February 13, 2017

from the sun newspaper,nigeria

Super street beggar

Has 4 wives, 11 children

By Vincent Kalu

Begging for a living is hardly an enviable means of livelihood, but for Adamu Hassan Yauri, it is his source of blessing.  After his life seemingly ground to a halt and he found himself stranded at life’s dead-end, beggary offered him an alternative route to an honourable life. Through boom and bust these past 19 years, he has flourished, married four wives, fathered 11 children and sustained his large family on beggary proceeds.

The decision to earn a living as beggar was forced upon him by circumstances beyond his control, following an automobile accident in 1998 that led to the amputation of his right leg.

The native of Yauri Local Government Area, Kebbi State spoke with Saturday Sun at his residence in Igando, Lagos. He debunked any misconceptions about him being a polio victim.  According to him, he grew up as a normal human being without any defect and was on his way to making a success out of his life, attending school and at the same time trading in onions from his home town in the north to the southeast town of Onitsha, Anambra State. But in 1998, his life took a sudden turn.  It started first with his business partner who fractured his legs in an automobile accident.

“I went to visit him at the hospital.  On my way home, I was involved in a motorcycle accident,” he recalled. “Me and my parents spent all our savings on hospital bills, yet doctors couldn’t save my leg.  Eventually, they amputated my right leg.”

At the time, Yauri was a Senior Secondary One student.   The amputation of his limb was a double blow: “I had to drop out of school; otherwise I never planned to stop my education at that level.  The accident also crashed the onion business I was doing to sponsor my education.”

The hard knock of  life soon set in.  To spare him the misery of a wretched life, one of his brothers sold him the idea of moving south to Lagos where begging was a lucrative way of life.

“I followed my brother to Lagos in 1999, and as he told me, I found that begging was lucrative.  People took pity on me because of my condition, and in no time, I was making money, enough to start planning to get married.”

Marriage to four wives

He started this family by marrying one wife.  After some time, he married a second, then a third, and finally a fourth wife.  One of his spouses died, and he has lost two children too.  Aside from these tragedies, Yauri is a happy man, a proud father of nine children, six of them including a set of twins by his first wife.

“I’m the one taking care of them,” he said with pride, “and God is the one taking care of all of us. We may not have money to eat the best of food, but we always make do with the little we have and we are always happy.”

How come a disabled beggar was able to marry four women? Yauri avowed it was easy for the women to fall in love and subsequently marry him.  “It was from this occupation that I married these women,” he boasted.  Of his three wives, the first is from Kwara State, the second from Kano, while the third is a Nigerien.  He is emphatic he and each of the women started as lovers.  He explained his love life with the story of his first wife, Shafatu, from Ilorin, Kwara State, whom he first knew as a secondary school student assisting her beverage seller -mother at Ikotun market.

“All my women loved me dearly and accepted my proposal. Our initial problem was their families’ objections, but my ladies said it must be me or never. Don’t you see the work of God? I paid the bride price and performed the necessary marriage rites for all of them; I didn’t get any of them free, neither did I elope with any of them,” he said.

His women not only accepted him for what he is, they took him for better or for worse, including his means of livelihood.  And after marriage, they joined him in his daily routine of begging to make ends meet. Indeed, begging has become the family’s profession so much so some of the younger children, who are not yet in school, loiter around their mothers where they beg.

Satisfying his women

Don’t ask Yauri how he satisfies three women sexually.  He would respond with a chuckle, followed by a jovial question: “Is the number of children, both living and dead, not evidence of my virility?”

For him, his disability neither extends to his libido nor affects his ability to impregnate his wives.  He will tell you his wives have no cause to complain––though he is quick to add: “I cannot kill myself, I am not a machine.”

He basked in his good fortune of being so blessed with offspring despite his disability and poverty.  Instead of complaining, he counts his blessings.  “There abound many able bodied men who are still unmarried till date, and there are several rich men that have spent so much money seeking medical help to have children and yet do not have any.  I am not gloating over their misfortune, but rather citing this as an example of God’s love for me, a poor, ordinary, disabled beggar.”

God’s love for him extends to his wives’ ease during childbirth. “I believe these blessings are God’s way to compensate me for my disability,” he reflected. “If my wives were to deliver through Caesarean Section, where would I get the money from?”

