Monday, 17 June 2024

Arts & Life

Author Alice Walker, speaking recently at SolFest in Hopland and simultaneously in my living room, courtesy of KZYX and KZYZ radio of Mendocino County, stopped my puttering with these words:

“In Rwanda, women are 48 percent of the parliament, the highest percentage of any country in the world.” And then she went on with the horrifying explanation that this may well be because 800,000 Rwandan men were slaughtered in the genocidal war of 1994.

SolFest is such a broad-ranging event that Walker was a perfect speaker. A poet and author of several non fiction books and novels, the best-known her Pulitzer Prize winner “The Color Purple” she seems to have no limits on her interests, from farming to quilting, health, orchids, peace, saving old buildings, and creating new and better societies.

The talk was just an appetizer. I thought I had read most of her work, but had never heard of “We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: nner Light in a Time of Darkness,” her 2006 collection of essays, meditations and talks to groups ranging from graduating classes to midwives and black yoga teachers.

The book is a full meal, a feast. No, a full life, from birth to death. In addressing midwives in New Mexico she speaks of the primary life-saving importance of welcoming the newborn; in addressing college graduates, she advises having only one child and she repeatedly urges the protection of all children and the bombing of none.

Walker is not popular with the present-day United States government. She has been arrested in peace demonstrations, is outspokenly critical of the war on Iraq and greatly admires Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro for the widespread health care and universal literacy his much-maligned regime has achieved.

The book's title is a line from the late poet June Jordan's “Poem for South African Women.” Walker and Jordan were friends for 30 years. We are the ones is an inspiring and comforting thought; the Elders of the Hopi Nation of Oraibi, Ariz., liked it too, enough to use it as the end of a message which begins “We have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour/Now we must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.”

Walker, now 63, is the daughter of Georgia sharecroppers with African, Cherokee, Irish and Scottish ancestry who attended Spelman College in Atlanta on full scholarship and later transferred to Sarah Lawrence. She has traveled widely, and continues to do so, when not at one of her homes in Mendocino County, San Francisco or Mexico.

At both SolFest and in the book she has scattered little nuggets of humor coating chewy centers.

  • On the power of language: Why do modern women call each other “guys”?

  • On coloring her hair: “the struggle for hair liberation does not, I feel, stop at nappiness.”

  • On slave owners who ordered their slaves to wear pastels: “Obviously we looked great in red ... that was the problem.”

Two of her passions resonated strongly for me. First her own “intense house hunger,” which she has fed by owning several and building one. “I will never build another ... use what is still beautiful and sound, repair, what is broken; in a word, renovate housing that already exists.” It was no surprise to learn she collects quilts, those useful and beautiful creations made from useless scraps.

Then, “The pause,” that moment when we have finished a project and are ready to rush into another. “Wisdom, however, requests a pause. If we cannot give ourselves such a pause, the universe will likely give it to us,” perhaps as illness or some other unwelcome event which requires us “to stop, to sit down, to reflect.”

She serves generous helpings of gratitude to the multitude of women and men who have guided her through her life, poets of many nations, spiritual and political leaders of many persuasions, including singer Bob Marley, whom she never met but for whom she named her dog.

This can be a quick read, but it's sure to require long digestion.

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Light in a Time of Darkness

Format: Hardcover

Pub. Date: 11/1/2006

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co Inc


Pub. Date:11/30/2007

Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Jim Waters sitting at the piano and Phil Mathewson, standing and wearing his Elton John-style, oversized sunglasses. Photo by Joanne Bateni.

LAKEPORT Cafe Victoria's Musical Break was held Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Lakeport looked like a ghost town without the usual hum of traffic by the cafe.

But the show must go on and Phil Mathewson and Friends came directly to the cafe from their Art in the Park performance.

Bobbie G. continued on the bongos and Jim Waters tickled the ivories on Victoria's house piano.

Phil did his original songs and threw in a few covers including "Kansas City." There was a steady stream of customers seeking cold drinks like ice coffee and smoothies. Some even stayed awhile to listen to the music.

Check Cafe Victoria's entertainment calendar for her next event by calling 263-1210.


LAKEPORT – Art in the Park/Pastels in the Park sponsored by the Lake County Arts Council will be held today, Saturday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Library Park.

