Friday, December 31, 2010

Strive And Be Alive

It is often during the approach of New Year’s Eve that people begin to reflect on what has been achieved during the past year, or sometimes simply what events have taken place… which are not always pleasant. This is why we focus mainly on the achievements, the milestones we have passed on our journey along Life’s Road and that reassure us of the direction that we are going in. Life is in constant motion. In fact, a philosopher (possibly Heraclitus) once said that, “the only thing constant in life is change”. This is true, and you can see it two ways. You can take it that everything you build and pursue is fleeting (which is rather depressing), or you can take it to understand that life is alive… life is in motion, which means that it is never in the same place at the same time.

Think of life as water. This is not an unfamiliar analogy since we need water to sustain life. Even in the Bible it has been said to drink from the “water of life”. If you are thirsty and you come across water, you always check to see if the water is flowing or if the water is stagnant. Stagnant water stays in one place, it is still and collects debris, bacteria, and algae within it, which can make someone very sick, and which makes the water pointless to drink. However, consider a stream or a river. The water in these systems are constantly moving, from a mountain or hill down through miles of terrain, and either connecting to another larger river, or emptying into a sea or ocean. The water is in steady motion as it flows across rocks, fallen trees, and any other obstacles. Powerful currents ebb their way through earth, cutting natural courses into the land that they travel over. Ultimately this water arrives at a destination and becomes one with it, fulfilling its purpose in movement. This is the type of water you drink from. This is also the type of water you rely on for transportation, or to generate power… it is life-giving in a multitude of ways.

In the Scriptures, Psalms 1:3 describes of being like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bearing fruit in due season. This too is where we should plant ourselves. As a river brings fresh water, nourishment, and energy, so should our lives. If we are firmly planted and rooted in soil beside a flowing river, then our seeds can follow along with the stream. So as the water carries our seeds and hopes along so should life’s journey progressively move toward the goals that we want to achieve. It should be able to break down the barriers set before it, it should be able to follow the tried and true paths that it has traveled before, or when they are no longer practical, to then carve out its own course through new terrain. If we do not move, time still passes. We can choose to either go with the flow and grow or to stagnate and evaporate. Our streams of life move toward their destination by the force of striving.

In just a year’s time I can see how my own river of life has progressively moved through the topography of 2010. Just as a river rarely runs a straight course, such is life as well, full of surprises. Yet, around every bend there are new exploits and there are new open ways to reach the goals that we strive for. As many people do, I have goals for my life. Sometimes these goals seem distant and far off, but by faith we can stay in pursuit of them, or at least when we have the strength to realize this. I cannot believe the many good things that have come my way in 2010. I have ensured the stability of my career in education during a time when so many people have concern over their jobs. I have achieved a new level of health and physical fitness that I have not had in years. I have found a new home to buy, and I am in the process of closing and having a new place to live. Finally, I have found a woman who completes me, one that is worthy to be called my Empress, and who I can see a great future ahead for us. These were not expected things, but they were things hoped for. As long as we are progressive in our mentality, each of us can make our way to our goals as we ebb and flow through the daily terrain just to get there. I am still in motion, moving in order to make progress on what has come and to gain new ground until my river runs into the sea. My faith propels me and keeps my river from running dry. If we want it badly enough, and we believe in its purpose then we can cut through the difficulties and doubts that we encounter and make it to where we are destined to be. Each of us can do this if we remember to strive.

We must strive to be alive; we must stay in constant motion. Be active in your life’s journey. Be progressive and continue to flow just as a living stream of water. Bear these things in mind as a new year begins. I wish everyone a Happy and Blessed New Year… and treat each day as a new year and a new time, lush with new opportunities and new courses for your river to run.

Strive & Be Alive,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pon Di Flagship

Pon Di Flagship

Pon di flagship
Pon di flagship, lawd
Ting nah cool
If ah fool run di flagship

If di head ah di ship cyan steer
Den di whole ah crew muss fear
Rock an hazard, him haffi clear
So mi seh, its time fi commandeer

Di captain cyan stand di scrutiny
Him seh dat he alone is di authority
Him so blind dat he just cyan see
So di whole ship ready fi ah mutiny

Pon di flagship
Pon di flagship, lawd
Ting nah cool
If ah fool run di flagship

Too much at stake, he cyan navigate
Leading his vessel into dire straits
Could never relate to one shipmate
Cyan sail wid too much deadweight

How did he ever get inna di position
Who di one who drive dat decision
Time come fi mek a mission revision
Or fool go run flagship inna collision

Pon di flagship
Pon di flagship, lawd
Ting nah cool
If ah fool run di flagship

(c) 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Frame Of Mind

Frame Of Mind

I can fit her into any picture frame
Snapshots taken by my mind's eye
Where I can look through and recall
Memories not yet created but fated
To occur within our brightly lit future

I can see photos of captured moments
She is standing hand-in-hand with me
Could be in Accra, Ghana or Rome, Italy
But what matters is she somehow has
Found her way into my life each day

I can see us when the camera lens focus
Together, experiencing what will come
An ordinary day or a great celebration
I can visualize her in my life all the time
She is the picture in my frame of mind

(c) 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Honey Bums

Honey Bums

Now that I have my honey
My whole life is so sweet
But they see it and come
Out from hidden corners
Trying to sink their teeth
Into my fresh honeycomb
Yes they suddenly appear
As if they hear happiness
Come alive in my beehive
Of which I am the keeper
Eager to taste the goodness
That was made just for me
Inspiring jealousy in those
Who only beg for my honey

(c) 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Makeda

My Makeda

I, King Solomon, have found my Makeda
A virtuous woman with nuff good behavior
Tell Mama, Papa, and all ah my neighbor
Come watch me jump for joy just like David

Plenty princesses came to my palace from outta road
With intentions to have me worship silver and gold
But the Rastaman could never be bought nor sold
JAH tell me seh, never go where all dem pagans go
They came by the dozens just to confuse my mind
To take away my I-sight and leave me for blind
My world would fall apart in just a matter of time
So I had to move forward and leave them all behind

I, King Solomon, have found my Makeda
A virtuous woman with nuff good behavior
Tell Mama, Papa, and all ah my neighbor
Come watch me jump for joy just like David

Delilah she told I-man fe go chop off all ah mi locs
Or else she’d make me sleep outside pon the hard rocks
She never loved I-man for my heart or my thoughts
So she stifled my strengths and pointed out all my faults
Jezebel, I knew well, still I could never please her at all
Only kicked me down when I tried so hard to stand tall
She was scheming to see me and my whole kingdom fall
The woman was too dangerous, I couldn’t take it at all

I, King Solomon, have found my Makeda
A virtuous woman with nuff good behavior
Tell Mama, Papa, and all ah my neighbor
Come watch me jump for joy just like David

My Makeda came along and she passed each of the tests
She’s full of qualities like wisdom, patience, and kindness
There’s no stress like the rest, I confess that I’m blessed
Yes, she’s my Queen Majesty, she’s my royal empress
In a faraway land, the sun gave her a black complexion
A long journey brought her straight toward my direction
She must have been fashioned for me with this intention
She's worthy to rule beside me, this destiny was chosen

I, King Solomon, have found my Makeda
A virtuous woman with nuff good behavior
Tell Mama, Papa, and all ah my neighbor
Come watch me jump for joy just like David


(c) 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day is a familiar American holiday, even to those who may not be Americans. Everyone comes together with their family and friends, feasting on food, and sharing each other’s company with time away from work (if you are fortunate enough to do so). I do enjoy Thanksgiving for the opportunity of spending that quality time with loved ones and enjoying the things that we may usually take for granted. Yet I have always thought that by having this particular holiday, we sometimes limit the true scope of how much we should be constantly thankful for, as opposed to just this one time of the year. The truth is that each time we rise up from our sleep in the morning, we should then give thanks for a new day. When we go to sleep in the evening, then we should give thanks for the day that we had. We could easily list all of the hundreds of simple things that happen in between that deserve our thanks. I have the usual things that I give thanks for every day, but this November I am especially blessed in ways that I could not have foreseen even at the beginning of the month. In fact, I am still so amazed that I have a hard time taking it all in and I can barely write about what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it, but I would have to describe it as miraculous.

It is good to humble ourselves and have a thankful heart in all things, but it is only human for us to also want certain particular things fitting for ourselves. People go about expressing those personal desires of ours in different ways, but they dwell within us either way. Though we may have wants, it doesn’t mean that we must be selfish in our pursuit of them. All we need to do is have some faith and ask for it. I have very much to be thankful for today because the petitions of my heart have been answered when I least expected it. Without going into much detail on what that may be, I will say that they are both big changes of special importance in my life... things that I have long hoped for. Strangely enough, when big blessings happen so suddenly it can leave us awestruck, this includes the very good things that come our way... it is out of the ordinary and we often have trouble processing and receiving such things. However, truth and reality do not always fit into conventions. When we understand this concept, we can move forward without anxiety and accept what has been put before us.

It is hard for me to remember a time when I have been happier, and I am confident that life can only become better for me. The cornerstones are being laid down now and helping me to create a solid foundation for the future. I am excited and filled with joy because these changes are such a powerful and positive message coming from The Almighty, an assurance that my faith is not in vain and that good things come to those who wait patiently for them. There is a due season for everything. No one can rush through the winter just to reach spring and summer. Simply put, it comes when the right time comes. For me, the right time has come for these particular occurrences in my life. More proper times will come for my future endeavors. What will happen next? How will these new and amazing blessings develop?... I am so excited to find out. I will also specifically share about them in my future writings when the time is right, but for today I just wanted to share the vibes. So, I am giving thanks! JAH knows that this is a very special Thanksgiving for me!

