Friday, November 23, 2007

Belafonte Brings Blessings to Canada

After seeing the headlines consumed with the faces of Mulroney, Schreiber and Harper this past week, it was with considerable pleasure that I found this article about Mr. Harry Belafonte. Still gorgeous at eighty, his allure is only strengthened by his profound character and courage.

Singer and activist Harry Belafonte has high praise for Canada


TORONTO - Harry Belafonte began the first of a daylong round of interviews Thursday with a cane at his side and a cast on his fractured right foot, a result of accidentally hitting a piece of furniture while "romping" with his grandchildren two months ago.
The foot is "healing well," the iconic American entertainer and social activist said after sitting down in a downtown hotel lounge chair.

Like Redford (Three Days of the Condor, All the Presidents Men), Belafonte has been outspoken about American foreign and domestic policy.
He once referred to Colin Powell as the
"house boy" for the White House.

Indeed, it seemed Belafonte, 80, was in good spirits on the day he was to receive an International Diversity Award from the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews at a gala in the city later that evening. The prominent Asper and Lakhani families were also being honoured by the national organization, which aims to eradicate discrimination, prejudice and bigotry.

...Belafonte, a singer and tireless human rights activist, has received countless awards in his storied career, including Grammy, Emmy and Tony trophies, as well as the Kennedy Center Honors, the Nelson Mandela Courage Award and the U.S. National Medal of Arts.
This recent Canadian honour, which cut into his U.S. Thanksgiving plans, further validates his work, he said, rhyming off a laundry list of things he loves about this country.

...I've had a long and passionate history with Canada. I've been coming here since 1948," said Belafonte, who was a confidant to Martin Luther King Jr. and supported the civil rights movement in its early days. He is still a good friend to South Africa's Nelson Mandela, whom he visited just a month ago.

"I've watched the Canadian nation grow and watched its diversity increase. There's still much that needs to be done. There's still a lot of people who feel disenfranchised who come and speak to that fact, particularly the Indigenous, the Native Canadian community."

"But that notwithstanding, there's still much that goes on here in Canada that I think is wonderful and worthwhile, and I've done many things in the world where Canadians are very strategic to the experience."
Belafonte pointed to his first trip to Rwanda with UNICEF "at just the height of the holocaust there."

Our section chief was a Canadian by the name of Nigel Fisher and I don't think God has ever put a breath into a greater human being than was put into Nigel. He's been an absolute resource for compassion and humanity expressed in the finest way," said Belafonte.

"Of course here in Canada, the country has meant so much to those who do not fare so well in the United States, especially people of colour. From the days of slavery you were a door of opportunity . . . (and) people who were unjustly put upon found a haven here certainly during the civil rights movement. During the anti-Vietnam mobilization, Canada was a haven for young people who were war resisters."

Belafonte has harshly criticized the U.S. administration under President George W. Bush, whom he called the "greatest tyrant" and "terrorist in the world" during a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year. Belafonte has also had some choice words for former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in recent years.

He'll never regret his statements about Bush, he said.

Absolutely not," said Belafonte. "As a matter of fact, I marvel at how tempered I was. The comment did not in any way match my state of anger and rage at those people, but I choose to behave as civilly as I can and set a civil example for those who might be influenced by what I say."
"But I," he said exhaling deeply, "I don't retreat one millimetre of an inch from what I've said. As a matter of fact, it's more evident and I'm more validated every day that Bush opens his mouth. I not only feel that way but thousands of people who write me say so."

Thank you for gracing our country with your presence Mr. Belafonte, such courage in the face of such early, ugly patriotic madness sent your way. You along with Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Barbara Streisand and Sean Penn have done what artists are supposed to do - warn the public of false prophets, and impending doom - who better to see a "wag the dog" presentation for what it is than people accomplished at stagecraft.

Thanks for your early warning system Mr. Belafonte, it is 100% accurate and as usual connected to the divine as only your voice is when you sing ...DAY O....or the Bananna Boat song, or Abraham, Martin and John.

I hear you Mr. Belafonte and thousands more do everyday. The light is on, and growing in brightness daily.


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