Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kwanzaa Collective 2010 Celebration

This holiday season, the Greensboro Kwanzaa Collective will put on a week long celebration from December 26th - 31st! A candle lighting ceremony will be held each day, along with guest speakers, dance, food, and more. Check out event details here.

On Sunday, December 26th join us at Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA from 6-9pm where DRC ApeParel will be representing socially conscious style in the fashion show and speaking with kids about the importance of knowledge of self and heritage. Along side will be guest speaker Yusef Suggs and the talents of The Extraordinary Wesley Williams Urban Dance Theater.

From the Greensboro Kwanzaa Collective (GSOKC): a group of families and community members who have joined forces and pooled resources to present a week-long Kwanzaa celebration in Greensboro. The GSOKC also presents programs throughout the year that encourage community members to embrace Kwanzaa’s seven principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, creativity, purpose, and faith) all year long. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Many names, One spirit: music & dance of Africa

Soukous. Lingala. Ndombolo. Rumba. These terms represent a style of music and dance that is currently the hottest and fastest growing across Africa. They originate from the Congo, where the spirit of the people is being fought for in a different kind of battle, where musicians and artists create their craft in an effort to preserve the spirit that is not concerned with power and politics, but the spirit that finds its strength in the pouring out of truth - whether it be derived from heartache, tragedy, love or life.

And one can hardly imagine music without dance. Styles, moves, routines, the energy that goes into moving your body to a beat and sound can create sincere expression of self and generate a connection with others that allows the mind to become powerful with motivations to live! change! be heard!

Check out this video then take it out on the dance floor!

Influenced by Rumba, Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, Congolese, and traditional African music, this style of music and dance began taking root in the late 1930s and early 1940s in the Congo. The work of early popular bands and artists like - Papa Wemba, Papa Wendo, TP OK Jazz, Bella Bella, and Wenge Musica (to name only a few) - paved the road for the music to spread, gain momentum and evolve as political pressure and conditions worsened in the 1970s in the Congo. Now, what is most commonly known as Ndombolo, is shared across Africa, in many different languages - French, English, African - with styles, dance and attitude all their own but carrying a common thread.

For artists like JBlue LLP and producers like NB Holla, this common thread represents a sense of hope and commradory they have seen carry messages across land, and believe can do the same across hearts and minds in other countries and continents.

It's cool to be conscious!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Story of Fallen Whistles

When you visit the Fallen Whistles website the first things you'll notice are a whistle and a journal, and then as your eyes centers on where to go from there, you'll see the first tab is labeled STORY. In this case, first impressions are everything. 

The Fallen Whistles campaign raises funds and awareness for the travesties happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo by selling whistles. 100% of the funds are used to rehabilitate war-affected children and advocate for their freedom. And by wearing the whistle, you cause people to become curious and are thus given the opportunity to shed light where there is still much darkness.

Symbol of the whistles given to boys too small to carry a gun.

But, why whistles? When one man's African trek eventually led him to the Congo, he experienced tremendous heartache and grief over the cruelties inflicted on the children there. He kept a journal and recorded the details described to him by the children about their kidnappings, the rebel war camp conditions, forced rape and murder, and ultimately, hope despite lost innocence. One story told about the smallest boys, who were given whistles to blow when the enemy approached, broke him when he learned they were used as first-line-of-defense barricades. But it also filled his well of determination to work for change no matter what. 

Falling Whistles founder Sean Carasso (right) stands with the friend who gave him the first whistle.

Fallen Whistles has a tour schedule that looks more like a popular muscian's than an organization working for peace in the Congo, which warms our DRC ApeParel heart. The U.S. is large, in terms of actual land mass and population, and in sharing the same hope for change in the Congo as Fallen Whistles (and many, many other organizations and groups of people around the world) we know that reaching the masses is a crucial element to raising the necessary awareness for that change to happen. One tactic the campaign implements is scheduling unlikely venues for conversations on war-torn Congo, and though unconventional it is where the people are. So, we are proud to say that this year, on November 23rd, a meet, greet and get connected event at the Dapper Style House, a retail store on Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh, was the site of much whistle blowing!

Join us in supporting Fallen Whistles by following their blog!

All pictures courtesy of www.fallingwhistles.com.