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Austin Africa News Volume 1 Issue 3
As Austin Africa keeps developing so as to provide better outreach to its target audience, Austin Africa News changes also. The Austin Africa News section is being structured according to topical interests for immigrant families. These briefs are written to bring to the attention information that can be followed up with other media and the internet. The focus is on African families and their life in Austin and Central Texas. AA hopes to publish it weekly as well as update the AA events section simultaneously so that Austin Africa News will not be heavy. The Austin Africa News page now covers the following topics:
Austin Africa News-major activities happening in Austin relevant to African families
Trending All Africa News –stories from the continent likely interesting to all Africans in Austin
City News Highlights– major issues happening to the entire Austin community
Community Events –likely to be of interest to African families
The University Scene– Activities at UT Austin, Huston-Tillotson, ACC, Texas State U, and St Edwards
Austin’s Media-important stories from Austin’s Major Media-articles from these media that impact African community
Family and Children-family oriented events and activities as well as supportive institutions and organizations
Sports-major sports events arising about UT, professional teams, and sporting events
Art– art exhibits or shows at the many art collections in Austin
Music– African or Africana music playing at public or private venues.
Movies– Movies of possible interest and how they are rated by Austin critics.
Food-any news on the African food scene; stores or restaurants
Lectures, Seminars, Speakers-Africa related or of possible interest to Africans
Austin Outdoors and Surrounding: Recommended outdoor trips in or around Austin given the Season
Free and A Helping Hand-coverage on free or subsidized activities that can help immigrant families
Changes in Austin Africa.com– AA is an experiment and is content in motion and in the future changes will be announced in this section.
Austin Africa News
This week there is Austin news that may impact immigrants. 1. Among these is the Proposal 1 Vote by Austin voters on whether Lyft and Uber will have to require fingerprinting and abide by other city council restrictions/rules to operate in Austin. As many immigrants have taken up this activity to supplement incomes, a vote to support the council’s rules could impact them negatively. The vote takes place May 7th.2. A more positive development for immigrants is the opening in Austin of the People’s Community Clinic to provide free care at all levels. This 59,000 ft square structure is located at 1101Camino La Costa. Uninsured people will find this support very helpful. 3. The STAAR testing glitch is yet unsolved leaving families whose children’s test was lost or damaged without an answer. 4. There are two major Art Festivals that overlap and should interesting to children: Art City Austin at Cesar Chavez Street between Guadalupe and Lamar and Sunset Valley Art Fest at 3205 Jones Road. Both are held on April 23rd. 5. Recently Coal City Social Club united its Austin, Dallas, and Atlanta Chapters to become a national organization. This Igbo self-help society has been growing for several years. Also recently, The Esan Association of Austin was inaugurated. AA in an earlier study of student groups at UT Austin found several National African organizations: Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Kenyan and several others besides the main UT African student group, the African Students Association. Should any national or ethnic club exist in Austin, please contact Austin Africa so that a profile can be developed and possibly seek an Austin African Society Congress.
Trending All Africa News
Of consequence to many African immigrants, President Obama’s executive order is now before the Supreme Court, which is lacking one justice. A negative vote could impact thousands of African families. Related to President Obama, there was an interesting article by the Austin Villager Newspaper Website on Spike Lee’s interview of Bernie Sanders where the Democratic Presidential Candidate opines that President Obama is probably the smartest President in our history. I do not know whether this is true but check out The Villager: http://theaustinvillager.com/. Finally, another story that has a personal connection to me is that of the girl students kidnapped by Boko Haram in Bornu State Nigeria. I had the pleasure of working in Bornu State for six months in 1982 and this war on innocent people saddens. I remember the indigenes of that state which have a very long history via the Kanem Empire, to be a gentle and easy going people. I was there when the rainy season came, and there is nothing sweeter than the soil of the Sahel after rain. It just seems to appreciate it more than other soils.
Austin City News
1.As noted earlier the issue of Lyft and Uber has only intensified. It is clear that the Austin American Statesman and other media support the Austin City Council proposal. This will only intensify as May 7th approaches. 2. The company that operates the I-130 toll road has gone bankrupt. What will happen? I do not know other than toll prices will likely increase. 3. The odds for a major league baseball team have tanked because the economics of it does not work. 4. The issue of Austin becoming increasingly expensive for lower income and lower middle income residents is also intensifying. Both the Statesman and the Austin Chronicle are following this story closely as the growth the tech population is forcing out families that have been in East Austin and other places for generations. Austin presently is one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. The city council has passed measures related to affordable housing and increased water prices. There are efforts to create permanently affordable housing but developers are proposing new ventures all the time. A Compassionate Communities Campaign like those in Houston and San Antonio was passed recently. There were no less than five articles on the problem in the Austin Chronicle. An article by The Texas Monthly on Austin as the eternal boom town tends to indicate that the changes are inexorable. 5. More bad news about standardized testing in public schools. Recently the STAAR tests which measure language and math blew up, students were either logged out, or the system kicked them out. 14,220 students statewide were affected.
