Author Archive

EKITI WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST RIGGING OF THE ELECTION OF GOVERNOR IN EKITI STATE NIGERIA USING TRADITIONAL YORUBA WOMEN’S POWER OF NAKED PROTEST=CURSE ON THE EVIL DOERS!-FROM AACHRONYM.BLOGSPOT.COM

May 11, 2009

YORUBA WOMEN'S POWER!

YORUBA WOMEN'S POWER!

THIS IS A CURSE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS INJUSTICE OF AN ELECTION!

THIS IS A CURSE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS INJUSTICE OF AN ELECTION!

YORUBA WOMEN'S POWER! TO DO AND UNDO!

YORUBA WOMEN'S POWER! TO DO AND UNDO!

from aachronym.blogspot.com

Elderly Women Protest in Ekiti

Culled from NaijaBlog, this photograph of over 300 elderly and younger women protesting the delay in announcing the results of the governorship election in Ekiti. Tagged “Peace rally in support of democracy in Nigeria”, the protest deploys as a form of censure an indigenous ideal of feminine power inherent in various taboo proscribing full or partial nudity of women in indigenous Yoruba society. Click here for a newspaper narrative of the rally. Click here for analysis of the politics underlying the event.

Posted by S. Okwunodu Ogbechie at 10:45 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Labels: ekiti women protest, nigerian politics, power of women
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OBAMA’S KENYAN HOMEBOYS GET SIGNED FOR A RECORD CONTRACT-JUST THAT BLACK OBAMA MAGIC!-FROM THEPOLITICALCARNIVAL.BLOGSPOT.COM

May 9, 2009

SINGING AT OBAMA'S INAUGURATION!

SINGING AT OBAMA'S INAUGURATION!

from thepoliticalcaravan.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Kenyan choir signed after inauguration

Barely in the office and he’s already helping out his ancestral home.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan. 24 (UPI) — The artistic director for the Boys Choir of Kenya that performed at inaugural events for U.S. President Ba rack ABM says the group has signed a record deal.

Joseph Male said the choir, which has male singers between the ages of 13 and 24, was signed by Universal Music following its performances this week, the BBC reported Friday.

“We began from humble beginnings and to be recognized by a large recording company is so humbling and quite an honor,” the choir’s artistic director said. “We just thank God.”

(snip)

Universal Classics artists and repertoire representative Tom Lewis told the BBC he was determined to sign the choir, which has toured the United States several times, after only seeing them once.

“I went onto You Tube and I saw their CNN performance and I thought, ‘Wow — I do not want anyone else working with them,'” Lewis said.

Posted by Paddy at 6:02 PM
Labels: Barack Obama, CNN, inauguration, Kenya, kenyan boys choir
2 comments:
Jon Lester said…
About time the majors signed someone good. I trust they will greatly outsell the threatened releases from Joe the Plumber.

January 24, 2009 7:19 PM
Ady said…
Don’t fret, Jon. They will. This Joe guy is way too stupid to do…well, he’s just really stupid.

And how many identities can one man have? I mean, we have Joe the Plumber (except his name isn’t Joe and he’s not a plumber, but why bother with facts, right?), then we have Joe the Singer (again, name is still not Joe, and we’ve never heard his singing talent, as far as I know, but I bet country music would probably be the route he’d take), next up is Joe the War Reporter (you know the drill, but he shot himself in the foot here when he announced that reporters shouldn’t report on wars), and finally we have Joe the author (last verse same as the first).

What IS wrong with this guy?

January 24, 2009 8:54 PM

THE BLACK DAUGHTER ETHIOPIA IN THE BIBLE!-THIS SISTER DRUSILLA DUNJEE HOUSTON IN 1926 WROTE THIS GREAT BOOK ON ETHIOPIAN BLACK HISTORY-CHECK OUT THIS CHAPTER POSTED BY A GREAT SITE:TSEDAY.WORDPRESS.COM

May 9, 2009

race-type-of-the-early-dynastiesan-ancient-cushiterameses-ii-surnamed-the-greatan-ancient-cushiterameses-ii-surnamed-the-greatfrom tseday.wordpress.com

An Ethiopian Journal“Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel?” (Amos 9:7)
OLD ETHIOPIA – ITS PEOPLE
with one comment

SOURCE: http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/we/we05.htm
Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire
by Drusilla Dunjee Houston [1926, no renewal]

CHAPTER II

Because of the great lapse. of time, it seems almost impossible to locate the original seat of the old Ethiopian empire. Bochart thought it was “Happy Araby,” that from this central point the Cushite race spread eastward and westward. Some authorities like Gesenius thought it was Africa. The Greeks looked to old Ethiopia and called the Upper Nile the common cradle of mankind. Toward the rich luxurience of this region they looked for the “Garden of Eden.” From these people of the Upper Nile arose the oldest traditions and rites and from them sprang the first colonies and arts of antiquity. The Greeks also said that Egyptians derived their civilization and religion from Ethiopia. “Egyptian religion was not an original conception, for three thousand years ago she had lost all true sense of its real meaning among even the priesthood.” (Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection–Preface.) Yet Egyptian forms of worship are understood and practiced among the Ethiopians of Nubia today. The common people of Egypt never truly understood their religion, this was why it so easily became debased.

Ptolemaic writers said that Egypt was formed of the mud carried down, from Ethiopia, that Ethiopians were the first men that ever lived, the only truly autochthonous race and the first to institute the worship of the gods and the rites of sacrifice. Egypt itself was a colony of Ethiopia and the laws and script of both lands were naturally the same; but the hieroglyphic script was more widely known to the vulgar in Ethiopia than in Egypt. (Diodorus Siculus, bk. iii, ch. 3.) This knowledge of writing was universal in Ethiopia but was confined to the priestly classes alone in Egypt. This was because the Egyptian priesthood was Ethiopian. The highly developed Merodic inscriptions are not found in Egypt north of the first cataract or in Nubia south of Soba. These are differences we would expect to find between a colony and a parent body. Herodotus (bk. ii, p. 29) says that Meroe was a great city and metropolis, most of its buildings were of red brick. 800 B. C. at Napata, the buildings were of hard stone. (Meroe–Crowfoot, pp. 6, 30.)

The Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature says, “There is every reason to conclude that the separate colonies of priestcraft spread from Meroe into Egypt; and the primeval monuments in Ethiopia strongly confirm the native traditions, reported by Diodorus Siculus, that the worship of Zeus-Ammon originated in Meroe, also the worship of Osiris. This would render highly probable the opinion that commerce, science and art descended into Egypt from the Upper Nile. Herodotus called the Ethiopians “Wisemen occupying the Upper Nile, men of long life, whose manners and customs pertain to the Golden Age,those virtuous mortals, whose feasts and banquets are honored by Jupiter himself.” In Greek times, the Egyptians depicted Ethiopia as an ideal state. The Puranas, the ancient historical books of India, speak of the civilization of Ethiopia as being older than that of Egypt. These Sanskrit books mention the names of old Cushite kings that were worshipped in India and who were adopted and changed to suit the fancy of the later people of Greece and Rome.

The Hindu Puranas speak of the Cushites going to India before they went to Egypt, proving Hindu civilization coeval with that of Chaldea and the country of the Nile. These ancients record that the Egyptians were a colony drawn out from Cusha-Dwipa and that the Palli, another colony that made the Phoenicians followed them from the land of Cush. In those primitive days, the central seat of Ethiopia was not the Meroe of our day, which is very ancient, but a kingdom that preceeded it by many ages; that was called Meru. Lenormant spoke of the first men of the ancient world as “Men of Meru.” Sanskrit writers called Indra, chief god of the Hindu, king of Meru. He was deified and became the chief representative of the supreme being. Thus was primitive India settled by colonists from Ethiopia. Early writers said there was very little difference in the color or features of the people of the two countries.

Ancient traditions told of the deeds of Deva Nahusha, another sovereign of Meru, who extended his empire over three worlds. The lost literature of Asia Minor dealt with this extension of the Ethiopian domain. An old poem “Phrygia,” was a history of Dionysus, one of the most celebrated of the old Ethiopians. It was written in a very old language and character. He preceeded Menes by many ages. Baldwin says that the authentic books that would have given us the true history concerning him, perished long before the Hellenes. The Greeks of historical times distorted the story of Dionysus and converted him into their drunken god of wine. “They misconstrued and misused the old Cushite mythology, wherever they failed to understand it, and sought to appropriate it entirely to themselves.” One of the poetical versions of the taking of Troy, on the coast of Asia Minor, was entitled “The Æthiops,” because the inhabitants of Troy, as we shall prove later, who fought so valiantly in the Trojan war, were Cushite Ethiopians. This version presented the conflict as an Egyptian war.