To increase his number of children or to not increase––the question, Yauri said, is for God. “If God gives me more children, I will take them, especially, as one wife has two children, while the other is left with one after the death of her second child, and these two women may want to have more children like the first wife who has six,” he clarified.

Pains of polygamy

To ask him how he is enjoying  polygamy, is to prompt a lamentation. His woes are best summarised in his statement that “it is hellish keeping three women under one roof.”

To avoid trouble, he tried to be equitable to all three women in the all-important, but sensitive aspect of conjugal responsibility.

To this end, he came up with a ‘sleeping formula’: “To each woman, I give two days in a week to sleep with her.  Two days for each woman, and one day of rest for me.”

He found out it was not enough to stave off trouble permanently.

“I did everything possible for all of them to live together in harmony, but trouble and quarrels always erupted,” he lamented but curiously, blaming the trouble on the Lagos environment.

His theory: “It was hellish keeping three wives together, especially in Lagos, where everybody is crazy.  Bring a naïve person to this city, by the time she arrives, Lagos would open her eyes.  If we were living in the village where our relatives are around us, they (his wives) can’t be a problem to me, even if they were four, because they would be punished for disobeying me. But this is Lagos, where everybody’s brain is something else. In the village, your brain is normal. But immediately you arrive in Lagos, it is either other people scatter your brain or you scatter it by yourself.”

He had resigned to a life of permanent querulous matrimony with the women. “Usually, two ganged-up against one; if I did anything, one would accuse me of favouring the other, and they would start quarreling with me. It was a difficult situation.”

His wives’ endless bickering ultimately drove him to keep them in separate apartments and locations, an arrangement they initially rejected until he was able to convince them of a constant conjugal visit.  “I live with one here in Igando, I rented a house for one at Okoko, and the other at Isheri,” he said, declaring “It is now that I have peace.  Before, it was so much trouble.”

Finding a way out of begging

While trying his best to meet his responsibility as the breadwinner, Yauri admitted that his large family now constitutes a problem.  As his children grow older, proceeds from begging shrink, and become insufficient to sustain the family.  The hard reality had forced him to seek other options to begging for a living.

His first alternative was to join the battalion of tricycle operators who make healthy wages conveying commuters over short distance.  Unfortunately, his tricycle was stolen by thieves. Occasionally, his friends who have other things to do borrow him their tricycles.  When such opportunity is not forthcoming, he goes a begging to make his usual paltry proceeds.

After trying his hands on the tricycle business, Yauri became somewhat ashamed of begging. Now in his 40s, he is eager to learn a vocation that would help sustain his family.

He would welcome any help, from government or individuals, towards training his children––though he insisted an explicit agreement would be made in this regards so he would not be disadvantaged by such benevolence.

Within the limit of his ability, he is ready to go any mile for the sake of a better future for his children.


February 2, 2017


Mrs.Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade shared We Only Want What Is True/Villain X’s video.
· January 31 at 5:11pm ·
We Only Want What Is True/Villain X added a new video: I just don’t care anymore!!!
· December 31, 2015 ·

Ikiesha Al-Shabazz Whittaker
I just don’t care anymore!!! I’m planning to leave this country!!! This is ur notice!!!! Fuk America!!!! #imtired #imdone #retiringthecape #movingoutofthiSGodforsakencorporation!!!
Mrs.Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
Write a comment…
Mrs.Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade shared Hasani Carter-Nze’s post.
· January 31 at 4:56pm ·
Hasani Carter-Nze
· January 31 at 3:06pm · Columbus, OH, United States ·

I’m considering/planning to move out the country…I’m so tired of posting the stuff that’s going on…
Yet I fear that if I don’t, I’d just be guilty of preten…
See Mor


July 3, 2016

imageButt power versus Black power …

Who needs a ‘race card’?
I got a ‘Butt Pass’

My ass makes
me a star

Your ‘card’ sets you apart
& racially harassed

You got Black Power…
I gotta ‘High Tower’

You got ‘Civil Rights’
I got ‘Rear Rights’

I don’t need the vote
I think I’d rather gloat

So who needs feminism?
I gotta mega weapon

The love for for butt
is never-ending

I hope that mine is
not descending!

© Menelik Charles.


June 8, 2016


The Yoruba is on Facebook. To connect with The Yoruba, join Facebook today.