Local musicians including Phil Mathewson and Jim Waters (performing between 2 and 3 p.m.) will play at the Gazebo.

There will be face painting, a chance to decorate the sidewalk with chalk and other artsy stuff. Artists and craftspeople will display their work for sale.

The event is free.

For more information call the Lake County Arts Council, 263-6658.


UPPER LAKE Blue Mondays at the Blue Wing Saloon and Cafe continued on Labor Day, a fitting cap to the last holiday weekend of summer.

Rob Watson and Friends jammed the blues for a perky, festive dinner crowd.

The band consisted of Rob Watson on bass, Levi Lloyd on guitar, Robert Reason on keyboards and Andre Williams on drums.

They did two sets of material that showcased the talents of the players. Song selections included Listen Here, You Got Me Runnin', Cissy Strut, What's Goin' on, Mr. Magic and Use Me.

The Blue Wing has released their current schedule of music for Sunday Brunches and Blue Mondays for the month of September.

Sunday brunch lineup includes:

  • Sept. 9, Stephen Holland

  • Sept. 16, Don Coffin and Dave Hooper

  • Sept. 23, Dan Meyer Trio

  • Sept. 30, Jim Tuhtan


Appearing on the Blue Wing Monday blues lineup:

  • Sept. 10, Levi Lloyd and Rob Watson

  • Sept. 17 and 24, Twice As Good (Rich and Paul Steward)

Thurman Watts writes about music and culture for Lake County News.


LOWER LAKE The Old Time Bluegrass Festival will be held at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 and 23.

The event will bring together local and regional musicians for performances on two stages, as well as a full schedule of musician workshops throughout the day on such topics as banjo, fiddle, flat-picking techniques for guitar, and old-time singing.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their instruments for workshops and informal jam sessions behind the ranch house.

Headliners of the festival will be the Adobe Creek Bluegrass Band from Petaluma, and the Barefoot Nellies, Knuckle Knockers, Julay Brandenburg and the Nightbirds, and Crossroads Bluegrass Gospel all from the Bay Area.

Other entertainers include the local Elem Indian Tribe Dance Group, who will kick off the event, plus local groups Andy Skelton and the Konocti Fiddlers, Bluegrass Contraption, Pat Ickes and Born to Ride, the Clear Lake Clickers, Don Coffin and the AMIA Live Wire Choir, and Jim Williams. Evan Morgan from Cobb and Paul Gruen from Sebastopol also will perform together. Other local and regional bands are expected to join the lineup before the festival.

The Old Time Bluegrass Festival will feature demonstrations and vendors selling old-time handmade crafts, Art in the Barn, a wine garden featuring Lake County wines, and a beer garden, as well as food prepared by local service clubs and local schools’ culinary programs.


Vendors and organizers will be dressed in period attire, which includes rural farm clothing such as cotton shirts, pants and suspenders. Attendees are encouraged to dress the part, and examples of period attire are available on the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association Web site,

The Kiwanis Club will be decorating and facilitating the beer and wine gardens, among other things. Event T-shirts will be available courtesy of the Rotary Club, and with the help of Porter Street Barbecue, the club will serve biscuits and gravy Sunday morning, in addition to providing other services.

“The most important thing about it is to bring local service clubs together to promote quality community events oriented toward families. Children and grandparents all generations can find something fun to do there,” said Frank McAtee, one of the four event coordinators.

Other coordinators are Anna McAtee, Don Coffin and Ellen Lundquist.

During the family-friendly festival, making tule dolls and panning for gold are just some of the many children’s activities.

“The kids loved it last year; there was real gold they could pan for,” said Anna McAtee.

The Old Time Bluegrass Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Sunday’s emphasis will be on bluegrass gospel.

Advance tickets are $20 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday, or $25 for both days. At the gate, tickets are $25 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday, or $35 for both days. Children 12 and under are free and must be accompanied by an adult.

Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association Bluegrass Memberships are available for $100. With this, members get four two-day passes, an event T-shirt, and two newsletters per year, which outline how proceeds from the event are being spent.


Purchase of a ticket includes admission to the event, all entertainment, workshops, wine and beer gardens, and Art in the Barn. The event will be held rain or shine.

