Finally: Apology To Aborigines

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[What’s Going On]



: The formal apology by new Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Aborigines last week was arguably among the most important stories in the annals of human affairs.

An event that warranted a 4-color picture of Aborigines, which ran across 4 columns, above the fold on the cover of last week’s New York Times, the inside apology story lacked bite and substance. PM Rudd’s 4-minute apology was “government business, motion #1.” He said: “The Parliament is today here to assembled to deal with this unfinished business of the nation, to remove a great stain from the nation’s soul” as he addressed past mistreatment of Aborigines. Apology was also targeted to Aborigine subgroup, “The Stolen Generations,” the tens of thousands of indigenous children who were removed, oftentimes forcibly from their families, in a policy of assimilation, which was terminated in the 70s.

The Aborigines live marginalized existences, with much lower life expectancy, high unemployment, rampant crime and alcoholism. Sounds familiar? Many Aborigines argue that the apology is not enough and want compensation, something that the government rules out. The apology ushers in a new beginning and a new relationship between the Aborigines and Down Under whites. Wonder if and when that apology will happen in the U.S., directed to descendants of both Native Americans and enslaved Africans. I think that an apology acknowledges a wrong and is a prerequisite to reparations, compensation or whatever it is called.


George Bush returned to Africa last week, his second visit to The Continent as US president. During his 6-day, sub-Saharan Africa trip, he visited Benin, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda and Liberia. Why? Africa is the continent where he is viewed favorably, per US agitprop. The President’s stated Tour Africa 2008 goal was to reward five of the Continent’s most stable democracies for their successes in healthcare, education and infrastructure. When Bush took office in 2001, US humanitarian and development Aid to Africa totaled $1.4 billion. By 2006 US Aid to Africa swelled to $5.6 billion. President Bush was on a check writing spree with billions at his disposal, drawn from the Millennium Challenge Corp, a federal agency, to countries visited.

Skeptics, however, believe that his trip was a real estate mission to persuade these heads of state to come aboard the Africom plan, a U.S. Pentagon initiative that would allow the US military to set up bases in African countries. Last year, the African Union (AU) encouraged its members to reject Africom, which they did, except Liberia. Meanwhile, Africom is headquartered in Stuttgart Germany. FYI. Tanzania President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is the new AU president!


I wonder if there was talk about the Harlem Obama vote undercount in Harlem, at the big Albany-based Black and Latino Caucus, last weekend. According to one Super Tuesday vote accounting, Obama got NO votes in the 94th election district in Central Harlem’s 70th Assembly District, an oversight that Assemblyman Wright did not seem to worry about. But Attorney Gordon Davis, former NYC Parks Commissioner, an Obama poll watcher, takes a more cynical view of the first Obama zero vote reports. He said initially it was reported 141-0 now it’s 261 to 136, in an assembly district that went 12,000 to 8000 for Barack. NYS was to Clinton what SC was to Barack. She won 61 of 62 counties. However, once corrections are made and votes are accurately vetted and documented, Obama may get a few more NY delegates, which are decided by proportional outcomes. Obamaians take note. Michelle adorns the cover of Newsweek’s 2/25 issue


: There will be a staged reading of the MEET ME AT THE THERESA directed by Charles Dumas, from a screenplay adapted from a non-fiction book of the same title, both authored by history Professor Sandra Wilson. Narrative focuses on the fabled architectural confection, the Hotel Theresa, on Seventh and 125 Street, during its heyday, the 40s to 60s. Reading will be held at the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. and 135 Street. Sunday, 2/24 at 4 pm. Admission is free.

The Savacou Gallery hosts a one-week exhibit, KATAME III, paintings by Mounia, the still drop-dead gorgeous Martinique-born phenom, who was Vogue Magazine’s first Black cover girl. Mounia has been plying her trade as a fine artsis for more than a decade. The unveiling and opening reception on Friday, 2/22, begins at 6 pm, at 240 East 13 Street, Manhattan. Call 212.473.6904.

There will be something special, for history and boxing fans, on the small screen, the HBO Sports documentary, JOE LOUIS, AMERICA’S HERO….. BETRAYED, which airs on Saturday, February 23. Big Easy culture is now invading the Big Apple with two theatre works. One is A TUFF SHUFFLE, a one-man show, a warm and affectionate look into the life of music icon Louis Armstrong, which is set in his backstage room. A TUFF SHUFFLE, a drama with music, was written, directed and stars Professor Danny Mullen, begins its NY run for three weekends, March 2, 9, and 16, at Harlem’s Baton Rouge, 458 West 145 Street.

For reservations, call 212.281.2336. And the other is LOWER NINTH, a new drama, which was inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, about two men stranded on a roof after a devastating storm, which stars Gbenga Akinnagbe, (HBO’s The Wire); James McDaniel (NYPD Blue); and Gaius Charles. LOWER NINTH is housed at the Off, Off Broadway venue, the Flea Theatre, at 41 White Street, between Broadway and Church Streets, in Manhattan, through 4/14. Tues – Sat. For reservations, call 212.352 3101.


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