The Yoruba

The Champ, The Greatest has joined our ancestors. Sleep well , Mohammed Ali Jan 17 1942 – Jun 3 2016. He is pictured here during his 1964 visit to West Africa, wearing the Yoruba traditional outfit for men, and playing the gangan Yoruba talking drum. The world has lost another gem.

4 June at 06:08 · Public · in Timeline Photos

View full size

Omigbule Bukola

orun re, akoni lo!
1 · 4 June at 21:42

Opeyemi Ajoke Adebisi

5 June at 14:32

Yemisi Alabi

Sunday at 20:59

A Soldier’s Veve

Elatchê! Now maybe we can get some help down here.
Monday at 00:31

Adé Túnjí

Monday at 15:01

Elugbadebo John

R . I . P
Monday at 15:29

Alex Flowers

Ali is missed
Monday at 16:27

Adegboyega Shamsideen Thompson

Ęgbon wā, Momodu, Ę Sùn ‘Rē O…
Today at 02:38


June 7, 2016

Video shows officer fatally shooting ax-wielding woman — theGrio

April 8, 2016

GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities in Tennessee have released video of a shooting in which a white police officer kills a black woman who was approaching him while wielding a medieval-style ax. The Tennessean reports that the video, released Thursday, shows Gallatin Officer James Spray telling 40-year-old Laronda Sweatt, who was holding the ax, to…

via Video shows officer fatally shooting ax-wielding woman — theGrio


January 21, 2016

Monday, 24 February 2014

Follow the historical timeline of the Oyotunji African Village located near Sheldon, Beaufort County, South Carolina, USA

His Roya Highness Oba (King) Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I was born Walter Eugene King on October 5, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He graduated from Cass Technical High School.
He was originally baptized into Christianity at Hartford Avenue Baptist Church at age 12.
He began the serious persuit of art and dance at Cass Tech. and at the Detroit Urban League. He began African studies at age 16 to begin his great quest for the gods of Africa.
His Exposure to African religion with the association with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe at the age of 20.
He traveled to Haiti the same year.
He founded the order of Damballah Whedo, Ancestor Priest in Harlem the following year.
On Aguat 26, 1959, he became the first African American to become fully initiated into the Orisa-Vodun African priesthood, by African Cubans in Matanzas, Cuba. This marked the beginning of the spread of Yoruba religion and culture among the African Americans.
With a few followers, and after dissolution of the Order of Damballah Whedo, he founded the Sango temple in New York city. He incorporated the African Theological Archministry in 1960.
The Sango Temple was relocated and remnamed the Yoruba Temple the same year
He introduced the Danshiki and began small scale manufacture of African attire in the summer of 1960.
He founded the Yoruba Academy for the academic study of Yoruba history, religion and language in 1961.
He opened the Ujamaa Market in 1961 beginning tword African boutiques which, like the Danshiki, spread throughout African American communities. Photo courtesy of
He published pamthlets ; The Yoruba Religion, The Yoruba state and the tribal origins of The African American. He participated in the Black Nationalist rallies of the 1960’s
during that time he formed the African Nationalist Independence Partition Party aimed at establishing “an African state in America by 1972! :Actual photo of RNA Baba Oseijeman in rear.
He designed A flag with red, gold and green bars; the gold emblazoned with a black ancient Egyptian ankh. The Yoruba temple would march thru the streets with flag and drums headed to the 67 Worlds Fair.
In the fall of 1970, he founded the Yoruba Village of Oyotunji in Beaufort County South Carolina, and began the careful reorganization of the Orisa vodu priesthood along the traditional Nigerian lines.
Add captHe was initiated to the Ifa priesthood by Oluwa of Ijeun at Abeokuta, Nigeria, in Agust of 1972.ion
He opened the first official Ogboni Parliament of Oyotunji Chiefs and land owners in 1973, and later that year founded the Igbimolosa ( Priest Council) to organize laws and rules and to adjudicate disputes among Orisa-Vodun priest.
Later in 1973 Oba Oseijeman commenced the construction of the Osagiyan Palace at Oyotunji.
HRM. Oba Oseijeman Adefunmi I has been called The Father of the Cultural Restoration Movement in N.America.
In 1981 Oba Efuntola was sponsored by the Caribbean Visual Arts and Research Center to present a paper at a conference of Orisa-Vodu priests at the Univeristy of Ile-Ife,Nigeria.
Oba ofuntola was presented to His Divine Royal Majesty King Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II the “Ooni” of the ancient city of Ife, who ordered the Ife chiefs to perform coronation rights on him.
Thus Oba Ofuntola Oseijeman Adefunmi became the first of the line of Yoruba Kings consecrated by the Ooni of Ife.
In the summer of 1993 Oba Ofuntola was recognized as the oldest living Babalawo in the USA and became the Araba of Ijo Orunmila Igbo Mimo.
Later in 1993 Oba Ofuntola became the only Official representative of traditional African religion to address the Parliament of World Religions in the 100 yrs of the organization. African delagation pictured in rear right corner.
Oba Adefunmi’s Oyotunji Village has fostered the establishment of Yoruba temples in New York, Connecticut,Philadelphia, Indiana,Florida,Los Angeles, North Carolina ,Texas,Georgia,Milwaukee.
Oba Ofuntola and the Oyotunji village have initiated over 300 priest into the ministries of Orisa-Vodu.
In doing so, he has restored to the African American the ancient sacred priesthood of Orunmila,Esu,Ogun,Oya,Obatala,,Sango and Olokun.
Oyotunji has restored to the African American the anciet right of Gelede ( recognized by UNESCO) and Egungun Ancestor worship.

