Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thread of True Congolese Unity

We round out Black History Month with a man whose philosophy is paramount to the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), a Congolese independence leader who helped orchestrate the Congo's freedom from Belgium, is our resident DRC ApeParel historical hero.

photo credit: weallbe.blogspot.com
Patrice Lumumba was born to a small tribe, grew up writing poetry and reporting for the press, then started the first nationwide Congolese political party. His rivals believed his humble beginnings could be overshadowed by their birth rites to prominent tribes in Belgian Congo, but his roots were a source of his strength and led him to great influence.

Lumumba was able to connect people of all tribes, spanning 905,563 square miles of country (slightly less than 1/4 of the US). Not a small feat. And not something others had attempted.

Bringing people together in this way shed light on the similarities between tribes, their common denominator being desire for a free nation, and increased the likelihood of a successful transition from Belgian rule to independent rule.

The MNC - Congolese National Movement - headed by Lumumba, won the first elections and formed the new independent government on June 30, 1960, now national independence day.

Soon after, already shaky ground began to rumble. His resolve to run the country as he see fit, independently, led to what historical claims report as a situation in which "an imprisoned Lumumba was more dangerous than a dead Prime Minister". Escalated tension and hostility among other leaders with vested interest in the Congo, both foreign and native, led to Lumumba's arrest and subsequent murder.

His life, as is the case for many of history's true leaders and men and women of heart, is one of great tragedy and triumph - without his vision for a united Congo, without his individual leadership, the thread of true Congolese unity would be further lost in a battered sea of global political bureaucracy.

Let us take up his philosophy, let us fight for an empowered, unified Congo! Pe No Chao!

Purchase our tribute to Lumumba shirt!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In good company with three musical masters

Let's go on a journey. Start with a lazy afternoon sittin' on the dock of the bay with the king of soul. Then as the day turns into night follow the sounds of the blue train down into the club and dine with the master of jazz. With renewed energy, learn da art of storytelling into the wee hours of the morning from a legendary hip-hop duo. What a trip that would be, right?

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in 1941, the year President Roosevelt established the Fair Employment Practice Committee and prohibited racial discrimination in hiring by federal departments. Though his death was untimely, he was 26 and his biggest hit "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" was yet to be released, Otis Redding's is identified by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he was posthumously inducted in 1989, as synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying. 1967 marked other untimely deaths as riots for African American civil rights escalated. But like the ebb and flow of Redding's bay, positive strides were also made that year. Justice Thurgood Marshall was inducted into the Supreme Court and state prohibitions to interracial marriages were ended.

John William Coltrane was given to us in the year of 1926, born in the small, North Carolina town of Hamlet, and left us the same year as Redding in 1967. Early family deaths and the discipline of The Navy constructed the design of his early life, and the rest is jazz history - he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation in 2007 for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz. He seems to have attained a Zen-like jazz through the mastery of internalizing his surroundings, learning from fellow musicians and friends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, by absorbing information and returning it to the world with a signature that could only be John Coltrane.

Outkast is Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Known to their mommas as Andre Lauren Benjamin and Antwan Andre Patton, they were both born in 1975 in Georgia and have a passion for hip hop. Musically, Outkast weaves elements of funk, soul, rock, electronic, spoken word, jazz and blues together to create an original and diverse sound. And though they are succeeding by measure of awards, sales and popularity, Outkast stands for a different measure of a (wo)man....

i'm speakin about you playin with that phony stuff you sharin
in your raps Mercedes Benz and all your riches
thinkin you got it, but get it get it

Their ability to transform the basic principles that guide their lives into music is what makes them legends. To them, hip hop is a lifestyle - a mindset even - and proves to be a solid foundation for their infinite creativity and good will. Check out...


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Power of O

O is a powerful letter. The shape is complete and simple, evoking a sense of strength and boldness in its viewer. Words starting with the letter O can seem to take on a life and personality all their own. Original. Outstanding. Oprah.

Yes, Oprah Winfrey is our Black History Month lady of the week today because she embodies outstanding originality, a trait we at DRC ApeParel strive for in our clothing and hope to encourage in you!

Oprah says about her life...

I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.

This attitude about life resembles that of Martin Luther King Jr.'s and is the mantra behind not only her success, but her ability to change her life and the lives of millions. Born on a farm in Mississippi in 1954, the year racial segregation was ended in public schools, Oprah explains that from an early age she knew she was bound for greatness. Since its beginning in 1986, her talk show has been rated #1 for 24 consecutive seasons and reaches more than 40 million viewers every week in the US alone.

She worked her way up the latter, from first African American news anchor in Nashville at age 19 to local talk show host in Baltimore, and then to Chicago to host a morning talk show that quickly became The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her style, power and choice of topics grabbed viewers' attention, pulled people out of their comfort zones, and allowed them to analyze their concerns, problems, and lives. By utilizing data and information from experts in combination with an optimistic perspective, Oprah changed they way millions approached life and the positive energy fueled a lasting success.

Then in 2000, the power of O struck again with O, the Oprah Magazine. A women's lifestyle magazine, it currently has 2.35 million readers each month and extends her message to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE. In 2002, Oprah took this message a step further, off her American front porch and into the heart of South Africa where she launched her first international edition of the magazine. And in true Oprah fashion she didn't stop there. In 2007, she founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, a first-class school designed to nurture, educate, and turn gifted South African girls from impoverished backgrounds into the country's future leaders.

The Oprah Winfrey Show is in its last season this year, the final episode being sure to release a flood of tears from people around the world, but tears of relief and joy have already sprung following the debut of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, this past January 1st, 2011. The power of O continues and there's no doubt the ripples of its wake will be felt for generations to come.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month 2011

We are not makers of history, we are made by history.

So said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, Strength to Love, in 1963. He believed that if the people of a society use history as a guide to living, and are humbled by it, they will make wiser choices for themselves, their families, neighbors and ultimately, the world. If they however, view themselves as makers of history, an unfounded confidence may cause the society to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

This quote provides us with another insight as well - the difference between these two can be easily confused or missed altogether by the untrained mind. He calls for us to become acquainted with disguises, know ourselves, and prepare our minds to ensure a reality in which we come closer to truth.

Dr. King is one of many important black figures in history. His philosophy and civil rights activism changed the way an entire generation and generations to come viewed themselves, society and their fellow man. As we forge ahead into February, the DRC ApeParel blog will be bringing you highlights each week of valuable people, ideas, places and events in Black History.

~It's cool to be conscious!~


Who: The Organization for African Students Interests and Solidarity, O.A.S.I.S., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

What: 30th annual Africa Night 

Where: UNC-Chapel Hill campus in the Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

When: Friday, February 12th, 
Dinner at 5pm, Fashion Show at 7pm

Buy your tickets online!

Dinner $5, Fashion Show $7, Combo $10