Is Google Mail Down Today, May 14, 2009?

Photo for possible web
What Will We Do If We Wake Up One Morning, and Cannot Access Our E-mail?

I have been trying unsuccessfully to log into this morning, and to my surprise, the mail server is down. I usually start out on the web, checking my official office e-mail to access all important information from my students, my department office, etc. Then I go on to check other mail servers that may have messages from my websites, blog, my personal friends and others who send me e-mails from around the world. Today, my usual routine was twarted by problems with google at first, and particularly gmail. After several attempts, I logged in to google, but that was it. Google would not load for me or allow me to access other sites through the server. I forgot that I had already checked my university webserver for my mail, and walked down my basement into the basement office to double check the Internet connections, the phone lines, etc. Then I tried restarting my laptop, rebooting everything, but google mail refused to load. I did not panic because I thought I could find the problem from logging in to Yahoo. But all I saw were inquiries from days or a month ago about gmail being down. I then logged into my blog and on to my official website without any problems. I was able to scout the web with ease, but when I tried Google again, it failed. So my last resolve is to blog it and find out whether other users are having the same problems. In the meantime, my e-mail server with google is down. I am not going to panic since there are a million other things on my itinerary as always. But here is my question to everyone: What happens if google finally fails us? What will happen if we awake and cannot access our e-mails or have access to all that google brings us?
As I conclude writing this short blog, a few minutes after I began, the gmail account I have been trying to log into still is down. Gmail does not seem to have any answers or notices on the site. I am certain that the problem is not with my computer; therefore, will someone answer this question?

We are a networked up world now, and have been hooked to trust that our mail server will load each time we attempt to log on, that the important e-mail we are looking forward to from a colleague across the country or world will arrive intact, that all will be okay.

What will happen if one day I discover that I cannot log into my bank account to pay my bills or to respond to an important issue from work? How do I connect to colleagues who need a quick response from across the world when that word means life or death for them? We probably need to stop and think about such questions.

This issue of gmail with me has made me begin thinking about how we have networked ourselves into this technological mindset that controls money and all our well being around the world. Some time ago I was at my doctor’s office, and discovered that everything on the computer about my health problems, allergies, and last visits had been stuck there, and locked in since my last visit. So, the specialist I was seeing in the same practice could not add new material or remove the medications I was no longer taking. Someone had forgot to log out of my accounts records, and made it impossible for new information to load. I left the office that day without the updates they needed to make since the specialist could not log the previous doctor out of my account, (which of course I was not looking at) and until that doctor’s nurse or he could log out, all other new information had to wait. What I wondered about was: why did doctors have to being going around with laptops, putting everything about our lives on to the web, and and what would happen if their system should crash? Is anyone filling things by paper anymore? What would have happened had I checked into an emergency room within that time, and the doctors tried to find my records of allergies, medications, etc., and discovered that my records had stuff I was no longer taking and lacked medications I was now on? What’s going on with us in our new world of technology?

Of course, all the colleges are trying to save paper and ink, envelopes, stamps, and feet that move this sort of material around. But here is the big question: What will happen if all this stupid technology fails us?

What will we do if our car computer can no longer work? Several years ago, my then Chevy Astro Van lost its battery because I left the lights on. When the car dealer sent the tow truck, the tow truck driver simply decided to jump the battery on a new car then, a 1996 Astro Van that could not tolerate that sort of ugly jump. What I learned later was that when the battery is completely dead, one needs to get the battery out of the car and charge it separately. So what happened after my “very smart” tow jumping broad shoulder guy took his long powerful rope to jump my car?

The battery was not charged, but the entire computing system of the car broke down. The lights, auto functions, everything, including the radio and navigating devices were broken. This is because this was the car for the new woman or the new Mom. It had to say what the temperature outside was, what direction the stupid driver was moving into, north, south, east or west, and all the windows needed computers to make them go up and down, and all that a luxury woman needed or the dealer thought I and all the other women out there need.

Wow. So, for a few days, until the computer system, which cost a ton to repair was fixed, I discovered that my damaged car radio was accessing all the police information from around Kalamazoo, Michigan, my town at the time. I just had to tune my radio on, and there it was, the police were talking to each other because something in my car’s brain was picking ups strange signals from everywhere. There was no radio, but the car was still equipped with the power to read the world because of the new technology. The computer cost hundreds for the car dealer warranty company, but what I thought was, why put all this crap into a car when all a car needs is to have wheels and an engine to get from A to B?

