OpEdNews Op Eds

Memo To The Media: Focus On Grass Roots And Cultural Activists

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 3/29/10

MEMO TO THE MEDIA: FORGET YOUR FOCUS ON POLITICIANS.

HOW A TEEN SUMMIT AND A BROADWAY SHOW SHOWCASE WHO THE REAL CHANGEMAKERS ARE

By Danny Schechter,Author of the Crime Of Our Time

One of the most popular lines about New York is still "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." So imagine the surprise that visitors from Africa have when when they discover that one of the most popular shows on Broadway is a tribute to a rebel musician from Nigeria who many governments on the Continent loved to hate.

The show is FELA, an incredibly musically charged and entertaining tribute to the musical legend and political dissident Fela Anikulapo Kuti who was known for mocking Nigeria's military dictators, and living what many considered an outrageous lifestyle. It was leavened with ganja smoke and over 27 wives he dubbed the Queens. (He later had only 12 but then divorced them all) They were all beautiful dancers who performed nightly in a club he called a shrine. He also visualized it as a capital of his own country--actually a recording studio the Kalakuta Republic. (John Lennon and Yoko imagined their own land, too. They called it Nutopia)

Fela's "Shrine" has now been recreated as a theatrical piece that the critics loved and audiences flock to. It draws one of the most racially integrated audiences in town where the music and dancing is as inspiring as it is non-stop. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?

Fela believed that " music is a weapon," and wrote danceable "Afrobeat" songs including some lampooning looting by companies like ITT--International Telephone and Telegraph--calling them "international teef teef." (Thief, Thief!) Another political tune challenged educators to teach the truth about the country and its corrupt government. His memorable lyric there was, "Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense""

This show is no period piece, and, in fact, points to how social change does not just come out of the barrel of bombast from either the White House or the Congress. It is, instead, often driven by cultural figures like Fela and the young people who adored his music and courage as a fighter for human rights. Fela did try to run for President but the military would not let him run, fearing his popularity.

The press still doesn't get it. As we have been seeing in the health care debate, the media looks up, focusing on people in power assuming they are the architects of change, but then ignores the real grassroots change makers and shakers down below.

Fela, for one, would have approved of another show on Broadway last weekend, not in Times Square but, downtown in Soho, where teenagers flocked to the Scholastic Publications building for a teen version of the famous TED conferences.

TED (Ted.com) is know for innovative adult education, presenting some of the most provocative speakers from all over the world. This was the first time that approach was used to engage teenagers involved in all sorts of grass roots activist projects from some 30 countries including Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Their talks were passionate and focused on the need for bottom up change drawn from real-life experiences from being child soldiers, to disabled kids, to work promoting self-sestem for girls worldwide

To Fela's point about teachers teaching nonsense, several kids wore T Shirts from the impressive Canadian-founded "Think Global School." It reads in the front, "Don't Teach Me What To Think," and on the back, "Teach Me How To Think."

The We Are Family Foundation played a key organizing role in the Teen TED event. That group was founded by another well known musician who actually once played alongside Fela, Nile Rodgers, co-author of the song We Are Family which is still, decades later, considered an uplifting anthem internationally.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Nile remade his song with 200 stars and celebrities to promote tolerance and an end to hate crimes. (Disclosure, I worked with Spike Lee on a video and film of the effort.)

The foundation run by Nancy Hunt, which gew out of that event holds Global Just Peace Summits and teen training programs under its unique Three Dot Dash program --the name is based on the Morse Code for V, better known as the peace signal--teaching kids from all over the world organizing and media skills. The program was inspired by the peacemaking writings and poetry of another youngster, Mattie J.P. Stepanek, who was seen on Larry King and Oprah. Mattie later died of his disability but his inspiration is still motivating young people to fulfill his dream.

A week earlier, the Global Team Summit (GTL) heard from two Nigerian religious leaders, the Islamic Iman Mohammed Ashafar, and his Christian counterpart, Pastor James Murye, who together have been mediating and working to end bloody outbreaks of violence between Christians and Moslems in the North of Nigeria.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Is There A Threat of Fascism in the USA?

Free Marketers Going After Occupy Wall Street --Danny Schechter

COG OR COA: WHY IS OBAMA MORPHING INTO BUSH 2?

WHO OWNS OUR MEDIA AND WHY IT MATTERS

WERE THE BANKS TOO BIG TO FAIL OR THE BANKERS TOO BIG TO JAIL?

HARD TIMES ARE GETTING HARDER. ARE THEY EVER!

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

that the corporate media, which in terms of patron... by John Sanchez Jr. on Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010 at 7:59:54 AM