June 27 July 10, 2013



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Surviving the South Pacific


naturally blond black childOver the years, I have read books about the South Pacific that contained pictures of naturally blond-haired Black children. Seeing people of color with naturally-blond hair intrigued me. It is their presence that initially lured me to the South Pacific.

My seven-week journey took me to Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands and New Zealand, where the original inhabitants are Melanesians, who are black-skinned, or Polynesians, who are brown-skinned. Today, most of the citizens of Australia and New Zealand are descendants of Europeans.

After my four-hour flight from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, followed by my long, but pleasant 13-hour transpacific flight from Los Angeles to Cairns, Australia, I spent the first five days in the resort town of Cairns. When the Europeans arrived in Australia in 1770, they called the people on the mainland Aborigines. The story of the black-skinned Aborigines is similar to that of Native Americans. Europeans took the best land, killed the Aborigines and didn’t grant them the right to vote until 1967.

Most of the Aborigines that I saw in Cairns were derelicts and alcoholics. So, I flew on to cosmopolitan Darwin in the Northern Territories, rented a jeep and took a three-hour drive to the Kakadu National Park area where many Aborigines live in settlements. There I expected to see a more diverse group of them.
While in the area, I saw several Aborigines and followed them into a recreation center. The center is what an American would label a bar and I got my first taste of Australian segregation. The Australians of British descent mainly occupied the side of the bar that was set-up more like an attractive sit-down restaurant. The Aborigines occupied the dingy side with a bar and a worn pool table. After I digested what I saw, I figured that legal segregation in the U.S. must have created similar scenes.

Before leaving America, I knew that I needed permission from Aborigine elders to visit their villages. I was hoping that I would be able make the connections upon arrival. Instead, either flooded roads or no trespassing signs prevented me from reaching my goal.

Note: Photographs by and available from Jonathan B. French.

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Thrill of the Rookie

thrill of a rookieThis was not supposed to have been a good book. Thrill of the Rookie (Authorhouse, $16.95) was supposed to have been just another self-published book that turns out to be badly written and a story that is badly told. However, as I flipped through the book, I found myself deciding to read it from cover to cover.

Rookie is the story of a broke Nigerian immigrant to the United States, Osaze Ehigiator.  It’s full of short stories on people he met while driving a cab in the most dangerous parts of Dallas while making the American dream his American reality.

Ehigiator’s story would make Kerry Washington of TVs Scandal spin, but upside down.  Instead of the bizarre happenings among American’s most powerful, his expose of whispered behavior among those at the bottom of the social-economic ladder that he encountered while driving in the land of plenty and flipping burgers in the land of the free and home of the brave.

One of my favorite stories is that of pastor Bob:

- - - When they had left, I went to one of the guys standing there and asked why they called Bob the pastor in spite of his mean dealings with his fellow homeless people. He said that Bob was the street pastor because he quoted the Bible to support whatever position he wanted to take. “That is why we call him the born-against pastor instead of the usual born again.” When he wanted what you had, he would say that the holy book said, “It is better to give than to receive.” But when you asked for anything from him, he would say the holy book said, “Those who will not work, let them not eat. So this will cost you something, because the holy book says so.”

He said that Bob was always ready to lend you a dollar if he had it, as long as you gave him two dollars the next day. According to him, there was no fractional interest on the street. It was always 100 percent. “That is the street rule,” he would say. No one dared to contradict him. Some people, especially the women, actually did borrow money from him and pay double to keep him constantly appeased to avert danger. When Bob was offended, he quoted the section of the Bible that says, “An eye for an eye.” When he offended someone else, he would use the section that says, “Turn the other check.”

Joe once told Bob that he had seen Bob sharing a sandwich with Becky in a dream. Becky was made to pay for the sandwich. According to Bob, it did not matter if it happened in a dream or real life. His rule was that there was no free lunch, period. - - -

But, while learning about my fellow Americans, Ehigiator provides basic details that explain why so many immigrants to the US outperform native born Americans. His sacrifices of working at fast food restaurants with uninspiring and jealous native born Americans while attending school and seizing opportunities they refuse to see as attainable is a story that families should share at the dinner table.

What’s most remarkable is that this now business owner tells his story without passing much judgment, except his declaring that “all minorities are bad tippers” and disputable comments on Mississippi:  “Race was not a major issue at all, even in Mississippi, when it came to job opportunities if you had the qualifications and education.”

Sure the book was not as well written as Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy, but the characters and stories are equally as interesting.  I can only imagine howling at Pastor Bob and other serious, but comedic characters in a TV or on film version of Thrill of the Rookie.