I will conclude with these simple thoughts. If you have some faith, then the things that you hope for will come your way... somehow, some way, at some time. Also, be prepared to recognize and accept these things when they do finally come. You never know what is in store for you, and you never know how it will actually manifest. Life has its many surprises and you’ll be surprised by how many good things you’ll encounter along the journey if you think positive and keep an open mind. Never give up, and never stop giving thanks for life and its abundance!

Give Thanks Always,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Like The Seasons

Like The Seasons

When the snows thaw, so does she
After months away, she returns to me
Casually as if it was to be expected

She opens as a thirsty blossom does
Ever softly telling me how she was
Longing for me to come till the earth

From morning light until night, I labor
Lovingly tending to her every last acre
Toiling in the sunny heat of her passion

But her mind changes with harvest time
All affection withers away on the vine
My crops are lost during her first frost

She comes and goes like the seasons
Leaving me to examine the reasons
For enduring another winter of her love
When I should seek warmer climates
Where my seeds will grow year 'round
In ground where true love may be found

(c) 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When We Were Soldiers

When We Were Soldiers

Maybe it was the innate inclination
Seemingly present in all young boys
Or perhaps it was the moment that
While playing games in the basement
We laid our eyes upon our Grandpa's
Olive drab, wool army service cap
Above coats up on a closet shelf
The leather visor and brass insignia
Pristine and clean, set aside from
Another era that we had never seen

My brothers and I spent many hours
Over at our grandparents' house
But the army hat was a new discovery
It beckoned us from their basement
Giving us an itch as if this piece
Of uniform was some transformative
Relic that would change us all from
Boys into the men seen in WWII movies
So finally, with his permission we
Took turns wearing Grandpa's old hat

We quickly enlisted into fascination
There was more beyond that closet door
Next, Grandpa allowed us to use his
Heavy steel helmet along with the
Army belt and its aluminum canteen
Our Dad too lent us some of the things
From his days as a Marine in Vietnam
We put on khaki and green garrison caps
With his knapsack and issued tee-shirts

This was much more than those plastic
Green men we'd set on the floor and
Shoot elastic bands at while peeking
Above paper tents and plastic jeeps
Now we ourselves seemed down there
Dressed up in our own father's gear
Frozen in some pose while waiting
In those uniforms, like a combatant
Ready to cross over the enemy's lines
The soldier's life vivid in our minds

We were an absurd mishmash of troops
As we three would dig in our garage
To dress in camouflage and sneakers
Along with bright yellow and blue
Fisher-Price binoculars dangling
From our necks like strange dog-tags
One of us would awkwardly wear the
Steel helmet, bobbling on their head
Another would just wear its inner liner
And we had many hats to choose from

Naturally, being the eldest found me
Usually in command of the other boys
We would set out with our toys and
Whoever was the lucky one would use
Our uncle's old BB gun, shooting air
At whoever would dare attack our hidden
Fortress in the gully behind our home
We'd roam the woods, drawing crude maps
Planning ambushes on imaginary enemies
And occasionally on our own neighbors

During the summer months we'd spend
Hours in the hot sun, running through
Underbrush and thorns, hiding in trees
Drinking swigs of the tinny tasting
Water from our Grandpa's old canteen
Until we had to come in and get clean
So Mom would allow us to eat our dinner
We did this until we grew older and the
Movies and video games soon replaced
The times we chased each other outside

I will always remember those days
When we were soldiers, playing games
Fighting imaginary backyard battles
Because our Dad and our Grandpa had
Already fought the real ones for us
Decades before, in wars far from home
And though we played in their uniforms
We never once stepped into their boots
Because they were generals we'd salute
In those days when we were soldiers

(c) 2010

Livicated to my Dad and my Grandpa, both veterans:
Robert L. Curzan, USMC, Vietnam War
Edmond Gioielli, US Army, World War II

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Endorphin Orphan

Endorphin Orphan

It had touched my sole
The surface beneath
Where my feet found
Poise in New Balance
And moving forward
I opened up the gaits
Freeing the wild beast
That was now swiftly
Piercing through me
A living lightning bolt
Firing within my limbs
I was finally aware that
It was me here with my
Dreadlocks flying behind
Exercising away demons
With speeds to leap all of
The hurdles set before me
Sweat running off my brow
I have seen how I could go
Further still and conquer
The miles of trials ahead
So, like Hermes, I now soar
To bring forth the message
That I’ve taken the road home
No more an endorphin orphan

(c) 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Elect Of JAH

Today is Election Day in the United States. This year, it happens to fall on Coronation Day, marking the 80th Anniversary of the crowning of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I. The occasion offers an interesting contrast to behold. On one end, you have the game of politics. Although the idea and practice of democracy is something that the United States upholds, promotes, and has shared with the world, it is an imperfect system and has lost much of its splendor especially during the past decades. Dirty campaigning, unfulfilled promises, the shameless spending of millions of dollars, and the partisan political rhetoric have all contributed to the tainted image of American government and free elections. Even President Barack Obama, who was swept into office on a tide of hope, is not without criticism from some of his original followers, whether it is warranted or not. Ultimately the political system seems to consume all good intentions. On the other end, you have the coronation of a king from an ancient lineage, a theocratic monarchy inherited from King David and his son King Solomon. According to Scripture, this monarchy was established by the Most High Himself. However, the lineage of kings has not been a perfect one either. In fact, one only needs to read the accounts of David and Solomon in the Bible and Kebra Nagast to see contradictions between their conduct and their role as anointed kings of Israel, the nation of JAH’s chosen people. Yet, an everlasting covenant was given to David, an eternal promise to his seed that they would be the Kings of Israel and the custodians of God’s Throne as long as there is a sun and moon in the sky (Psalms 89). This is what is called the Davidic Covenant: that promise that the seed of David would endure through every generation, and that the sovereign tribe of Israel would be Judah. H.I.M. Haile Selassie I was crowned on this day 80 years ago as the 225th royal descendant in the line of Solomon. So today, these lines converge to a point where the democratic system of government, originated in ancient Athens, adopted and improved throughout time up to the present United States is juxtaposed with the crowning of King Selassie of the Ethiopian Royal Family, the Davidic monarchy of the Tribe of Judah. We have the meeting of the elect of the people versus the Elect of JAH. As for me... I choose the Elect of JAH.

I make a bold statement here, but it is a statement of Faith. Some may ask me why in this day and age would I support and follow a monarchy that claims to be the rightful rulers of Earth. After all, many kingdoms throughout history have done the same, like Britain and France, holding to the concept of divine right. However, the Ethiopian Royal Family is the only set of people on Earth capable of tracing their lineage to Solomon and David. Others have tried to make that connection, especially after adopting Judeo-Christendom. Yet, the ancient tradition and record that Ethiopia and the text of the Kebra Nagast speaks of manifests this Truth. Even so, some may then ask why the Solomonic lineage of Ethiopian kings should be significant even if it is true. However, if it was not important, then why in the Bible did the gospels of Matthew and Luke go through the lineage and genealogy of Jesus Christ up until David just to prove that Yeshua (Jesus) was of King David’s seed? If this lineage indicated that part of the Scriptures were fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, the “Son of David”, then this lineage is also important to continue through Solomon, his son Menelik I or Bayna-Lehkem (by Makeda, the Queen of Sheba) up to Haile Selassie I and even to his grandson, H.I.H. Zere Yacob, because of the Davidic Covenant which did not end after Christ’s coming... since its promise was eternal. In a mystical and spiritual sense, Jesus Christ was king on David’s throne, but not physically, not until “he whose right it is” or “Shiloh”, or in other words the Second-Advent of Christ shall receive the throne after the kingdom governed by one of David’s seed is no more. Even traditional Christians uphold this belief that Jesus Christ will return and sit on Israel’s throne in the judgment. So if the descendants of David are still present in the Royal Family of Ethiopia, and the sun still shines and the moon still glows, and Iyesus Kristos has not yet come again in His Second Advent to judge the wickedness and evil of this world in the Armageddon, then that means the Davidic Covenant still exists... and King Selassie I’s coronation represented the modern continuation of that promise and the foreshadowing of Christ’s return through the works and divinity of His Majesty. I also believe that Selassie I was not just another Davidic/Solominic king, but also truly fulfilled his role as Israel’s King and manifested the Spirit of Christ. H.I.M.’s kingship was the restoration of light and overstanding from the House of David, he was the Elect of JAH to represent Him to all of humanity and he loosed the Seven Seals.

Just yesterday I wrote a reasoning on Dr. Vernon Carrington, the Prophet Gad, who’s Earthstrong comes the day right before Coronation Day. Brother Gad’s testimony is symbolic in a similar way to how Marcus Garvey’s prophetic declaration of an African sovereign before Selassie I’s coronation had called ones to Rastafari. Gadman had aligned Rastafari doctrine with his Orthodox teachings supported by the Scriptures and with what H.I.M. Haile Selassie Himself declared. Rather than one of the traditional Rastafarian beliefs that His Majesty was the Second-Advent of Christ, Bro. Gad said that Selassie I was “the same Spirit but different flesh” and mentioned that King Selassie was the “man of the hour” in this time. He shared insight into the importance of the Davidic Throne, which many Rastas at the time did not fully overstand, and most Christians neglected. Gadman even made many of his teachings public during a radio interview in which he distinguished between Haile Selassie I and Jesus Christ. The Prophet Gad was a vital component to the Rastafari philosophy, especially after H.I.M. was withdrawn from us in his physical manifestation. In overstanding the fullness of Selassie I, one can realize that the Solominic Dynasty continues and with it the hope of restoration of the Ethiopian Monarchy and JAH Kingdom on Earth. Leaders within the Twelve Tribes of Israel such as Karl Phillpotts Naphtali have continued to carry on the Orthodox teachings, especially that of the Davidic Covenant. Selassie was the 225th descendant of Solomon, but it continues... Amha Selassie, the 226th, Zere Yacob... 227th... until Shiloh come, Rastafari can’t done.

