BABA’S BLOG ARCHIVES

Debating Me Myself and I

In 1979 I had major conflict with a teacher who turned my world upside down inside out. Although I played sports almost all of my academic life, I was also passionate about forensics, or what later became known as speech class (i.e. oratory, debate, etc.) This was one...

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Unhealthy Hospitals

I got a call last week that one of my elders had been hospitalized. Word throughout the community was that he had suffered a stroke and survived, unable to move, trapped in his home for 2 days before finding the strength to crawl outside where he was discovered. As if...

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Alcohol and Storytelling Do Mix

Alcohol and Storytelling “Do” Mix by Baba the Storyteller I had an interesting storytelling gig last night, one that I will not soon forget. I was called to tell tales at a late-night, old school back yard party. Well…old school for some anyway. The music alternated...

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Stranger in the Village 2010

It has been 55 years since one of this nation’s most prolific and profound thinkers, James Baldwin, first published his essay “Stranger in the Village”. Baldwin recounted his experiences visiting the remote Swiss village of Leukerbad and being the first Black man many...

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Child Drug Dealers in Elementary Schools

I really wish I could give names and locations but once you read what I'm about to say, I'm sure you'll understand why I didn't. I visited an elementary school recently (which shall remained unnamed) and was working with groups of 6th graders on getting them...

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Initiatory Process XIII

I'm not sure whether to play the old Carol Burnett goodbye song or the Mickey Mouse Club song. I'll let you guys choose. It appears we have reached the end of this experimental-writing-creatively-in-Spanish journey. It also seems as though I may have survived with the...

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Unrequited

The speech was a resounding success. Hundreds of people in the dimly lit banquet hall stood up from their chairs and tables to applaud the senator’s impassioned plea for change. The ovation and loud cheers spilled out of the banquet area with the senator and his wife...

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No Correspondido

El discurso del Senador fue un gran éxito. Cientos de personas en el salón de banquetes estaban de pie y aplaudían apasionada por la petición del Senador para traer los cambios á los negocios del gobierno. La ovación y los aplausos siguieron el Senador y su esposa por...

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Breaking Curfew

Emanuel carefully crept through the old door, trying to keep it from creaking as he entered the dark living room late at night, hours past his curfew. Incredibly, he had managed to get the door opened, and closed, without it emitting a single sound. Just as he began...

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Violación del Toque de Queda

Después de una noche lleno de fiestas, bebidas y muchos amigos, Manuel entró por la puerta sigilosamente y la cerró. La sala fue oscura y él había violado el toque de queda. El empezó a pensar en como navigar el piso hecho de madera cuando escuchó una voz suave y...

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Initiatory Process XII

Can you believe that we started this 3 month journey in March and it is almost June? Absolutely amazing! I believe the first question was would I survive an all Spanish Speaking/Writing creative writing course based in Madrid? I'm not quite sure yet. You would have to...

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Manchild in the Land of Promise

Manchild in the Land of Promise Aldeo sat pensively across the tiny kitchen table, trying to identify the unfamiliar anxious smile deforming his mother’s lips. For much of his childhood Aldeo had served as a surrogate adult ear for her in between parades of transitory...

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Hombrecito en la Tierra de las Promesas

Hombrecito en la Tierra de las Promesas Aldeo sentó pensativamente al lado opuesto de su madre en la mesa de la pequeña cocina. Trataba de identificar la sonrisa ansioso deformando los labios de su madre. Desde su juventud Aldeo la había servido a su madre como un...

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Initiatory Process XI

So what should a person do when they can't sleep. Hmmmm..... maybe finish their creative writing assignment. I'm a bit miffed with myself because last week I finished the assignment early and then forgot to turn it in. My name appeared on a list with a few other...

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The Dancer

The Dancer by Baba the Storyteller Her fingers delicately traced invisible patterns in the air as she slowly turned in uninhibited, gentle circles. Poised on the toes of a single foot, she traced the outline of her leg with the other from the ankle, continuing up...

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La Bailaora

La Bailaora por Baba Los dedos trazaban diseños invisibles en el aire mientras ella bailaba lentamente en círculos desinhibidos. Se balanceaba sobre los dedos de un solo pie y con movimientos suaves del otro pie ella trazó el contorno de la pierna. Continuó levantar...