After this long blog writing and editing, my gmail is still down. I am on the web, don’t get me wrong, but the great Google that we all know, is not waking up today for me. Can someone call Google for me? Will they come over here and log me into my mail server? Have a nice day. It is sunny out here, so I may even do my morning walk before my mail pops up.

A Day To Remember: Obama, the First African American to Become President of America: God Bless America!


OBAMA WINS: This is a moment to behold, a moment for tears, a moment for reflection. Black people and America have come a long way. I am proud to be in America today. I am proud to be a black woman in America. I am proud of all the tens of thousands who fought in the civil rights movement for this day. I am proud of all of the hundreds of thousands of blacks, whites, Hispanics, immigrants, old and young who worked endlessly for months to bring Obama this far. I am proud of Barack and Michelle Obama.


Barack Obama’s win is a win for America and the entire world. I have been weeping, shouting, and answering calls from friends and family as we awaited this moment. This is a day to behold as tens of thousands wait to hear Obama speak tonight in Chicago. God bless America!

My Sad-Sweet Visit to My Homeland and My Fearful Thoughts About Our Lost Children


As we awaited the arrival of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Liberian government Diaspora Engagement Forum on the reconstruction of Liberia, my brother, Wyne Jabbeh who was my cameraman took this photo below. Even though I never saw the crowd captured below, this huge group of children from the neighborhood, assembled for the President. They had come out of their lowly homes to adore their leader, Ms. Sirleaf. Here they are, hoping that she will give back what the war took away or what 150 years of failed LIberian leadership did not give their fathers until the war. But will they ever see a day of the reconstruction we had gathered to talk about?

There are great things happening in Liberia, but hey, there are sad things, problems beyond any imagination, but there is cause to hope, and during my stay, I kept pinching myself to remember to hope.

What has the war brought us? What has the long list of leaders during and after Charles Taylor brought Liberia? What has Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government brought us? What has the long list of leaders, moved around and replaced these last three years brought the poor Liberian people? What is there for the children who roam the streets each day with no schools, no medical care, no future, no homes, no hope of the future?

I went to visit my Auntie Mildred, my father’s sister,  Tugbade,  who has always been poor, struggling woman because when she was young, girl education was not important. So my father was given an education while my Aunties were married off early. She is one of those whose status remained the same with the war. While my husband and I were visiting her in the swamp area of Shanty town Clara Town where she has always lived, my always happy Auntie said what I never thought she knew. She said to me, “Marie, my daughter, here I am, your Auntie who is the poorest among the Jabbeh family on earth.” In her home, partially in the midst of the everlasting flooding of Clara Town, a bunch of half naked children came from the corner of her large home, and wanted me to take their photos. I knew that I would be haunted by these images, images of the new after war Liberia, of crowds of children whose eyes haunt you long after you’ve met them. The new reality of the Liberia not seen from the high SUVs of the UN workers. The Liberia that may not wait for the future, the one my heart refuses to forget as much as I try to forget hem. Here are these children.

Meet the other Liberia we do not see any more:

The Ghanain author and novelist, Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel, The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born is a brutal novel filled with anger about the political corruption, not just of his homeland, but about Africa as a whole. It is one of those novels filled with the poetic, metaphoric images and symbols of garbage, decay, slime, an angry novel about the disillusionment of the African with his own African leadership  after colonialism. As I walked the streets of Monrovia and watched the helplessness of our people, the extremity of the new poverty, the after war poeverty in which even the once rich are so poor, they cannot feed their children, I could not help but feel like I was living in the novel that this great African writer wrote. You will cry from just watching the helplessness in the eyes of our people, watching the speeding UN vechicles with the rich UN workers, the newly rich Liberians, very few, but here they are, driving up and down admist the sad reality of millions who now have nothing. I am still recovering from this reality. But is this only the war’s doing? Should I be talking about this?