Photo Credits:


  1. Thank U,this is helpful info. We give thanks.


  2. Iba ara torun Oba Ofuntola Oseijeman Adefunmi I…


  3. What a man does for himself… Dies with him, what he does for others remains…and is Eternal!


  4. What a man does for himself… Dies with him, what he does for others remains…and is Eternal!



January 21, 2016

from menelik charles on facebook

‘Blue-Black’ has typically been…

A phrase which suggested one was ‘ugly’ in Black America. But I have a much better interpretation of the phrase: ‘beautiful’.

Can I get a witness?

(c) Menelik Charles.

Menelik Charles's photo.

















Charles Reaves
Charles Reaves Very lovely.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Menelik Charles replied · 1 Reply
Sandra Golding
Sandra Golding Beautiful..
Like · Reply · 1 · 57 mins
Menelik Charles replied · 1 Reply
Sharon Cooper-Walker
Sharon Cooper-Walker Beautiful! Sudan perhaps?
Nathan Hare

Nathan Hare Witness. Witness.



May 22, 2012

Of principles, politics and Obama’s gay gamble
May 20, 2012 by Minabere Ibelema 7 Comments

When the United States President Barack Obama stunned the world by declaring his support for same-sex marriage, he explained that it was a matter of principle. He believes in equality for all people and that extending marriage rights to gays was an extension of that principle.

But there’s more to it.

The announcement was stunning, not so much for what Obama said but when he said it.

That Obama has been sympathetic to the gay community has been quite evident. Among other things, he saw to it that the Pentagon lifted the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that forbade gay military personnel from making public their homosexuality.

And his Justice Department refrained from representing the Federal Government in cases related to the Defence of Marriage Act, a law that forbade the recognition of same-sex marriages by federal departments and agencies.

For an administration to blatantly refuse to enforce a law that was duly passed by Congress and signed by a previous President is a rather serious matter. Though it is not without precedent, in some circumstances it could be impeachable.

Therefore,as a matter of law and politics, that stance was even more consequential than Obama’s declaration of support for same-sex marriage.

What was truly stunning then was Obama’s timing. Earlier in his political career, he had unequivocally opposed same-sex marriage. Then, as President, he had responded to a related question by saying that his personal view on the matter was still evolving.

That was, of course, the kind of answer that politicians give on issues of which they fear the consequences irrespective of the side they took. So, with about six months to go before the general elections, why would Obama risk it all by taking a stance now?

Well, it is a matter of blackmail and being backed into the wall. First, the latter.

When Vice-President Joseph Biden was asked recently about same-sex marriage, he said he was “comfortable” with it. It was inevitable that Obama would be called upon again to comment on the matter.

Obama was in a political quandary. He couldn’t afford to equivocate on a matter about which his vice-president had given a pointed response. He had to declare.

And then, there was the dimension of blackmail. No, not by any gay lover. Actually, the trending news before Obama’s same-sex marriage declaration had been about the release of love letters he wrote to his girlfriend in his earlier years.

