Monday, June 6, 2016

nzoCALIFA: Ancestors in Santa Cruz?! TOUCHED!

@nzoCALIFA "Seen on Scene": #SantaCruz
Talking shop at the African marketplace area at a local African Dance and Drum Conference in Santa Cruz, saying Hi, sharing sweet tea and hailing up Queen Beyonce!  Then one of my fave residents, a New Orleans transplant, delivers to me my beloved beans, Camellia red beans and she threw in some Black! 
     Camellia beans, a New Orleanian brand staple, those who know me reared in Cali, also know that Louisiana is a strong breed in my legacy and I often travel to New Orleans fueling historical research works, developing my creative yoke while envisioning legacy-building initiatives.
Eboni Terrance, is her name, and after gifting me, she goes on to speak about the culinary prowess of her Mom, especially around Mardi Gras and I'm making a mental note, gotta sit at her Mama's table; Eboni's daughter is a powerfully talented performance Artist bonafide in her own rites. We were flanked by fellow girlfriends and conference attendees whose ear bend when we talk about aspirations of attending the Formation Tour in New Orleans, Sept. 24th; I having been privy along with @diasporadoll agent, Mz Leah Ruth to be #HoneySlayed in the #beyhive at Levi Stadium, Santa Clara, Ca, May 2016 -- yep and we're still #sipping on that Lemonade. {I digress} 
     Now, about 4-5 of us are fully engaged in an elevated conversation about the likelihood of attending together in New Orleans, as Eboni shares with us she's attended like 5 of Beyonce's concerts to date!!! I know that's right.

The lovely Sambista,  Shaunte of Samba Sensation, shyly mentions that her #Jackson paternal lineage is from New Orleans and she's never been.  My head whips like a snake with laser focus as I smile with sweet candor, YEEESSS! We've most recently nurtured a connection mostly through professional network exchange, admiring each others work all along and now indeed we shall come to know each other, binding in #Louisiana kinship.  Eboni excitedly shares her interest to pursue her #Plique, #Plick possible creole lineage - she concurs that these folks definitely spoke creole.

Begin unearthing your ROOTS here
On further, the gorgeous Bay Area Carnaval San Francisco Queen Mz AshSlay aka Ashley George of Brasarte, mentions that she has roots in #Barbodos and I want to say Guyana, but by then my head is spinning working mental genealogical algorithms to plot this very memorable conversation. Conference participant Sistar Latrice with strong Texas ties,  chimes in with deep interest to unearth her Family History roots. The marketplace was all a buzz with West African Drums in the background, comida brasile├▒o fresh from the kitchen, tables of African wares and my coveted Carmellia red and black beans in my hands -- New Orleans is so good to me. LOVE HER and OUR PEOPLE!!!

As a Genealogist in the field working and honing my technique in investigative research as well as developing creative platforms to engage African Dance and Drum agents, I inspire empowerment initiatives that amplify African Diaspora Ancestral voices.   Interestingly enough, A Touch of Africa in Santa Cruz's inaugural launch and debut was at a commemorative landmark. So upon arrival at the Conference, we found it necessary to pay homage in recognition of 
LONDON NELSON of TENNESSEE - born May 5, 1800 an enslaved African American, owned by slaveholding NELSON Family taken to California in 1950, served as a cook and servant during the California Gold mining era and eventually obtained his Freedom.   He then worked as a cobbler until 1860 saved his money and bought a piece of land, it was shortly thereafter that he died in the same year.  Although he was not privy to a formal education in his lifetime, he willed his piece of land to the Santa Cruz County School District so that other children would be availed such an opportunity.     *Give praise to a life that keeps giving, bless you in light and continued progress Mr. Nelson.*
Londen Nelson, although erroneously spelled "Louden" was a pioneering resident of the 
Santa Cruz region of its time. Click the link to learn more about his story at:  Londen Nelson 
foto: R. Califa
with J. Johnson
     As a Life-learner, Teaching Artist and Dance-building agent of West African and Congolese Dance on the Bay Area scene and beyond, I often make that coastal trek to the Santa Cruz from the Bay to take special workshops or have performed in local events since the 90's.  The historical namesake of the Louden Nelson Community Center was brought to my attention by the Conference organizers, Bahia transplant and Santa Cruz resident Dandha da Hora of SambaD├í  and co-partner Mara Diakhite, Director of Da'African Village Senegalese Conference presenter.
     Today the Louden Nelson Community Center is a commemorative landmark as well as a Community Center where Cultural events, Recreational activities, and Arts workshops take place:


       [lft] Louden Nelson Community Center, the host venue and debut A Touch of Africa in Santa Cruz [rt] R. Califa pictured in front of the list of generous donors, and #goodGIVE agents that made the Conference possible. 
June 2nd-5th A Touch of Africa laid hands of cultural enrichment upon the City of Santa Cruz, as Conference participants were joyfully espirited by the many gifts of Mama Africa.  How befitting it'd be that one of her Ancestral descendants would inspire creating "Da Village", and building a Community Center serving its mission since 1975. 

~Red Beans and Ricely Yours, 

R. Califa #nzoCALIFA

Dance Students dance Wango taught by Senegalese Master Teacher, Idy Ciss
June 4th, 2016 "A Touch of African in Santa Cruz" clip: @nzoCALIFA

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