“Understanding expands and contracts based on what details are placed in dialogue together…” Niama Safia, Artsy.net
Too often we find ourselves in reaction mode when faced with challenges, be it in the political or personal realm. As a fast changing country and continent with reportedly three quarters of the population being under the age of thirty five years old, reaction and knee jerk solutions may not be the best way to approach or assure solid solutions to problems from family crisis to government crunches. Yes, that is a stretch on the spectrum of life, but it’s a reality for the average adult.
Case in point comes from my personal experience over the past 5 weeks where I have been in the US caring for my 82 year old mother, with my family, who has enjoyed good health for the most part, but suddenly faced a health emergency. She is doing fine now but her hospitalization shook the fiber of our family and tested the foundation of love and morality established generations ago by my great-grands in Jamaica post slavery, against all odds, yet arguably we were ill prepared. Simultaneously, my family in Ethiopia was dealing, vicariously, with the annual renewal of my business license, along with hundreds of irritated hard working tax payers operating above board, in an office ill equipped to reconcile the challenges. For the record, the same old issues I have dealt with for the past thirteen years and others businesses much longer.
In both instances, resolutions were achieved, somehow, and goals were met, somewhat. But is this good enough and shall we as people or citizens continue in cycles which simply gloss over serious issues which perpetuate knee jerk reactions and inefficiency on one hand and shaky legacies based on questionable policies on the other hand for generations to come? What we fail to realize, as we react or live in the moment verses thoughtful planning and preparation predicated by critical thinking, is that one day when history judges us, it can bring shame or fame to our family or nation. The following exhibition and excerpt reviewed in Artsy.net by Niama Safia summed it up, in my usual art related discourse.
“CARVANS OF GOLS is the first exhibition in recent memory to apply a wide lens to the pre-colonial period of African civilizations and their impact to effectively challenge what we think we know about the world. It’s a fallacious notion that Africa is without history, one that ultimately fuels the racialized subjugation and exploitation of people of African descent around the globe. The museum’s decision to present fragments is a novel one; it requires the viewer to make inferences and employ reasoning in a way that the standard, tacit relationship between a viewer and an art object typically does not. As we move forward in our efforts to transform narrative cycles that do not reflect who we want to be as a global society, this juxtaposition of fragments can be instructive: Nothing, history included, is ever totally complete. Understanding expands and contracts based on what details are placed in dialogue together, and fragments present an opportunity for robust critical engagement, analysis, and—most importantly—to stoke the imagination.”
Powerful. I am an advocate for stoking the imagination and more so in the context of the communities, country and continent we want to leave for our kith and kin. CARAVANS OF GOLD allows for deep reflection on how even the creative minds and hands of incredible artists were subdued and confiscated and consequently risen and celebrated, though not by us or necessarily for us. It makes me beg the question, what do we in Ethiopia and Africa in generally expect our great grand children to think and say of us? When will we stop living in reaction mode and move to solid solutions that are not only sustainable, but considerate applying principles of foreseeability for long term social, cultural and political implications which impart lessons of love for family and country alike? Or are we satisfied with legacies of drama and trauma that will lead subsequent generations to elucidations of what not to do to keep their successive generations out of the proverbial hall of shame? As people with shared concerns, goals and circumstances, we can and must do better to ensure that just as CARAVANS OF GOLD presents the best of our creativity amidst a narrative of pain and disruption, that our personal and political/governmental administrations are tended to with care, concern and a true sense of best interest in order to avoid repeating negative narratives which promote best practices towards the positive and productive transformation across the board.
Dr. Desta Meghoo is a Jamaican born
Creative Consultant, Curator and cultural promoter based in Ethiopia since 2005. She also serves as Liaison to the AU for the Ghana based, Diaspora African Forum.