photo by Alex Lear




the oumas indians prepared this place for us

centuries before our arrival

a sacred spot where corn festivals

were celebrated & as the colonializers came

they pushed aside our hosts

& introduced us in chains

& by the late 1700s we somehow

recognizing the sacredness of le place de congo,

we somehow, and the how of our persuasive methodologies

is not clear at this moment, but nevertheless,

even as slaves we crafted and created a space

where we could be free to be we

and thusly we countered the sacriligousness of the french

giving great homage to our ancestors as well as

giving praise & thanx to our red blooded brothers & sisters


this is an oral libational toast

to congo square

to native americans

to our ancestors

who made a circle in a square

and gave us a way to stay ourselves save ourselves

from the transformatory ugliness of america

which refuses to recognize the spirituality of life

and celebrates death with crosses & crosses, double

& triple crosses, the middle passage the first cross,

christianity the double cross and capitalism

the ultimate triple coup de grace cross of our captivity


but the terror of crosses notwithstanding

we sang, we beat, we be, we was & is

hail, congo square

our african gods have not been obliterated

they have merely retreated inside

the beat of us until we are ready

to release them into a world that we

re-create, a world heralded by the beat

be, beat being, beating being

of black heart drums


heart beat heart beat heart be/at this place

at this place be heart beat be we

beating place in new world space

beating being in place

in new world preserving our ancient pace

our dance is the god walk

our music, the god talk


first thing we do, let's get together

circle ourselves into community

no beginning no end connected together

and singing ringing singing

in a ring


second let's be original

aboriginal / be what we were before

we became what we are, be bamboula

dance, be banza music, and sing song words

which have no english translation


third let us remember

never to forget even when we can't remember

the specifics we must retain the essentials

the bounce the blood flow the feel the spirit

grow energy, must retain and pass on

the essential us-ness that

others want to dissipate whip out of us

but no matter how much of us they prohibit

deep inside us is us

remains us inside

& needs only

the beat

to set

us free


the beat to free us


it is morning, a sun day, a field w/out shade but dark

with the people black of us in various shades

eclipsing the sun with our elegance


we are centuries later now

and still this sacred ground calls us

to remember / to beat / to be



beat be beat be



—kalamu ya salaam