BY: SIMONE JENNIFER SMITH
“Revolution is a process, not an event!” (Sankofa)
A Better Tomorrow has always been focused on providing information that is meant to engage, motivate and propel people to want more for themselves and their community. The last week has shown me the importance of resilience and really having a great support system around you. February 24th and 25th were a blur for me; it was Pan-African Weekend here in Toronto, and of course, my partner and I wanted to be at as many events as we could attend, in one weekend. We knew for sure that we were not going to be able to do all of them, but we figured that we would space out time for the Global African Communities Network Event, featuring Dr. Omar Johnson, the man coined the Prince of Pan-African movement.
The city has been on fire since we heard that he was coming, and from what we knew, ticket sales were doing very well; he is a hot ticket item, so it was no surprise. Last Thursday, I received a call from one of my brothers in the community, and he hinted that things were not good! Something had happened, and without him saying too much, I knew that in some way, it had to do with Dr. Omar. There has been a lot said about this man, and I am proud of G.A.C.N. for looking past that and extending an invitation for him to come and speak to his many fans in Toronto. They did this despite the claims that he is a charlatan, has strong patriarch, hyper-masculine views, and has taken people’s money without showing them where it went. He has spoken fervently about building a school, but to this day, there has been no evidence of him ever buying or attempting to build a school.
In saying all of that, I was not surprised when I received a press release stating that Dr. Omar was in fact not coming and that he had taken people’s money and just kept it. YES! You heard right, a man who is considered a leader to many, did something that is so despicable, well, you can understand the organizers dismay at finding this out. They were able to find someone to fill his space: they called the Irritated Genie, who gracefully said yes, and gave a riveting lecture on Pan Afrikan or Die; 21st Century Global Afrikan Unity. His lecture focused on some key points:
- Defining Consciousness
- Discussing Afrikan Liberty
- History of Pan-Afrikan Thought
- Enemies of Afrikan People
- Threats to Afrikan People
Before the Irritated Genie came on to speak, Bro. Kofi, one of the organizers, came on stage and sincerely apologized for having to disappoint everyone. He attempted to play a video that was put together by Omar, but for some reason, it would not play. It is probably a good thing because just from what I was seeing from his expression on the screen, Dr. Omar was in an emotional state (as usual), and I am almost positive that the negative message would have changed the course of the evening. In his address to the audience, Bro. Kofi made a strong and impactful statement, “It is not about any one person, it is about us collectively.” I cosign this statement and at this time would like to make one myself, “We need to start utilizing the great talent we have here in Toronto, and resist the urge to bring in outside talent.” I go one step further to say that we have to stop putting people on pedestals: first of all, they did not ask to be there, and secondly, they are human and fallible.
As easy as it would be for me to pull some serious cards on Dr. Omar, I actually pray that he gets the help he needs. As a psychologist, you have to take on a lot, and maybe, just maybe, Dr. Omar has taken on too much. He needs help, and this is apparent in all of his actions. I know many of you want to judge him, but do realize, this is the war that we are in; many of us continue to battle with ourselves and will not get the help needed. Let Dr. Omar be a lesson for all of us.