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Mural Artist Search

Well, we're getting close to discovering our mystery artist who painted the mural on the wall of the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center. I've heard back from 3 different sources that the company that painted the mural is called "Flying Colors" and is located in Northern...

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Initiatory Process X

Ok I know some of you were wondering why haven't I submitted the most recent story that I wrote for the next assignment. Well the truth of the matter is that I, literally, hate what I wrote. If it weren't an assignment I would ball it up and throw it in the trash!...

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Wants versus Needs

Isabella yearned for her daughter Ana to understand the difference between wants and needs. “You’ve got to understand Ana that the world does not evolve around you and your teenage life!” “Mom! All of this drama because I needed money to buy a new CD?” “No Ana, there...

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Necesidades contra Deseos

Isabel anhelaba que su hija fuera entender la diferencia entre deseos y necesidades. -¡Ana tienes que comprender que tu no eres el centro del mundo!- -¡Mamá! ¿Me castigas porque necesito un CD de Alejandro Sanz?- -No Ana estás exagerando de nuevo. "Deseas" el nuevo CD...

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Mural

You guys be the judges. A friend told me about this mural painted on the side of one of the walls at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, inside near the theater. When I finally got around to going out and checking it out I was honestly in awe.  I didn't even know...

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Answer to the Question…

Ok, because it is occurring so regularly now I am forced to write this short note to my blog readers. I just got another one of those emails and so I will answer you all. No, the characters that I am writing about are not "me." I have to tell you that I have never run...

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Initiatory Process IX

I'm moving along ya'll, albeit not at the pace of an enlightened student, but still moving. This last assignment was about creating a character and building upon the traits and characteristics of the character without brazingly throwing them up in the readers face....

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Incarcerated?

Incarcerated? I was trembling. My body shivered uncontrollably, nerves disquieted by things I had little or no control over. I sat stewing in a rage of irrepressible anger, the walls closing in on me. I had never in my life experienced claustrophobia but this sudden...

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¿Encarcelado?

¿Encarcelado? Yo estaba temblando. Me estremecía.  Me agitaba sobre cosas que no había ningún control. Me sentaba dentro de mi mismo hirviendo con pensamientos enojados. Me sentía como los muros volvieron cerca del cuerpo. Nunca en mi vida me había sentido la...

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Initiatory Process VIII

I've made it to the halfway point! I'm pushing forward on this and doing all right. I just got a note from our professor encouraging me, letting me know that I'm doing well, especially coming to the course from another language. I remember I said that I would attach...

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Initiatory Process VII

This assignment almost wrecked me. You would think that by the 5th assignment I would get into some kind of groove or something but noooo. I'm not sure what is wrong with me. I've always been the type that, if something got easier for me, then I would attempt it...

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Initiatory Process VI

Damn!!! Alright I have been writing for almost 9 straight hours! Who does this? In the current assignment we're supposed to engage the senses of the reader. The reader should be able to see, touch, taste and smell from the narrative.  That's an oversimplification of...

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Initiatory Process V

This assignment was difficult for me. I had more trouble than usual trying to figure out how to address my reader in 2nd person. One thing that I'm noticing though is that my Spanish vocabulary is improving by leaps and bounds. I'm being forced to spend a great deal...

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Initiatory Process IV

Writing in 2nd person!!! Who writes in 2nd person anymore? This next assignment we're supposed to create a narrative in 2nd person. I "hate" writing in 2nd person and to write creatively in Spanish is even more onerous to me. I don't use the word hate too often but...

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Initiatory Process III

Denial seems so much easier than acceptance. I can feel this level of denial surging up through me when reading the critiques of the professor. Intellectually, I know it is there but psychologically it still wants a dominant role. I have to admit my errors. In my...

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Initiatory Process II

Thanks so much, those of you who have taken the time to send me words of encouragement. I didn’t realize how cathartic blogging could be. Although it might seem an exercise in redundancy to write about writing, hey, it works for me. I actually love to write but...