The blackmail reportedly came from Hollywood, where some big wigs were planning a major campaign fundraiser for Obama. In case you are wondering the connection, Hollywood is a gay haven, perhaps second only to San Francisco.

According to the reports, some among the fundraisers pressured Obama to take a stand on same-sex marriage. The announcement, according to this thesis, was to appease that group.

Obama can use all the fund-raising help he can get. According to Bloomberg financial services, “The price tag on the 2012 presidential election is set to be the biggest ever.” That is higher than the combined price tag of more than $1bn for the 2008 election.

Even without a challenger in the primaries, Obama’s campaign has already expended more than $172m of the close to $197m it has raised so far. Yet the general elections campaign is merely in the warm-up stage.

Obama is set to duel it out with his enormously wealthy opponent, Mitt Romney. It is a circumstance in which even the most subtle blackmail can get it done.

Even then, the declaration of support for same-sex marriage is quite a gamble. If Obama were running for office anywhere in the world outside of Europe and North America, he is probably finished. Certainly, his stock has tumbled greatly in Nigeria.

Might the declaration cost Obama the election or help him? The best permutation at this time is, it all depends. Here’s what the political chessboard looks like.

Recent opinion polls show that a slight majority of Americans say that same sex marriage should be allowed.

The people who are most put off by Obama’s support of same-sex marriage are religious conservatives. But they vote solidly Republican, anyway. So, Obama has few votes to lose among them.

However, Obama’s staunchest supporters — blacks and Hispanics — are also overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage. Yet, he needs a heavy turnout by them — all voting predominantly for him — to win the election.

Obama knows this too well. His very next action after the announcement was to call the pastors of America’s largest and most influential black churches to explain himself. Predictably, he didn’t get many alleluias from them.

In fact, black pastors were already besieged with phone calls, texts and emails from dumbfounded members of their congregations seeking guidance. Many pastors had to address the issue in prayer meetings and Sunday sermons, with most disapproving but urging understanding.

“I believe the statement the president made and his decision was made in good faith. I am sure because the president is a good man,” Bishop Timothy Clark, of the First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, told his congregation, according to USA Today.

In any case, African Americans’ support for Obama is so overwhelming and strong that it is unlikely that he will lose a lot of their votes in November. As would be predicted by the theory of cognitive dissonance, they are likely to find ways to rationalise away Obama’s decision.

The same may not be true of Hispanics, however. They are predominantly Catholic and, therefore, more conservative than African Americans in their view of social matters.

Independent voters, whose swings almost always determine the outcomes of presidential election, are another concern for Obama. Among them are people who are still sitting on the fence and for whom Obama’s position may be the tipping factor to the other side.

But the common wisdom is that independent voters tend to be swayed more by economic matters than social issues.

What is certain about all this is that Obama is an astute politician. He must have done the permutations and liked how the numbers turned out.

Echewe ozo May 20, 2012 at 7:37 am

If obama’s fada is a gay could he ve born obama d u.s president of today,when a man meets a woman during ovulation conception takes place nd dat is hw our mother’s bore us all,so dis unnatural method abi na shit una wan born,no bi shit fil d support stupidity or stupid gay is to make ve human extinction,b wise obama.

James May 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

A confused society indeed.

michael May 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

AGBEKE AYANTUGA May 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm



January 31, 2012

Former Black Panther patches together purpose in Africa exile

In America, Pete O’Neal was an angry man, an ex-con who found a kind of religion in 1960s black nationalism. In a Tanzania village, he’s been a champion of children.

Many of the young orphans gather round to watch, and lend their support, as Pete O’Neal has fresh ink applied to his fading black panther tattoo. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

By Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times

January 29, 2012

Reporting from Imbaseni, Tanzania — The fugitive shuffles to his computer and begins typing out his will. He is about to turn 71, and it is time. “My life,” he writes, “has been a wild and wicked ride….”

All Pete O’Neal has amassed fits on two pages: A small brick home with a sheet-metal roof. A few road-beaten vehicles. A cluster of bunkhouses and classrooms he spent decades building, brick by scavenged brick, near the slopes of Mt. Meru’s volcanic cone. Everything will go to his wife of 42 years, Charlotte, and to a few trusted workers.