The Long Center is sponsoring a talk by former CEO of AOL and several other tech innovators on The Third Wave and the Future of the Internet April 25th. It is also presenting a performance by the brilliant violinist Black Violin April 29th in the Dell Hall. These two young African violinists blend classical with hip hop and jazz. A great show to encourage children to practice on their instrument at school. The city is once again opening its Downtown Street Fair with vendors, artists, retailers, and food on Fridays through June 3rd at Ninth and Congress. It is a nice way to familiarize yourself with downtown Austin if you do not want to go the 6th Street Bar and Music approach. The Art Alliance of Austin is sponsoring another art festival artcityaustin ‘Austin’s Original Fine Arts Festival’ a the Palmer Event Center April 29-May 1 if you missed the 23rd events.
The University Scene
The UT African Studies program via its John L Warfield Center has continuing exhibits at its four galleries The Isese Collection, The African Arts Collection (recommended), the New Gallery, and Idea Lab. There will be a Peace and Justice Day on May 2nd. Huston Tillotson-a traditionally all Black University is sponsoring its own Earth Day on Friday the 22nd. St Edwards University has a serious of events in the remainder of April. It has an ongoing The Center for Ethics and Leadership Speakers Series which Catholics and other religious-minded individuals might want to follow on their website events tab. Many are for the SEU community, but others are open. The Austin Community College Deferred Action for Immigrant Youth (DACA) program has seminars and presentations to help out with immigrant issues specifically: for immigrant youth is a process in which permission is granted to undocumented people, who meets certain requirements, to legally stay in the country on a temporary basis. In this Forum, students will get information about how to start the process or how to renew it.
The big issue for the UT football team is a quarterback. The program recently ran its annual Orange-White Day found that the Freshman Shane Buechele outperformed Senior Tyrone Swopes as his team lead 21-7 before the game was called off because of rain. No decision yet on the starter. However, the pundits were out saying the choice was obvious so why not make it now? Coach Strong seems to know well to speak when it is useful and only then. Charles Omenihu whose African ancestry is Igbo had an excellent day with four tackles and two sacks.
Round Rock seems to have a winner in the Round Rock Express. More than 13,200 fans attended the at home opener, a record and the team put in a win. Governor Gregg Abbott came to throw the first pitch, and some are saying that $14 per ticket rather than $50 is a bargain given team performance.
Movie and Theater
In Austin, the movie possibilities are astronomical given all the venues and tastes. This is also made replete with real theater in town though much of it may not be what families are interested. Austin Africa will focus on family offerings in this area particularly those which seem the obvious. I guess it is beginner’s luck but the Theatre offering of Alice in Wonderland at Zach’s Theatre is an excellent choice for children who want to sense the power of a live play. UT is having its ‘New Theatre’ running through the 24th but these are more for adults. One of the advantages of UT is its accessibility.
As far as movies, my choice is Jungle Book based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling. The IMAX at the Bullock Museum has Jungle Book as well as Batman vs. Superman, and two nature picks; the National Park Adventure 3d and the Galapagos 3D. God is Not Dead 2 is still on the big screens. The Austin Chronicle has advertised a movie that looks really good for children April and the Extraordinary World.
Lectures and Seminars
Besides The Third Wave and the Internet which is sponsored by the Long Center and shown at the Dell Hall, this period seems somewhat limited in educational lectures.
Austin and Texas Media
The two magazines, Austin Monthly, and Texas Monthly, seemed to have hit home runs this month.
The April 2016 Austin Monthly has a thorough introduction to all the walking and biking trails around Austin. This magazine should be bought as a reference. It gives a good description of each of the 12 trails as well as a difficulty rating which seems strange as they all are easy to medium. None of them seem far from Austin and assuming no traffic catastrophe can be reached in a short amount of time. In addition, for the healthy and super health-minded it gives a calendar of Triathlons and Running events.
The April 2016 Texas Monthly should be bought by all immigrants and newcomers because in its article The New Austin which it also calls The City of the Eternal Boom with a humorous question attached to the title: How did Austin go from being a sleepy haven for pot-smoking slackers to the most talked about place in the country-if, not the world? While I plan to write my own history of this transition and peg it to Princes of Africa, I think this article can help new people to Austin understand the struggle between the Old Austin and the New Austin and why Austin took as its motto ‘Keep Austin Weird.”
It also predicts that the 2 million of us now in its metropolis will increase to 4 million by 2040. Think about it.
When one wants to know what is happening in music in Austin, the go-to place is the Austin Chronicle. You can pick up one for free at Whole Foods and many restaurants and I suggest that you do so just to get an idea of how much music is happening, nonstop seven days a week. Its music section gives a deeper view into the music at hand from all sides; from music stores, to suppliers of music on vinyl, about the musicians and their producers, the various musical festivals that continue throughout the year, their recommended musical listings (shows they recommend) and finally the club listings band/musicians by date and venue. Under live music venues, there are almost 200 clubs listed alphabetically. If one is free on a particular day, all that is required so see what is available is to check the date and see what is happening where. On Saturday the 16th there are 103 listings.