Ultimately human government will fail, because we as humans fail. Just look at all the dirty corrupt politicians looking for a vote to get into office. Even many of the kings of Israel and Judah after the death of Solomon and the division of his kingdom practiced idolatry and did not serve JAH faithfully, particularly those that were not of the Ethiopian line of Menelik I. It goes to show that mankind may fail, but JAH will never fail, and neither will His plan. He will always fulfill His promise, and that was seen in the divine Messianic Personage of His Imperial Majesty when he was crowned as the Elect of JAH in Addis Ababa, November 2, 1930. So, on this Election Day I give thanks for the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Elect of God, Defender of the Faith, and Light of the World... Emperor Haile Selassie I! I vote for Earth’s Rightful Ruler! JAH lives through the personality of His Imperial Majesty and the descendants of the Ethiopian Royal Family. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah hath prevailed.

“I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David, my servant: Thy seed will I establish forever, and build my throne to all generations. Selah” – Psalms 89: 3-4

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gather of the people be” – Genesis 49: 10

Long Live the King of Kings!,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Enlargeth Gad

Greetings in the Most Precious & Divine Name of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ who has in this day revealed Himself to us in the Wonderful Personality of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I.

Greetings through the Orthodox Faith, not a faith of writs or rites, vows, nor laws, but an inward function of the heart, acquired through a Mystical Incorporation, or Unity in One, in plain words to be Born Again.

Greetings through the Twelve Tribes of Israel, which was once lost and scattered abroad, but has now been founded on the island of Jamaica since 1968 by Our Beloved Prophet, Brother Gad, and now functioning internationally!

Greetings also in the Ethiopian Royal House of David now being represented by Our Beloved Crown Prince Zere Yacob Asfa Wossen Haile Selassie I. We pray for the Restoration of the Monarchy! Selassie I!

The words above are the official greetings of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Rastafari mansion, or organization, which was founded by
Dr. Vernon Carrington Gad, known by his followers as Gadman or Prophet Gad. Today, November 1st , is the Earthstrong of the beloved Gadman. Although he no longer trods the earth in flesh, his works and teachings will endure.

In Rastafari, there is a central unifying concept which mostly revolves around Emperor Haile Selassie I, Marcus Garvey and the idea of African liberation, but the interpretation of these personalities and other tenants within the movement vary from Rasta to Rasta, especially those within one of the major mansions. For instance, the Bobo Shanti Rastas praise Edward Emmanuel along with Haile Selassie I and Marcus Garvey as part of their trinity. Nyahbinghi Rastas may hold one of the bongo elders or ones like Leonard Howell as the next central figure. However, I as a Twelve Tribes Rastafarian see Gadman as the next most influential person in Rastafari.

A reasoning about Prophet Gad has been a long time coming. Although I never actually got the opportunity to meet the man, he has had one of the greatest spiritual influences on me. I came to know of Gad soon after a shift in my life, when soul-searching, prayer, and the love and care of bredrens and sistrens brought me to a new overstanding. By the age of 22, I was seriously starting my trod as a Rastafari. My approach to Rastafari has partly to do with the reason why I crossed paths with the Twelve Tribes of Israel. I was raised as a practicing Catholic, had a good education, and for the most part used my intelligence. I had a keen spiritual sense and strong faith, but also a logical and scholarly way of thinking. That same sense allowed me to closely study the history of Africa, of Ethiopia, and the Bible. As I started my trod, many things in Rastafari harmonized with me, but some did not. Certain things I could not sight because of what I knew historically and biblically, and because of my own identity and ethnicity. Perhaps I was approaching certain Rastafari reasonings from a different angle, perhaps I was not accepting it esoterically or allegorically (I did eventually expand past my “comfort” zones). Either way, I was seeking to continue my trod, but find ones who I could identify with and grow with as I went on my journey. My close bredren spoke of the Twelve Tribes, I heard of the Twelve Tribes in the reggae music I listened to, I came across reasonings in books and online. The spirit of Truth and of acceptance vibed with me and more and more I sought out to find out about this Twelve Tribes of Israel organization within the Rastafari movement. I began to follow many of Gad’s teachings but I soon wanted to formally be a part of it. Eventually I got a telephone number for the closest headquarters... I called, explained I wanted to visit and who I was, and I was warmly encouraged to come. By the time I was 23, I had officially become a member of TTOI, and perhaps worried my family that I was joining an obscure cult, but I eventually had time to explain all of that too, and Dr. Vernon Carrington’s teachings helped. I suppose I stepped right in his footpath.

Vernon Carrington had been a member of the Ethiopian World Federation in Jamaica, when he had a revelation and began to closely read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He started to identify with one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel spoken about in the Old Testament, the Tribe of Gad. Eventually he saw it as his duty to reunite Israel which was scattered throughout the world and his message brought him many followers in Trench Town, Kingston. He told others to read the Bible cover to cover, just like he did, and seek answers for themselves. Gadman brought something unique to the Rastafari movement in the late 1960’s. Something that earned him the criticism of many others within the Rasta community. His teachings were quite unorthodox compared to the traditional Nyahbinghi roots anchored in the philosophies of the “Holy Piby” and Leonard Howell’s “The Promise Key”. Many Rastas knew and followed Scripture, but mostly Genesis, Revelation and the Psalms. Because the Bible was seen as the tool of the oppressors, much of it was forsaken. Yet Bro. Gad said it was all important to read the entire Bible because the message within remained true.

Gadman began to fill in a gap that had grown between Rastafari and Christianity, and in actuality also the very words and identity of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I. He encouraged literacy and education, having followers read the Bible a chapter a day along with the speeches of Haile Selassie I and Marcus Garvey. He also asked followers to get a Metaphysical Bible Dictionary and to read the daily newspaper. Many Rastas did not (and still do not) read the utterances of Selassie or Garvey for themselves. Many were not literate in the Bible outside of certain passages. Things are mostly communicated orally and musically in Rastafari, but Gad was saying for people to check things for themselves and seek Truth by using their own intelligence and not the words of others... even those of himself. So with a firm foundation of to build on, Prophet Gad continued to reveal more teachings. Brother Gad taught that by reading the entire Bible, one would find the relevance of both the Old and New Testaments and recognize that Jesus Christ was the savior, and also that the Spirit of Christ could be found in the personality of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I. One would be able to overstand this concept through the eternal promises to David, the Davidic Covenant which so many Christians neglect to this day. He taught that anyone could identify with the Twelve Tribes of Israel according to their month of birth. Each tribe represented a part of the body of Christ and had its own faculties and tendencies along with their own designated color.

If being saved by Jesus Christ’s name was not enough of a shock to the Rasta community, the revelations would continue to cause a disturbance. He said “whosever will may come”, and rather than deal with race, he spoke of humanity as the decedents of Noah’s three sons: Ham, Shem and Japheth. Therefore all were welcome and all were bredren, there was no racial discrimination. Gad reminded Rastafari people that women stood next to man as equals and were represented in the organization. Although there was a lot of talk about Mama Africa and Queen Omega, women had a history of being considered, or at least treated, as second-class in the traditional patriarchy of Rastafari. In Twelve Tribes, women had important roles and positions. Gad taught that faith was not of writs or rites, and therefore there was no doctrine of race, sex, food, hair, smoking or holidays... rather ones were saved by grace and adherence to certain practices was optional. Gad encouraged ones to act as princes and princess and to carry themselves as royalty. He taught that marriage was good and important for raising families, and that proper burials were not a problem because man was flesh. These are things that some traditional Rastas have avoided. Gad taught ones to spread the message of unity through music and TTOI began to host stage shows and dances, and record reggae artists. In fact some of the biggest reggae superstars were Twelve Tribes members: Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Judy Mowatt, Sister Carol, Junior Byles, Brigadier Jerry, Israel Vibration, Denroy Morgan and Morgan Heritage... and many others. The message still continues in the words of other artists, for instance Luciano and Messenjah Selah, who as far as I know may not officially be Twelve Tribes members but adhere to many of the concepts.

Prophet Gad stressed the importance of organization. He began formal membership, had a system of succession, and centralized headquarters in Jamaica and then wherever the mansion was established. Dr. Vernon Carrington’s message spread internationally to twenty houses in eighteen countries all over the world: Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Australia, New Zealand, England (Manchester & London), Barbados, Sweden, Suriname, Cayman, USA (New York & California), St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Kenya, Germany and Guyana. Members would have one voice with uniform greetings and banners (red, gold and green hats). Gadman also spoke of being diplomatic and cooperate with authority (within reason of course). Headquarters display the flags of Ethiopia and the local country, a photo of the local head of state is within the HQ (in America that included Bush). The concept is in line with the Bible in accordance to the words of Yeshua (Jesus) who said to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Therefore Twelve Tribes in non-political and peaceful and does not set out to stirrup conflict.

Brother Gad stressed the importance of repatriation back to Ethiopia. While this is a central tenant of Rastafari, Gad and the Twelve Tribes fulfilled this by sending members to live in Shashamane Land and recommended that all of the different mansions and individuals with Rastafari join together there under the Jamaican Rastafarian Development Community. Finally, Gadman showed ones that Selassie’s divinity and anointment are significant because he has prepared David’s throne for Christ’s coming, and called us to rally around Jehovah Throne. He taught ones to recognize that H.I.M. Haile Selassie I designated his son and grandson, Zere Yacob, to succeed the throne and that the Davidic/Solomonic Monarchy of Ethiopia continues beyond Selassie I until Shiloh, the return of Christ comes, because Israel shall never be short of a king or a prophet. The Twelve Tribes has organized benefits for the exiled family where they have attended. So Gadman has united the Twelve Tribes of Israel with the King, both physically and metaphysically.