The Old Time Bluegrass Festival is sponsored by the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association and the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Proceeds will finance camps and enhancement for the park so children all over the lake can use the facility. Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association will be hiring interpretive specialists to work with school groups that visit.

These trained docents can give visitors the full educational experience in the areas of science, performing arts and history. Native Americans began settling at the marsh 10,000 years ago. Today’s visitors examine the village sites, artifacts, and the ecology of the marsh.

“The purpose of the event is to give students an opportunity to learn about local history and culture through curriculum and guest speakers and to provide them with pride and appreciation for where they live,” says Anna McAtee.

“The event itself is an excellent educational and cultural experience for attendees,” she adds.

For tickets or for more information about the Old Time Bluegrass Festival or the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association, call (707) 995-2658 or (707) 994-0688 or visit


The Dispersion of Africans and African Culture Throughout the World: Essays on the African Diaspora

Editor: Dr. Lois Moore, University of San Francisco

Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press

Dr. Lois Moore of the University of San Francisco edited this remarkable compilation of scholarly essays on the history and cultures of African descent people around the world. The aim is to educate scholars and contribute to international and multicultural scholarship on African Descent people. Broad in scope, the nine-chapter text identifies and discusses the decimation of Rwanda; exodus of Ethiopian Jews; experiences of African slaves in Portugal, Ecuador, Belize, the Danish West Indies, Mexico, and the Georgia Sea Islands; and the legacy of the slave trade on the Americas, Canada and the Black Church in the United States.

The editor writes that nowhere in history were people as widely dispersed throughout the world as those of African ancestry. Africans abandoned their homeland for numerous reasons, forced out by drought and famine; migrated due to persecution; taken as slaves; or left as explorers, soldiers, or skilled workers. Ultimately, they all faced loss, oppression, discrimination, polarization, poverty, disease and often death.

The text discusses how without their homelands and families, and facing major barriers, people of African origin were adaptive. To the degree possible, they retained their own languages, music, dance, traditions, and spirituality. These resourceful and persistent survivors successfully adjusted to new environments, governments, rituals, and systems.

European colonialism and economic imbalance are key themes in the text. Senator Aloysie Inyumba of Rwanda opines in the foreword that Africa’s current social and economic problems are linked to historic foreign interference, meddling, and disruption of sovereignty.

Various chapters detail the way Colonialism stratified groups according to political, economic and social power. It institutionalized humiliation, distrust, fear, ethnic hierarchy, and racism. Identity politics began when rape, intermarriage, and polygamy produced a diversity of skin tones. Even African descendants learned to define themselves in new ways.

The text explores the abuse of both natural and human resources as it relates to the African Diaspora. Colonialists exploited natural resources, like the forests of Belize in South America, and developed capitalist economies requiring increased human labor. Racist ideology was used to justify exploitation of African slaves. Myths were perpetuated that Africans were stronger than indigenous people, better suited to the climate, and more resistant to diseases like malaria.

What Africans were not, was passive. According to the chapter, “Belize: From Colonial Territory to Independent Nation,” Africans resisted slavery, clinging to their culture and tribal traditions. They demonstrated great resilience, fortitude, and thrust for freedom.

Research in “Esmeraldas of Ecuador,” tells of slaves treated worse than animals in the Spanish colonies of South America and the Caribbean. “Esmeraldas were able to maintain the thriving spirit of resistance and rebellion characteristic of the African people. Subsequently, kidnapped Africans, escaped slaves, free blacks, and indigenous people formed liberated and self-ruled communities.”

I teach multicultural community and international relations to graduate business students. My course is enriched by students from around the globe. During the class, students research cultures other than their own to build stakeholder relationships and plan strategic communications.

As future world leaders, it is essential that students learn to understand and respect diversity. One need only look at current world affairs to know the devastating consequences of social division and disruption of national autonomies.

Not only is this book immensely valuable to sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and researchers, but also to readers who find cultural and ethnic history fascinating. These marvelous essays demonstrate the importance of persistence, creativity, individualism, and pride in unique heritages. As we share a common humanity, we also share an anthropologic birthplace, Africa.

For more information, see the publisher's Web site at

Susanne N. La Faver holds a master's degree in public administration and is an adjunct professor with Golden Gate University. She lives in Hidden Valley Lake.


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06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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