By Imam Hakim Abdul-Ali
There’s a very powerful and meaningful African word in the Swahili language that symbolizes “truth” in all of its natural and righteous essences. That word is “ukweli.”
Author and poet Horace Mungin came up with an idea to develop a thought provoking program featuring and utilizing segments from his various heralded poetry collection, supported by lectures by various scholars, to give further understanding to this planned culturally mind expanding discussion series. This was a little more than two-years ago.
This led him to submit a proposal request for this program’s series presentation to the Charleston County Parks Foundation for grant funding. It took almost exactly those two years for the funding to be approved, and the first of the scheduled five-part series’ themes, entitled “A Dark Darkness,” was showcased on last Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the historic McLeod Plantation site on James Island.
The literary program started off with welcoming remarks by Shawn Halifax of the Charleston County Parks Foundation, who welcomed everyone present to the historic venue and signified the relevance of the program’s importance to the overall Lowcountry community-at-large. From there, the program’s moderator, Charleston reggae radio legend, Osei Chandler, who will be also be the moderator for all of the “Ukweli” series’ events, took over and presided over the introductions of Saturday’s program’s featured speakers.
The program’s initial presentation featured Mr. Mungin’s reciting three of his poignant poems, “Ras the Exhorter,” “Khadija” and The Lashing of Bayou Boeuf Plantation.” These stirring pieces of poetry recalled the Atlantic Slave Trade and brutal treatment of enslaved Africans here in America.
Mr. Mungin’s poetic recitals were followed by celebrated journalist and author Herb Frazier, who in my critical and forthright opinion, gave a very historically simplistic and down-to-earth, but ever-so-factual, detailed account of what effect the Slave Trade had on the nation as a whole, and how it affected the Charleston Lowcountry in particular. Mr Frazier brought eye opening scholarly insights on this haunting subject to his unquestioned stimulating lecture in his illuminating more than ten minutes lecture.
After Mr. Frazier’s insightful lecture, a question and answer segment evolved, ably monitored by Mr. Chandler, with many spirited questions about the entire slave scenarios being directed towards Messrs. Frazier and Mungin. It was an invigorating intellectual forum where I could see both the Afro-American and Euro-American attendees were enjoying hearing and participating in the informative dialogue taking place.
I must add that even though the attendance (around twenty-five) was not what the organizers had initially expected, the overall event was a total success because those who were there most assuredly gained much knowledge and insight about one of the darkest periods in “hue-man” history. It could only, respectfully, be called a good send-off and start for the forthcoming future “Ukweli” scheduled events, all which will be also held at McLeod Plantation beginning at 1 p.m.
The upcoming program events are:
March 28: “Black Women in History” with lecturer Dr. Karen Meadows. This program begins with a reading of one of Horace Mungin’s poetic jewels, “Ain’t I a Woman.”
April 11: “The Dehumanizations of Africans in America and Jim Crow” with lecturer historian Professor Damon Fordham. Mr. Mungin will recite his classic poem, “America” prior to Professor Fordham’s speech.
April 25: “The Bible and the Rope” with lecturer Imam Hakim Abdul-Ali. This program begins with Mr. Mungin’s recitation of his spellbinding poem, “Red Summer of 1919.
May 16: “Establishing the Literary Link” with lecturer Yvette Murray. The program begins with Mr. Mungin’s recitation of his epic poem, “God’s Pen in Their Hands.”
The “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth” series programs are sponsored and funded by The Joanna Foundation and the Charleston County Parks Foundation. The greater Lowcountry community and all others are urged to attend these upcoming “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth” programs at McLeod Plantation, 325 Country Club Drive, Charleston, S.C., 29412. Again, all are welcomed. Hope to see you there.