Who would I be not to notice this sort of contradiction? Of course, it is difficult to rebuild a country after war. Of course, many of the Liberian people out there who cannot feed themselves could help themselves by getting back into the countryside and doing something for themselves. Of course, Liberian women and men could get some discipline and stop running around having unwanted babies, settle down to some family life. Of course, we need to stop complaining and do something about our people at home.

This is Waterside Market place, always the crazy, crowded busy place it has always been. Now, it is worse than before.

But I still wondered about the need to rebuild schools as a priority. I was speaking to a UN worker from the Demoncratic Republic of Congo, a worker who told me that he had been in LIberia for about two years working in the only 200 bed pediatric hospital in the entire country. He was more disillusioned than myself. He was saddened that he had lived in a country with so much and yet so little, where the overwhelming problems of the country could not be tackled by what he had seen, and was fearful of the lack of direction. I felt a bit sad that he was saying this when as far as I could see, it was the non-governmental groups, the UN workers, and foreign nationals that are enjoying our country in the midst of the poverty that so disgusted him. How could he dare talk about my country like that when it was they who had increased the price of hotels, of food, of gasoline, of everything with their foreign money, big salaries, and nice living?

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am right. This piece of posting is just one of the dozens of posts I hope to write before I finally rid myself of the anger and the hurt from seeing what has happened to Liberia. I believe that the problem is not just the war. The extreme poverty, the lack of good medical facilities, the lack of any schools, the hopelessness among young people, the death, death, death of young men and women, the high arm robbery, and all of the filth that so reminds me of the famous African novelist from Ghana’s portrayal of corruption is due also to the leadership, the lack of vision among many of the countries officials, the fear of those of us in the Diaspora, those who may take away their jobs is what’s slowing the progress, if there were to be any.

I am saddened and angry, but I am not disillusioned. Maybe because I still believe that something good will happen for Liberia. There has been too much blood shed, too much of everything is at stake. There must be some mercy from God from this country that lost its way and is still trying to find itself. There will come a day when the beautiful ones will be born.

Here in this photo, are students being taught simple skills in sewing and cooking. My sister-in-law, Annie Wesley Sie, a home economist is a teacher here. I was at the school to find women for my research interviews, but I had barely been introduced when the principal of the school requested I do a quick session of motivational speech to encourage the girls. Many young women with no hope of the future have resulted to having babies, chasing stupid men, and just wasting their lives. These girls have decided to get some kind of training. Maybe they will become something tomorrow. Maybe they will.

Managing your health and assuring yourself a long life- When is it a good time to fire your doctor and get one that really works for the money you pay and treats you like an equal???

As we grow older, we will no doubt develop newer health problems we never expected to have. Those of us living in the Diaspora from African descent will have diseases that others from European descent or from Asian descent do not have. And yet, we will be free of diseases those from other backgrounds or races have. For example, African women and men or blacks will develop more problems with High Blood Pressure, obesity, Diabetes, and stroke at a higher degree than people from other backgrounds. We will also have less cholesterol problems, less problems with bone loss, etc. than those from Western European backgrounds because we have larger bone mass and if we stick to our diet of of less sugar and less processed food, we can do even better. But if we eat all of the oils and the sugar choices added to the salty diets we already have, than we will add our inherent problems caused by our culture to that of the Euro-centric proplems to push us further toward the grave yard.

All of this silly explanation is to say that we NEED to manage our health since no two individuals are the same and no two races or cultures experience health issues in the same ways. What works for us does not work for others, and our diet practices at home in Africa are not exactly the same as we try to improvise out here in the US.

Additionally, the child who grows up in an African home, eating African meals alongside hamburgers and French fries, drinking highly carbonated, sugar coke products, eating lots of candies and other types of sweets, one who does not exercise through walking as children in other countries do, will have different childhood diseases, and later, adult health issues than children in Africa. Worst is that the children we bring up here in the US do not do the same tasking household chores children and their parents must do in Africa. Our children will therefore for this lack of exercise develop even bigger bones, but they will also be heavier, more obese, and will develop many health problems children in Africa will never have.

What’s worse are the adults who come to the US and develop all of the eating habits very fast because of stressful work schedules, a lack of opportunities to exercise or the refusal to change lifestyle practices. Now having stated all of these negatives, let us examine how one can be the manager of their own health, keep a clear eye on what the doctors are giving one to swallow, how doctors treat us, and how to stay alive longer than our parents.


