William Klein, 90 minutes
The first Pan-African Cultural Festival (PANAF) was a historic gathering that brought together musicians, performers, activists, luminaries and revolutionaries to Algiers in 1969. It was a moment to celebrate post-colonial liberation and imagine futures free from oppressive systems. The festival, steeped in freedom movements and anti-colonialism, featured greats like Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and Archie Shepp as well as Guinea-Bissau’s Amilcar Cabral and Algiers resident Eldridge Cleaver. The official documentary for the festival captures this jubilant, defiant and pivotal moment in history.
As part of HotHouse’s Convocation/Consecration series, we will revisit this moment, over 50 years later, through William Klein’s documentary, followed by a post film-discussion with two scholars and activists who attended the festival, Dr. Haki Madhubuti and Dr. Abdul Alkalimat. Dr. Lynette Jackson moderates.
Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti
Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti is a best-selling poet, author, publisher, and educator, and is widely regarded as one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement and is founder and publisher of Chicago's Third World Press. Madhubuti has published more than 37 books, four albums/CDs with music, and his poetry and essays have been selected for more than 100 anthologies. His first four Black Arts poetry books, Think Black (1967), Black Pride, (with an introduction by Dudley Randall (1968), Don’t Cry, Scream! with an introduction by Gwendolyn Brooks (1969), and We Walk the Way of the New World (1970), sold over 140,000 copies making him one of the best-selling poets in the world. His book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1991) was a national bestseller of over 100,000 copies. His poetry has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has won the American Book Award, Illinois Arts Council Award, Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Prize in poetry for his book, Liberation Narratives
Dr. Abdul Alkalimat
Dr. Abdul Alkalimat is an American professor of African-American studies and library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He is the author of several books, including Introduction to Afro-American Studies (1984), The African American Experience in Cyberspace (2004), Malcolm X for Beginners (1990), and The History of Black Studies (2021). He curates two websites related to African-American history, "Malcolm X: A Research Site" and "eBlack Studies". During the late 1960s, he helped create the Institute of the Black World (IBW) in Atlanta with professors Vincent Harding and Stephen Henderson and other student activists, including Howard Dodson, A. B. Spellman, William Strickland, and Council Taylor. In the early 1970s, Alkalimat established Peoples College, a black nationalist think tank. Acknowledged as a founder of Black Studies, he wrote Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer, first published in 1984, which has become a popular text and gone through several editions.
Dr. Lynette Jackson
Dr. Lynette Jackson is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Black Studies at UIC. She received her PhD in African History from Columbia University in 1997. Dr. Jackson is the author of Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe (Cornell 2005) and numerous other articles and book chapters on topics relating to women, the state and medical and public health discourses in colonial and postcolonial Africa, particularly having to do with the regulation of African women's sexuality. Dr. Jackson's current research explores the history of child refugee diasporas from Southern Sudan, particularly focusing on two streams of unaccompanied children: The Lost Boys and Girls and the Cuban 600. She has also begun conducting research for a critical biography of Winnie Mandela.
Program Outline for the rest of the series
Throughout liberatory movements against empire and occupation, culture has been central to “the peoples movement”. Here, honoring several longtime projects (R.A.M. from Haiti, Ilê Aiyê from Bahia, Brazil, and The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra from Los Angeles) we layer additionally with other artists to CONSECRATE grounds and build a spiritual center for new energies of emancipation. The series of public events produced by HotHouse, and supported by guest curators Zahra Baker and Asad Jaffri (with funding provided by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, WDCB radio sponsorship, and Logan Center venue underwriting ) will take as a thematic cue the Pan African Festival of Algiers, the iconic festival from the 1970’s that fused global political activism with the arts.
The programs will be presented on several dates in September and October on various sites in Bronzeville and Hyde Park, and culminate October 1 on the land in rural Michigan in an all day ceremony.
The centerpiece of the series is an improvised performance that builds power and meditative focus over time. In this piece, guest soloists will join the Haitian ensemble, RAM to build the layers structure of sound in one long piece – many notable artists from differing spiritual traditions will participate.
The other cornerstones proposed involve the rare appearance of the Brazilian ‘bloco’ Ilê Aiyê and the Chicago debut of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ( PAPA). The Pan Afrikan Arkestra may be considered the west coast “cousin” of Chicago’s own AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Featured will be opportunities to discuss these historic formations of Great Black Culture and share musical practices in a major concert at the Logan Center for the Arts. Each of the featured groups ( Ilê Aiyê, RAM and PAPA) are celebrating at least 40 years of consistent activism and cultural expression.
In addition to the public performances, HotHouse will add thematic context and more in depth historical archival materials via online hyper-links to related content. A series of free online streaming films curated by HotHouse to contribute to the understanding of Afro-Latin cultural traditions will be presented by our partner CAN TV. Other online content will include photos and documents.
All the programs will be presented FREE to the public with a “suggested donation request’ / “free will offering”
HotHouse has a particular expertise in creating and executing these kind of multi-arts events with a long track record of previous programs like the 2010 African Jubilee, The Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert, The Concert for Cuba, and other long- form projects that integrate historical events with contemporary arts expression. Our project the Tricontinental ’66 and other Acts of Liberation is a traveling exhibition prepared under our auspices that explores similar themes of cultural expression tied to people’s movements. The exhibition has traveled to New York University and University of Virginia in addition to premiering at the Stony Island Arts Bank.
The impact of our work is to engage audiences in a multi-level educational experience that excavates popular history and culture and builds tools for present day problem solving. In this case building unity across communities in the city.