He prints out the will late one Saturday morning and settles into his reclining chair to check the spelling. He signs his name. Then, to guarantee its authenticity, he finds an ink pad, rolls his thumb across it, and affixes his thumbprint to the bottom of the page.

“I think that’ll do it,” he says.

Map: Imbaseni, Tanzania

Photos: A former Black Panther in Africa exile champions kids

When last he walked America’s streets, O’Neal was a magnetic young man possessed of bottomless anger. He was an ex-con who’d found a kind of religion in late-’60s black nationalism, a vain, violent street hustler reborn in a Black Panther uniform of dark sunglasses, beret and leather jacket. With pitiless, knife-sharp diction, he spoke of sending police to their graves.

This morning, he sits in his living room uncapping medicine bottles. A pill for high blood pressure. Another for the pain in his back and his bad knee. An aspirin to thin his blood. Time is catching him, like the lions that pursue him implacably through his nightmares, their leashes held by policemen.

He pushes through his screen door into the brisk morning air. A slightly stooped, thickset man with long, graying dreadlocks, he moves unsteadily down the irregular stone steps he built into the sloping dirt. He makes his way past the enormous avocado tree, past the horse barn with its single slow-footed tenant, Bullet, past the shaded dining pavilion.

His four-acre compound bustles with visitors, many of them preparing for a memorial service for Geronimo Pratt, a former Panther who died in his farmhouse down the road, his affairs untidy, his will unfinished, his death a sharp message to O’Neal not to put off the paperwork any longer.

Most of O’Neal’s big dreams have faded over the years, or come to feel silly. Like beating the 42-year-old federal gun charges that caused him to flee the United States. Like the global socialist revolution that he was supposed to help lead. Like returning home to the streets of his Midwestern childhood. Like winning citizenship in his adopted African country, and the prize that’s eluded him on two continents: the feeling of belonging somewhere.

This is what’s left: the shell of a 20-year-old Toyota Coaster bus that bulks before him in a clearing. It’s a stripped-and-gutted 29-seater that he bought for $11,500 after years of squirreling away money. It came with dents, a cracked windshield, a peeling paint job, rotting floorboards, frayed seats.

Still, it seemed like a good deal until he found the engine had to be replaced, costing an additional $4,000. He’s hired mechanics and craftsmen to rebuild the bus nearly from the chassis up, and a few of them are milling around now, informing him in Swahili of their progress.

He rarely leaves home anymore. Crowds jangle his nerves; traffic makes his hands shake. Yet nothing feels more urgent than readying this bus for an improbable 300-mile trip to the edge of his adopted continent.

A group of American high school students, mostly white, is gathering in the dining pavilion. They’ve been coming by the busload for years, many drawn by the intrigue of staying with a former Panther. They pay him $30 a night for a bunk. The money — together with sporadic donations from sympathetic friends here and abroad — pays the bills.

Pete O’Neal in his Black Panther days. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

The students pause before the big poster featuring O’Neal as a fierce young militant, rifle in arms, Charlotte at his side. It’s hard to reconcile that image with the grandfatherly host who greets them in Swahili as if they were old friends, booming, “Karibu!” Welcome!

He asks where they’re from. A girl says Missouri, which happens to be his home state, and he hugs her theatrically. Everyone laughs. “All of you are welcome,” he says, “even if you’re from strange places.”

He plants them before documentary footage about his life. It’s easier than explaining the whole story himself. Where would he start? His childhood in segregated Kansas City, Mo., where the amusement park admitted black kids once a year, a day so cherished that they went in their Sunday best? Should he start with the stabbings and shootings in the projects where he grew up?

“I lived in the streets,” he says. “I didn’t have time to be happy.”

After one arrest, he was given a stark choice: reform school or the armed services. The Navy threw him out after he plunged a butcher knife into another sailor’s chest over an insult, nearly killing him. He drifted in and out of lockup. He pimped girls in three states. He wore $300 Italian suits and a blond wave in his processed hair.

To the FBI, the Panthers were homegrown terrorists who romanticized lawbreaking with overheated Marxist rhetoric. To O’Neal, who founded the Kansas City chapter of the party in early 1969, it represented a lifeline out of an abyss of drugs and aimlessness. He blazed with purpose: End racism and class inequality, fast.