I’m no medical specialist or doctor, but from my common sense experience and my own life, I’d like to offer a few words to women out there. If this is a good word for men, thanks to God. I am no specialist on what illnesses men have, so you can bear with me.

FIRING YOUR SWEET, SOFT SPOKEN, NICE LOOKING FEMALE DOCTOR…. or FIRING THAT OVERBEARING, VERY CONFIDENT MALE DOCTOR WHO DOESN’T EVEN GET IT WHEN YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU’RE FEELING- Can you do that? Can you be brave to say to your doctor, who probably, has been your family doctor for longest “You’re fire!”?

YES- you can! Yes we can, as Obama’s campaign would say- YES, WE CAN!

Let’s examine some of the problems with us women who care more about our doctor’s feelings than about own health.

Let”s say you are a very professional, hard-working woman who takes care of your health, you have a very good insurance, and because you care about your health, you have been at your doctor’s office every time you felt something wrong with you. You go to see your doctor, whoever she or he is, male or female, but on every visit, you tell her that you think she out to check your sugar, to check for whether or not you have high cholesterol because you feel a certain way that is not like yourself.

But time after time, your doctor does not check for these problems. She tries to console you or he tells you that it’s all in your head, that you’re overstressed, and therefore, he or she does not do anything to check your sugar, to check for problems with your pressure or to inform you of results from a Mammogram you had or you feel something strange, and need to be examined for certain serious conditions, but she refuses by quietly dismissing you or promising to order the exam later. Or maybe you need a certain medication to treat an ongoing problem, but she says, oh, you don’t need it. It can wait.

Now, you may think these are really extreme examples. But you’re not being true to yourself because one time or the other, this has happened to all of us. We are often so busy, so caught up trying to keep our families in focus, we neglect ourselves. We never stop to think- hey, didn’t I tell that doctor how I am feeling, and why didn’t she take me seriously?

When weeks after you discover something wrong with you, your doctor finally feels the bright light from Heaven and orders the test for what you already knew, BAM, she calls to tell you that you have this or that disease. She tells you have something you knew all along you had, and the problem has got so bad, your life is threatened by this disease that the doctor was too busy trying to avoid treating even though you have good insurance. What do you then do, especially, when you discover that the doctor is not even qualified to treat what the laboratory work has discovered, and she, your nice doctor who only wants to appease and not treat you, does not want to refer you even though she should and she can.

What do you do?

Or let’s take this argument on another leg. You have a certain illness that is being treated by some medication that is actually killing you. You go in and tell your doctor to take this medication away. You tell your sweet female doctor or your big male doctor that the medication makes you sleep all day, that it makes you suffer from that stupid illness they call Vertigo, or that the medication depresses you or that the medication is just not doing what it was meant to do. Your doctor looks at you and says with her/his eyes “here we go again- this woman!” You cannot get it.

You are used to those old time doctors who saw an illness and wanted to destroy it, who wanted to go to battle with illnesses for the sake of God. Today, your doctor is a younger, more popular-culture kind of person who actually may be underhandedly working for someone else. If she/he sends you to the lab to do that very complicated procedure, the insurance company may not like her anymore. So, she puts off finding a diagnoses by not ordering the test. Remember, now you live in a country where most good medication has to be prescribed for you to get your hand on it and one does not ever order their own lab test.

Maybe your doctor does not help you out because the insurance will be mad that she has given you a very expensive medication that actually does the job it was meant to do, so she holds back. Or maybe she will look bad among her peers, so she gives you some weak tablets that make you come and go when what will really help you will cost you just two dollars after insurance. All of this is difficult to prove, but that is just what seems to happen, doesn’t it?

What do you do with such a doctor?

Now let me tell you why these questions are significant to us African women or women from African descent or simply immigrant women who come from a culture that respects and treats our doctor as if they were some God. We do not quit a doctor or question them or try to find out why they cannot agree with us. We simply go, and if they are so bad, we will keep going until they finally kill us.

My mother died because her nurse practitioner who noticed that she was very ill one day decided to help her by injecting her with some medication that caused her to have a cardiac arrest. He did not mean any harm to her. He simply did something stupid, and Mama was no more. In this country where we don’t have to have someone come to our home to play doctor on us because we have great doctors despite the problems, why should we settle for less?

