Brooklyn’s Bob Marley Big Ups

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[Column: What’s Going On?]

HARLEM REAL ESTATE: Developer Vornado Real Estate Trust announced that the deal is pretty much sealed for its office tower to rise on the southwest corner of Park Avenue and 125 Street, which will house Major League Baseball’s television operations and nation’s second largest radio broadcaster,  Inner City Broadcasting, parent company of NYC radio stations, WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM.  This is same space where there was  a Marriott Hotel ground-breaking ceremony,  about 4 years ago. Then the deal went south……..And the Applebee restaurant group opens a  Harlem branch this summer.

2008 WHITE HOUSE ELECTIONS: According to NY Super Tuesday stats Senator Barack Obama lost the state, scored 3 out of Harlem’s 6 delegates. He and Senator Clinton will split NYS 232 delegates. The downstate elected officials who are  Obamacans include Assemblymen Michael Benjamin, Karim Camara, Hakeem Jeffries, State Senators Eric Adams, Kevin Parker and John Sampson; City Councilmen Charles Barron, Helen Foster, James Sanders and Al Vann. Senator Clinton supporters members of Congress Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks and Edolphus Towns, failed to deliver votes because their Black districts voted overwhelmingly for Obama.  Congressman Charlie Rangel, a Clinton supporter, fared better. His district, which it is speculated is less than 50% African American, meanders across town into East Harlem, which ensured a Clinton majority.

While Obama failed to win the 3 delegates-rich states, NY, NJ and California, he won impressive majorities in some of the most unexpected places like Idaho, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Georgia, Alabama and Alaska. And on the heels of Super Tuesday, the three Saturday primaries with as many Obama victories in Louisiana, Washington and Nebraska.  

As I stated earlier, people vote values during primaries. And these results speak volumes.  What ever happened to that big American red-state, blue-state divide. Congrats to Senator Obama on his Grammy for Best Spoken Word Grammy last Sunday. In closing, I have to repeat what Larry King said was a rumor… that Condi Rice would be the VP on the John McCain Republican ticket.  This is a phenomenal national election year. And the best is yet to come!

FROM AFRICA:  Within a week, two friends had news to report about their unnerving experiences in Africa. One is a US Peace Corps volunteer who had to  abruptly interrupting her assignment in rural Kenya, far from the Rift Valley, where all  hell has been breaking loose following  the results of a questionable Presidential election. She is stateside contemplating, awaiting a new assignment.

When it was announced that President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, was re-elected, his opponent,  Raila Odinga, a Luo, contested the results.  The Luos and the nation’s  20 odd ethnic groups are suffering from almost 50 years of Kikuyu political dominance. The presidential election theft initiated rioting, church burning and anti-Kikuyu assassinations.   

Talks about power sharing arrangement have stalled. Ethnic rivalries, in a country renown for its multiculturalism, its multi-ethnic diversity and a spirit of tolerance, have surfaced and the ugly face of ethnic cleansing has taken front stage center. Since the beginning of the year,  more than 1,000 Kenyans have been killed, 250,000 people have been displaced. Kenya, once considered the jewel in the crown of post-colonial African stability is looking more like Rwanda. The African Union, the EU, the UN, the US are working feverishly to avoid civil war. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been in Kenya for weeks trying to broker a peace between  Kibaki and Odinga Kenya’s tale of woe receded from the front pages of the NYT  until 2/12 which includes two compelling op-eds, by Kenyans, appealing for peace and outside intervention to reverse Kenya’s descent into hell and destabilization. 

Last Thursday, I got an email from a NY based,  Nigerian-born doctor who arrived at normally tranquil Maputo, Mozambique in the midst of protracting local rioting.  A government-ordered  public transportation price hike provoked the disorder.  It was a nightmarish interlude as locals  went on a  tire burning, car- burning,  stone-throwing rampage. Stranded at the desolate  airport  for five hours which seemed like an eternity, he was happy to see his hotel driver.  The  ride to the hotel was adventurous as his driver skillfully dodged stone throwers and road blocks.  The car did not escape the wrath of stone-throwers and has a few dents. This sounds like Kenya.  Peace was ultimately restored to Maputo  when the fare hike  was revoked. The doctor dispatched a second email stating that he looked forward to his next destination, the anything but tranquil JoBurg, South Africa.

AROUND TOWN: Congratulations to Brooklyn now that one of its street has been co-named Bob Marley Boulevard. The naming ceremony and official street sign was unveiled on February 6, which would have been the reggae icon’s 63rd birthday anniversary. The Bob Marley Boulevard is a 20-block corridor along Church Avenue between Albany and Bedford Avenues.  Marley joins  Marcus Garvey, another  Caribbean icon to  have his name emblazoned on NYC street signs.

Fine arts exhibits showcasing the works of African- Americans are ubiquitous in Manhattan.  There is “underEXPOSED: Black Women Photographers In America,” featuring 7 photogs – Michaelle Chapoteau, Sheila SL Dawkins, Patrina Hall-Madry, Noreen Mallor, Carucha, L. Meuse, Deborah Terry, and June DeLairre Truesdale, at the Walter Reede Theater at Lincoln Center, which runs  through 2/28.  There is also the “Black Renaissance 2008” sponsored by the West Side Arts Coalition at the Broadway Mall on 96 Street, on Wed/Sat/Sun, through 2/24, featured artists are  Farhana Akhter, Sonia Barnett, J.W. Ford, William Hunt, Robert Lee Jones, Nathaniel Ladson, Robert Scott, Elton Tucker and Yukako.



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