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The Initiatory Process

A month ago I was made aware that I had won 2nd place in storytelling contest hosted by "Red Internacional." No... really, it's true. I entered this contest for Spanish Storytellers on the assumption that I would, at least, come out of the experience with some nice...

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The Theory of Boredom

Recently, while visiting Poland, I stayed in the home of a dear friend and his 10-year-old daughter. He’s a single dad, and a really good one. All of our rooms were very close to one another on the upper level above the main floor. Each room had nice size...

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Pondering Poland

I’ve only been back for two days and figured I had better journal this experience before my memory plays its’ usual game of patchwork prioritizing. Excuse the generalizations if you are one of those people who never do that, or find it abhorrent. I generalize and do...

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Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty Children today are drowning in the violent seas of extreme academic testing. I find no other way to say it. Extreme is the word for it when our educators are mandated to spend more time instructing towards testing objectives than teaching to the needs...

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Physically Incarcerated Youth

A few weeks ago I accepted an invitation to present to several different dorms of incarcerated youth at a Youth Authority Facility here in Southern California. I’ve never hesitated to accept invitations to ply my trade as a storyteller and this instance would be no...

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Gahr’s OAAU

Well… African Heritage Month is coming to a close and thus ends the crazed period of program scheduling. I am not complaining, I am a working artist and so I welcome it. This year I was able to get back to my “favorite” high school here in Southern California… Gahr...

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D-House in My Heart

Yesterday I had the privilege, no, the honor of performing for the students of Dorsey High School here in Los Angeles but before I talk about my amazing experience I’ve got to address the image associated with this post. This painting is on the exterior of one of the...

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Truth About the Devaluation of Our Youth

Facing the Truth of the Devaluation of our Youth This wasn’t something I intended to write about but after a few days ago, I just had to sit down and put pen to paper. Annually I travel to Northern California to commune with a group of young men and women as a form of...

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Fearing Failure

Yesterday I had a performance at a festival held by the City of La Palma here in Southern California. It was well organized. I had received a packet containing parking passes, maps, schedules, etc. This was a really good sign. When I arrived at the park where the...

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From the Theatre to the Living Room

I've been thinking a lot lately about some of the changes I've undergone as an artist. I can remember, just like it was yesterday, being in my mid 20's and early 30's and craving the huge stage performances. I've performed before audiences ranging in size from a few...

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Un Día Español

Hoy era un día lleno de éxito. Tuve que hacer una presentación para unos maestros y administradores educativos aquí en el sur de California en Orange County. Usualmente los grupos que yo hablo con y dar lecciones sobre la arte de cuentistas son una mezcla de gente...

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Africa is not a Country!

Here it is 2007 and after many decades I am still repeating the mantra: "Africa is not a country, it is a continent." It seems I've been saying this for so long that my brain just clicks into automatic whenever I'm in situations where I have to say it. You would think...

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Black Family Bond

Although I had a really long day yesterday, I couldn't resist supporting an evening event that a very dear friend of mine made me aware of. We were talking earlier in the week and she explained that there was a gathering that was going to occur at one of our local...

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Stopping a Child’s Suspension

Although thoroughly exhausted today, I had one of the most amazing days yesterday. I truly love my work. I know that many of the things I talk about might seem minuscule when compared to things going on in the world at large but, for me, these little things are what...

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Stolen Parking Space

I was sitting in a parking lot earlier today waiting for a space three car lengths in front of me . My blinkers were on, windows down and a gentle breeze entered from outside, circulating through the car. As I was sitting there, the car I was waiting for began backing...

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Audience Walks Out on Me!

I was doing a showcase today. One of those 10 minute performances where people and come and get a taste for what you do to see if it fits in their programming.There was a school of about 150 2nd graders taking up the first 8 to 10 rows closest to the stage. The rest...

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Plucking Grey Hairs

This conversation started me thinking about a time, approximately a year ago, when I noticed the first single strand of grey hair prominently displaying itself in my beard. Now, I have always been the type of guy who laughed at, and poked fun at those guys who rush...

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Definitely Do Digress

I know this is going to strike many as a bit unorthodox but, one of the most fascinating and useful devices that I ever learned to use in my storytelling, from other griots, was the art of “the digression.” Normally, especially in the West, narrative...