In those early ages Egypt was under Ethiopian domination. In proof of this fact, the Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature says, “Isaiah often mentions Ethiopia and Egypt in close political relations. In fine the name of Ethiopia chiefly stood as the name of the national and royal family of Egypt. In the beginning Egypt was ruled from Ethiopia. Ethiopia was ruined by her wars with Egypt, which she sometimes subdued and sometimes served.” Modern books contain but little information about the country of the Upper Nile, but archaic books were full of the story of the wonderful Ethiopians. The ancients said that they settled Egypt. Is it possible that we could know more about the origin of this nation than they? Reclus says, “The people occupying the plateau of the Blue Nile, are conscious of a glorious past and proudly call themselves Ethiopians.” He calls the whole triangular space between the Nile and the Red Sea, Ethiopia proper. This vast highland constituted a world apart. From it went forth the inspiration and light now bearing its fruit in the life of younger nations.

Heeren thought, that excepting the Egyptians, no aboriginal people of Africa so claim our attention as the Ethiopians. He asks, “To what shall we attribute the renown of this one of the most distant nations of the earth? How did the fame of her name permeate the terrible deserts that surrounded her: and even yet form an insuperable bar to all who approach. A great many nations distant and different from one another are called Ethiopians. Africa contains the greater number of them and a considerable tract in Asia was occupied by this race. The Ethiopians were distinguished from the other races by a very dark or completely black skin. ” (Heeren’s Historical Researches–Ethiopian Nations. Ch. 1, p. 46) Existing monuments confirm the high antiquity of Meroe. In the Persian period Ethiopia was an important and independent state, which Cambyses vainly attempted to subdue. Rosellini thinks that the right of Sabaco and Tirhakah, Ethiopian kings, who sat upon the throne of Egypt in the latter days, must have been more by right of descent than by usurpation or force of arms. “This may be judged,” he says, “by the respect paid to their monuments by their successors.”

The pictures on the Egyptian monuments reveal that Ethiopians were the builders. They, not the Egyptians, were the master-craftsmen of the earlier ages. The first courses of the pyramids were built of Ethiopian stone. The Cushites were a sacerdotal or priestly race. There was a religious and astronomical significance in the position and shape of the pyramids. Dubois points to the fact that in Upper Egypt there were pictured black priests who were conferring upon red Egyptians, the instruments and symbols of priesthood. Ethiopians in very early ages had an original and astounding religion, which included the rite of human sacrifice. It lingered on in the early life of Greece and Home. Dowd explains this rite in this way: “The African offered his nearest and dearest, not from depravity but from a greater love for the supreme being.” The priestly caste was more influencial upon the Upper Nile than in Egypt. With the withdrawal of the Ethiopian priesthood from Egypt to Napata, the people of the Lower Nile lost the sense of the real meaning of their religion, which steadily deteriorated with their language after their separation from Ethiopia.

If we visit Nubia, modern Ethiopia today, we can plainly see in the inhabitants their superiority to the common Egyptian type. The Barabra or Nile Nubians are on a footing of perfect equality in Egypt because that was their plane in ancient days. Baedecker describes them as strong, muscular, agricultural and more warlike and energetic than Egyptians. Keane says the Nubians excel in moral qualities. They are by his description obviously Negroid, very dark with full lips and dreamy eyes. They have the narrow heads which are the cranial formation of Ethiopia. Race may be told by shape of the skull far better than by color or feature, which are modified by climate. The members of the Tartar race have perfectly rounded skulls. The head of the Ethiopian races is very elongated. Europeans have an intermediate skull. The cranial formation of unmixed races never changes. Keane concludes by saying, “All Barbara have wooly hair with scant beards like the figures of Negroes on the walls of the Egyptian temples.” The race of the Old Empire approached closely to this type.

Strabo mentions the Nubians as a great race west of the Nile. They came originally from Kordofan, whence they emigrated two thousand years ago. They have rejected the name Nubas as it has become synonymous with slave. They call themselves Barabra, their ancient race name. Sanskrit historians call the Old Race of the Upper Nile Barabra. These Nubians have become slightly modified but are still plainly Negroid. They look like the Wawa on the Egyptian monuments. The Retu type number one was the ancient Egyptian, the Retu type number two was in feature an intermingling of the Ethiopian and Egyptian types. The Wawa were Cushites and the name occurs in the mural inscriptions five thousands years ago. Both people were much intermingled six thousand years ago. The faces of the Egyptians of the Old Monarchy are Ethiopian but as the ages went on they altered from the constant intermingling with Asiatic types. Also the intense furnace-like heat of Upper Egypt tended to change the features and darken the skin.

In the inscriptions relative to the campaigns of Pepi I, Negroes are represented as immediately adjoining the Egyptian frontier. This seems to perplex some authors. They had always been there. This was the Old Race of predynastic Egypt–the primitive Cushite type. This was the aboriginal race of Abyssinia. It was symbolized by the Great Sphinx and the marvelous face of Cheops. Take any book of Egyptian history containing authentic cuts and examine the faces of the first pharaohs, they are distinctively Ethiopian. The “Agu” of the monuments represented this aboriginal race. They were the ancestors of the Nubians. and were the ruling race of Egypt. Petrie in 1892 exhibited before the British Association, some skulls of the Third and Fourth Dynasties, showing distinct Negroid characteristics. They were dolichocephalic or long skulled. The findings of archaeology more and more reveal that Egypt was Cushite in her beginning and that Ethiopians were not a branch of the Japheth race in the sense that they are so represented in the average ethnological classifications of today.

Egyptians said that they and their religion had come from the land of Punt. Punt is generally accepted today to have been Somaliland south of Nubia. On the pictured plates at Deir-el-Baheri, the huts of the people of Punt were like the Toquls of the modern Sudanese, being built on piles approached by ladders. The birds were like a species common among the Somali. The fishes were not like those of Egypt. The wife of the king of Punt appears with a form like the Bongo women with exaggerated organs of maternity. This was a distinctive Ethiopian form. The king had the Cushite profile. The products carried by the wooly haired porters were ebony, piles of elephant tusks, all African products and trays of massive gold rings. Punt is mentioned in the inscriptions as a land of wonders. We find marvelous ruins in southeastern Africa that substantiate these reports. The inscription in the rocky valley of Hammat tells how 2000 B. C. a force gathered in the Thebaid to go on an expedition to Punt to bring back the products that made the costly incense of the ancients. The Stage Temple at Thebes showed in gorgeous pictures another expedition in 1600 B. C. We now know that Somaliland yielded the frankincense of ancient commerce, which was used in the ceremonials of all ancient kingdoms. Punt was called the “Holy Land” by the Egyptians.

In Egypt today, the most effective battalions are those commanded by black Nubians. In ancient ages the Egyptians followed the lead of the Ethiopian to battle and it is instinctive in them to do so today. Cushites were the backbone of the armies in the earliest ages. The Egyptian has no warlike qualities. It was the Cushite who was the head and brains of the foreign conquests. It was the Cushite element of the Old Empire that extended itself in foreign colonization eastward and westward around the world. Across Arabia and southwestern Asia, even to the central highlands, inscriptions and massive images in stone stand as voiceless witnesses that they were the commanders of the Egyptian armies and that the Ethiopian masses accompanied the soldiers as trusted allies and not as driven slaves. We must remember that in the early ages they were not a subject race but that their power as a great empire was at its zenith.

The Egyptian of today much changed from the ancient whom Herodotus called black, is content to live in a mud hut beside his beloved Nile. He is despised by the prouder Nubian, who saves his earnings to buy a home and piece of ground in his native Ethiopia. Reclus tells us that the dislike between Egyptians and Nubians is carried to such a great extent that the Nubians even in Egypt will not marry an Egyptian woman and that he refuses his daughter in marriage to the Egyptian and Arab. This could have come down alone front an age-old consciousness of superiority. He knows the proud traditions of his race. In books careless of ethnography, we find the Nubian classed with Semitic stock. They have no affinities at all with this race. Nubians are never able to speak the Arabic tongues gramatically. Nubian women are seldom seen in Egypt. They are the most faithful to the manners and customs of the Old Race. The Egyptian of today makes
little showings of ambition or the spirit for great deeds. He squanders his earnings upon trinkets and seems content in the same mud hovel in which the masses of Egyptians primitively lived.