My case was made for the woman with the best health insurance or the very good one. But just because one does not have health insurance or the money to pay does not give a doctor the right to neglect treating them or giving them the right medication or from listening to their complaint. There are many ways of solving the financial problems with the lack of health insurance, therefore one should not allow a doctor to give them poor services because of this lack.

When a doctor performs in the manner I have described above, such a doctor should be fired. I mean if you went to work and did not perform your job properly and caused clients to leave your business or if as as an professor of English, you could not effectively teach English so that students are drawn to your classes and to the institution, do you think your employer would keep you just because you are sweet or beautiful?

A doctor that causes a patient’s health problems to remain undiagnosed for long even after the patient asked them to check for the problem, should be fired immediately. Firing your doctor does not mean that you will take their job away. Firing your doctor does not mean that you dislike them as a friend or a person. It simply means that the relationship as doctor and patient is no longer working well. You simply stop seeing them and find yourself a good doctor, one who knows what you’re paying them to do. Do not settle for any less.

In case you settle for less, in case you allow your doctor to play with your health, in case you make excuses for your doctor, you should know that you are only playing with your life.

The idea for this blog came to me not only from my own personal experiences. I was watching CNN when the topic came up about the high statistics of women who die or put their lives in danger because they refuse to fire or get rid of their bad doctors. Men refuse to go to the doctors, but women who go, never fire a bad doctor and can die from the lack of good services.

As immigrant women, we find ourselves in an entirely different country now. The doctor is a good friend, but that friendship is base on the trust that the doctor will be the good care taker of the health needs we pay them to meet and we will in turn take care of our health the way the doctor advises.

I was in to see my doctor, who is a very fine specialist in his area, and when he saw the new results of an ongoing health condition he has been treating me for, he was elated. He is a very no-nonsense kind of doctor, one who seems to be from the old school of thought where doctors took seriously the needs of their patients. I have friends who do not like him because they say that he has “bad bedside manners.” They mean that he doesn’t waste other patients’ time chatting about useless things when they go to see him. He gets to the matter of one’s illness, finds a problem, and chases it down. He does not give useless medications. In fact, the first time I was referred to him three years ago, he took some useless tablets my family practitioner at the time had given me, and asked me if he could throw them away. Of course, I said yes. He told me upfront that the medication would harm me in five years, would do this and that, that I did not need such when my body could produce better than the medication was doing. I tell you, he was right. I have never needed that medication again in three years.

This time, now, he was excited that within two weeks, I was making progress. Now, that’s what I call “good bedside manners!” When a doctor can see a difference in his/her patient and get excited about that, that is a good doctor. When a doctor sees a problem and pretends it’s not there simply because he/she does not want the extra work of following up, that is what I call “bad doctor,” who should be fired.

It is your first responsibility as a woman, as a mother, as a professional woman, as a human being to take good care of yourself and your health. I always compare taking care of my own health to what the airline stewardess tells us about emergency safety precautions when the plane is taking off. “If you are traveling with a child, you must assist yourself before you can assist the child.” To me, that means that if I am not alive because I did not take care of myself, I will not be around to take care of my children.

As I conclude this discussion, let me give you the right to free yourself of a bad doctor if you need to. Fire your doctor who is not good for you. If you are taking medication that is killing you, get rid of it with your doctor’s consent, but if your doctor does not understand your need to quit the medication, you need to ask yourself why.

I recall the last time I had to quit a medication when I was with another doctor. My doctor did not think so, but the medication was causing me to lose my sight gradually. I called a girlfriend who told me to dump the medication because she had had a similar problem with the identical medication. My doctor would not allow me quit the tablets she believed were good for me, but on my friend’s advice, I threw the medication into my trash can. Within a couple days of quitting the medication, my vision began to return, and within a week, as my friend said, my vision was normalized. When my doctor learned that I no longer had vision problems because I had dumped her tablets, she simply smiled. Now what was that?

The medications we take as well as the health services we get are important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Please take care of yourself. You are the only person you’ve got that is you.