All of these visions and teachings of Dr. Vernon Carrington, The Prophet Gad, helped bring Rastafari beliefs in order with what is revealed in the Bible and what has been spoken by H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, as well as Marcus Garvey. All of Gadman’s teachings have Biblical compliments... the holy foundation that even His Majesty claimed to glorify and said that all “all the ancient Scriptures were written for Our instruction...”. Gad’s teachings have received criticism and ridicule from other Rastas not willing to accept such things as the fullness of the Bible, or the idea of being saved by grace through Christ, or the inclusion of different nationalities in the unification of Israel. Some have even ridiculed members for being more educated and economically stable, which seems more like resentment. Nevertheless, how can Rastafari people argue with His Majesty? Ultimately Gad’s works reveal the reason why H.I.M. Haile Selassie I is the King of Kings. Twelve Tribes eventually became the largest and most organized of all the Rastafari mansions. The people influenced by Gadman’s revelations are twice as much, even if they don’t realize they are receiving lessons through some of the songs of Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, or Morgan Heritage.

I give thanks to Bro. Gad for what he has shown JAH people. I remember following his advice and when I started reading the Bible a chapter a day even before I joined Twelve Tribes. It took me three and a half years and I gained so much wisdom and knowledge. Although I haven’t read it through again consecutively, I keep the Bible handy at all times. In addition I read the Kebra Nagast and other books taken out of the Bible, like the Book of Enoch. I continued to read the Utterances of His Majesty and the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. The greatest thing was that I was not commanded to do a thing, or forced to believe anything. I was only encouraged by Brother Gad and the executive body at TTOI HQ in NY to read the Bible a chapter a day to find the truth for myself. This is the same way Gadman taught his followers, and the same way they are still taught... to cross the bridges in our gaps of understanding and come closer to JAH and the teachings of His Majesty while operating with love and unity. While I am a Twelve Tribes of Israel member, I have also sighted up things outside of the main tenants of the organization... as I am sometimes carried along by the natural mystic of Rastafari, and the Nyahbinghi teachings that go beyond Scripture. However, thanks to Bro. Gad, I always have the firm foundation of Orthodox Faith to stand on, and ultimately the Truth reveals itself in JAH Word.

Our beloved Prophet Gad passed on in 2005. I remember calling the Twelve Tribes HQ in NY to double check if the news was true. I attended a memorial for him at NYC and was wishing I could have gone to Kingston for the gathering of Israel at his funeral. Years later I did reach, and I met Sister Vie (Sister Dinah), Gadman’s wife. It was an honor to meet her and shake her hand at the Twelve Tribes organ in Kingston. I could only express how thankful I was for Bro. Gad’s teachings and how they changed my life and overstanding of my faith. He stopped his breath to save the people... surely there was a prophet amongst us. So, Israel continues to enlargeth Gad!

"And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head." - Deuteronomy 33:20

Long Live The Prophet Gad! Read your Bible a Chapter a Day!

Are You Picking Up?,
Joshua Curzan

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No Jumbie

No Jumbie

No jumbie could ever be badda than me
Neither vampire or dem dutty duppy
Meh nah fear dem, dem 'fraid ah me
Cause I am protected by the Almighty

Meh nah play in the way of All Souls Day
Only life I promote, not death and decay
One thing I hear all ah di boneheads seh
That "JAH dead", well dem muss be zombie

Dem ting deh lurk in the darkness of night
Come fe tear up my flesh and take a bite
Dem set in, but I already win the fight
JAH stand by my side with a rod of light

Meh come fe tell Satan to go get behind
JAH cast all wickedness out from mi mind
If you come my way, you too will find
No night inna Zion, the sun stay shine

No jumbie could ever try come fi haunt me
Meh nah get tied up by no sort of sorcery
I stay far and wide from di devil pickney
Dem know Rastafari give me the victory

(c) 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Raging Fyah

Raging Fyah

I am the ancient fyah that still rages
The same fyah found in the Bible pages
Carried by prophets through the ages
Cast into a furnace by Babylonian sages

Their blazing fire could not burn I
I am protected by the Most High

Amazed faces gaze in awe when out I go
With Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
The fiery judgment only consumes the foe
They must reap heat if its fyah they sow

(c) 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

JAH Bless Gregory Isaacs

October has been a busy month, and I had some writings and reasonings that I planned to take off the back-burner and publish but then all of the sudden I had to put them on hold once again. It is because today, Gregory Isaacs, the Cool Ruler has trod on. I had been meaning to write another tribute to Lucky Dube, whose life was tragically taken several years ago this month, and I never did pay a proper tribute to reggae greats who have passed since that time like Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson and Sugar Minott. Not to diminish those artists lives and achievements, but when such a huge figure as Gregory passes everything seems to stop.

Gregory Isaacs was one of the last giants left from reggae's Golden Age. His friend, the legendary Dennis Brown passed on a decade ago, Bob Marley of course, Jacob Miller, Joseph "Culture" Hill, Peter Tosh. While there are many great reggae artists that are still with us from that era like Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, John Holt, and Freddie McGregor (just to name a few!), Gregory Isaacs will be sorely missed because his persona and music was so original. I remember when I first heard Gregory's music... it struck me to the core. His vocals were like nothing I had heard before, a laid-back smooth style with a characteristic nasal voice. Everything he touched with the mic seemed to shine, whether it was his Lover's Rock, Roots & Culture, or a sufferer's anthem. The music seemed to transport me somewhere. I would put an album of Gregory on and everything would be alright... If I was heartbroken over a girl, he spoke to that with "Front Door", "Sad To Know", and "Lonely Soldier". If I was playing it cool and calm, "Stranger In Town", "Top Ten", and "Night Nurse". If I was feeling like militantly confronting Babylon with some serious rockers, then I played tunes like "Universal Tribulation", "Storm", "Poor And Clean". Those are just a few of the massive amount of tunes he sang and produced over the years through his label African Museum, because to say that Mr. Isaacs was a prolific artist is an understatement. I have a good collection, but there are certainly amazing songs that I've overlooked and hope to discover just because of the immense size of what is out there and because I did not grow up during his prime and always have to look backward into his career. I also remember when I first saw footage of Gregory Isaacs from different documentaries like "Land of Look Behind" and the movie, "Rockers". The man was smooth. He would strut out in his suit with his dreads tucked into a brimmed hat, the Roots Radics would back him with some wicked riddim, and then he would sing away... women and men dancing to the tunes, a party in the ghetto to let the people forget their troubles... yeah the Cool Ruler!

I was fortunate enough to see Gregory Isaacs perform live a couple of times. Once at a big stage show with other classic reggae artists of his era, and another time up close at a small venue where I took some great photos. I can't remember for certain, but I think I got to shake his hand. To be truthful, his performances left something to be desired. Age and ailments took a toll on Gregory's body and his distinct voice, just as in his most recent recordings. It was still there, but not the same... not the clear and cool vocals from the 70's and 80's, not the same range, not the same charisma. Nonetheless, it was still Gregory... the legend. Nobody can, or ever will, duplicate that sound. He was no longer in his prime, but it was the same man and I could appreciate that fact after the many years of listening to his tunes and recognizing him as a reggae great.

So, after a long journey and a battle with cancer, Mr. Isaacs has trod on. The last years were rough. The paper's said he was 59, and I thought he was older... he sure looked and seemed older, but he had some struggles in life that affected his health. I went to check my bredren who grew up in Kingston and he swore that Gregory had to be older than 59 also, but the Jamaican newspapers had his birthday and mentioned dates in his early singing career. Even though Gregory has passed, his music will never die, and neither will his memory among fans all over the world, especially in his native Jamaica. He was a man who never forgot his roots and always gave back to the community where he grew up in West Kingston. Despite his international success and legendary status, he was still Gregory Isaacs the rude-bwoy from the ghetto. Although he sighted up Rastafari, he wasn't the most spiritual or conscious, he also didn't always make the best choices in life. Rather, he represented reality and was a little bit of everything rolled up in one bundle... the voice of the sufferer in Jamaica, who struggled to rise above. Give thanks to the life and music of Gregory Isaacs, a reggae singer like no other! JAH Bless the Cool Ruler! There will always be a place in the dancehall for you!


July 15, 1951 - October 25, 2010

"Some of the men will buy you diamonds and pearls
And those are the things that mean a lot to some girls
But all I have is love, darling, all I have is love

Now they will take you places that you wanna go
And show you things that you've never seen before
But all I have is love, darling, all I have is love"

- Gregory Isaacs "All I Have Is Love"

Monday, October 11, 2010

An American Tale

I can remember when I was a youth, in pre-school and kindergarten, learning about Christopher Columbus... the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María, his great “discovery” of America, and that the world was round, and such and such. All the children made hats and tunics decorated in white with the red cross, and had telescopes made out of cardboard. The textbooks gave him praises, he would occasionally manifest in TV cartoons or other popular mediums. Then there was the song, “In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue...”. Yes this is how it basically was up until high school... well without the singing and costumes and all. The celebratory nature of Columbus and his achievements were embedded in the educational system. Sure, eventually as you grew older you didn’t buy much of it, but at the most Columbus just appeared foolish for thinking he had reached the Far East and other than that he wasn’t too bad of a fellow... just confused, and that was with our hindsight vision. Nobody wanted to tell us that Christopher Columbus was not such a great person after all, that what he did was not such a great thing, and that there was proof of all of this. No, instead we were given cheerful warmhearted Columbus images and songs, diluted history, and a national holiday for the man. There is so much mythology surrounding Columbus, and all of it hides the true nature of things.

First of all, Columbus was not the first to claim that the world was round. This was an idea that already existed for thousands of years by his time, and had been proposed by philosophers and mathematicians of ancient Egypt and Greece. Aristotle reasoned that the earth was round by using observation and Eratosthenes of Alexandria, Egypt had been able to accurately measure the earth’s circumference to within four-percent. Scholars in Ancient India and in the Islamic world (including the African civilizations of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai) continued to use the progressive science and math of the classical civilizations and used this knowledge in their understanding of the world and how to create maps, etc. Even many of the learned scholars of the late Middle Ages in Europe believed that the world was a sphere. The only thing Columbus did was use that knowledge to propose a western route to Asia.