44 Meets 4:
Obama Meets
Macky Sall of Senegal

macky sallPresident Obama landed in Senegal where he will meet President Macky Sall Thursday, June 27. The West African nation has a long tradition of relative democracy. There has never been a coup d’etat in this former French colony.

Sall, a geological engineer by profession, has held a long list of government positions.  He was inaugurated as Senegal’s fourth president April 2, 2013, which ended Abdoulaye Wade’s 12-year-old rule.  Before being defeated, Wade attempted to extend his rule.  Many in the world saw Sall’s victory as a milestone in Africa’s ability to have leaders who can transfer power peacefully.

Aljazeera reported, “News of a defeated incumbent calling the new president-elect in any other context would have perhaps not been breaking news. However, it came against the background of much fear for the future of Senegal, a beacon of stability and democracy in an unstable region, which boasts a long tradition of multi-party elections and peaceful transfers of power.”

Among his many actions, Sall named Senegal's most famous singer, Youssou N'dour, as the minister of tourism and culture.  His wife, Mareme Faye Sall, is the country’s first Black first lady.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that the President’s entourage includes about 500 businesspeople and potential investors.

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POH Gives Away Desktop,
Printer and Desk to Charity

POH has added PC-91 Fax Paper with the Dell printer, computer desk and desktop computer it would like to give away to a charity with the hope of finding at least a lead to someone donating a laptop and/or projector to the POH Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP). All donations to POHGEP are tax deductible.

Baobab Youth
Development Association -
Ramadan Bakery and
Other Project Updates

For the Third Annual Ramadan Bakery project, we are only short $160.


We thank Abrams Books for its donation of books for the Baobab Youth Development Association Library. We are still looking for a used laptop for the library.

We are also now working with Prison Fellowship The Gambia, a Christian-based group that work with the incarcerated. Working with us on the project is POH’s incarcerated contributor Tyrone Colbert.

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ivan brown realty

Things to Do

Washington DC
National HIV Testing Day
Us Helping Us
3636 Georgia Ave, NW
Thu, Jun 27, 2p-7p, free

Single Muslim
America’s Islamic Heritage Museum
2315 Martin Luther King
Jun 29, 1:30-5:30p, $20

African Americans’ Civil War Washington City
Historical Society of Washington
CR Gibbs, on panel
801 K Street, NW
Sat, Jun 29, 2:30p - 4:00p, free

The Campaign for Vicksburg 150 Years Later
Craig Symonds, lecture
Surratt House Museum
9118 Brandywine Road
Clinton, MD
Sat, Jun 29, 4 p, free

cr gibbs

Sun, Jun 30, 930a
Shiloh BC, 9th & P Sts NW
A New Day Begun: Impact of Emancipation Proclamation in DC.MD, & VA
CR Gibbs

Vegan Jazz Brunch at the B Spot
1123 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Sun, Jun 30, 10a-noon, 1p-3p, $22.95

Baltimore International Reggae
Jerk Festival

Pimlico Race Track Park Heights
5201 Park Heights Ave
Sun, Jul 7, 10a-9p, $

Hampton, VA
46th annual Hampton Jazz Festival
Hampton Coliseum
Fri, Jun 28 - Sun, Jun 30, $58.50

23rd Annual Afrikan American Festival
Fri, Jun 28 – Sun, Jun 30, 2013, free

New York (Greater)
The Harlem BACH Project Concert
West Harlem Piers Park
Jun 28, noon, free

International Arts Festival
Commodore Barry Park
Thu July 4- Sun Jul 7, free

Origins of the Afro Comb Opens in the UK

origins of the afro combThe Fitzwilliam Museum opens the exhibit Origins of the Afro Comb: 6,000 Years of Culture, Politics and Identity that inspired Port Of Harlem’s November 2010 – April 2011 issue, The Art of Natural Hair (below). (POH had viewed an earlier version of the exhibit at Harlem's Casa Frela Gallery before creating the issue.)  The UK exhibit opens Tuesday, July 2 and closes Sunday, November 3. 

Our cover featured a self-portrait of Mireille Liong-A-Kong, the exhibit’s photographer, who was surprised about the Fitzwilliam’s interest in her work. She said, “In all honesty I have never really worked on doing exhibitions after my first one but I am very happy with this new one. Someone forwarded me the info about the Fitzwilliam, I sent my info and they were immediately interested.”

The Cambridge, United Kingdom museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge.  Admission is free.

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