Prichard recognizes two branches of the Nubians, the Nubians of the Nile and those of the Red Sea. In the age of Herodotus, the countries known as Nubia and Senaar were occupied by two different races, one of which he includes under the name Ethiopian; the other was a pastorial race of Semitic decent which led a migratory life. This distinction continues to the present day. The Red Sea nomadic tribes are extremely savage and inhospitable. The Nile Nubas or Barabra are the original Ethiopians. They are agricultural and have the old Hamitic traits. They plant date trees and set up wheels for irrigation. These are the Ethiopians mentioned in chronicles as possessing war chariots. Their allies were the Libyans. Semites at that age of the world had no possession of iron vehicles. Heeren says “that the ancestors of these Ethiopians had long lived in cities and had erected magnificent temples and edifices, that they possessed law and government, and that the fame of their progress in knowledge and the social arts had spread in the earliest ages to a considerable part of the world.”

Maurice, that reliable authority on ancient remains, declares, “The ancient Ethiopians were the architectural giants of the past. When the daring Cushite genius was in the full career of its glory, it was the peculiar delight of this enterprising race to erect stupendous edifices, excavate long subterranean passages in the living rock, form vast lakes and extend over the hollows of adjoining mountains magnificent arches for aqueducts and bridges. It was they who built the tower of Babel or Belus and raised the pyramids or Egypt; it was they who formed the grottoes near the Nile and scooped the caverns of Salsette end Elephante. (These latter are wonders of Hindu architecture.) Their skill in mechanical powers astonishes posterity, who are unable to conceive by what means stones thirty, forty and even sixty feet in length from twelve to twenty in depth could ever be raised to the point of elevation at which they are seen in the ruined temples of Belbec and Thebais. Those comprising the pagodas of India are scarcely less wonderful in point of elevation and magnitude.” (Maurice’s Ancient History of Hindustan.)

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Written by Tseday

September 14, 2008 at 3:41 am
Posted in African History, Ethiopia

Tagged with Ancient Egypt, Ancient Ethiopia, Ancient India, Ethiopia
« The Royal Tombs of Aksum – EthiopiaThe Ethiopic Calendar »
One Response
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The so-called Somalia state versus Somaliland

This piece of work is based upon the mere facts collected elsewhere from South East Asia, Greece, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and indeed the wonderfull Somaliland Republic.

For the failed state of Somalia all you can expect is confrontational rhetoric against everything, even this accredited Scientific research will be unheeded.

The only guts they commonly agree is plunder of the past, present and even their own future. That is why approximately ten years ago they created the so-called Mafia style semi-autonomous province of Puntland.

This dry region whic happens East-western Somalia is the imminent neighbour of Africas best kept secret or The Somaliland and more than that it is stronghold of War Lord president of Somalia`s TFG. The latter was area ruler when he just copied our way of functioning statehood may be positively but wrongly with plunder of the his name selection,because the name Puntland belongs to Somaliland and it is our historical ownership and label rights that can not be internationally endorsed.

East and west Somaliland is best

Ali Mohamoud Noor Ali-Eid
Etterstadsletta 37 A
0660 Oslo
Norway

Ali Mohamoud Noor Ali-Eid

September 14, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
This is great! I want to paste it on my “BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!” SITE AND GIVE(AND LINK YOU)YOU AS SOURCE!
yeyeolade.wordpress.com
Black on !

Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade

May 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm

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BLEACH AND DESTROY YOUR BEAUTY! -SEE THIS VIDEO FROM ATOZBEAUTY.WORDPRESS.COM

May 5, 2009

BLEACH AND EVENTALLY YOUR SKIN WILL BEGIN TO REACT TO THE DEADLY CHEMICALS IN THAT CREAM!

BLEACH AND EVENTALLY YOUR SKIN WILL BEGIN TO REACT TO THE DEADLY CHEMICALS IN THAT CREAM!

BLEACHING CHANGES YOUR SKIN FOR EVER AND ENDS IN SKIN CANCER!

BLEACHING CHANGES YOUR SKIN FOR EVER AND ENDS IN SKIN CANCER!

BLEACH AND BE A MONSTER LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON!

BLEACH AND BE A MONSTER LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON!

THIS SOUTH AFRICAN BROTHER AND SISTER ARE REGRETTING BLEACHING NOW!

THIS SOUTH AFRICAN BROTHER AND SISTER ARE REGRETTING BLEACHING NOW!

CLINK ON HERE TO SEE THE SHOCKING VIDEO OF DAMAGED SKIN!

FROM atozbeauty.wordpress.com

Dangers of Hydroquinone
Posted by: setsuccess on: April 3, 2009

Dear sista,

The use of Skin bleaching creams or serums containing hydroquinone will actually damage your skin over time. Believe it or not I have seen many sista’s with skin problems get worse with long use of hydroquinone, it may actually darken your skin in the long run.

Check out the possible long term effects of using Hydroquinone skin bleach in the video below:

——————————————————————————–

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1 Response to “The Dangers of Hydroquinone”

1 | Suzan
April 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

Can you please let me know whether you have a distributor of Makali products in UK?

I have just read about it and would like to try.

|Many thanks.

Reply

2 | Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
May 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

THIS A GREAT WARNING TO OUR SISTERS OUT THERE RUSHING TO BLEACH! WILL LINK IT UP ON MY SITE WHERE WE RAGE WAR ON BLEACHING EVERYDAY!
BLACK ON SISTER FOR PUTING THIS INFO OUT!
“BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!”
yeyeolade.wordpress.com

OBAMA!-OUR BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON,MICHELLE OBAMA’S MOTHER SETS A STANDARD FOR AFRICAN EXTENDED FAMILY IN THE BLACK HOUSE!-FROM NEWYORKTIMES.COM,PEOPLE.COM,ABCNEWS.COM AND UPDATES AS THEY COME!

May 5, 2009

OUR QUEEN MOTHER OF BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY!

OUR QUEEN MOTHER OF BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY!

THIS ORIGINAL BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON WITH HER SON-IN-LAW

THIS ORIGINAL BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON WITH HER SON-IN-LAW

04robinson_xlarge1FROM nytimes.com

An In-Law Is Finding Washington to Her Liking
Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Marian Robinson with her daughter, Michelle Obama, and her granddaughters Sasha, left, and Malia, at the White House Easter egg roll. Mrs. Robinson has had a full social life in her new city.

RACHEL L. SWARNS
Published: May 3, 2009
WASHINGTON — Marian Robinson, President Obama’s mother-in-law, moved into the White House “kicking and screaming,” said her son, Craig Robinson. She had never lived outside of Chicago and was reluctant to leave her beloved bungalow, her friends and family, her weekly yoga class and her familiar routines.

But after three months in the Executive Mansion, Mrs. Robinson is unexpectedly and decidedly savoring her new life.

She entertains visitors from Chicago. She attends White House dinners and concerts hosted by her daughter, the first lady, Michelle Obama. She dines at local restaurants and delights in events at the Kennedy Center, where she often sits in the president’s box and chats with performers.

In fact, Mrs. Robinson, 71, is so busy these days that the Obamas hired a baby sitter to watch their two daughters one evening because the nation’s first grandmother had plans.

“She has a very full social life, so much so that sometimes we have to plan our schedule around her schedule,” Mrs. Obama said jokingly last week during a lunch she hosted for Congressional spouses.

Mrs. Robinson still spends much of her time tending to the Obama girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. She shuttles them to and from school most days and accompanies them to some play dates, the first lady said. She attends class presentations, helps with homework and baby-sits when the president and first lady need extra help.

And with her plain-spoken, matter-of-fact manner, Mrs. Robinson helps keep the girls grounded amid the gilded trappings of their new lives.

But Mrs. Robinson has also managed to carve out her own space in the White House and to build a satisfying private life, according to Obama administration officials who know the family. Her bedroom sits on the third floor, just above the Obamas’ residential quarters. (The first lady told Oprah Winfrey recently that her mother often announced, “I’m going home,” as she headed upstairs.)

And because she remains a private citizen and still has something of an unfamiliar face, Mrs. Robinson can travel around Washington without being trailed by television cameras or recognized by the public even as she enjoys the perks of living at the White House. (Administration officials do not inform the news media about her comings and goings as they do with the president and first lady.)

For the first time in her adult life, she no longer has to cook or clean, unless she wants to. She participates in White House events; she sat alongside Malia and Sasha at a Black History Month performance of the a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and joined Mrs. Obama in reading a story to schoolchildren at the Easter egg roll.

She has also become a familiar figure at the Kennedy Center, where she has watched performances by the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, the choreographer Debbie Allen and the jazz singer Kurt Elling, among others. (Mrs. Obama likes to joke that her mother has been to the theater more than she has.)

