Browsing Month February, 2011

Woman’s passion for African culture builds bridges, promotes knowledge

By , February 18, 2011 | 4:21 am | 0 Comment

Woman’s passion for African culture builds bridges, promotes knowledge

ONUMBA.COM – Anita M. Diop is an African– American born and raised in America.  But she has a unique way of describing herself:  “I’m an African born in America.”

That uncommon Africentric, Pan Africanist portrayal of herself speaks volume about a woman who is ferocious when it comes to her passion for African people and culture. 

For starters, Diop is married to an African immigrant from Senegal.  Her college education focused entirely on Africa.  First, was a Bachelor’s Degree in Africana Studies and Speech Communications, followed by a Master’s Degree in African History, with a specialization in Arts and Culture, all from Wayne State University, Detroit.

“I love myself and I love my people,” she told the Call & Post in an interview last week.

And that’s not an empty cliché, either.

Indeed, Diop is profusely involved in a smorgasbord of activities which expresses that love.

She is the founder and executive director of the African Roots and Heritage Festival, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization she established in 2008 out of the remnants of a startup group called the Black Cultural Festival she formed the year before. 

The group’s mantra is:  “Celebrating Our Heritage, while Confronting the Challenges” of being Black in America.  Its mission, as noted in its website,, is to promote African culture, arts, the unity of all African people, under the umbrella philosophy of pan-Africanism.

It does that in a number of ways, including hosting cultural programs and festivals, providing workshops, seminars, photo and art exhibits, film festivals, dance, music and special events.

The group is currently planning a big cultural festival for July 16 and 17, at Franklin Park, 1777 East Broad Street.

Aside from holding cultural events, the group’s other big focus is promoting the value of education among young folks.

Diop explained why. 

“We strongly believe that creating forums for youth to develop, express, and enhance their talent is a great deterrent against negative social patterns and behavior,” said Diop.  “We strive as a  model for becoming productive citizens in our community.”

Recently, her group announced the Anita M. Diop Scholarship of Excellence award for high school graduating seniors and college freshman students.

Eligible students can start applying now for a chance to win a minimum of $500.  Application form is available through the group’s website.  Contestants must be Columbus area high school graduates in 2011 or entering as a freshman in a trade, or vocational school, college or university to qualify. 

Those who qualify must submit their application with a two-page essay due by the April 15 deadline.  The essay should be submitted to:  It should focus on the theme of the contest, “Living the American Dream as an African American or African in America.” 

In the composition, students are required to discuss their roadmap for how they plan to achieve the American dream, said Diop.

Successful applicants will be announced on or after May 15th. 

As though she is not already involved in enough projects, Diop is also the Ohio Representative for the 6th Regional Diaspora Caucus for the African Union, a cabal that represents all African people born outside of the motherland.

As for how you can help with the festival, Diop said that her group is still accepting speakers, vendors, entertainers and contributor’s to the scholarship of excellence fund through PayPal.

For more information, contact the African Roots and Heritage Festival, at: 614.321.6390 or 614.390.8864.  The group’s email address is:

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Commentary , Featured

Mubarak: Kicked out of power, finally

By , February 12, 2011 | 5:46 pm | 0 Comment

Mubarak:  Kicked out of power, finally
ONUMBA.COM – One other mind-boggling streak ended this week outside of the CAVS.  It has nothing to do with basketball, though.  It was the massive collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt after nearly 30 years as that country’s iron fisted president.  I guess Mubarak deluded himself into believing that Egypt, a country of 80 million people, was his family’s property. 
I must say this, though. 
President Obama’s response to the crisis, from the start of the people’s protest to the ouster of the regime, was a smorgasbord of laconism.  He was wishy-washy, at best, often tinkering around the edges of what really needed to be said.  Now the U.S. is cheering the news of Mubarak’s ouster, but its tamed support for the stubborn resilience of the pro-democracy protesters profoundly contradicted its global pitch for democracy around the world. 
What do you think?

