Africa Now July 20, 2016 Reflections on Africa's Deep Impact on Diasporic Cultural Production

Africa Now July 20, 2016

Topic: Reflections on Africa's Deep Impact on Diasporic Cultural Production

Topic and Guest: Today Africa Now! features Reflections on Africa's Deep Impact on Diasporic Cultural Production with Brother Ah.  Studying the complexities and continuities engrained throughout the African world is no easy task.  But it is a project that must be meticulously and judiciously carried out in an effort to piece back the sociopolitical and cultural memory of a people who was purposefully fractured…scattered across the world…something that Ngugi wa Thingo calls (re)Membering.

What must not be lost is that the cultural life of African peoples has been a direct target of those who insistently seek to control, dominate, and/or marginalize what it considers to be alien or foreign to their particular sociopolitical and cultural ways of being.  As a result, it then becomes the primary responsibility of the dominated people—working collaboratively with every radical/heretical/maroon component within this newly constructed society—to extract, map, and write a complete history—all while understanding that this history is not simply dates, and/or events…but it is a living entity that evolves…it informs various forms of knowledge that guide lived experiences.  The key to what has just been laid out is how and where do we begin…while we can surely begin anywhere…it is important follow the African rhythms of resistance to being marginalized and/or oppressed…because it is here at the nexus of what is and what ought be, we find a surge in the cultural production of a people…seek out scribes, teachers, elders, cultural workers, activist, archives, institutions, mothers, fathers, aunts etc in order to stitch the fabric of historical and cultural memory back together.  After all one of Africa's most important freedom fighters, Amilcar Cabral, once said that: “Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history as well as a determinant of history, by the positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of relationships between humanity and the environment, among men and women…as well as among different societies…"  Africa Now! Executive Producer and Co-Host James Pope recently had the pleasure to sit down with one of the scribes, teachers, cultural workers highlighted a few moments ago--Brother Ah--to Reflect on Africa's Deep Influence on Diasporic Cultural Production.   

Robert Northern (aka Brother Ah) is the musical director of the World Music Ensemble and The Sounds of Awareness Ensemble. He specializes in Wind Instruments, African Drums, and Percussions.  Brother Ah constantly seeks to celebrate the emergence of a world culture, while retaining the distinct expressions of each cultural style in it, paying particular interest to African inflections.  Brother Ah extensive experience spans the musical field.  He is the musical director of “Sounds of Awareness”.  A musical collective that utilizes music, dance, poetry and the sounds of nature to inspire and raise individual levels of consciousness.  The group also produces music for meditation, relaxation and healing.  He also founded The World Community School of Music in 1992 and offers instrumental and vocal music classes to students of all ages. As a lecturer and educator he has taught at public and private schools in New York and Washington, DC, as well as Brown University in Rhode Island (9 years), Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (3 years), Talledega College (Alabama).  Brother Ah is a performer, educator, lecturer, composer and arranger both in Western and non-Western traditions.   He has composed and directed numerous extended works including “Ode to Creation”, The Forces of Nature” and “Tribute to the Ancestors”.  Brother Ah, as a French horniest, has played and recorded with musical greats including Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Dolphy, Max Roach, John Lewis, to name a few.  His classical performances, include the New York Metropolitan Opera (stage band), Radio City Music Hall Orchestra; symphony orchestras in Vienna, Austria, West Germany and Broadway Theatre orchestras.  He studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, the Vienna State Academy in Vienna, Austria and he is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC.

Click here to listen to Africa Now! of July 20, 2016 Reflections on Africa's Deep Impact on Diasporic Cultural Production. 

Originally broadcast on WPFW 89.3FM, Washington, DC.  Tune into Africa Now! live on WPFW 89.3 FM in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area or visit www.wpfwfm.org on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00PM (Eastern).