And she joined her daughter for lunch in March at the home of Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

“There’s no standoffishness,” said Judith Jamison, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey troupe, who was invited to the president’s box at the Kennedy Center to meet Mrs. Robinson. “She’s very open.”

Sally Quinn, a Washington writer and socialite, who met Mrs. Robinson at the lunch hosted by Mrs. Heinz Kerry, described her as “the perfect grandmother you’d kill for: cozy, nice, sweet, friendly, dear.”

“It seemed to me that she’s perfectly comfortable in her new life,” Ms. Quinn said.

That may come as a relief to the Obamas, who relied on Mrs. Robinson to help care for their children during the presidential campaign. They did not want to move into the White House without her, Craig Robinson said.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Robinson, the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University, laughed as he described how Mrs. Obama pleaded with him to help lobby their mother, who was refusing to move from Chicago.

“My sister said, ‘You’ve got to talk to Mom; she’s not moving,’ ” Mr. Robinson recalled. He said his mother was utterly unswayed by Mrs. Obama’s description of the exciting new life they would all lead in Washington.

Mrs. Robinson, a retired bank secretary who ran the 50- and 100-yard dashes in the Illinois senior games well into her 60s, has always prized her independence.

“She doesn’t want grand; she doesn’t want great,” Mr. Robinson said. “She would much rather stay home.”

But Mrs. Robinson eventually decided to move in, at least for a while, to help her granddaughters get settled. If she stays through Mr. Obama’s term, she will be the first mother-in-law to live in the White House full time since the Truman presidency, historians say. She declined to comment for this article, but when asked recently by Essence magazine whether she was enjoying her new life, she answered in the affirmative.

“I really am,” she said. “You want to know why? Because my children are good parents. It makes it very easy to be a grandmother when your children are good parents.”

Last week, Mrs. Obama returned the compliment.

In her chat with Congressional spouses, she suggested that her mother helped bring something precious to the White House, a sense of normalcy in extraordinary times.

“I feel like I’ve never left Chicago,” the first lady said. “Soccer on Saturday — yes, I’m on a soccer field all day, just like many of you. Slumber parties — we had about seven girls over, screaming and yelling.

“And we’re shuttling kids back and forth to play dates, just like usual, although now my mom does a little more of the shuttling than I do. I’m glad to have her here.”

More Articles in US » A version of this article appeared in print on May 4, 2009, on page A12 of the New York edition.

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from people.com

5 Things to Know about Grandma-in-Chief Marian Robinson
By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

Originally posted Tuesday January 20, 2009 09:40 AM EST
Barack Obama and mother-in-law Marian Robinson

Photo by: Joe Raedle / Getty

Michelle Obama’s mom kept house and home together during Barack’s presidential campaign, driving the couple’s young daughters to school (with Secret Service trailing in a separate car), serving dinner and tucking them into bed.

Now, Marian Robinson, 72, plans to follow her famous family to Washington. Typical mother-in-law behavior, right? Candid and independent, the retired bank secretary may not be what you expect:

She’s not moving to the White House permanently
Much ink has been spilled about Robinson’s plans to share quarters with the President’s family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But an Obama spokeswoman says Robinson will only temporarily move in to help granddaughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, settle into their new life. As Robinson told PEOPLE after the election: “I love those people, but I love my own house. The White House reminds me of a museum and it’s like, how do you sleep in a museum?”

She loves yoga
For this spry septuagenarian, limbering up is a family affair. Eleanor “Mama Kaye” Wilson, godmother to Sasha and Malia, is Robinson’s yoga partner, and their instructor is her younger brother, Stephen Shields, 57. “He’s our youngest child out of seven children and he’s the wisest,” Robinson tells PEOPLE. ” He has found a way to make a living doing what he likes to do. and I’ve always admired that.”

She brags on her son as much as her famous daughter
Setting out lunch in the Obamas’ Chicago home this past summer, it was a Sports Illustrated magazine that Robinson was eager to show off to a visitor. Inside was a profile on her son, Craig Robinson, 46, head coach for the men’s basketball team at Oregon State University. “They did a whole article on Craig!” said Robinson. “He’s another hard worker,” she said. “I’m just so proud of him.”

She keeps her opinions to herself
Unlike some mothers-in-law, Robinson says she’s conscious of not saying too much. “You try to get your kids not to think in the same way you did when you were coming along because you pass down – I call them ‘your issues’ – you pass down your issues and a lot of times, they don’t apply to their time and their life. They will have their own issues; they don’t need mine in their head.”

She’s not as strict as her daughter
“I follow the rules at Michelle’s house. At my house, they’re my rules. (Laughs.) I know Michelle is strict … When I’m at their house, the girls are doing all the stuff their mother has told them to do, there’s not much left for me to do! But when they’re at my house, they don’t have to scrape the dishes – and they get to watch TV.”

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FROM huffingtonpost.com

Marian ‘First Granny’ Robinson: I Have Always Looked Up To Michelle

WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama is a role model for many people, including her mother.

“Michelle has always been Michelle. And she has always accomplished whatever it was she set out to accomplish,” Marian Robinson told Essence magazine during a rare interview with her daughter. “I have always looked up to Michelle because she has been able to do things that I couldn’t do emotionally, psychologically or physically. I think she is amazing.”

Her late husband, Fraser, would be thrilled by his daughter’s success.

“You would not be able to shut him up! He would not be able to stand this,” Robinson, 71, told the magazine for its May issue, which is appearing on newsstands this week. “He would be beaming until you would just want him to stop talking.”

She said her husband bragged about Michelle and her brother, Craig, the basketball coach at Oregon State University.

“He always encouraged them, and when he talked about Craig and Michelle, you could just see a smile on his face whether it was there or not,” Robinson said. “He just enjoyed these two people.”

Mrs. Obama said she always felt that her parents were “unconditionally rooting for me. And kids need that.” She said their support helped build confidence in her and her brother early on, and gave them a sense of security.

Asked for advice for black families raising children, Robinson said treat them as “little people,” not as babies. She said most people don’t realize how much kids can absorb because they are listening, they love conversation and soak up information.

“The main thing that I think needs to be taught to children is the ability to think and make decisions,” Robinson said.

“OBAMA’S RABBI”-HIS COUSIN-IN-LAW-HEADS A BLACK JEWISH SYNAGOGUE IN CHICAGO-FROM NEW YORK TIMES -APRIL,2009

May 3, 2009

05rabbi-600FROM newyorktimes.com

Obama’s Rabbi
Alec Soth/Magnum, for The New York Times
Hallelujah, shalom: Rabbi Funnye singing at Shabbat services.

Published: April 2, 2009
Rabbi Capers Funnye celebrated Martin Luther King Day this year in New York City at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, a mainstream Reform congregation, in the company of about 700 fellow Jews — many of them black. The organizers of the event had reached out to four of New York’s Black Jewish synagogues in the hope of promoting Jewish diversity, and they weren’t disappointed. African-American Jews, largely from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, many of whom had never been in a predominantly white synagogue, made up about a quarter of the audience. Most of the visiting women wore traditional African garb; the men stood out because, though it was a secular occasion, most kept their heads covered. But even with your eyes closed you could tell who was who: the black Jews and the white Jews clapped to the music on different beats.

Alec Soth/Magnum, for The New York Times
Rabbi Capers Funnye
Funnye, the chief rabbi of the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, one of the largest black synagogues in America, was a featured speaker that night. The overflowing audience came out in a snowstorm to hear his thoughts about two men: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. King is Funnye’s hero. Obama, whose inauguration was to take place the following day in Washington, is family — the man who married Funnye’s cousin Michelle.

A compact, serious-looking man in his late 50s, Funnye (pronounced fu-NAY) wore a dark business suit and a large gray knit skullcap. He sat expressionless, collecting his thoughts, as Joshua Nelson and his Kosher Gospel Band steamed through their sanctified rendition of the Hebrew hymn “Adon Olam.” Nelson, a black Jew, was raised in two Jewish worlds — a white Reform temple in New Jersey and a Black Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn — and he borrows from both. The first time the Rev. Al Sharpton heard a recording of Nelson’s “Adon Olam,” he said, “I can hear that’s Mahalia Jackson, but what language is she singing in?”

Mary Funnye, Capers’s wife, tapped her foot to the music and smiled with apparent equanimity, but her husband knew she was seething inside. “Mary has been a rabbi’s wife for a long time,” he told me a few weeks later. “She has an excellent synagogue poker face. But she really wanted to be in Washington that night” — for the early inauguration festivities — “not New York. And you can’t really blame her.”