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Columbus teen formed group to help homeless veterans

By , February 9, 2011 | 4:59 am | 0 Comment

Columbus teen formed group to help homeless veterans
ONUMBA.COM – Davante Goins is only 15-years old.  But he is not your typical 15-year old. 

Goins is a 10th grade sophomore at Mifflin High School.  When you talk to him, he sounds every bit like a teenager.  And he probably does many of the same things folks his age do.

But Goins, notwithstanding his youthful age, is a young man on a mission:  to help homeless veterans.

Referred by the officials of the Columbus School District, the Call & Post called Goins up last week to find out the kind of things he is up to these days.

He is up to a lot.  

Goins told the Call & Post he was looking forward to a big meeting on his calendar with the officials of the Columbus Veterans Affairs.  There, he would discuss his plan to help homeless veterans. 

NBC4 TV has featured his story.  He has had meetings with the Columbus City Council and other government leaders to share his plans for helping homeless veterans. 

And those plans tell the story of a focused young man with a noble goal.

Goins is the chief executive director of ‘Operation Shelter 4 Homeless Veterans,’ an organization he established to help place homeless veterans in ‘transitional homes.’

The group’s website, ‘,’ says its mission is “to get homeless veterans off the streets of Columbus, Ohio.”   A huge part of that, said Goins, is to refurbish “vacant and abandoned properties, to be remodeled into transition homes for the homeless veterans to reside in.”

“We want to clean up Columbus and get homeless veterans off the street,” he told the Call & Post.  He pointed to the “5,700” abandoned and vacant homes in Columbus that could be converted into homes to house homeless veterans.  And “the number is still growing,” he said. 

His goal is to repair these homes for homeless veterans.

But Goins knows none of this would be easy.

That’s why he said his group will “take it step by step, day by day” to accomplish his goal of finding transitional homes and “get them [veterans’ into these homes.”

“Everybody has a story to tell like Ted Williams,” said Goins, referring to the remarkable saga of a once Columbus homeless man whose velvety voice became his ticket to fame and opportunities.

“It’s criminal for veterans to be homeless in the United States,” he said. 

If anything is more criminal, for Goins, it is allowing these abandoned and vacant homes to crumble to waste while the city’s homeless veterans dwell under highway bridges in an unconscionable squalor.

Goins, who plans to attend Law School, possibly at Georgetown University, said the inspiration to launch the project came from his grandfather.

He shared the glum stories his grandmother told him about his grandfather who returned from Vietnam War to shabby treatment and scorn.

That inspired me to start this project, said Goins, whose favorite movie is “Lean on Me.”  If all goes well, homeless veterans in Columbus will probably be doing just that.  “It’s a way “to put service above myself,” he said.

“I have the opportunity to give back to the community,” said Goins.

He is seeking funding for his project and plans to pitch his mission to media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, and First Lady Michelle Obama, who frequently speaks out on behalf of homeless veterans across the country.

Goins assembled a six-member board to work with him.  They are Howard Williams, Director of Housing; Michael Watkins, Director of Veterans Affairs; Brandi Martin, Director of Community and Public Affairs; Mike Meyer, Chief Director of Operations; Denise Johnson, Director of Legal Affairs, and Larry Farley, Director of Education.

Davante Goins and ‘ can be reached at:  614-589-7084.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Commentary , Featured

Kasich, Dems collide at the intersection of ‘House Bill 1′ Dr. and ‘Reckless’ Blvd.

By , February 2, 2011 | 1:43 am | 0 Comment

Kasich, Dems collide at the intersection of ‘House Bill 1′ Dr. and ‘Reckless’ Blvd.

ONUMBA.COM If Ohio’s new Republican Governor John Kasich and Democrats had hoped to work together to get things done, this was not a good start.

And the partisan brawl is just starting.

Ohio House Democratic leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) and his minority caucus have one simple word to describe Gov. Kasich’s rush to privatize a portion of the Ohio Department of Development:  “reckless.”

