Chairman Elombe Brath passes

Dr. Elombe Brath, left, listens as Architect Rodney Leon, second from left, designer of the African Burial Ground national monument, describe the monument’s features after a dedication ceremony in New York on Friday, Oct. 5, 2007.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

After a long illness Harlem’s Elombe Brath, a well-respected, much admired, historian, Pan-African leader and graphic artist passed.

The 77-year-old titan of Black culture and heritage was most acclaimed as the chairman of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition. He held monthly meeting at the Harriet Tubman School where he updated the community on current affairs and mostly spoke to issues under-reported by the media. Through his efforts, the name Patrice Emery Lumumba became familiar. Brath often relayed how the anti-colonial Congolese leader born on July 2, 1925 “among the Batatela people in the then-Belgian Congo was assassinated by a CIA-instigated coup on Jan. 17, 1961.” Brath explained that Lumumba’s murder occurred “six months after he had led his country to its newly, hard fought for independence.”

Brath was regaled as a walking cultural activist.

He was never without an armful of publications. He was a relentless reader and was always on the cutting edge of news related to Africa and the Caribbean.

Often he travelled to Geneva, Switzerland where the United Nations convened sessions pertaining to Africa.

A former graphic artist for the community affairs program “Like It is,” his talent was regularly credited on ABC-TV.

Brath will not be forgotten for the role he played in lobbying for Harlem to be placed on the official schedule of stops when Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie visited New York after his release from apartheid-riddled South African prison. In the center of 125th St. & Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. thousands rallied to see the best African example. An unforgettable moment prior to the start of the celebration indelibly imprints Brath’s whisper to Winnie Mandela. Although busy co-ordinating the media event Brath – with clipboard and paper-load in hand reached with urgency to familiarize the continental guest of honor with a woman he knew she would want to know. The crowds witnessed Winnie’s look of surprise, shock and pride when she grabbed the woman who stood next to her. It was Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X.

Brath’s commitment to Harlem and New York also marked visits by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and numerous African heads of state. He played a key role in stopping construction at the site of the African Burial Ground. Brath is also credited with preserving the area there which is now established as a National Park.

Brath was among the very first advocates for the youths accused with the attack and alleged rape of Patricia Meile who was previously identified as the Central Park Jogger.

In addition to his many advocacies, Brath also hosted “Afrikaledoscope” on WBAI-FM.

He loved jazz and his early years promoted concerts lauding the legends of the genre.

Brath leaves to grieve wife Nomsa, six childen, brother Kwame and many, many friends and associates.

Funeral arrangements were not available in time for publication.

LIFE-TIME HONOR FOR THE KING OF CALYPSO

Another title will be added to the already decorated Slinger Franciso (better known as the Mighty Sparrow) when a reception to kick-off Caribbean-American Heritage Month heralds the crowned Calypso King Mighty with a lifetime achievement salute. Slated to be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street on June 4 a program of celebration begins at 6:00 p.m. Starting with a discussion to introduce Lauren Francis-Sharna’s debut novel “Til The Well Runs Dry” the entire evening will spotlight achievers from the Caribbean region. The theme –”Caribbean-Americans–Producing Our Own Stories!” is intended to hail the calypso king for his lifetime achievements in the world of entertainment and also laud the immigrants who through participation continue to enhance the city, state and nation as well the Caribbean region.

MADAGASCAR DANCE COMES TO BROOKLYN’S DANCEAFRICA

Memorial Day weekend signals an annual potpourri of culture, food, fun and for the 37th year artistic director Chuck Davis and DanceAfrica. This year the May 23 to May 26 feast, spotlights Madagascar’s Groupe Bakomanga. Headlining the nation’s largest festival dedicated to African dance, the Madagascar-based music and dance troupe will make its U.S. debut.

“This Madagascar-based music and dance troupe embraces a rich variety of indigenous cultural forms, using jubilant drum- and accordion-driven music and movement to honor its ancestors, usher in the harvest, and preserve tradition.”

Performances are May 23 and May 24 at 7:30 p.m. There are also Saturday, Sunday and Monday matinnes at 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Monday).

FilmAfica will also screen culturally enriching films. For more info. check. www.bam.org.

“WORD” CARIBBEAN BOOK-FEST PAGES YOUTH

An alphabet book titled “A Is For Ayiti,” a session billed “Coming of Age – Journeys to The Unknown” and an open mic invitation to teens to freestyle poetry plus a myriad of youth-oriented topics are slated for discussion during “Word” a six-hour Caribbean book festival presented by the Caribbean Cultural Theatre on June 8. Beginning at 2:00 p.m. at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn, the afternoon program promise a diverse offering from writers from the twin islands of Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis, Haiti, Dominica, Jamaica, as well as Mexico. Touting “Islands In The City” as a mantra, the multi-cultural perspectives are geared to address the reading needs of youth throughout the tri-state area. With plans to make young writers fully accessible to patrons and parents, the young readers program offer hourly dialogue and feedback from experts in publishing and illustration.

For more information, contact the Caribbean Cultural Theatre 718-270-6917 or log onto [email protected].

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