Second, Columbus was not the first to “discover America” as Eurocentric history has suggested. It is widely believed that the Vikings reached mainland North America at least 500 years before Columbus and that they had small settlements in what Leif Eriksson the Norsemen had called “Vinland”, which is today the province of Newfoundland in Canada. Some have proposed that the Chinese admiral, Zheng He, may have reached America 70 years before Columbus by using Chinese maps that already indicated that the continent of North America was known. Evidence of the Chinese in America may have also been found. Finally, according to tradition, Abubakari II, an African emperor from Mali set out to cross the Atlantic with a fleet of ships in 1311. Researchers have been working to uncover evidence of the Africans reaching the Americas shortly after. The interesting thing is that Columbus even wrote about "the presence of Negros there" upon landing on Hispaniola during his 3rd voyage, and that these black traders had given the Amerindians spear points made of "guanine" a gold alloy metal known to be unique to Africans at the time. This may also account for some of the Olmec statues that suspiciously seem to have African features. Nonetheless, whether it was the Africans, Vikings, or Chinese... Columbus was beat. In addition to that, no matter who it was who got there before Columbus, one set of people were there long before... the Amerindians, the tribes of Carib, Arawak, Taino and others who populated the West Indies, and of course the Maya, Aztec, and other indigenous civilizations on the mainland. These people who Columbus would dub the “Indians” (because he swore he was there somewhere in India and the Orient, and never renounced it his entire life) were the first to settle and discover Americas. So, Columbus discovered and claimed an occupied land. In fact, he never touched on the mainland in what is now Mexico until 1498. Moreover, he never set foot on any land that would today be the continental United States. So much for his discovery...

Finally, I save the worst for last. Christopher Columbus was born as Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Italy... maybe (some scholars now question his origins) and he became a navigator for Portugal and ultimately Spain, but he was more of a mercenary for hire rather than a heroic explorer. Whatever Columbus’ motives were for making his trans-Atlantic voyage, one thing is for certain... that he was lusting for riches. There is irrefutable evidence. His journal has survived the ages, and in it he had written multiple accounts in regard to his search for gold upon landing. Once he met the Amerindian populations of the islands, he and his crew members would use vicious tactics to try and find gold mines and procure any gold from the native people themselves. He kidnapped and enslaved the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Central America, like the Arawaks and the Carib and used them as a labor force when building settlements and searching for gold. If any of his slaves were caught stealing or lying, parts of their body, especially facial features, were cut off in order to make examples of the rebellious ones. He allowed his crew members to force themselves on the native women, a situation some historians have sugarcoated as “intermarriage”, and to bring back these women from their homelands to Europe. Of course, besides the brutality of conquest, diseases brought by the European sailors wiped out many of the native people. During the four voyages of Columbus, the Amerindian slaves were transported back to Spain on the caravel ships and the ones that didn’t die on the journey were used by the royal family to work in the galleys. In a deal with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus was given territories to govern but he mismanaged them while in constant pursuit of more gold to pay off his debts to investors. At one point he was arrested and sent back to Spain in manacles and chains because he was accused being a cruel governor who frequently used acts of violence not only against the native people, but also the Spanish settlers. Eventually he was given back his freedom, but he lost all of his titles and his reputation. After a final voyage, which included being stranded in Jamaica for a year, he traveled back to Spain and died a fairly wealthy man from all the gold he and his men had initially acquired in Hispaniola. This all may be a little hard to swallow, but look for yourself. You can read Columbus' journal and other primary sources from the period.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end with Columbus. He was just the beginning for what became centuries of genocide and oppression against the native people of the Americas at the hands of the Spanish, Portuguese and later the British, French and Dutch. After the Spanish were successful with their discoveries, the Portuguese were upset so the Pope made Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas which divided newly and formerly discovered lands amongst them. Spain received the Americas, with the exception of what became Brazil, and the Portuguese received Africa and East India. Eventually the colonial powers had to deal with the problem of too many Amerindians dying from diseases in addition to their cunning ability to hide and thrive in their native lands. So, soon after African slaves are sent over to the New World once the Portuguese began exploiting the African continent. Eventually, after years of exploitation and competition and fighting among European nations, the United States develops in North America. The U.S., a beacon of liberty, expands its borders with the notion of “manifest destiny”, wiping out the American Indians in the process and relegating the survivors to reservations out West. Many of their descendants today suffer from alcoholism, unemployment and a loss of their native traditions. History in a nutshell, a bit oversimplified, but truth is truth. It is the legacy of Columbus.

So, why on earth do we celebrate Columbus Day today? Why did it take me until college to uncover the dirty secrets on Christopher Columbus? Why is it that the only public outcries come from minority groups and not the mainstream? Why did the United States create a holiday in his name, when he didn’t even make it to American soil? It is also the only other American holiday not named after a president besides Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Call me crazy, but I don’t think Columbus deserves such company. Why is Columbus Day also Italian-American Day, especially when his origins and lifestyle are questionable, wouldn’t someone like Garibaldi be a better choice? It makes it hard for me to celebrate that part of my heritage when Columbus is attached to it.

Columbus arriving in the New World changed everything, but is it something to really celebrate? I guess it depends on which side you take. As a teacher, and a historian, I feel obligated to educate people on Columbus as I have done here. There is no use in sugar-coating history... it is full of bloodshed, exploitation, and enslavement, that is a fact no matter what. I wouldn’t be in America if it weren’t for its brutal conquest at the hands of the European explorers. We can’t do anything about that, circumstances bring us to where we presently are, but we can know the truth. As a Rastaman, I also feel that the Truth needs to be explained to the people. Descendants of African slaves in the West Indies have known about the real nature of Columbus for centuries. They were brought over because of him and his arrival, and they replaced that Arawaks and Caribs on the islands, of which there are none left now. Why does this have to be learned from a reggae tune by Burning Spear or Culture and not within a textbook given to the youths? It should be common knowledge, it should be accessible. Ignorance has created more damage to people than the initial act itself because people are powerless without knowledge.

Columbus Day celebrates an American mythology, an American Tale of progress, patriotism, and nationhood. It masks the truth with positive, community oriented spectacles. It subscribes to the belief that Columbus and his European predecessors brought civilization, Christianity, and democracy to the savage and backward American Indians and would later allow all people, including them, to have a better life. Columbus Day belongs in the trash bin along with the idea that the Pilgrims and Native Americans had a lovely Thanksgiving feast, that George Washington never told a lie, and that black slaves had a great time picking cotton on their massa’s plantations. Stop teaching the youths lies and myths, and give them the Truth! The truth will set them free! Christopher Columbus was a damn blasted liad, thief, and murderer. Rasta nuh love Christopher ComeBussUs!

Seek Knowledge!,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Times Ten

Times Ten

Ten times ten, times ten
Time to stop be comedian
To stand firm and defend
From wolves in sheep pen
Time to chase all of them
Who come pose as a friend
Time to stop watching CNN
And make our own bulletin
Time to go set the trend
Tell all the women and men

Ten times ten, times ten
Time to keep eyes wide open
Since the Christ it has been
Bloodshed and pure problem
And when H.I.M. come again
They never see who JAH send
In time, fools are fools again
They die for want of wisdom
Time to avoid all the heathen
Never bow and never bend

Ten times ten, times ten
Time equal to one millennium
So Rasta rise and chant Amen
Save the lives of the children
Trust no preacher or politician
Because Time will tell on them
Run to the forest and the glen
Babylon time will soon end
Now it’s time that we ascend
Back into the Garden of Eden

10:10 PM

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tangled Up In You

Tangled Up In You

No matter what I choose to do
I still get tangled up in you
Pulled in by my heartstrings
Once you want to start things
It makes my love spring up inside
That's when you go push me aside
Not released, yet I'm kept at bay
Until you want to come my way
No, we can’t do that this time
Or I'm afraid I'll lose my mind

Darling, there must be a change
From these cat and mouse games
I give you love, but yours I borrow
It’s here today, but not tomorrow
What a tangled web you weave
I want to go, but just can't leave
Though loving you may be unwise
We're tightly wound by our soul ties
Yes, I really shouldn’t play the fool
But babe, I still get tangled up in you

(c) 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Journey Along Life’s Way

As I was driving into New York, I couldn’t quite remember how long it had been... somewhere in between too long and awhile ago. Either way, I was happy that I had the opportunity to make the trip because circumstances have been pressuring me lately. I started attending meetings at the Twelve Tribes of Israel back in 2003, and I think my official date of membership at the NY HQ is January 2004. Those were some tumultuous times in my life, but I was trying to find some peace of mind. I was in my young twenties and had gone through my fair share of trials and tribulations of the heart and soul. I had also started my trod with Rastafari about two years prior to that and I was on a quest to mature more in my overstanding of things to find a community that I could take part in and belong to... especially when it sometimes seemed like I was a lonely sheep. The same reason I was driving now, was the same reason I was driving then... for fellowship and renewal.

