Monday, July 21, 2008

Panthers in Africa

[above: sophy, Charlotte O'Neal with necklaces for Mama Yuri Kochiyama, and YW]

Young Whan and I had the incredibly good fortune of visiting the United African Alliance Community Centre at Imbaseni Village.

Pete and Charlotte O’Neal are Panthers in Africa. Pete is a political exile from his days of activism with the Black Panther Party in Kansas City, Missouri. Charlotte, his wife, was also part of the Black Panther Party in Kansas City but is not officially in exile. They came to Tanzania in 1972 as urban activists, found themselves on four acres of wilderness at Imbaseni in the Meru Mountain region, and learned to build a homestead by hunting, farming, and building their own home.

Now integrated in the surrounding WaMeru community, they have established the United African Alliance Community Centre, a wonderful multidisciplinary centre for arts and education. They provide secondary school-level education to young people in the surrounding village as well as a rich arts and music program. They host high school and college students from (mostly) the US who do village homestays and/or stay at UAACC so that they can work and learn from the surrounding community.

Charlotte invited us to visit – I only had two hours in transit to Dar es Salaam, but Young Whan was able to stay a couple of days. It was wonderful to witness how much she and Pete have built and grown in this community. Check out the photos – and the websites below.

The UAACC website:

“A Panther in Africa” documentary about Pete O’Neal:

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