National Poetry Month- Featuring Poets in My Life- Fellow Poetry Friends, Mentors, and Global Poets I Admire: Join Me In Celebrating The Power of Poetry


Wole Soyinka– 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature Winner:


Soyinka is the author of such powerful poems like “Telephone Conversation,” “New York,” and many others. Even though many of us who love poetry adore Soyinka as a poet, he is best known for his great plays that capture the realities of African oral culture and tradition. His power over language is amazing. Many of us learned how to write poetry by reading and teaching Soyinka’s many plays and poetry, feasting on his ability to use vivid images to explore tradition, myth, community by his use of language as a tool in writing African literature. Even though Soyinka is a Nigerian writer first, his work is true to all of Africa, and his power of the word is appreciated by anyone who loves literature.

Civilian and Soldier

by Wole Soyinka

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, ‘I am a civilian.’ It only served
To aggravate your fright. For how could I
Have risen, a being of this world, in that hour
Of impartial death! And I thought also: nor is
Your quarrel of this world.

You stood still
For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson
Of your traing sessions, cautioning –
Scorch earth behind you, do not leave
A dubious neutral to the rear. Reiteration
Of my civilian quandary, burrowing earth
From the lead festival of your more eager friends
Worked the worse on your confusion, and when
You brought the gun to bear on me, and death
Twitched me gently in the eye, your plight
And all of you came clear to me.

I hope some day
Intent upon my trade of living, to be checked
In stride by your apparition in a trench,
Signalling, I am a soldier. No hesitation then
But I shall shoot you clean and fair
With meat and bread, a gourd of wine
A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that
Lone question – do you friend, even now, know
What it is all about?

Did you know that you do not have to be a US citizen to support, volunteer for, and campaign for the candidate of your choice? Get involved if you Are a Permanent Resident of this great country


If you are like me, you have seen too many US elections to be bothered. But this is a new time in history. Everyone seems to be on pins and needles to see what it all ends well tomorrow. Obama and Hillary Clinton are competing over the Democratic vote, and today, a neighbor and friend of mine expressed my own fear. If something goes wrong, who will console all of these excited people who are hoping for an Obama win and what will happen if Hillary does not win?



Here is a poem written by the great American writer, Stephen Crane in 1899. It’s sarcasm is essential even in our time as everyone waits for the political war to end so peace will again prevail.

War Is Kind
Stephen Crane (1899)
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Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom–
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbles in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind!

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement: Immigrants of African Descent Should Remember the Shoulders We Stand On


Dr. Martin Dr. Martin Luther Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, the fighters, both white and black gave a lot to all of us, people of color, Immigrants of African descent, Black Americans as well as to all of white America. It is what we have done and will do with such a freedom that helps us remember.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the leaders who fought for our Civil Rights in the United States are inarguably the fathers and mothers of the freedoms we African immigrants and immigrants of color enjoy today. It is easy to forget because many of us were not here to see how far we’ve come as a people.

One of my most favorable people I know is a woman I called, Grandma Laurine Brown who lived in Kalamazoo MI, when my family and I lived there. We adopted Grandma, the grandmother of my girlfriend, Narda during our seven years in K-zoo. Grandma, who celebrated her 90th birthday before my family and I moved to Pennsylvania never forgot to remind us younger people of how far we had come as a people, whether black African immigrants or black Americans. Today, Grandma is still strong at almost 98 years old.

Whenever we would get together for a celebration or just a visit, for dinner, family time, or just so Narda’s children and ours would play, we’d be sitting there talking and eating at some snacks, sometimes in Narda’s home or at mine, and there we were, complaining often about the injustices and discriminations we had seen that week or that month or that year. One of the things we African immigrants discover very fast is that instead of black people complaining about colonialism and corrupt government officials and dictators in our countries, here in America the issue is more about how subtle and institutionalized discrimination is, and how widespread it can be, even so that one has to strain their eyes and ears to find out they’re being set aside for someone else lighter skinned than them. Of course, Africans take a longer time to discover all of this, and when they do, they are often shocked and angry.

Since we were not a bunch of intellectuals trying to dissect civil society’s evils during those get together times, our complaining was not a regular thing, but when we did, we did. But there we’d be in our cold K-zoo wintry town, and we’d be laughing at our problems or angry about our problems of that week, and Grandma, with her beautiful silver hairs thinning out and her often upbeat spirit, would say, “We’ve come a long way, my children, we’ve come a long way,” stopping us in our conversation.

