In the West African Mbongi tradition, each member of a community has an individual responsibility for that community's growth and development, both in terms of culture and education. According to the traditional practice, learned elders meet in assembly to discuss goals and plans for the future, in order to open up a pathway toward a better life. That's basically the idea behind the gathering of some of the nation's most distinguished African-American scholars, authors, and educators this weekend in Oakland. The occasion is the sixtieth birthday of Dr. Wade W. Nobles, an alpha Afro-intellectual, and the 25th anniversary of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Life and Culture, Inc., a think tank he founded. Long recognized as the preeminent academic in the fields of African psychology, black child development, and African-American family dynamics, Nobles hasn't just talked about Afrocentrism, he's been about it. A tenured professor in SF State's Department of Black Studies, he is also the founder and director of the center for Applied Cultural Studies and Educational Achievement, a California State University program, as well as the chief consultant for the African Centered Schools Program in Kansas City, Missouri. Nobles has also had the rare honor of being installed as the Nkwasohene of Akwasiho-Kwahu, Ghana, reconnecting with his original Akan roots and taking on the responsibility for every aspect of the development of that region, as well as the traditional name Nana Kwaku Berko I.
This weekend, Nobles will be feted with a book signing and jazz reception on Friday at the Black Repertory Theatre, followed by an after-party at Geoffrey's Planet Soule. Then the serious mbongi begins. On Saturday, the Allen Temple Baptist Church hosts an impressive assembly of black scholars, including Dr. Nobles, Oba T'Shaka, Michael Eric Dyson, Asa Hilliard, Haki Madhubuti, J. Alfred Smith, Joyce King, Na'im Akbar, Patricia Canson-Griffith, Molefi Asante, Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Leonard Jeffries, Adisa Ajamu, and many more. Four panels will tackle such weighty matters as mental liberation, educational excellence, black thought and activism, and the spirit of blackness as it relates to religion.
Tickets for the assembly are $75-$135, the Geoffrey's jam is $25, and the BRT reception is free (RSVP required). For more info, call 510-832-3245 or 510-652-2344. -- Eric K. Arnold
It's never too late, when you've got something to say: At age 78, Elizabeth Begenthal has just had her first book published. The former nun and psychotherapist reads from Age Song at Moraga Library (Wed., 2 p.m.). ... Making the most of seventeen little syllables, Louis Cuneo helped establish a unique form of American haiku. The author of Godzilla Attacks a Truck reads with fellow poet Clay Banes at Pegasus in downtown Berkeley (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Albany author Gail Tsukiyama's historical novel Women of the Silk is up for discussion in the El Sobrante Library Meeting Room, where the library's reading group meets one Thursday night every month (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... She brought you Environmental Terrorists, a chapbook anthology of poetry written for Bechtel/Shell in response to its plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant on Mare Island; Martha Cinader reads with fellow poet Tony Mims at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe, 818 Marin St., Vallejo (Thu., 8 p.m.). ... Note the Expiry. Author Eric Wilson will discuss his new book, Expiration Date, and answer questions from the audience, in Brentwood. He will also be available to sign copies of his new thriller. Expiration Date is the second in a series of suspense novels exploring the five senses. The Brentwood Community Center is across the courtyard from the library (Sat., 1:30 p.m.). ... Time-travel links a corporate boardroom to slavery-era America and African tribal mysticism as an interracial relationship faces challenges in Jeannie Cobb's novel Dark Roots. Meet Stanford grad Cobb at The Oakland Public Library's Elmhurst Branch (Sat., noon). ... Courage takes on a whole new meaning when the mercury rises past 200 degrees Centigrade. Capt. Geoffrey Hunter shows scary slides and signs his book Oakland Fire Department at the Oakland Public Library's Dimond Branch (Mon., 6:30 p.m.). ... Feed and read: Mark States hosts an open mic, brought to you by Poetry Express, at Priya Indian Cuisine, 2072 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley (Mon., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
More than Able
For an annual cultural event that has survived 25 years, Superfest, the film festival by and about people with disabilities, is relatively unheralded. Maybe this is the year for a breakthrough. According to festival director Liane Yasumoto, two of the entered films are so noteworthy they're sharing "Best of the Festival" honors -- Happy Birthday, Thalidomide by filmmaker-actor-Thalidomide-baby Mat Fraser from the UK; and Whole-a Trinity of Being, a collection of shorts by South African Shelley Barry, who was disabled by an act of violence. Those are only two of the fifty disability-themed films and videos from around the world in Superfest XXV, Friday and Saturday at Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Ave.). Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged. Tickets are $5-$20 per day, sliding scale, at the door. There's an awards ceremony Saturday at 6 p.m. For more info: CultureDisabilityTalent.org or 510-845-5576. -- Kelly Vance
Are You In?
Getcher shack shimmied in West O.
Overheard at a 2003 Out Hud show at Bottom of the Hill: "So this is what moving to New York does to you." It's true; something happened when the hardcore-leaning Out Hud (and its sibling band, !!!, with whom it shares three members) moved from Sacramento to the East Coast -- it got hip. Really hip, perhaps painfully so. Or maybe it was just painful for its former fans, who hadn't yet learned how to dance without inflicting bodily harm. But the coed outfit has continued to grow artistically, moving effortlessly through dance-punk into a thinkier breed of electro-acoustic mash-up. And you can still dance to it. This year's Let Us Never Speak of It Again features even more of an electronic bent than before and, perhaps as a result, more vocal contributions from cellist Molly Schnick and drummer Phyllis Forbes. Getcher dance on -- remember, it starts in the hips, folks -- at LoBot Gallery Saturday. Doors at 8:30 p.m., cover is $8, and Post Coitus and one more (TBA) open. 1800 Campbell St., Oakland. Info: LoBotGallery.com -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - October 23, 11:07 AM
Culture Spy - October 21, 10:18 AM
Legalization Nation - October 21, 9:38 AM
Culture Spy - October 21, 9:09 AM
What the Fork - October 20, 3:19 PM