As early as Thursday, October 15th people from across the country began to converge to the cities of Houston and Galveston, Texas for one event: The National Black United Front’s 12th Annual Sankofa Caravan to the Ancestors.
The kick-off began with an edutainment component organized by the University of Houston’s Liberation Society and NBUF entitled “Drum and Chant–The Roots of Hip-Hopoetry,” featuring master poet Mutabaruka and other local Houston artists such as Sunni Patterson, 144 Elite, Empress Winter, Bishop Black, Torian, Sar, Rez and hosted by Emcee ZIN. It all took place on the campus of the University of Houston (central). It was a divine mix of Hip-Hop/Poetry! You could feel the revolutionary energy in the room, where all ages from toddlers to elders bobbed their heads, clapped their hands and gave their Ashe’ to the wordsmiths of the night. This was just the beginning of three days of reconnecting our past to the present while showing the necessity for ancestor veneration, unity in our communities and the need to settle our differences. The theme for this year’s Caravan was “Settle your quarrels, come together…the sooner begun, the sooner done” which was taken from a quote by ancestor George Jackson.
There could not have been a more fitting theme, simply due to immediate need for the rebuilding of a united front in the African community as a whole. This has been the mission of The National Black United Front’s Houston Chapter for the last decade, now under the leadership of National Chairman Kofi Taharka. Bringing together African communities of all faiths with the sole purpose of healing our people through prayers and actions of positive, progressive, forward motion toward the liberation of African peoples worldwide!
The second event took place Friday, October 16th at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center in Houston, TX. This event was the viewing of the movie “Sankofa” directed by Haile Gerima and featured a question and answer period following the movie with two of the film’s stars, Oyafunmike Ogunlano and Mutabaruka.
For the last few years the movie has been shown even though a large number of people have seen it. Nearly everyone in attendance would attest to their need to re-visit the movie’s concepts of reconnecting to the African spirit. On this evening the African communities from Houston, Oklahoma, Dallas and Atlanta introduced their children to Oyafunmike and Mutabaruka with proud and respectful reverence as they explained how much it meant to meet “our” movie hero and shero.
The main event showed up as quickly as the rising of the sun on Saturday, October 17th at 6:30 a.m. as beautifully dressed members of the Pan-African community in their all white garbs met at the NBUF Houston headquarters, located at 2428 Southmore, for this glorious day. The 12th Annual Sankofa Caravan to the Ancestors had arrived and all the excitement from the last two days had come to a boil. Peace, Uhuru, Black Power, Forward, As Salaamulaikum, and other greetings filled the air as Brothers and Sisters greeted one another while mentally preparing for what was ahead. Capt. Khalid Greene and the Houston IN-CERT (Inner City Emergency Response Team) organized the vehicles that would partake in the physical caravan down to Galveston, Texas. The caravan included members of various community organizations such as Sehah, O.B.U.-San Antonio, NCOBRA, Third eye-Dallas, TX, AAPRP, The Act of Change and The Shrine of the Black Madonna just to name a few.
Arriving at 29th and Seawall in Galveston, the caravan was welcomed by the sounds of African drumming and waves crashing. Hugs and high spirits filled the air. Bro. Salim Adolfo (Vice-Chairman of NBUF) opened the ceremony with greetings of peace from the National Black United Front. Second to speak was Chairman Kofi Taharka with the word of the day on how our communities needed to settle our quarrels now while firing the revolutionary spirits of all on the beach. Oyafumike Ogulano blessed the ceremony with an opening libation, honoring our holy African ancestors. African communities from Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, New York, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jamaica and Houston poured onto the beach to partake in the spiritual festivities.
Also in attendance on the beach were Cynthia McKinney and legendary percussionist Bill Summers. After singing songs of praise and dancing to the drummers, all were invited to make an offering into the very waters that once brought our ancestors from Africa into captivity here in America. The ceremony lasted approximately three hours, ending in a closing prayer and directions to the luncheon which was held at Old Central Cultural Center. Once at the center, caravan attendees had a chance to unwind, eat and listen to uplifting and motivational words of wisdom from Chairman Kofi Taharka, Oyafunmike and Mutabaruka just to name a few. Once full of spirit and nourishment, everyone quietly reflected, smiled and gave thanks for the opportunity to work toward the liberation of African people through reverence, sacrifice, love and power of community! With the will of the creator and the ancestors, we shall meet again on the shores of Galveston, Texas next year to revisit and reclaim our divine and rightful place where our forefathers and mothers were brought to this land unwillingly. However we willingly say, “Forward ever, Backward NEVER!”
Many thanks and blessings go out to all of the African spiritualist communities that attended and offered their body of knowledge, wisdom and understanding on honoring our holy African ancestors.
Special thanks goes out to the organizers of the Caravan which include, Event Chairwoman, Osunbunmi Gaidi, Bro. Omowale, Sis. Folade, Bro. T. Piper, Sis. Matti and all that came to the weekly NBUF meetings and planning sessions.