“I would like very much to shoot my way into the House of Representatives,” he declared in a televised interview, angry at a congressman who was investigating the Panthers. Pressed to clarify, he added: “I mean it literally.”

He stormed into a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, screaming accusations that the Kansas City police chief was funneling weapons to white supremacist groups.

Shortly afterward, a federal judge sentenced him to a four-year prison term on a conviction of transporting a shotgun across state lines. Out on bail, he decided to run. He and Charlotte fled in 1970 to Sweden, then to Algeria, and finally, in late 1972, to Tanzania, whose socialist government welcomed left-wing militants.

The O’Neals had $700. After a few years they bought a patch of inhospitable brush and volcanic rock in Imbaseni, a cobra-infested village of thatched-roof shacks in the country’s remote northern interior. They were up before dawn, dancing with Al Jarreau on the tape deck, gathering locals for the day’s work. Their two young African-born children, Malcolm and Stormy, carried bricks and water buckets.

Soon they had four walls, a roof, and little else. Plastic hung over the windows. No toilets

Soon they had four walls, a roof, and little else. Plastic hung over the windows. No toilets. It was the back-to-Africa experience so many black Americans talked about, minus the option of escape. They learned to grow corn and raise chickens. He jarred pickle relish, smoked sausages and bottled barbecue sauce for sale to local shops.

His temper was thunderous. When he heard something in Swahili that sounded offensive — such as wa-negro, a neutral description of black Americans implying no malice — he would scream, ready to fight.

“We were cowboys then,” says Ikaweba Bunting, 63, a Compton-raised college professor who arrived in Tanzania in the 1970s and stayed for years. “We were big and hard-walking and hard-talking, and ready to beat people up — the whole street culture.”

Exile was supposed to be temporary. O’Neal corresponded with other Panthers and planned to return home to help lead the revolution. He watched from abroad as the party collapsed from infighting, arrests and an FBI campaign of surveillance and sabotage. People stopped talking about revolution. Radicals found new lives.

O’Neal’s exile became permanent. His fury abated. Some of it was age. Some of it was Tanzania, where strangers always materialized to push your Land Rover out of the mud, and where conflicts were resolved in community meetings in which everyone got to speak, interminably.

“It is so laid back, so reasonable, that to be otherwise makes you look, even to yourself, like a damn fool,” O’Neal says.

Around that first crude brick structure, the fugitive improvised a little island of hope. He built a small recording studio for musicians and a workshop for artists. He gathered castoff computers and invited locals to come learn. He sank a well and opened the spigot to the village. It was, as he saw it, in the spirit of the free breakfast program he’d run as a Panther.

“He’s had a chance to grow in a way that very few people get here,” says his brother Brian O’Neal, 58, who lives in Kansas City.

Had he stayed in the States, Pete O’Neal believes, he’d be long dead from a shootout or street fight.

If exile saved him, it has also meant a life in which the sense of being a stranger never goes away.

“There’s always a feeling of not being completely part of this culture. I know I am of a different tribe,” he says. “People like me here, they love me, but I’m always other than.”

Back in his house, he relaxes with a few shots of Jim Beam. He keeps a shotgun for snakes and a wall full of books. In mock-stentorian tones, he ridicules his early blood-soaked rhetoric. He puts a hand over his face, like an actor reminded of an embarrassing role, and says, “That was a man who was trying to find himself. He was trying to shed his skin, and emerge brand-new. I think he overstated and overacted.”

For his radicalism itself, however, he won’t apologize, even if — as he suspects — it is the one thing that might gain him safe entry back into the States.

“They will never convince me in my life,” he says, “that what I was doing wasn’t right.”

All the orphans get a razored haircut — both boys and girls — and wash off the loose stubble under cold water at the tap. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

A few years back, an ambition seized him. The village had scores of destitute children, orphans from dirt-floor shacks and subsistence farms. He collected donations and built a concrete-block bunkhouse down near his tomato and pepper garden.

He spread word that he had room for a few kids. More than 100 appeared at his door, many shoeless. He had to send the majority away. The most desperate, a couple dozen, he informally adopted.

Now, they roam his grounds in lively packs, playing four square on the basketball court. They sleep in rows under malaria nets. Volunteers and a few staff members watch over the children and give them English and computer classes.

They call him Babu. Grandfather.

How big is the ocean?

