Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I decided to get off the bus a stop early to take a picture of a mural of Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman. Every morning I get a glimpse of that mural and I kept saying to myself how I would really love to take a photo of it. The strength in the mural always catches my eye and gives me much more motivation to endure another day. This mural which is painted on the side of the back entrance to Boys and Girls High School takes me back to my childhood as I am in the midst of peeling back the layers and getting to know myself on a deeper level. I am reminded of the African Street Festival now known as The International African Arts Festival that has been around for over 40 years. The festival was an event that my family and I would look forward to. I am also reminded of attending the private elementary school Weusi Shule, (which means Black School in Swahili). One of the founding fathers of The International Arts Festival, Jitu Weusi was also the founder of Weusi Shule.As I walked through to the entrance of Boys and Girls High School, I was taken back to the time when the festival was housed in the school’s outdoor track field. Such vivid memories ran through my mind. This was a time when life was simple for me. It was a time when Brooklyn, the Bedford Stuyvesant section to be exact, was still occupied by those I choose to call its original inhabitants (yes, I do realize that this is not historically correct). Every year we would attend this festival and be surrounded by African art and culture. This was definitely the place to be and where you could meet up with old and new friends. You could see the vibrant colors of all the wares of the hundreds of venders. Smell the savory, salty sweet aromas of traditional and non traditional foods that would be sold and be surrounded by the beauty of African Culture. There would be performances of indigenous pulsating, rhythmic African dance and music as well as spoken word and art exhibits.
As a little girl, I always looked forward to attending what was then called the African Street Festival, which I still call it today. This would be a time to hang out with friends and family. I remember going with my mother, father, cousins and later with my little brother. Being surrounded by my culture always made me feel proud and excited.
It has been eye opening to remember things that have molded and shaped me into the person that I am today. Like Sankofa, I realize that it is necessary to take a look back in order to move forward. In my process of nurturing myself and the healing of myself, I am constantly examining the experiences that have molded and shaped me into the person I am today. The African Street Festival is one of those experiences that I will never forget and that I still enjoy attending every year.