Revue:Black Nationalities’ Confab In Honour Of Abdias do Nascimento
THE on-going altercation between the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola over the leadership of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) notwithstanding, the organising committee of the second Global Conference of Black Nationalities is leaving no stone unturned for a successful outing.
A three-man delegation headed by the chairman of the organising committee, renowned diplomat and Historian, Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa was in Brazil last week to firm up preparation for the conference billed to hold in Salvador de Bahia from November 15 to 18, 2015.
Omolewa had a stop over in London featuring on BEN TV to promote the goals and objectives of the international programme that has as theme: Globalisation and its Effects: Charting a true course for the development of the Black Race.
Hosted by the Chair of BEN TV, Alistair Soyode, the TV show provided an opportunity for Omolewa to trace the genesis of the forthcoming conference.
He recalled that CBCIU was established in 2009 and has already held a Colloquium on Slavery and the Slave Trade, the World Conference of Black Mayors and the First Global Conference of Black Nationalities.
He explained that the theme of the conference, “Globalization and its Effects: Charting a True Course for the Development of the Black Race” is both topical and germane as the world faces the challenges of and that the Conference will take a critical look at the positive potentials of open discussions on globalization and its effects. He added that the forum would offer participants the opportunity of identifying and mobilizing towards a common agenda of elevating the black race and black Diaspora. He added that the conference was of great relevance to the attainment of progress of the new ‘Global Goals’ of the United Nations and the UNESCO’s programme centered on its Decade of People of African Descent, 2015-2024 aimed at ending extreme poverty, fight inequality, injustice as well as tackle climate change for all by 2030.
He passionately appealed to all peoples of African descent to join hands in making the conference a huge success that it deserves. He also explained that black nationalities need to come together to discuss the past, present and the future of the people that had suffered the hardship of slavery and involuntary migration from Africa and the attendant challenges of inequalities, undemocratic, non-consultative, and non-transparent systems.
Omolewa further stated that arrangements have gone far and that traditional rulers, academics and institutions all over the world have been invited to the conference from all parts of the world and that philanthropists and people of good will are being requested to invest their resources also in the conference.
Coincidentally, as Omolewa was marketing the programme on Ben TV in United Kingdom, Prince Oyinlola was having an interface with journalists in his Okuku, Osun state country home during which he debunked certain allegations raised by Prof. Soyinka during his September 1, 2015 press conference.
It is necessary to speak briefly on the coming Conference of Black Nationalities scheduled to be held in Brazil between November 15 and 18, 2015. We have already secured the endorsement of UNESCO and other critical stakeholders for the conference and all is set to have a successful outing.
This conference is a follow-up to the first which was held in Osogbo in August 2010. We took this year’s edition to Brazil in honour of black activist, poet, essayist, Nobel nominee and humanist, the late Abdias do Nascimento who spent his whole life promoting and projecting the image of the black race worldwide. We enjoin all Nigerians, including Prof Akinwole Soyinka to join us in celebrating this global culture icon through the conference,” Oyinlola said.
It would be recalled that preparatory to the first edition of the conference held in Osogbo in August 2010, prince Oyinlola, then as governor of Osun State had visited Dr. Nascimento in April 2010 at his residence in Rio de Janeiro inviting him to the Osogbo confrence.
At the emotional ceremony, Dr. Abdias, who transited two years thereafter, expressed the willingness to attend the Osogbo event, although, he couldn’t make it because of his advanced age, he however sent a representative to attend.
With nostalgia, Abdias recalled fond memories of his days at the Obafemi Awolowo University in the 1970s, noting that all black in the Diaspora must make it a point of duty to visit Osun State at least once in their life times given the historical significance of the state to black history. He said he would not mind dying in Nigeria as a result of raveling the long distance.
Another prominent personality visited during the April 2010 trip was Menstre Didi, fondly called ‘’Alagba’’ in Salvador, Bahia. Menstre Didi’s real name is: Descoredes Maximilianos dos Santos, Executive Director, Ile Asipa, Salvador, Brazil. Alagba was represented at the 2010 conference by Genaldo Novaes from Bahia State and delivered his (Didi) paper entitled ‘ The Preservation/Continuity of our Ancestral Cultures: Ile Asipa, Salvador, Brazil.’
Renowned as an Afro-Brazilian scholar, artist, and politician, Nascimento was born in March 1914 in Franca, São Paulo state. He attended public school as a child and joined the military in 1930, but was discharged for disorderly conduct a few years later. He received a B.A. in Economics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1938, and graduate degrees from the Higher Institute of Brazilian Studies and the Oceanography Institute.
Nascimento travelled South America with a group of poets calling themselves the “Santa Irmandad Orquidea”, or the “Holy Brotherhood of the Orchid”, and developed an interest for the dramatic arts. Returning to Rio de Janeiro, he founded the Black Experimental Theater in 1944. He performed in Orfeu da Conceição, a play by Vinicius de Moraes that was later adapted into the motion picture Black Orpheus. He became a leader in Brazil’s black movement, and was forced into exile by the military regime in 1968.
IN the late 1970s, as the military continued to hold power (and would until 1985), Mr. Nascimento, still in exile, helped found the Democratic Labor Party of Brazil, seeing to it that the issue of racial discrimination was a part of its platform. He served in the Brazilian Legislature as a congressman and senator.
He also helped found the Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute, known as Ipeafro, in Rio de Janeiro. There was no more important Brazilian than Nascimento since the abolition of slavery in 1888,” said Ollie A. Johnson, a professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit and the author of “Brazilian Party Politics and the Coup of 1964.” “No other Brazilian fought harder and longer against white supremacy and racism in Brazil in the post-slavery era. For Americans to understand him and his contribution, you’d have to say he was a little bit of Marcus Garvey, a little of W. E. B. DuBois, a little bit of Langston Hughes and a little bit of Adam Clayton Powell.” He died in Rio de Janeiro on May 23, 2011. He was 97. His survivors include his third wife, Elisa Larkin Nascimento, who is the current director of Ipeafro; three sons, Henrique Christophe, Bida and Osiris; and a daughter, Yemanja.