experience of learning Chinese has cultivated within me the awareness of the richness of diverse cultures and the urgent need for the respect for this diversity among all the world's inhabitants.

Simon Regis does his cartooning in both English and Swahili. I so wish that I could understand the cartoons in Swahili. My lack of ability to understand feels like such a closed door!

Here is another lovely image from Ben Heine entitled "Child of the Universe". The reality of Baha'u'llah's words "The earth is one country and mankind its citizens" is easily apparent to everyone in the contemporary global village. What would a language policy for a global society look like? The Baha'i writings exhort humanity to adopt an international auxiliary language to facilitate communication among all the peoples of the world. According to Merriam Webster online dictionary, auxiliary refers to "functioning in subsidiary capacity". This seems to place important emphasis on the maintenance of the various languages around the world and thus the cultural richness that comes with them. Proper respect for the richness that various languages and "indigenous knowledges" offer the world can only be achieved with a deep recognition of the most fundamental spiritual principle of the age--the "oneness of humankind."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thurgood with Laurence Fishburne

I went to my very FIRST show on Broadway lastnight... a one man play starring

Laurence Fishburne protraying Thurgood Marshall. I thoroughly enjoyed it AND it was so educational.
From Wikipedia:
"Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908January 24, 1993) was an American jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Before becoming a judge, he was a lawyer who was best remembered for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education."