The Funnyes were invited to Washington by the Obamas for a full calendar of inaugural events, including a dinner that evening held by the president-elect for his family and close advisers. Mary’s brother, Frank White Jr., a businessman who served as a prominent member of Obama’s national finance committee, was invited. So were three of Funnye’s sisters. It was going to be the family reunion of the year, the social event of the season and a crowning moment in American history. Mary had a formal gown ready. But here she was, singing “Adon Olam,” as she did virtually every Shabbat in Chicago.

Still, to be fair, this night was a historic moment for her husband too. For the first time in a rabbinical career stretching back to 1985, Funnye had been invited to speak at a white, mainstream synagogue in New York. Plenty of black Christian ministers, in a spirit of ecumenism and racial harmony, have addressed Jewish congregations in the city. But a black rabbi? Many American Jews regard the very concept as an oxymoron, or even, given the heterodoxies of much Black Jewish theology, some sort of heresy. Funnye has been trying for years to demonstrate that he and his fellow Black Jews belong in the Jewish mainstream. Mostly he has been ignored.

But it is hard to ignore a man with a cousin in the White House. Tonight was payback for all those years of stupid jokes (“Funnye, you don’t look Jewish”), insulting questions and long, wondering stares. Funnye was finally being given the stage at a high-profile Jewish event. “My Broadway debut,” he said, without evident irony, as he prepared to go on. “Been a long time getting here, but I’m ready.”

Capers C. Funnye Jr. was born in South Carolina in 1952 and raised on the South Side of Chicago. His paternal relatives are Gullahs from the barrier islands off Charleston, S.C. The Gullah community has retained many of its original African customs and much of its ancestral language. On his first visit to Nigeria, in 2001, Funnye was delighted to discover that variations of his family name are common in Africa. On his maternal side, he is a Robinson. His mother, Verdelle, was the sister of Fraser Robinson Jr. — Michelle Obama’s grandfather. That makes Funnye and Michelle Obama first cousins, once removed.

And not that removed, really. “Our families were very close,” Funnye says. “All through my childhood, our families were in and out of each other’s houses, celebrating holidays together, that kind of thing.” As kids, Funnye and Michelle Obama weren’t peers (he was nearly 12 years older), but they connected in earnest years later, in 1992, at her wedding, and a friendship developed. The Obamas, like Funnye, were involved in community organizing in Chicago, and they saw one another often, socially and professionally. It didn’t surprise Funnye, he told me, that when he and Mary went to Washington to attend Obama’s inaugural ceremony after Funnye’s speech in New York, they were in the good seats, near Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. Family is family.

Funnye was not always Jewish. When he went off to college at Howard University in 1970, he was the conventionally Christian son of upwardly striving parents. But he was moved by the radicalized atmosphere of the day. Black nationalism, Afrocentrism and cultural separatism were in vogue, and Funnye came to see Christianity as an alien religion imposed on blacks by white slave masters. “I was never an atheist,” he told me. “I just wanted to find the right way to worship him.”

During a summer job in Chicago, some friends introduced Funnye to Rabbi Robert Devine, the spiritual leader of the House of Israel Congregation. Devine preached that Africans were the true descendants of the biblical Hebrews, and that Jesus, the Messiah, was a black man. The message appealed to Funnye. Devine baptized him in a public swimming pool, and Funnye entered the complicated world of black American Jewry.

Estimates of how many black Jews there are in the United States range widely. It all depends on who is doing the counting and what criteria are being used. There are Jews who happen to be black: kids adopted by white Jewish families, for example, or the offspring of mixed parents. (Orthodox Judaism recognizes as Jewish the offspring of only Jewish mothers; Reform, the largest American denomination, accepts patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent.) There are also African-Americans who have been converted to various forms of Judaism, as well as Jews of Ethiopian origin who immigrated to Israel and subsequently moved to America. Probably no more than 2 percent of the American Jewish community is made up of black Jews.

There have been African-Americans with blood ties to white Jews since at least the early 19th century. Among them was Julia Ann Isaacs, the daughter of a white Jewish man, David Isaacs, and a free black woman, Nancy Ann West. In 1832 Julia married Eston Hemings, the son of Sally Hemings and — more than likely — Thomas Jefferson. Another was Francis Cardozo, a freeborn black man of Jewish descent (and a distant relative of the Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo), who during Reconstruction served as secretary of state and treasurer of South Carolina. But in almost no such early cases did the offspring of black-Jewish unions identify themselves as Jewish.
Black Judaism as a self-conscious religious identity arrived in America in Lawrence, Kan., in 1896. A charismatic Baptist named William Saunders Crowdy established a black congregation called the Church of God and Saints of Christ, where he preached that Africans were the true descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Didn’t the Bible tell that Moses married a black-skinned woman? he asked. And that King Solomon bestowed on the queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian, “all her desire”?

One implication of Crowdy’s doctrine was that blacks were God’s chosen people. This might have been a hanging offense in Kansas at the time had white people been aware of it, which they mostly weren’t. The denomination practiced an eclectic, “roll your own” brand of religion that combined beliefs and practices of the Old and New Testaments. Crowdy’s tabernacles practiced male infant circumcision, observed Saturday as the Sabbath, celebrated Passover and other Jewish holidays — but venerated Jesus Christ.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Crowdy’s faith offered freed slaves and their offspring something that mainstream Christianity did not: a grand historical identity and a distinctively black mode of religious expression. This proved to be a potent mix. Since the formation of the Church of God and Saints of Christ, there have been more than 200 congregations in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Today the group still has more than 50 affiliated congregations. In addition, a great many other “messianic” Jewish houses of worship have flourished, including Rabbi Robert Devine’s congregation, where Funnye first came to regard himself as a Black Jew.

“When I joined Rabbi Devine’s shul, I felt less like I was converting to Judaism than reverting,” Funnye recalls. “Going back to something.”

For a few years after leaving Howard, as he worked a series of jobs in Chicago, Funnye found Devine’s conception of Judaism to be rewarding. But he eventually became uncomfortable with the hybrid nature of Devine’s theology. As his interest in Judaism deepened, Funnye was increasingly drawn to the more conventional teachings of a black, Brooklyn-based rabbi named Levi Ben Levy, the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Israelite movement. “He taught me that real Judaism isn’t mixed in with Christianity,” Funnye says. He studied with Levy for five years, long distance from Chicago; the curriculum included Biblical Hebrew, liturgy, standard rabbinic texts and Jewish history from the perspective of African originalism. In 1985, Levy ordained Funnye as a rabbi, although no mainstream denomination accepted the title or Levy’s right to confer it.

Very few white rabbis were even aware of the existence of the Hebrew Israelites. The movement was established in the early 20th century by Wentworth Matthew, a charismatic figure who arrived in Harlem at the end of World War I, claiming to be from Africa, although he was more likely born in St. Kitts. Matthew proclaimed himself a rabbi and founded a congregation in New York called the Commandment Keepers. He was influenced by the idea that blacks were the original Hebrews; but unlike William Saunders Crowdy, who lived in rural Kansas, Matthew modeled his congregation on the white Judaism he saw around him in New York. He called his a storefront a shul, introduced a standard Hebrew prayer book and weekly Sabbath Torah readings, discouraged excessive shows of emotion during worship, insisted on separate seating for women and men and instituted a modified version of kosher dietary laws. He also, and crucially, denied the divinity of Jesus and the truth of the New Testament.

As Matthew’s group grew, it became far more “orthodox” in its Jewish ritual and code of conduct than the average Reform temple. Still, Matthew held some highly unorthodox beliefs. Chief among them was the doctrine that many white Jews are descended not from the ancient Israelites but from the Khazars, a tribe of Turkic nomads who, according to legend, converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century. Mainstream scholars say there is no historical evidence for such a claim, but it remains an article of faith for many Black Jews. (The claim is also a staple of anti-Israel rhetoric, a fact that Funnye, who like most Black Jews supports Israel, says makes him uneasy.)
Matthew didn’t express animosity toward white Jews. On the contrary, he saw and appreciated them as temporary placeholders, people who kept the faith of Israel going while the Black Jews were lost in bondage. He sought to make common cause with and be included in the wider Jewish community: twice he applied for membership to the mainstream New York Board of Rabbis, but he was turned down. The Orthodox rabbis were flabbergasted that any gentile, black or white, would have the chutzpah to declare himself to be a Jew, let alone a rabbi. Some of the more liberal rabbis were intrigued by the Hebrew Israelites but were not willing to fully embrace them as fellow Jews.