“If you’d seen what I have lived through, you will know that you have nothing to worry about. I am just glad to go to God, knowing how far black people have come to be here,” she’d wiggle her strong body around the room and leave our complaining selves standing there. The hopes she had carried for decades of her very long life and the joy and spark in her eyes were my hopes of things to come.

This brings me to my point of African immigrants, immigrants of African descent or people of color.

Mostly, my points here are for African immigrants who have come to these United States since the early 1970s, first, as students who came and returned home on the most part, then in the 1980s, coming mostly now as immigrants or staying after their education. In the 1990s, wars in West Africa propelled hundreds of thousands of us to immigrate, some for a brief time, but most, forever to a land that had become more free because of the Civil Rights Movement.

Because of the freedom that others fought for, the US government made it possible for thousands of immigrants from all over Africa to come and find a home in this country. As we celebrate Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement and legacy, the question is how do we as immigrants see ourselves? Do we stand aside and watch as if this is not our history and they did not fight for us or do we celebrate and help to make the world better as is expected?

Whether or not we feel like celebrating or studying the history of how it is that we can equally fight for jobs alongside everyone, both whites and blacks, we have much to be thankful for. I know for a fact that from the understanding of human movement, had the Civil Rights fight not taken place, had King not given up his life for the movement, had he fled from the call that God placed upon him, had he not accepted this great call to die for his people, had he said, “hey God, find someone else to do this dirty job,” many of us would never have come here. One example I have is that if you look at Africa itself, the Republic of South Africa under Apartheid at that same time did not see other African immigrants flock out there to try and become South Africans.

When Africans and black people could not eat in the same restaurants as white people, when black people’s children could not play on the same block as white people’s children and when they could not go to the same schools or ride the same buses, I tell you, my people, we did not get on planes in droves trying to come to the United States, and those that came were not free to love this country because of what they saw.

But lest we forget that others fought for what we of all races and creeds enjoy today, we need to stop and teach our children something. We need to know that the fact that Obama, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman is not only running, but is doing what black candidates could not do in having supporters of all races no matter what, tells us that yes, as my beautiful adopted, Grandma Laurine said over and over, “Yes, we’ve come a long way!”

But this means that those of us immigrants standing on the fence need to get off the fence and live the American dream that others have fought to get us to share in. I do not believe that that dream is only for color or black people whose heritage is in the history of Slavery. Many people often think it means that. No, Dr. King and all of those, both whites and blacks who fought for our freedom would not have suffered for that kind of half freedom. They fought for racial equality- finish, as they say in Liberia.

So you cannot say “they did not fight for me.” I believe that that dream and its fulfillment then and still to come is for all: Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, every body. That’s the reason why America is such a great country. There certainly is no place on earth where everyone of every race and creed, religious belief and sexual orientation can have the rights to be protected under the law. This is why we call this place, America, where you now live.

Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination: A Very Sad Day For All Peace Loving People in the World


Anytime someone kills a world leader such as Benazi Bhutto, a woman fighter, a mother and a wife, it is a sad day for all women around the world. It certainly is also a sad day for all peace loving human beings, no matter their political or religious orientation. Let us all take off our beautiful garments and mourn the death of a great world heroin. Let’s all stand and sigh at how cruel the world is, and yet, how in all of the ashes of heroes, more powerful leaders spring forth much stronger than before.


A Garden Beyond Paradise

Everything you see has its roots
in the unseen world.
The forms may change,
yet the essence remains the same.

Every wondrous sight will vanish,
every sweet word will fade.
But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal—
growing, branching out,
giving new life and new joy.

Why do you weep?—
That Source is within you,
and this whole world
is springing up from it.

The Source is full,
its waters are ever-flowing;
Do not grieve,
drink your fill!
Don’t think it will ever run dry—
This is the endless Ocean!

From the moment you came into this world,
a ladder was placed in front of you
that you might transcend it.

From earth, you became plant,
from plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust—
how perfect it has become!

Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form,
no doubt you will become an angel
and soar through the heavens!

But don’t stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge into the ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
become a hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
becomes the Ocean—
the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan is a very sad day in the world. This brutal bloodshed comes at a time in history when women are venturing out to take on more roles as world leaders. She was not only a powerful political person in the world and could have been the next President of Pakistan had she lived, but she was also a mother and a wife.