I remember when I was still living in the neighborhood in Newark as a young man and my good bredren and mentor had often used the language and ideas espoused by the Twelve Tribes in the advice he had given me. It had always resonated with me when we would reason about life and everything within it. The Rastafari trod has many different facets to it, and by that time I had already been exposed to different levels and philosophies within the movement, but the Twelve Tribes vibes always came back to plant a seed within me. Eventually it led me to learn more about the actual Rastafari organization called the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and about Prophet Gad, Dr. Vernon Carrington, TTOI’s founder. I had found and read interviews with Gadman, read books like Bro. Karl Philpotts Naphtali’s “Testimony of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I”, and listened to reggae artists who followed the Twelve Tribes philosophy. I started following Gadman’s teachings, like reading the Bible a chapter a day, along with the utterances of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I and Marcus Garvey. As an educated and tolerant person I embraced the Twelve Tribes teaching on self-reliance, literacy, nondiscrimination and unity, as well as refocusing through a new lens on the Christian faith... a faith that I had nearly abandoned in anger, but found rejuvenation in as a Twelve Tribes Rastafari. After taking it upon myself to follow the guidance of Prophet Gad, and having acquired a strong knowledge of the Scriptures, Ethiopia and His Majesty in the process, the last thing for me to do was sign up, seal up and be a member of the organization that I had studied so fervently. Fortunately Twelve Tribes had a house in New York and I lived close enough to the New York area, so I joined and I attended meetings and functions when I could. Eventually between going to graduate school, and working as a teacher I could not go as often as I liked and time passed. So did Prophet Gad in 2005. I remember attending a special meeting in his remembrance. I never got to meet him, but he changed my life.

Forward back to 2010. It was one of the colder evenings of the year so far, jacket weather. Out of the four quarterly meetings each year, October and April were the easiest for me to attend. I figured if I missed this one, it might be another year of absence for me. I walked to the gates of the HQ, and stepped through. The first time I had been to the NYC House of Twelve Tribes in maybe two years. Since then I had actually been to the “organ”, the original Twelve Tribes HQ in Kingston, Jamaica, on Hope Road just up from Bob Marley’s old home (who was also a TTOI member in his day). There I met with Sangie Davis, a reggae artist and producer for Orthodox Muzik of Twelve Tribes, and amongst other bredrens and sistrens I met Sis. Dinah 1st, Gad’s widow... but the visit there to Hope Road is a story of its own. Now I was here again on Farmers Boulevard in Queens. I walked into the doorway and greeted bredrens and sistrens wearing the “banner”, the red, gold, and green tam that all members wear during official functions. I had mine with me as well, but I passed through proudly with my locks swinging free, as it was the first time I had been there since growing them nearly 2 years ago. I took a look around. The same signs with the tribe names and their colors were across the top hallway wall, pictures of His Majesty and the Royal Family were in their spots, the latest news and communication from other houses was posted. I chatted with a few people and learned that one of the executives, the original overseer of the New York house, repatriated to Shashamane Land, Ethiopia along with his family. I saw some other familiar faces, but they would be missed, especially since I rarely made visits. Yet repatriation is one of the missions of the organization..

A sistren greeted me and I chatted how it had been such a long while since I had come, but how circumstances allowed me to come again tonight. She remarked on how nice it was that I was able to make the journey there and how it was destiny to come back in this time. “Yes Simeon”, she said, “strong of faith!” (I am of the Tribe of Simeon, and faith is one of our tendencies). She also made mention of how it was the anniversary of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I’s 1963 visit to the United States tomorrow (which is today, Oct. 4th) and that in the same way it revealed a natural mystic in my visit. I thought about that. Soon after, the meeting began in the familiar way, Ezekiel 37, and continued with reasonings, financial oversight, and messages to the massive. After a few hours of some empowering words in the company of bredrens and sistrens, the meeting ended with the Ethiopian Anthem. I wish that I could have stayed longer to reason with ones and spend some time at the HQ but I had a 2 hour drive back home and still had to work tomorrow (although not at my usual very early time). On my way out, I chatted with a few more bredrens who urged me to come more often again. I said I would try... and that is my intention. Not just to make the occasional meeting, but to come and just cool out on an occasional Friday evening.

I realized that even just a short time there in the New York house gave me a renewed energy, a renewed sense of self and resistance to the Babylon folly flooding all around me in my daily life. Whatever it is that caused me to set out to the meeting that night, whether it was the shift in my schedule, the mere determination, or the Hand of JAH... I was able to come and complete that journey. Just like His Majesty made his visit to New York and the USA on this date, I also set out to my destination on the eve of that anniversary, and maybe it is that sign for me to strengthen up and find that fervor I did when I had first sighted up Rastafari, along with Gadman and his message to Israel. My good bredren often says to me, “two mountains don’t meet” because I sometimes don’t get to visit with him as much as I like either. Yet, as Rastamen we also both know that everything is in its due time and season. When we journey along life’s way we move in a progressive manner... seeking to advance and improve. A simple journey of 100 miles one October evening has given me some more mileage for the spiritual trod ahead. A little more prayer, a little more study, a little more livication to help me along Life’s Way and give me strength every day! Give thank to JAH! Give thanks to all the bredrens and sistrens who trod together toward One God, One Aim and One Destiny!

More Life,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nyah Time

Nyah Time

The drum beat has aligned itself with the heart
It is the call for I&I Rasta to trod out and start
Gathering the earth's nations from every corner
Nyahbinghi, Israel, Bobo, and the Orthodox order
Out from all the cities and also the countryside
Out from Creation, we arrive from every tribe
To come forth with a clean heart and clear mind
Rallying 'round Jehovah throne in the Nyah Time

Binghi drums beckon all to come beside the fire
Where Rasta wait on the elders to speak and inspire
As they give JAH praises with proverbs and psalms
Prayers to endure through the battle of Armagideon
Chanting down Babylon using the Scripture’s words
Natural mystic carried forth by King Solomon's herbs
As a sacramental sign that gives sight to the blind
Rastafari people come forward in this Nyah Time

Groundation keeps I&I stepping to a One Drop vibe
Wisdom has descended through the Breath of Life
Dry bones in the valley are given flesh and sinew
As The Lion of Judah has made all things brand new
So His Children can leave from the belly of the beast
To Addis Ababa, Lalibela and Jerusalem in the East
Satan and all the wicked men must get left behind
The Most High never sleeps during the Nyah Time

(c) 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marcus, Mark Us

Marcus, Mark Us

He was born in the beautiful hills of St. Anne's Bay, JA
Until he made his way to Harlem, where he founded the UNIA
Everywhere he traveled, he saw his people were on the bottom
Shut out of opportunities, sharecropping sugar and cotton
He said that before black people could make any real gains
They first had to break loose from all of their colonial chains
The blood stains endorsed by a white Geezus and preacherman
The same system that stole human cargo from the Motherland
So Marcus said to now see God through their unique vision
With a new understanding to reclaim the word Christian

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
Teach the youths what the colors mean
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
There's no peace until Afrikan Unity

Marcus said look to the East for the crowning of a new king
It was Negus Nagast, H.I.M. Selassie and the Empress Menen
For years he told of the many things left out of his-story
Like Afrikan science and art taught at Timbuktu's university
Black dignity, it was the concept erased by the slave trade
Replaced by Eurocentric eccentrics and their own masquerade
Marcus would not behave, he gave the people the eyes to see
That for hundreds of years they were denied the opportunity
He said education was the equation to end black frustration
So he said rise up, take an occupation and build up a nation

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
So we can live the Afrikan dream
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
Your words have revealed prophecy

Marcus said the words, One God! One Aim! One Destiny!
A call for all Afrikans to know about their true identity
He said to leave behind Babylon and the westernized mind
Promoting repatriation, he then began the Black Star Line
He said to be self-reliant, and to do things for yourself
To take care of your family, community, and your health
Establish some type of business and accumulate some wealth
Organize and centralize, have racial pride, move and achieve
Fight until the tides of ignorance and doubt begin to recede
Have leaders of your own, because the rest are contemptuous
Marcus said that the Negro is sleeping on his own intelligence

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
Teach the youths what the colors mean
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because all of the world must see
There's no peace until Afrikan Unity

He inspired the freedom fighters, and he led the Garveyites
Among them the first Rastas who fought for truth and rights
He led them in his uniform, gold epaulettes and plumed hat
Like a field marshal taking on Mystery Babylon in full combat
He strived to build up Jamaica and the Afrikans in the West
Then take them back to Afrika where they could live the best
His opinions and philosophy reveal humanity could not be free
Unless we see that we're all children of Mama Afrika originally
So we must follow Mister Garvey and accomplish what we will
For the whole world is Afrika, and we are a Mighty Race still

Oh Marcus, mark us
With the black, red, gold and green
So we can live the Afrikan dream
Mister Garvey, mark us
Because the whole world must see
Your words have revealed prophecy

(c) 2010

August 17th is the Earthstrong (Birthday) of the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a national hero of Jamaica, and prophet in the Rastafari movement. He truly was the black redeemer whose mission it was to uplift Africans at home and abroad. Everyone should know Marcus, no matter your origin or complexion because the direction he gave to the African people is ultimately the same direction all of humanity must move in. One God! One Aim! One Destiny! ...Hail Up Marcus!

Marcus Garvey

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stranger To The Familiar

There have been stories for thousands of years of the archetypal stranger. Imagine a traveler from a distant land somehow finding his way to a place where he is an obvious outsider. He appears to be quite different from those amongst him and unaccustomed to the ways of the people he encounters. As he tries to learn and understand, he may become frustrated because it all seems so different from what he knows. After being in this foreign land for enough time, a few things may happen. He may assimilate after having mastered the new culture and choose to become a part of it. He may live uncomfortably on the fringe of that society, involved in it for the sake of his livelihood, but still considered the stranger. Finally, he may decide to return to his homeland after finding that he cannot compromise his ways in order to fit in.

Sometimes I feel like this proverbial stranger, but the strange thing is, I feel like it within my very own society. Actually it is harder now to define this society, since most of what we now see is not just on a national scale, but on a global scale... pushed by economics and commercialism. I may even dare to say that the world is becoming Americanized, or at least Westernized. With these changes the modern world appears to become more and more alien each day. We have become so self-absorbed with the artificial things of our own creation. We thrive on materialism. We have freedoms like never before and yet seldom are these freedoms tempered by any idea of morality or in the very least, character.