So big you can’t see across it.


So big you can go for weeks and never see land.

He shows them a globe.

See how much more ocean there is than land?

So is it bigger than Tanzania?

American high school students gather around Pete O’Neal in his compound’s dining pavilion. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

The American high school students have questions, so he takes a seat before them. It’s late, and he’s weary, but this is his living. They want to know what country he belongs to, exactly.

He has no passport, he explains, and the Tanzanian government has rebuffed his efforts to become a citizen. “I’m not sure where the hell I belong at this particular point,” he tells the students.

For years, he sought a way home. He found American lawyers willing to work for free to fight the gun charges. He would like to see his 91-year-old mother in Kansas City one last time.

His longing for the States comes at funny moments, as when he sees shrimp sailing through the air in Red Lobster commercials. He still dreams about the Kansas City he knew as a child, the bakeries and the public swimming pool and the ladies with their hats. But the city seems wrong, somehow, becoming weirdly unrecognizable.

In other dreams, he finds himself fleeing from things he can’t see or name, urging his wife, “Charlotte, you gotta run!”

He regards his complex of bunkhouses, workshops and classrooms as “socialism in microcosm,” he tells the students, though doctrinaire Marxism left him disillusioned. People, he concluded, are basically selfish.

Have his views on violence changed?

“I don’t have the particular type of courage that would allow me to turn the other cheek.”

One fresh-faced girl says she’s been in Tanzania a week, and thinks it might be neat to move here. Does he recommend it?

Patiently, he replies: “It ain’t that kind of party.”

Of late, he tells the students, he’s been haunted by the deaths of other exiled Panthers. One died in France last February, another in Zambia in October.

Then there was his close friend Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, the Panthers’ former field marshal, who spent 27 years behind bars on a murder conviction before a California judge overturned it.

In 2002, Pratt bought a big farmhouse nearby with his false-imprisonment settlement, and O’Neal felt as though he’d rediscovered a lost brother. They drove through the village listening to Richard Pryor CDs, laughing until they wheezed and tears rolled down their cheeks.

Pratt was hospitalized with high blood pressure in May. He hated any confinement. He pulled out his IVs and went home. Days later, O’Neal found him on his side, dead in bed, just 63. His memorial would be tomorrow.

“People are dropping, man,” he tells the students. He doesn’t say that his thoughts were circling his own mortality so relentlessly that he couldn’t sleep last night, and climbed out of bed to tally up what he would leave behind.

Pete O’Neal’s four-acre compound bustles with visitors, some of them preparing dance routines for the memorial service for Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, the onetime Black Panther who died in his farmhouse down the road. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Hundreds gather for Pratt’s memorial service. O’Neal sits on the stage under the avocado tree and tells a few stories about their friendship: How Pratt always told him his toes were ugly. How they joked endlessly about who was the bigger hayseed.

Amid the prayers and the singing and the tributes, he manages to steal away for a few moments to inspect the bus. The seats are lined up in the dirt, ready to be scrubbed and resewn. The windows are taped up so the painting can begin. Panther colors: black and light blue.

He remembers discovering the ocean.

He was in his late teens, a heartland kid who believed his fearful precinct of Kansas City was the absolute center of the world, its ugliness and bigotry a true picture of the world. It is why, to his mind, violent revolution looked logical and inevitable.

Then he arrived in California to report for duty in the Navy, and turned his head and saw the Pacific. His breath was caught short by the immensity of it, all that blue stretching out into other lands, other stories. It was the start of a decades-long lesson that the world is bigger, more complicated and interesting than his little plot of bitter experience had led him to suspect.

His orphans have never left this inland region of cornfields and malarial swamps. They’ve never tasted salt water, or felt hot beach sand between their toes.

“They have no idea — no idea — what the ocean is,” he says.

Nights and weekends, they pile into his living room and watch documentaries about sea life. He tells them about whales, giant squid, blind fish in the lightless deep. He regales them with shark stories.

Will they eat me?

If they’re hungry enough, they’ll try.

Because they don’t like me?

No, it’s the natural order of things.

Now and then he indulges in what he calls “Kansas City exaggeration,” and even the majestic sea gets some burnishing. The sharks in his stories grow bigger than houses.

The kids study the TV. The sharks don’t look that big.

OK. But they do have sharks bigger t

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