I came to Chicago to attend a conference and arrived in my room here downtown Chicago after a long flight from Pittsburgh. As usual, I turned on the TV to find check up on the news in this Midwestern town before getting out on business, and to my surprise, there is the grim news of the death of another world leader, a woman, and a mother of tremendous courage. As a woman myself, a mother, a wife, a peace loving individual, I take this time to salute a heroin who died for what she believed. She may not have been the most perfect person on earth, but her death is a loss to the world and to the Middle East.

May her soul rest in peace.

Poem taken from Jelaluddin Rumi, “A Garden Beyond Paradise”,
A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi
(translated by Jonathan Star), Bantam Books, NY, 1992, pp. 148-149

“Sweet Mother”- Originally Sung by Prince Nico Mbarga of Nigeria, the Hit from the 1970s Brings Back Great Memories of Our Mothers This Holiday Season- Merry Christmas to all Y’All Out There- May All of Our Departed Mothers Be Remembered this Christmas and New Year



Anyone growing up in Africa, particularly, West Africa in the 1970s will stop to reminisce their childhood or adolescent years upon hearing Prince Nico, as he was known, blarring on the radio. If you did not know what your mothers did to give you not just life, but a living in the hot sun of Africa, you would every now and then hear your mother singing the song to you when you came home from school. I recall even my best friend, Cynthia’s mom singing the song one day when we gathered to celebrate her birthday at her home. That memory of a mother so dedicated as I knew Cynthia’s mom, singing Prince Nico’s “Sweet Mother” to us prior to the singing of “Happy Birthday” to her daughter while we were still in high school at CWA comes back to me every time I recall my own mother, another woman who knew the very lyrics of the song when it pleased her. Prince Nico touched the hearts of mothers during that year. Now, being sung by another artist on video, I couldn’t help sharing it from Youtube when I discovered the song on my friend, Lola’s webblog. Of course, I have a copy, but I wouldn’t post it myself from the DVD, but it’s good to know that the legacy of the powerful Nigerian and African star, Prince Nico continues to influence the world, and more especially, the legacy of the African woman, the African mother, the hero of Africa still lives on in that song.

This is Mama, Hne Datedor Mary Williams who died in 2000, just eight years after that.



Here is my own mother in 1992, despite war, she stopped to pose for this photo to send it to us and her grandchildren who had just immigrated to the United States to escape the Liberian civil war in 1992.

Here is me in 1980, in college, having been shaped a bit by the old song:




The Christmas and New Year season, not to speak of the Thanksgiving American style usually brings back many sad memories, whether or not one has lost a mother or father. But this holiday season is supposed to make us merry, right? The whole idea of celebrating with huge families and friends can be depressing to immigrants who often come to the United States without their extended families, and therefore do not have huge families to gather with or cannot afford to send for extended families from their original home countries. As the holidays get closer, I often will revisit my own memories of growing up in Monrovia, the shiny holidays, the green holidays of music and flashy toys, of families who were there, but that alone is not sufficient. Today, I heard the old old song through Lola’s beautiful website, and thought hey, there is something great about memory, about the power of living to recall those who are no longer with us, about the beauty of life and art and God and everything.Many Americans who usually are used to having their mothers or fathers around during the holidays, and now no longer have them are also like many of us who have become accustomed to not having our mothers or fathers around. But memory can add to the beauty of the celebration. I know- I am going to be calling my father this week and sending him and the family my Christmas gift, which is expected, and he will tell me how much he misses me, but I will not see them and they will not see me or my children. What for me is most wonderful however, is that the story of Christmas is the same every where around the world. The good news of Christmas, the well wishing, the expectation of renewal because of the Christ child, the hope of seeing our loved ones again because of the hope that Christmas assures, and the faith of the everlasting is a great thing to hold on to whether one is in Africa now or in the US. For me, my mother’s love of God and her singing and her hope for her children are a great treasure this time of year when there is so much cold and so much spending of wealth that I don’t have. “Sweet Mother,” Prince Nico sang, “I never forget you, for de suffer wheh you suffer for me-oh.”

Early Holiday Greetings to all of my sweet readers out there. I love you.