I saw a commercial not too long ago that actually advertised an internet network for infidelity. At first I thought it was a joke, because it was presented as a cartoon, but then I looked up the ambiguous website name online and it was indeed a service that was specifically designed to set up affairs for people in relationships. Needless to say, I was shocked. But then again, why should I be shocked at all? Our society has promoted this type of behavior for years in movies, music, magazines, and other forms of pop culture. We have exposed ourselves to these things, and to our youth, and eventually we have made these behaviors and lifestyles quite normal for us. In spite of this radical change, we still scoff at traditions and practices from ancient times, whether cultural or faith based. We parody what others hold as sacred.

I find it strange that some people would find my own trod of Rastafari bizarre and ridiculous, or for that matter, my very belief in God Himself, and yet they readily accept things which may have once been considered social and cultural taboos such as imprisonment, drunkenness, sexual orientation, obscenities, promiscuity, sexual practices, abortion, body alterations, atheism, etc. Now, it is not my position to judge what is right or wrong, nor will I express my opinions on the aforementioned… but why should my personal belief and ways of life seem so peculiar to members of this society that have accepted things far beyond that in terms of behavior and perhaps negative social impact? It makes no sense.

I believe it has a lot to do with the vanity of humankind. We have bartered in our beliefs in order to achieve our own advantages and comforts in life. Principal no longer plays an import role in our behaviors and instead we are ruled by our own illusions of high-mindedness. Our ideas of liberty and the pursuit of happiness have gone far beyond the idea of living naturally free and doing what we feel necessary to live a peaceful and humble life to our own liking. What really is behind all this? What shapes our identities and causes us to decide to turn the tables on what is considered normal and strange in this modern time? If it is self-destructive, if it is vain, if it is selfish, if it is wicked, hypocritical, and unjust… then that is what in Rastafari we call the concept of Babylon.

H.I.M. Haile Selassie I once said, “unless we find the requisite courage and fixity of purpose to rise above our petty selves; we shall be broken on the wheel of our own invention, slaves of our own despotism.” The system of Babylon is one created by mankind, fashioned by those who strive to get ahead at the expense of others, created out of the lowest of desires, slowly ebbing away at our integrity, our character, and our dignity until we accept the lies, the immorality, the foolishness, and treat it as the most normal thing in the world. It is mental slavery. It is a slavery that affects everyone, no matter their race, color or creed. Sometimes it is very subtle, and sometimes it is very obvious. Even things that are not intrinsically immoral in themselves are eating away at us, like indifference and ignorance. Yet the only way to navigate out of the confusion is to be aware that Babylon does indeed exist and is having an impact on our world.

I wish to escape from Babylon, because I am a stranger here... it is not where I belong. I would rather roam through forested hills, drink from flowing streams of water, and eat freshly picked fruit from the trees. I would rather hear the birds and the creatures and get lost in Creation. I would rather sit amongst the elders and learn from them. I would rather be amongst people who love and respect one another, who praise the Most High, who look after the youths and guide them in ways that are beneficial to themselves and to the greater society. It all may seem utopian and absurd, but this is the lifestyle that allowed for people to live and progress for thousands of years. It was the way we grew up, it was the steady balance to those civilizations consumed by greed and warfare. This desire to go back to a place such as this, namely Africa, is called repatriation in Rastafari. Men like the great Marcus Garvey (who we honor tomorrow on his birthday) told his followers in the African Diaspora to return to the Motherland and escape from this Babylon society that allowed racism, segregation, and injustice and to collect together as a nation that would be able to stand against oppression and regain Africa’s glory. Some things have changed for the better, Garvey would be surprised, but other things remain the same and more dangerously some things are now merely cloaked in deception. Babylon is alive and well, poisoning every nation’s well with that deception.

Africa itself is in trouble, plagued by problems from its colonial past and by warmongers vying for power. Yet where there is hope, there is life. There are still areas of Africa where people live naturally and peacefully, even as there are other parts of the world where this happens too. Movements such as Rastafari have even made in impact in the belly of the beast, like Europe for instance, where many people are changing their attitudes on life. However, in Rastafari we also believe in repatriating mentally and spiritually if not physically. The elders believed very much that physical repatriation would free them from the problems, but in this global Babylonian society we now must consider a Zion State of Mind… becoming a stranger to the familiar and breaking down Babylon’s walls. Good will always prevail, and we can start by changing our attitudes and by freeing up our communities today.

Repatriation Is A Must!,

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Impotence Of Mankind

Earlier this summer, a bredren and I were reasoning together and we got to looking at the night sky. The stars appeared bright and gleaming and then we started to talk about what it must have been like for thousands of years with these stars as the main means of navigation and the inspiration for mathematics, science, engineering and so many other things. A learned person could look up at the heavens and tell you their location, the season, and knew the patterns of constellations. However when we looked, outside of noticing the dippers and the North Star and maybe a planet, we were both completely ignorant to these things the ancients once regarded as the most basic facts. Even simple farmers and shepherds sitting around their fires would have known the night’s display. They may have not known exactly what stars were, but the twinkling canopy that covered all the earth was studied by all of the civilizations with wonder. When did we trade in this vast knowledge and curiosity... these tools and skills? GPS navigation is available to anyone who can afford it and we can find our location in an instant via satellite whether we are in the Amazon rainforest or the vast ocean. Besides, we can barely notice the stars now with so many artificial lights overpowering the night where we live. This is but one example of something that we’ve traded in for ease and convenience. Yet, have we jeopardized the very progress of humanity for the sake of having more amenities? Has mankind become impotent?

The whole world has gone soft... overexposed and mentally obese. Humanity has become distracted by nonsense and the comforts of life, and because of it we are confounded by the basic essentials that once brought us forward throughout thousands of years of history. Understandably, technology is something that improves and the older ways of doing things become archaic and needlessly complex, but now even our attitudes have changed. Instead of searching for truths and studying things for ourselves, we click our way through Wikipedia and trust it for our answers while we forget whatever we found and its significance within a few minutes. There should be no reason to "reinvent the wheel", but now we don’t even have to spend our time learning how. Our news media is more about opinions, gossip and sensationalism instead of informing people of real issues of society and situations across the globe. People know more about a celebrity’s sex life than relief efforts in Haiti or conflict in the Congo. We trust the internet to network us with friends and lovers and we are rarely shy to expose everything to them, but we can barely socialize in a normal environment. How come you can update me on what you’re eating for a snack but you can’t greet me in the street? Everybody can post some foolish video clip on YouTube, but cannot bother to do something remotely constructive or innovative. If all that energy and time went into something intelligent we just might be all better for it. We don’t know where our food comes from, but we sure know how to eat it all. We don’t know how things are made or what resources are used to create them, but we all use them. We can’t stop an oil spill but we laugh at the notion of God. In fact, we have even lost touch with ourselves to the point where we now watch reality shows to tell us what reality is. No matter if people say that it is only entertainment, if you watch it enough you will begin to judge things based on the norms you are most exposed to... which for some is MTV and so on. We allow ourselves to be herded around like cattle, barely aware of our existence and being overfed by corporations and systems that exploit our abilities and intelligence.

I am no purist by any means. I am part of a generation that clearly has more at their fingertips than any before us. I use the internet for learning, socializing and entertainment. I rely on digital maps. I use technology in all kinds of ways, my laptop, cell phone, iPod, my blog, etc. and it is all great. There is nothing wrong with having these benefits. Yet at the same time I know that I do not possess the ability to do many other things that are considered the bedrock of civilization. The less I know, the more dependent I become, the more unsure I become, the less innovative I become. I don’t expect us all to be expert navigators or botanists, but it seems as if our drive to learn and achieve as a whole is lost. As a teacher, I see this often in our younger generation, who dismiss the work it takes to become educated and productive as a waste of their time, time that they would rather use on frivolous things. Lacking common sense and responsibility is a much bigger problem than our growing inability to do things for ourselves because we can relearn how to do certain things. If we bothered to cultivate the earth and sustain ourselves, if we could build and repair more, if we read more and studied things for ourselves more, if we truly socialized more, wondered more, created more, and had more faith in the Creator, then we will probably continue marching on for thousands of years more. If not, our impotence may eventually lead to our demise. When we lose the spirit behind our humanity, we lose ourselves… There is an African proverb that says, "a child who is carried on the back won’t know how far the journey is". Let us each get up and walk the rest of this journey on our own two feet... before Segway machines replace our ability to even take a step.

Backward Never, Forward Ever,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hand Of God

Hand Of God

It was during my days of trouble
When shadows had covered me
And the very surface I stood upon
Had been saturated by my tears
I had sunken into a slough of despair
A body shaken by a trembling mind
A soul displaced by a delirious heart
I had become a prisoner of affliction
Bound with heavy fetters and chains
That I myself had forged in iniquity

But a thunderous roar had permeated
From beyond the cinereous confusion
Bursting the shackles that restrained me
And through the fog extended a hand
Firmly, it drew me out of the miry pit
Out from destruction and darkness
It was the Hand of God that took me
And sealed the depths beneath me
My feet had found the solid ground
Then, He told me to rise and awaken

And behold, I was gazing upon His pretty face
It looked to me like Selassie I, Ababa Janhoy
The angels said to I, “Hail the Comforter!”
It looked to me like Yeshua, The Messiah
The angels said to I, “Hail the Savior!”
It looked to me like Jehovah, The Father
The angels said to I, “Hail the Creator!”
And behold, I could see His likeness and divinity
The Might of the Trinity, His Imperial Majesty
It was JAH, Rastafari! The Conquering Lion!