For Matthew and his followers, the disappointment was acute. “Rabbi Matthew concluded that black Jews would never be fully accepted by white Jews, and certainly not if they insisted on maintaining a black identity and independent congregations,” Sholomo Ben Levy, the rabbi of the Black Jewish Beth Elohim Hebrew Congregation in Queens, wrote in an article published by the Hebrew Israelites. “Since his death in 1973, there has been virtually no dialog [sic] between white and black Jews in America.”

It has become the mission of Capers Funnye to start that dialogue. “I believe in building bridges,” he told me as we sat in his office at the Beth Shalom synagogue in Chicago, a week and a half after his Martin Luther King Day speech in New York. “That’s why speaking at the synagogue was so important to me.”

“Has Mary forgiven you?” I asked.

Funnye nodded. “We drove down to D.C. and made one of the balls the next day,” he said. “And she got to snap a picture of Denzel Washington, so everything is more or less cool.”

At the King Day celebration in New York, the musician Joshua Nelson proved a hard act to follow; Funnye came across as stiff and cautious, expressing measured thoughts about Jewish solidarity, the brotherhood of man and the need for peace in the Holy Land. But here in his study, surrounded by books and family pictures, he seemed far more at ease. The Sabbath was only an hour away, and people kept busting into the room — kids who wanted to show off their grades; an assistant rabbi who wanted a word about the youth group; ladies of the Nashe Or (“Women of Light”) Sisterhood who wanted to know what time exactly the communal meal should be served.

Funnye handled it all in good spirits. He is not only the chief rabbi of the congregation, which, in various permutations, has been around 90 years; he is also its C.E.O., spiritual leader, head social director, senior teacher and unofficial cantor. Beth Shalom, which he joined as an assistant rabbi in 1985, has about 200 members, making it the largest of the six American synagogues affiliated with the International Israelite Board of Rabbis (the organization that serves the Hebrew Israelites), and Funnye is the Israelites’ only full-time rabbi. A majority of his congregation are converts to Judaism, although a large number are second- or third-generation Black Jews. (People often confuse Funnye’s congregation with that of Ben Ammi Carter, a fellow black Chicagoan, who established a community of followers in Israel in 1969. Funnye, who says there is no similarity between their theologies, is at pains to differentiate the two.)

Early in his rabbinical career, Funnye says, he realized that his Jewish credentials were too limited and exotic for the kind of outreach efforts that he wanted to do. So he enrolled at the mainstream Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies. And in 1985 he underwent a second conversion, this one certified by a Conservative rabbinical court. Before he took this step, he consulted with his earlier mentor, Rabbi Levy; Funnye feared insulting other Black Jews. “I didn’t want anyone to interpret my conversion as meaning I thought they weren’t Jewish enough,” he told me. But he received Levy’s blessing. “I explained that if I was going to do the kind of outreach I wanted, European Jews had to feel that I was their brother,” Funnye said. “But I’m still a Black Israelite. A halakhic conversion” — one in accordance with traditional Jewish law — “wasn’t going to take away any of my blackness.”
After his second conversion, Funnye taught Hebrew and Jewish subjects at Chicago-area congregations and worked for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a group dedicated to fighting poverty, racism and anti-Semitism in the city. He sent his four children to Jewish day schools, quietly built his congregation and got to know the leaders of the white Jewish community. In 1997, he did what his mentors had all failed to do (and no Hebrew Israelite rabbi has since done): he became a member of the local Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Michael Balinsky, the executive vice president of the Chicago Board, says Funnye makes a conscientious effort “to play an active role in the mainstream Jewish community without losing his Black Hebrew tradition. He’s taken a leadership role for the Jewish community on civil rights issues and outreach to Hispanics and Muslims.”
In January, Beth Shalom organized a community celebration with members of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, a social-justice organization in Chicago headed by a Palestinian-American activist named Rami Nashashibi. Funnye has also worked to improve Chicago’s historically strained relations between its black and Jewish communities. In conversations with white Jews, he has defended the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom he admires, and he encourages dialogue with Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, whom he counts as a friend.

“I don’t agree with everything the man says or thinks,” Funnye said of Farrakhan. “I’m a Jew, after all. But you need to talk. Right now I’m trying to put together a group of Chicago rabbis for a meeting with Minister Farrakhan.”

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Two so far,” he said. “But I’m still working on it.”

Before sundown that night, Funnye joined about 60 congregants in the social hall for Friday-night blessings and a fried-fish-and-spaghetti dinner. In 2004, Beth Shalom bought its current building, on South Kedzie Avenue, on Chicago’s South Side, from a rapidly declining congregation of Lithuanian Jews. It has a tan brick exterior and a layout common to American synagogues circa 1955; it is a virtual twin of the temple in Michigan that I attended growing up.

The money for the building came mostly from tithes and contributions, and raising it was a stretch. “The members here are working people, teachers, city workers, mostly middle class,” Funnye said. “We don’t have any billionaire philanthropists, like the Bronfmans or the Crowns. The only rich black Jew I ever heard about was Sammy Davis Jr., and he’s dead. Besides, he was Reform.”

After the dinner, Funnye chanted the grace and then reassembled his flock in a large classroom for evening prayers and a Torah lesson. The week’s portion happened to be the story of the Exodus, and Funnye used it to illustrate the virtue of interdependence. “Think about it,” he said. “God told Moses to talk to Pharaoh, but Moses stuttered, right? I mean he stuh-stuh-stuh-stuttered. That’s what they called it back then. Nowadays he’d get called a rapper.” This got a laugh. A woman sitting nearby said, “Teach the Torah, rabbi.”

Funnye went on: “Moses stuttered so bad until he had to bring in his brother Aaron, who was a Cohen, a priest, to talk for him. And you know no priest is going to stutter, right?”

This got another laugh, and Funnye closed in on his moral — the importance of people from different backgrounds sharing the benefits of their respective upbringings. “I mean, hey, you grew up in the suburbs, maybe you can help me with something,” he said. “Or if you came up on 59th Street — some of y’all know what I’m talking about — so I know some things that you just don’t know. We can help each other.”

The congregation applauded and called out in agreement. This wasn’t the button-down Funnye who spoke at Stephen Wise in New York; here he was a signifying South Side Chicago rabbi.

A few years ago, before Beth Shalom bought its new synagogue, its members would meet in a small building on a blighted street in Chicago. A Latino gang worked one corner of the block, and a black gang worked the other. “Soon as we got there, somebody marked up the building with graffiti,” Funnye told me. “I went to both gangs and told them: ‘This is a synagogue, with elders and children. I don’t care what business you do during the week, but from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown you need to be respectful.’ I let them know that I am a man of peace but I’m not a pacifist and I had men in the congregation, so if we had a problem we’d deal with it ourselves, not call in the police until later.”

I was surprised to hear that the speech worked. “And the gangs fell into line, just like that?”

Funnye chuckled. “Well, I also had a word with some brothers I met doing prison counseling, and they may have intervened. I put out word when we moved here too. I don’t get in people’s business, but I won’t allow anyone to disrespect our synagogue.”

Because of Funnye’s connection to the Obamas, his community work has occasionally been a source of political interest. Between 1997 and 2002, Funnye served as the executive director of Blue Gargoyle, a nonprofit social-services agency that offers, among other things, adult-literacy and alternative-education programs. Blue Gargoyle was in Barack Obama’s district when he was an Illinois state senator, and during Funnye’s tenure, Obama earmarked a total of $75,000 for the organization. The issue of the earmarks and the family connection was raised by some of Obama’s opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign, but it didn’t gain traction; evidently the disbursements were aboveboard.

Funnye also worked with Michelle Obama in her capacity as executive director for community affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she focused on health issues affecting young people. Funnye told me that the only money Blue Gargoyle received from the university was a $5,000 grant for a tutoring program, and that the money did not come through Michelle Obama’s office at the hospital.

At the start of the 2008 presidential primary season, Funnye contributed a few hundred dollars to the Obama campaign but didn’t publicly endorse Obama, and he avoided mentioning the family connection. “I was afraid it might do him harm in the Orthodox community,” he told me. “I believe they were the ones putting out stories about Barack being a secret Muslim and so on. They could have made me out to be a friend of Farrakhan’s or a cult leader or who knows what.”

Obama apparently wasn’t worried by the association. During the Democratic primaries, as he came under repeated attack for being insufficiently pro-Israel, Obama reached out to Funnye, by way of Mary’s brother Frank White, the Obama fund-raiser. White told me that Obama encouraged him to “tell Capers to get the word out that I’ve got a rabbi in my family.” Funnye acknowledges getting the message. Before long, The Forward, the Jewish weekly, ran an article on Obama’s rabbi, and the news spread like low-fat cream cheese from Boca Raton to Brooklyn.