Calling this a hugely bad idea, Budish, last week, urged Kasich to go slow on this to allow more deliberation as part of the process.

But a gung-ho, rabid, cacophonous, tough talking Kasich is moving “at the speed of business” to privatize Ohio’s job growth efforts, vowing not too long ago to “run over” anyone who is not on board.

Budish, cited as one of his reason for opposing this plan, the recent fiasco in Florida where the Republican Governor Rick Scott recently fired the president of a company he hired to privatize the Department of Development in that state.

His niggling bugaboo is the question of “accountability.” 

“The Florida example should lead Governor Kasich to slow down his headlong march toward his reckless plan for Ohio,” said Budish.

“Our caucus raised good questions about accountability, conflict of interest, pay to play and open records. Between these issues not being addressed and the news out of Florida we should be carefully considering this legislation, not rushing it to a vote next week,” said Budish.

Kasich disagreed, calling the Department of Development wonky, stale and in a perpetual lull.

House Bill 1, crafted to drive his vision on this, was muscled to passage by the Ohio House today.  The legislation will now go to the Ohio Senate for consideration. 

The bill calls for, ‘Jobs Ohio’ to take over the job creation function of the Department of Development to be managed by a small pantheon of folks assembled from the business community.  Mark Kvamme, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist was hired a couple of weeks ago to lead the effort.

Democrats are unleashing a firestorm of opposition to this.

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati), who voted against HB1, said this:

Ohio House Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati)

Ohio House Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati)

“It is irresponsible to allocate $1 million of taxpayer money with so many questions that are still unanswered today.  I don’t know of any bank in America who would allocate that kind of money without a detailed business plan.”

Rep. John E. Barnes, Jr. (D-Cleveland) agreed.

“I opposed HB 1 because it promotes a regressive public policy on business development that lacks transparency and accountability of public funds. This is another example of private sector subsidization with giveaways for the wealthy but no tangible financial assistance for small businesses and minority business firms. Ohio needs a business environment that is both transparent and effective where all economic segments can compete in a fair way. In the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, unemployed Ohioans in urban centers, inter-ring suburbs and rural communities should have the resources they need to revitalize their communities. They can only prosper if they are progressively integrated into an untapped regional, national and global economic strategy.”

None of this came out of the blue, though.  Kasich said he was going to do this, straight up.  During the recent bruising campaign for governor, at pretty much every stomp, he made it abundantly clear that he would privatize the department. 

He even at times vowed to scrap the development agency altogether.   

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Featured , News , Politics, Roland Martin to be at Black legislator’s luncheon at Statehouse

By , February 1, 2011 | 1:51 pm | 0 Comment, Roland Martin to be at Black legislator’s luncheon at Statehouse

ONUMBA.COM – The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Foundation will hold its 13th Annual African American Legislator’s Day Luncheon on February 15.

The event will be held at the Statehouse in Columbus. will cover the event wall to wall.

The keynote speaker will be national commentator Roland Martin.  The theme of his speech will be “Leadership in Challenging Times.”

“We are delighted to have world renowned journalist Roland Martin, who will highlight the achievements of the African Americans in Ohio as well as the national community,” said State Representative Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), the President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

State Representative Alicia Reece (D – Cincinnati) will chair the clambake.

Each year, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, hosts a luncheon to recognize the contributions of African-American legislators.

It is held during the Black History Month.

Mr. Martin is a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate.  He is a commentator for TV One Cable Network and host of ‘Washington Watch with Roland Martin,’ a one-hour Sunday morning news show.  He is also a CNN Analyst, and senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

Mr. Martin is the author of ‘Listening to the Spirit Within:  50 Perspectives on Faith,’ and ‘Speak Brother:  A Blackman’s View of America.’

In a statement, Rep. Reece spoke about the importance of the event.

“The annual luncheon serves to recognize the achievements of African American political and community leaders,” said Reece.  “We are looking forward to having an excellent event.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at: or

Featured , People , Politics