(c) 2010

July 23rd is the Earthstrong (Birthday) of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I. Without King Selassie I, I would still be in the miry pit. It was the Hand of God that grasped hold of me and His Majesty’s face is the first that I had “seen”. It reflected The Comforter, The Savior, and The Creator. This is why I am a Rastaman, without doubt and apology. This is why I celebrate the life of Haile Selassie I.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



It descends upon me when I am ill-prepared
When I have no paper or pad to soak it up
And I try to grab the last bits of inspiration
Before it all vanishes back into the oblivion
This is usually how it comes through to me
Precisely the hour when I shower I can see
Streams of consciousness go down the drain
Some great line, or refrain... it’s such a shame
These poetic duds mixed with the soap suds
Perhaps they will return to me when it rains
Even while I drive, my mind will still contrive
Verses I try to repeat while navigating streets
But it never quite comes back entirely complete
I wonder what marvels could have manifested
Like Michelangelo attested that his uncut marble
Contained sculptures trapped within each rock
If I could chisel poetry out from my mental block
I would display it in the museum of my mind
But instead I find galleries of unfinished works
Ideas and phrases scattered on different pages
What once seemed brilliant is lost to the ages
How I wish that I could bottle these thoughts
Fragments that I would protect and preserve
Opening them only when I was ready to serve

(c) 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ole Firestick

Ole Firestick

Ole firestick is so easy to catch
And I carry a bundle
So don’t you light up the match
If you do, I will tumble
One by one, the flames will dance
Fyah lik me as I crumble
Can’t afford another romance
I’m just trying to live humble

Dem seh, if you play with fire you must get bun
My head know this, but my heart still a learn
When one go and leave, the next one return
To stir it up, grab the handle and start to churn
Ole firestick catch easy and I think you’d agree
I just want a woman to love and squeeze me
But all I get from she is a bag of her insecurity
Everyting irie, until I get bun by the third degree

Ole firestick is so easy to catch
And I carry a bundle
So don’t you light up the match
If you do, I will tumble
One by one, the flames will dance
Fyah lik me as I crumble
Can’t afford another romance
I’m just trying to live humble

Dem seh, out of frying pan and inna di fyah
I know it is trouble, a trouble I don’t require
Woman is like dynamite and I am the wire
It start to light spark and explode my desire
And if I don’t listen, well I must feel the heat
This same situation, I am doomed to repeat
Rekindled charcoal bun the soles of my feet
Afraid I’ll go up in flames before I can retreat

Ole firestick is so easy to catch
And I carry a bundle
So don’t you light up the match
If you do, I will tumble
One by one, the flames will dance
Fyah lik me as I crumble
Can’t afford another romance
I’m just trying to live humble

Firestick a blaze and its getting hotter
Someone please fetch me some water
Plenty buckets to douse out the dawta
Oh Lord, I’m like a lamb to the slaughter

Ole firestick, me seh you’re too dangerous
Too dangerous for me to touch
Ole firestick, me seh you’re too dangerous
Too dangerous for me to touch

(c) 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Most Beautiful Game

After four very long years the FIFA World Cup has returned, this time to the land of South Africa. The land formerly besieged by apartheid, the land of Nelson Mandela, Stephen Biko, Desmond Tutu, and Lucky Dube. Some people were skeptical of this World Cup’s location in South Africa, centered around the city of Johannesburg, which has been experiencing an outbreak of crime and violence, the same violence that led to roots reggae singer Lucky Dube’s murder a few years ago. Others have said that the attention given to hosting the World Cup has ignored the problems facing the population of disenfranchised South Africans in the country. While the South Africa World Cup has not been without its criticism, I think that ultimately it is helping South Africa more than it is hurting it. I don’t think the now elderly freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, would endorse anything less.

I have been waiting for this event, the most highly anticipated in the world, since the end of the last one in 2006. The World Cup is like no other sporting event, even the Olympics cannot match the fervor and the attention that this soccer championship garners from all across the globe. Passions run deep, only 32 nations qualify to participate and only 1 will survive to be the champion. Since this World Cup began on June 11th, I’ve had to negotiate between my daily responsibilities as a teacher during the busy end of the school year and with viewing the various matches of football each day by any means necessary. Every spare moment I had would be spent huddled around a computer, listening to the radio, or finding a TV. Now that the school year is finally over, I can hang up the shirt and tie for the rest of the summer, put on one of my soccer jerseys, and enjoy the rest of the tournament on my own time without sneaking away at computers or waiting to see recorded matches back at home. Of course, the last games of the group stages are played simultaneously... now if I could only split myself in two. Thankfully DVR technology is the next best thing.

Soccer, or football as most of the world calls it, is really the world’s universal game. It is remarkably simple and yet at the same time can be played with such complexity and style that it seems beyond our scope. All it requires is something to kick, a bundle of stitched rags will do if a ball cannot be afforded. And although anyone can play the game, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, very few can master it with the grace and technique of those who become professional players. Each of these players have a story, some of the best players often come from poverty, where their one leisure was soccer, and if they are were lucky enough and skilled enough they could become professionals. Professionals who could earn millions of dollars playing on famous club teams and who could one day get the chance to represent their own country on the stage of the World Cup.

In my travels I have seen soccer played wherever I went. In the Italian village of Volturara Irpina and the small Sicilian city of Melilli where parts of my family came from, children would play in paved piazzas in the shadow of an old church and bounce soccer balls down narrow cobblestone streets. Soccer runs in the blood of the Italians, as it does in many other nations of the world. In the streets of Belmont, Port-of-Spain in Trinidad & Tobago, young boys played barefoot on the dirt road in the hills above the city. I can remember standing beside a gate and watching how the neighbor’s chickens would scramble out of the way as skilled feet danced the ball between opponents. In Bigiston, Suriname, young men played on a pitch in front of a primary school beside the Marowijne River. In this village that was part Amerindian Caribs and part African Maroons, a game of soccer was representative of two different cultures and peoples living peacefully and being united by something as simple as a friendly soccer match. That is one reason why it is called the beautiful game. The Brazilians first called it that because of the athleticism and technique involved in playing, but I believe it is also because soccer demonstrates a way of life and culture that no other game can be compared to. Soccer is a culture for all cultures.

The World Cup magnifies all of this and brings it to a fever pitch. Every four years, a number of nations from every populated continent come together in order to compete for the title of Champion of the World. They are the ones who made it through qualification rounds which began a few years ago. Almost every nation on the earth has a team and football association, but only 32 make it to the tournament. Different skin colors, diverse faces, ethnicities, and religions all come together to speak the universal language of football. All of the different team jerseys, with their bright colors, distinct patterns and insignia are emblematic of armies gathered for a military campaign. Fans wear these same uniforms of national pride as their team plays for the glory. Flags, chants, and anthems fill the stadium in support of 11 men playing on the pitch. Players on the national teams may face teammates and friends from their individual club teams who instead represent their home country during the World Cup. Nations may face former enemies, colonial masters, or even current political rivals but somehow the simple game of soccer is a unifying force and all of the differences seem to disappear in the midst of the beautiful game. Soccer cuts down all barriers and focuses the energy into a competition of sport. It is the closest thing one can find to a war, where passions flare and everything is on the line, but there is no bloodshed, there is no destruction. These soccer armies are not created to wage war, but for winning the honor of being the greatest soccer nation in the world. During each game there will ultimately be a winner and a loser, one will advance in triumph while the other team will have to end their journey with dignified acceptance. The players and fans of a national team are deeply embedded in the action and the results, while others may be neutral to some of the games until their own country or favorites become the ones to have a stake in it. Every move is watched, every second could lead to stunning goals being made, or the agony of near misses. Star players could rise, star players could fall. Games may offer edge of the seat, nail-biting action, or slow-paced unimpressive ball passing. Simply put, there is nothing like World Cup.

By the time I have gotten around to writing this, the group stage of the World Cup is nearly over, with the final games of each group being played simultaneously for fair play in determining who will emerge out to the Round of 16. Earlier today the United States advanced from and won their group during the last few minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the match. That one goal made the difference and might ultimately help the U.S. finally have the opportunity to be taken seriously as an international soccer nation. So far, other nations have advanced too, including some of the usual big names like Brazil and Argentina. On the opposite end, other teams have already been eliminated, among them most of the six African nations that qualified for the World Cup. It is rather heartbreaking to see because this is the first World Cup held on African soil and African teams have always been the underdog in comparison to the European and South American giants. A few days ago, the host nation South Africa, who almost had an amazing chance to make it out of the group against all odds, was eliminated. They joined Cameroon, and Nigeria who also had one last chance to make it, and nearly did. The other African teams seem to be joining them soon, all but one, the Black Stars of Ghana. After two successful matches Ghana was at the top of their group, and although they lost their last first-round game against the soccer titan Germany, they were still able to advance out of their group with 2nd place. On their backs, Ghana will be carrying the hopes of all the African continent and the African nations that were eliminated. The strange irony of it all is that Ghana will now have to face the U.S. during the Round of 16 knock-out game. My heart will be torn while watching that match. Yet, I can only imagine the feeling being all the more intense for Ghanaian-Americans, like some of my friends and students, who love both of their nations. The World Cup often overflows with surprises...

I’m looking forward to about two and a half more weeks of World Cup soccer, it all ends on July 11th after a month of competition. Surely there will be disappointments, but there will also be glorious triumphs. Hopefully my allegiance is on the right side, at the right time. I’m looking for something good to come out of the USA vs. Ghana game... though I’m not sure what that should be yet. I’m looking for gli Azzurri, the Italian national team, to live up to their reputation as the defending champion of the world. Finally, I am looking forward to watch some lovely soccer being played by Argentina and other top teams. In the end, may the best and most deserving team win the World Cup title for the most beautiful game. One thing is for certain... it only gets better from here!

Something special will happen in South Africa, and there is no better place for it to happen than this land of struggle and reconciliation. I wonder what Lucky Dube would think. I wonder what Stephen Biko and all those who lost their lives in the struggle against apartheid would think. Different nations, united by one spirit, one culture, one language... the most beautiful game: Soccer, Football, Fútbol, Calcio.

Forza Azzurri! Viva Italia! (... and Ghana, USA and Argentina!),