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The Appearance of Youth

I did a performance at a school yesterday, it was an elementary school. After the performance one of the veteran teachers came over to buy my cd and she said, "you did really good, but I was worried at first." I asked her why and she said, "well when you walked in I...

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Exhausted but Happy

If anyone is thinking of starting their own business because you think it will give you more free time, then don't do it. I think the fallacy that being your own boss allows you to enjoy endless hours of relaxation is, possibly, on e of the greatest myths of our...

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Kings to Clowns in Less Than 400 Years

<img src="http://www.wovenweb.org/images/post.jpg" title="Asha's Baba playing the Kora" alt="Asha's Baba playing the Kora" align="right" height="200" width="200" /><o:p></o:p>Yesterday, February 6, 2007 I performed in a small school in a suburb on...

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Is the Superbowl today?

Ok, I can't be the only guy in North America who didn't know that the Superbowl was being played today. Am I? I guess I'm so preoccupied with other things going on in the world that it simply slipped my mind (if it was ever in there). My wife and one of my students...

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To Be Needed

One of the young women I am teaching to play the Kora left a message for me last night on my phone. Sounding a little distraught, she explained that she had attempted to tune her Kora, which is an art in and of itself, and altered it to the point where she couldn't...

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Be Your Own Oracle

The premise that each of us contains, within ourselves, all of the things necessary to create our successes in life is not a new idea, nor is it cutting edge concept. Each of us gains wisdom through experience. What separates the wheat from the chaff is each person’s...

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Destroying the Tools of Your Trade

If you were to witness a cook dragging his cooking utensils across the floor prior to preparing your meal, or a painter using her most expensive brushes to whitewash a picket fence, you would probably think them insane. Why is it then that we think nothing of the...

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Never Say That You Know

During my apprenticeship in the craft of Jaliyaa, I’ve often come into contact with an issue that, honestly, used to totally confuse me. Whenever I was involved in direct learning with an elder or someone more knowledgeable than me, prior to the session, a peer or...

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Maintaining Connections

I just got off of the phone with one of my brothers (in spirit not blood) and I'm feeling really good! His name is Badialy, but more people know him as Boujou. His mother and I call him Boujoubadji. He left Los Angeles about 3 years ago or so and is living is New...

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Where are the Places to Tell Stories?

Alright, this is an easy one. I am always getting this question from budding tellers who are looking at the business end of storytelling as a veritable “pot of gold”. The simple answer to the question of where are places to perform is: “Everywhere.” Don’t worry I’ll...

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ADHD = Front Row Center

Before I begin dishing out this piece of advice, I should to place a disclaimer: By utilizing the abbreviation ADHD and referring to those believed to be suffering symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, I am in no way, purposely anyway,...

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The Dreaded Sourpuss

As you venture down your path of tales and telling, you will eventually come across a foreboding figure who has the potential to, literally, drain the desire to tell from your being bit-by-bit. I like to refer to this person as, “The Dreaded Sourpuss.” Here’s how our...

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Finding Stories to Tell

This has to be the “most asked” question of tellers new to the craft. “Where do I find stories to tell?” While I understand the dilemma, it is still a bit amusing to hear this question as it is a “forest for the trees” issue. First, let me start by saying this:...

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Butterflies

This advice isn’t only for storytellers, it’s for all of those who have ever had to present before a group of people. It doesn’t matter if it is a group of 10 or 1,000; the physiological reactions are universal. First, the mouth may get a little dry, then the palms...

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Storytelling is not Acting

The craft of storytelling and the craft of acting are accessed by two completely divergent paths. This needs to be stressed especially to the beginning teller. Each craft has its respective trials and tribulations in attaining mastery but similarities stop there. To...

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The Power of Silence

I know that the advice I give may seem a bit unconventional at times but, well, as you know, I am who I am. I wanted to address a topic that I think rarely, if ever, commands discussion. I think this topic will also aid in shedding some light on why, for some of us,...

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Don’t Do It!

This is a piece of advice that I got from a friend of mine recently. He's not a storyteller but I applied his information to my craft. He was facilitating a workshop that dealt with the arts and education. In talking with a group of educators he told them, and I'm...

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