Funnye’s association with Obama probably didn’t reassure fervent Zionists — the rabbi is considerably to the left of Obama on Middle East policy — but it didn’t seem to hurt either. The connection to Obama certainly didn’t hurt Funnye. “I got no blowback from the Orthodox at all,” he said. “In fact, I started getting phone calls from a couple Hasidic rabbis in Israel who want to get together.”

There is no black Jewish neighborhood in Chicago. When they congregate on the Sabbath, the Hebrew Israelites come from all areas of the city, and they tend to spend the entire day in shul. The lyrics to the songs they sing are the same as the ones heard in any traditional synagogue, but the music is different. Hebrew prayers are sung in unison in something resembling call and response. A gospel-like band accompanies the choir’s weekly performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” During the Torah procession the congregation sings, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion.”

On one of the days I was there, in early February, I was the only white Jew in the shul, and an old guy in front of me kept turning around and showing me the right page. There’s a nudnik like him in every shul I’ve ever been to.

I forgave him, though, during the Torah service, when a young man faltered over the blessings and looked mortified. “Not your fault, young man,” the nudnik said. “The fire of the Torah burns so hot to where sometimes it just confuses your mind.”

At the end of services, I met a young woman named Tamar, who said her children are the only black Jews enrolled at the Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School. “Things have been a little tricky for them at school since Obama won,” she told me.

“Why?” I asked. “Aren’t most of the parents at the Day School Democrats?”

“Yes. They voted for Obama, and their kids are glad he won. But they don’t love Obama the way my children do. They aren’t thrilled in the same way.”

“So?”

“My kids are wondering, If their classmates and teachers figure out how personal this is for them, will they be considered more black and less Jewish?”

When I told Funnye the story he chuckled but said he wasn’t surprised. Being a black Jew in America can be a trying experience, even when white Jews are well intentioned. One morning I went with Funnye to a suburban Conservative congregation, where he was to deliver another Martin Luther King speech. We sat at the head table. I ate bagels and lox while Funnye chatted with a convert to Judaism. At the end of the meal the host rabbi stood and began chanting the blessing after food.

When he saw that Funnye wasn’t singing along, the rabbi pointed to the appropriate words. He didn’t realize that Funnye wasn’t praying because he was still eating. Another nudnik.

On Inauguration Day, Capers and Mary Funnye drove down from New York and made it to Washington in time for a quick shower. Then they boarded a bus for Obama-family relatives that drove them from venue to venue throughout the day. Over lunch at the Old Executive Office building, Funnye recounted, he bonded with Obama’s Kenyan grandmother and aunt and exchanged business cards with the president’s Kenyan half-brother. “I get to Africa from time to time,” Funnye said.

That was an understatement. Funnye heads the Pan-African Jewish Alliance, a group established to help Africans join and feel more included in the mainstream Jewish community. For its founders — Gary Tobin, the head of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, and his wife, Diane — the motivation is in part demographic. Discovering or creating millions of Jewish Africans (as well as opening the community in the United States to African converts and to African-Americans with Jewish roots) would, the Tobins say, greatly strengthen what they see as a stagnant population.

Funnye’s motive is more spiritual. As a Hebrew Israelite rabbi he maintains that many Africans were originally Jewish. Some, like the Lemba of South Africa, claim direct descent from the Jews of the Bible. There is considerable resistance to this notion, but many leading scholars take it seriously. “I have no problem believing that the Lemba of South Africa are descended from Jews,” says Jonathan Schorsch, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Columbia University. “Jews are ethnically and biologically mixed. It just makes sense that this mixing took place in Africa as well as other places.”

Funnye’s closest connection is to the Ibos, a tribe in Nigeria, some of whose members describe themselves as Jews. Beth Shalom has a sister synagogue there, and Funnye travels back and forth. For all practical purposes, he is the chief rabbi of Nigeria, and he has plans to reunite the Ibos eventually with the worldwide Jewish people through formal conversion.

Before he gets to Africa, though, Funnye has other commitments. A French organization recently flew him to Paris for a Martin Luther King event. He now finds himself flooded with invitations to speak at big Jewish congregations in California, Florida and Long Island. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, is planning a meeting for Funnye with his colleagues. I asked Potasnik if the organization would be willing to reconsider membership for the Hebrew Israelite rabbis. “We’d entertain an application,” he said. “I’d love to see the test case.”

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Reform Movement, is, like Potasnik, ready to consider new possibilities. “The fact that men and women sit separately in the Israelite congregations might be a problem for us on gender-equality grounds,” he told me. “But race would certainly be no problem for us.”

A few years ago, Funnye considered applying for membership to the Union for Reform Judaism. He shelved the idea when his congregants objected on the grounds that the white congregation was not observant enough. “Some of their rabbis perform intermarriages,” Funnye explains, “so some of our people were uncomfortable. But sometimes I think it would be good to be part of a larger movement. Maybe we’ll revisit the subject.”

Funnye hasn’t built all his bridges yet, let alone crossed them, but the progress he has seen — both as a black Jew and as a black American — has mellowed him. “You know, as a young man I was angry about the way we were laughed at and ignored,” he said. “I sometimes went down to the kosher meat market here in Chicago, put my face right up in the face of one of the Orthodox rabbis and yelled, ‘I ain’t never seen no white Jews before!’ I was so hurt I became obtuse and bitter. But I don’t feel that way anymore.” He paused. “There’s no need to shout. People are ready for a dialogue, to talk and to listen.”

Zev Chafets is a frequent contributor to the magazine. His most recent article was about Rush Limbaugh.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 26, 2009
An article on April 5 about Capers Funnye, a rabbi who is a cousin of Michelle Obama’s, misstated the name of an organization to which he considered applying for membership. It was the Union for Reform Judaism, not the Union of Reform Jews.

OBAMA’S HALF BROTHER LIVES IN CHINA AND CELEBRATED HIS WIN LOW-PROFILE-FROM CBSNEWS.COM

May 3, 2009

image4728244image4728391gfrom cbsnews.com

Obama’s Half Brother Far From Spotlight
President-Elect’s Intensely Private Half Brother Lives In China

SHENZHEN, China, Jan. 16, 2009

Mark Ndesandjo, the intensely private half brother of President-elect Barack Obama, plays the piano to raise money for orphans during a charity concert in Shenzhen, southern China, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Obama’s Low-Key Brother

Barack Obama’s half-brother Mark Ndesandjo, who lives in China, doesn’t name drop.

(AP) The news release didn’t say who Mark Ndesandjo was. Nor did the posters and e-mails promoting the concert Friday in this southern Chinese boomtown where he played piano to raise money for orphans.

But the 200 or so people who showed up for the fundraiser at a posh hotel resort knew the man in a Chinese-style brown silk shirt was the half brother of President-elect Barack Obama. They had a rare encounter with Ndesandjo, who has been dodging the media since his family ties were made public last summer.

For the past seven years, Ndesandjo has been living in Shenzhen, a freewheeling city just across the border from Hong Kong. The announcement for his piano concert identified him as a strategic marketing consultant. He also helped start a chain of eateries in China called Cabin BBQ.

Ndesandjo has a thin mustache, shaved head and a gold stud in his left earlobe. He slightly resembles his half brother, and shares the same trim, athletic physique. He speaks Mandarin, is a vegetarian and practices Chinese calligraphy.

And he said Friday that he has just finished a novel called “Nairobi to Shenzhen,” but as yet has no publisher.

Ndesandjo apparently wants a low-key life separate from Obama. No one mentioned his family when he was introduced at the charity concert and cocktail party sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China.

During brief remarks on stage, Ndesandjo mentioned that he would visit the U.S. in a couple days, apparently to attend Tuesday’s presidential inauguration. He said if he didn’t make the trip in time, he would embarrass his family.

And he told the crowd that chamber president, Harley Seyedin, was fond of the president-elect. Ndesandjo added, “I like my president, too!” That was the closest he came to mentioning Barack Obama.

Ndesandjo’s reluctance to play up his famous relative is extremely unusual in China, where people commonly name drop and use their connections to advance their interests. In China, relationships, or “guanxi,” with powerful people are golden and rarely wasted in winning new business or opening other doors.

As his Chinese wife watched, Ndesandjo began his performance with a Chinese tune called “Liuyang River” followed by what he said was “Chopin’s First Nocturne.” His third and final piece was a jazz tune by Fats Waller called “Viper’s Drag.”

He played with passion, at times hunched over the keyboard or rocking back with his eyes closed and lips slightly parted in expressions of ectasy and agony.

