A recent visit to Harlem brought me face-to-face with a socio-economic phenomenon called Gentrification.
I recently got to watching Netflix’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s bulletproof super hero from Harlem. And after also watching shows like Showtime at the Apollo and Amateur night at the Apollo, Harlem became a place I had to visit. I went to Harlem through a long route, first to the Yankees Stadium in Bronx and across Macombs Dam Bridge to 155th street in Manhattan. I took a long walk through Sugar Hill and Upper Manhattan on St Nicholas Ave. I listened to the patter and laughter of children and their parents on the playground that adjourned the avenue and stared at the neat rows of buildings on the other side of the road. Underneath me I heard the whir and rumble of the trains in the subway. It was a long walk to the landmarks that define the heart of Harlem. The landmark called the Apollo Theater by 253 West 125th Street.
A visit to the World Trade Center made me reflect on America’s capacity to rebuild and regenerate
There is a saying that we all can remember where we were on September 11, 2001 when two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Truth is I just can’t remember my exact location that day but I remember watching on television as a plane ploughed into the North tower at 8.46am local time and while people were still processing what just happened, a second plane plunged into the South tower. Another memory of that day was seeing both towers collapse and disintegrates in a cascade of concrete and steel.
September 11, 2001 was a momentous day in global history, an unprecedented attack on America on a scale as audacious as the attack on Pearl Harbor. It brought a decisive response from America and defined the presidency of George W. Bush. America took the war to the terrorists who planned that brazen affront, Al Qaeda, chased them into the caves of Afghanistan, overthrew their Taliban collaborators and finally killed their leader, Osama Bin Laden after a ten year manhunt. Continue reading “Rebirth and renewal at the World Trade Center”→
I went to visit New York’s Yankee Stadium. I got there when the NY Yankees baseball team was playing the Baltimore Orioles. I was intrigued by this American national pastime. I was approaching Gate 4 of the huge stadium when people started streaming out of the stadium. It started as a trickle at first, and then it became a deluge; a wave of people, a fast flowing tide of white people. These New Yorkers were of Germans, Dutch, Italian, and Irish heritage. These were the Caucasian Americans.
Now and then a sprinkling of well-off looking Hispanics and black people (or African-Americans as is more politically correct to say) went past, but most of the people I saw coming off Gate 4 were white, I mean the kind of white people you see when you visit a rural village in Germany. There were friends, families and individuals. There were mothers, fathers, children, and grand-parents in the crowd. They were leaving the stadium early, disgusted that their team was trailing by 7-1 at time and also to beat traffic.
Since arriving New York I have been ensconced in neighborhoods that had more immigrant populations than native-born Americans. Neighborhoods where when asked questions, people would probably reply in Spanish or with strong Caribbean or Jamaican Patois. I have heard a lot of people tell me “No speak English” in Bushwick. People who just want to be left alone as they work towards their American dream.
But not this crowd I saw walking past. These people exuded wealth, they had the aura power. These were the people that made New York the capital of global finance. These people are the reason New York is the wealthiest metropolitan area in the world, generating 1.4 trillion dollars a year. An economic output that is almost larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Africa’s 54 sovereign countries combined. Continue reading “A visit to the Yankees Stadium”→
I arrived the United States of America recently and visited Minneapolis for a week before moving to New York. Since then I have had interesting encounters with the American people, their culture and lifestyle. The America I saw in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was a compassionate America. Minneapolis is a beautiful city of wealth and a compassionate spirit. I saw the gentleness and understanding of bus drivers, the charity shown the cities less privileged and the large African community there, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, is a testament of the accommodating nature of the city. I was overwhelmed when I visited the US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings NFL team and the venue of Super Bowl LII. I have never seen such an edifice that accommodates almost 80,000 people built with such minimal use of space. I hear it cost 1.6 billion dollars.
Since arriving New York I have lived in three different parts of Brooklyn; Flatbush, East New York and Bushwick. In these three neighborhoods I saw distinctively different communities. Flatbush has a lot of people of Caribbean heritage, East New York has a lot of African-Americans and Bushwick is decidedly Latino.
This got me thinking about the diversity of America. My arrival in New York coincided with the July 4th celebrations and I saw families and friends celebrate with barbeques, parties and fireworks in almost every household on the street I stayed on. Yet a few days later I ran into a huge carnival in Linden Boulevard Park where people from Belize were celebrating their national day. In Bushwick several homes were adorned with the Puerto Rican flag. I gathered that the huge Puerto Rican community in New York celebrated their national day on June 9th, a few weeks before I arrived the city.
So America is a country of immigrants who celebrate their being Americans and also their heritage. Human beings are creatures of identity, and as Shakespeare noted, “birds of the same feather flock together”. The benefits inherent in commonality of culture, language and historical experiences may be the reason these diverse peoples stay close to one another in neighborhoods and work collectively to contribute to the greatness of America. Seeing all these different American communities inspired me to start this blog and indeed this website. In the Laundromats and Family Dollar shops I visited in New York I kept seeing free copies of Caribbean or Latino focused community newspapers. And being a former journalist and community newspaper publisher I just thought of the native-born African community in America. I came up with the idea of this website for every native born African in America to tell their American story. This platform is for every native-born Kenyan, South African, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Egyptian and all from Africa’s fifty four sovereign countries who are living in America to tell the story of their successes, celebrations, failures, encounters, challenges, pains and experience.
I saw a lot that I yearned to record in the past month. I had new experiences like been bedazzled in Times Square or entering a Food Bazaar Supermarket and being blown away by the overwhelming variety of food stuff and produce. This blog is one month late, but better late than never.
I will post updates regularly on my experience in America and look forward to hearing from everyone who also has stories to tell about their American odyssey.