His Chinese friend and restaurant business partner, Sui Zhenjun, said he has known Ndesandjo since he arrived in China in 2002.

“But it wasn’t until July when media reports started surfacing about him being related to Obama that I found out they were related,” he told The Associated Press. “He called and told me.”

Ndesandjo declined to answer questions from the AP at Friday’s concert. He wouldn’t confirm basic details about his past or discuss his relationship with Obama.

He uses the surname of his mother, Ruth, the third wife of his father, who died in 1982. He was born in Kenya and moved to the United States when he was a child.

Footage from a Chinese TV news show posted on Youtube shows him practicing calligraphy at home and teaching children how to play the piano, praising them in Mandarin and English.

On Friday, he said he had visited a Shenzhen orphanage shortly after arriving in China and saw rows and rows of sleeping babies while a harried staff of two nurses tried to care for them.

“One child with big black eyes seized my finger and would not let it go,” he told the crowd.

After the charity event, Ndesandjo chatted with friends and shook hands as he slowly walked out of the venue pursued by journalists hoping for a comment. He slipped into an elevator and continued to ignore questions as the door slowly closed.

By William Foreman
© MMIX The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

CHARISMAALLOVER/OLUWABUNMI:BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY OVERWHELMING!-NOT ONLY IS SHE A BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY BUT SHE HAS THE BEST BLOG ON THE NET AT CHARISMAALLOVER.WORDPRESS.COM!

May 2, 2009

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CHARISMALLOVER/OLUWABUNMI'S NEW HAIRSTYLE-BLACK BEAUTY SUPREME!

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OBAMA!-THE FIRST BLACK PRIME MINISTER OF BELIZE,CENTRAL AMERICA, DEAN BARROW WAS INSPIRED BY OBAMA TO WIN!-FROM POLITICAL CARNIVAL BLOGSPOT.COM AND PICTURES BY LIVEJOURNAL.COM

May 2, 2009

FIRST BLACK BELIZE PRIME MINISTER DEAN BARROW SMILES AS PRESIDENT OBAMA GIVES HIS WIFE THE FIRST BLACK FIRST LADY OF BELIZE,SIMPLIS BARROW A KISS!

FIRST BLACK BELIZE PRIME MINISTER DEAN BARROW SMILES AS PRESIDENT OBAMA GIVES HIS WIFE THE FIRST BLACK FIRST LADY OF BELIZE,SIMPLIS BARROW A KISS!

THE FIRST BLACK FIRST LADY OF BELIZE IS BLOWN AWAY BY OBAMA'S KISS!

THE FIRST BLACK FIRST LADY OF BELIZE IS BLOWN AWAY BY OBAMA'S KISS!

FROM thepoliticalcarnival.blogspot.com

Friday, January 2, 2009
Obama’s election inspires blacks in Latin America

A refreshingly hopeful moment in a day that is just ticking me off right and left.

BELMOPAN, Belize — Dean Barrow doesn’t look like the faces on his country’s dollar bills. Nor does he resemble its previous leaders — he is this Central American nation’s first black prime minister.

By winning the post in February, Barrow broke through a glass ceiling that has existed in the Americas since the slave trade first brought people from Africa five centuries ago.

The sad reality in countries with large black populations, such as Brazil, and those with tiny communities, such as Mexico, is that Afro-Latinos have typically been relegated to the sidelines of politics and high finance.

But when it comes to race relations, the United States is once again casting its shadow on the Americas — this time in a positive way, with the election of Barack Obama as president, according to politicians and experts in the region.

‘It has to mean there will be a great opening up of minds and opening up of opportunities. It will make any sense of `the other’ much less pronounced,” Barrow said in an interview in Belize’s lush capital. “How can there appear to be anything strange about somebody of color making great strides politically in Latin America when a person of color is the president of the most powerful country on Earth?”

OBAMA:A NIGERIAN NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL ON OBAMA’S FIRST 100 DAYS!-FROM DAILY INDEPENDENT,LAGOS

April 29, 2009
OBAMA-A BLACK PRESIDENT WITH BLACK ACTIONS EVERYWHERE!

OBAMA-A BLACK PRESIDENT WITH BLACK ACTIONS EVERYWHERE!

FROM odili.net

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

President Obama’s first 100 days
Editorial

The great black American poet, William Cuney, captured a not dissimilar moment of exuberance, pride and hope almost exactly a century earlier when he proclaimed ‘My Lord, what a morning!” (Oh my Lord, what a feeling). The swearing in, a hundred days ago of an African-American as the President of the United States, was a great confirmation of the audacity of hope. What was inconceivable, ten, even five, years ago was confirmed in the full glare of an enraptured worldwide audience. The American dream was not just mythology; it was well and truly alive.

It is true of course that great expectations were raised with the inauguration of Mr. Barack Obama. He also had promises to keep. How has he fared so far? This newspaper will not hesitate to give him an overwhelming pass mark. He has crossed the first hundred days in flying colours. As a leading United States newspaper, The Boston Globe, remarked on Sunday, “What appears to be a natural gift for the presidency has allowed Obama to avoid amateurish mistakes.”

The self-confidence shown so far by Obama is truly poignant when put in the context of the criticisms made during the Democratic Party primaries that he was lacking in experience. It is even more remarkable when put in the context of the worst economic crises since the great depression in the 1930’s. The present economic situation would have taxed the countenance of even the most experienced of operators, that Obama has acquitted himself with such Èlan and panache harbingers what could turn out to be a remarkable presidency. Previous ‘hundred days’ have not been so assessed. For example, President John F. Kennedy’s ended with the ill thought-out Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Not surprisingly, reviving the ailing economy has been the centerpiece of Obama’s young presidency. It is on this premise that his administration will be assessed as the United States endures its worst recession since the Second World War. The achievement on this front has been important. The unprecedented $787 billion economic stimulus required great political skill to steer through Congress and it was achieved. The atmosphere created through Obama’s charm offensive in getting the stimulus through has been crucial. So far he has commanded strong public support in spite of a relentless rise in unemployment to 25 years highs, staggering rates of home foreclosures and a budget deficit that looks set to reach nearly two trillion dollars.

In spite of this, a mid April poll of respondents said the president has a clear plan to deal with the recession – well more than double the 24% who thought the same of the Republican Party. Remarkable, for before Obama’s inauguration, only 19% said the country was on the right track. Now the figure is 50% according to a Washington Post/ABC News survey on Sunday. This represents a truly remarkable shift from the poisonous atmosphere of the Bush era.

Overall, Obama’s intention is to remodel the United States economy which will include ending the nation’s addiction to foreign oil (Nigeria please take note) and measures such as enacting universal health care and fixing Wall Street.

The new atmosphere has been recreated on other fronts. One of his first acts on the first day in office was to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act as it affects the federal government. This act of extending openness in the process of governance should be food for thought to those in Nigeria who cannot countenance the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act. Obama also sensibly ordered the closure of the notorious Guantanamo Bay military detention facility and abolished ‘enhanced interrogation facilities’. He has set a fixed timetable for withdrawing United States combat forces from Iraq. Turning the focus to the perils of Afghanistan he has ordered 21,000 additional troops and is seeking to enlist, with modest new assistance, European allies in a new multiplayer strategy there and crucially in Pakistan. Furthermore, the commitment to initiate a process of general nuclear disbarment will help to bring down temperatures.

Away from the military battleground, he is seeking to return science to its rightful place by amongst other policies extending the frontier of Stem Cell research. Overall, unlike the times of childlike belligerence and braggadocio of the Bush era he has been engaging world leaders with ‘strength and humility’. The huge crowds which greeted his public appearance in Europe, Canada and Mexico is testimony to the new dawn.

As for us here in Africa, it will be improper for any reasonable person to have expected Obama to put Africa on the front burner in his first hundred days. That time will certainly come. However, a host of measurers already enunciated will be of immense benefit to the African continent. The trillion dollar aid package to cushion the economic meltdown will be of great assistance. In addition, and very crucially, Obama’s insistence on free trade will help to block protectionist tendencies which are now, given the recession, very much, sadly, in vogue. Africa needs open trade and this will be of unquantifiable assistance. Africa’s moment will come, but the continent too has to prepare for that moment by embracing the new spirit of openness and renewed commitment to democracy as a way of being in sync with the age of Obama.

The position of former President George W. Bush is quite instructive. Pressed to comment on Obama’s performance so far, he merely retorted that he would not be partisan. “He has earned my silence,” said Bush. For us, his first hundred days has made us all very proud. The sureness of touch, the competence and self-assurance should be emulated by leaders on the African continent


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