One of the oddest events is happening now: Record Store Day (RSD). You would be mistaken to think that they only sell old records from the past for there are some people that want their music whatever it is to be on vinyl rather digital downloaded from some internet store.
I do not know who sells African music on vinyl, but there must be one. For this site, however, I focus on African music that is live. Reggae, or classical music that one might hear from a Symphony or at an Opera. For instance, the most important musical events for this section are three: 1. The Black Violins sponsored by the Long Center, 2. the music played to teach students how to dance African at the Ballet Afrique (details in another issue), and 3. The Sahara Lounge, which is the home of live African music in Austin. The big news at the Sahara Lounge is the return of Zoumountchi, a Malian musician who is authentic. He has just returned and seems to play every Saturday. I know other African acts probably pass through but I believe most of them would be found at the Sahara.
Having identified the African Restaurants and African food stores in the last issue, I think this time to focus on food festivals that might interest an African palate. I know African like curry so any South Asian Festival should be interesting but of US cuisine, I believe Louisiana cooking comes closest to the African food I have come across in my time. The big festival for this cuisine is the Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival. Here is the marketing for the festival; “Celebrate authentic Louisiana cuisine at the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival held in Austin, Texas. Listen as featured bands perform brass, Zydeco, blues, Cajun, and funk music across two stages, and tantalize your taste buds with crawfish, jambalaya and alligator. For the younger attendees, the festival provides a children’s area that includes moonwalks, rides, slides, bounce houses and plenty of other activities to keep the kids entertained. Overall, the event provides a fantastic opportunity for guests to explore Louisiana’s culinary and musical cultures in a family-friendly setting.”
Apparently the portions are huge, and the critters are alive before being cooked in that special Cajun way at the Austin American Statesman parking lot at 305 S Congress Ave.
Family and Children
Other than the before mentioned movies and the two Austin Arts festivals on the 23rd there are a few other events. One interesting event for children is The Town Musicians of Mumbai (formerly Bombay before Indians started changing the names of their cities to their original vs. colonial names). Almost every African likes Bollywood so this sounds interesting: The Sacred Cowgirls Swing Band help tell a Bollywood-inspired version of Grimm’s beloved Bremen town musicians and tales. Recommended for all ages. Through May 1 Saturdays 11 PM, Sundays 1 PM at the Scottish Rite Theatre, the www.scottishritetheatrie.org. There are three other items I think would be good for children: 1. The Children’s Museum, 2. The Toys Museum (new) and sadly missed, this time, the Georgetown Observatory whenever it opens to let people look at the stars. Then there is the Earth Day Celebration Historic Browning Hangar at Mueller 4550 Mueller Central Drive. Earth Day is celebrated a couple of places and is said to attract 10,000 participants. Check it out.
Outdoors and Around
I have already mentioned the walks and drives that can be found in this month’s Austin Monthly. As I said buy it as a reference. I now want to note the many small town festivals of the suburbs around Austin. They begin the spring and go on through summer and are a nice way to become familiar with some of Texas historic villages (one of which you might live in). Ii is not possible to cover them all but to give an idea a few are listed. A good festival should have live music, lots of food, local crafts, farmer’s produce, and authenticity. They should contribute to their community and be an occasion their citizens take pride. They should show and embellish some of traditional Texas. Notice that there is a festival in all directions out of Austin.
1. Founders’ Day Festival Dripping Springs April 22nd-24th. This celebrates its founding in 1850 has a parade and a carnival arts and crafts and lasts three days.
2. The Georgetown Red Poppy Festival (April 22-24) is held in the Historic City Center and has considered one of the best representations of Texas County Seats. 710 Courthouse Lawn. Parades, floats, dancing bands, twirlers plus its historic setting should put this on the top of the list. Georgetown has the oldest university in Texas Southwestern University founded 1840.
3. The Wimberley Arts Festival April 22-24th a community arts celebration in the picturesque woods of central Texas. The fest features a variety of fun outdoor activities fit for revelers of all ages. Some of Texas best artists live here.
4. Buda County Fair and Wiener Dog Races April 23-24th. Every year in Buda, the Wiener Dog Capital of Texas, the Country Fair and Wiener Dog Races provide a weekend of adorable fun for the whole family. Attendees come from all over the country to enjoy the qualifying Wiener Dog Races, which culminate in the run for the roses on the second day of the two-day festival. The event also features a Best Dressed Dog Contest, a Bake-Off and BBQ and Chili Cook-offs, and there are live music and entertainment throughout the weekend.
5. Lake Travis Spring Festival Bee Cave on banks of Lake Travis. April 30th. Besides the usual there is a watercrafts’ show and boat expo. A Kidzone for children. Hill Country Galleria 12700 Hill Country Blvd.
6. Bastrop Yesteryear April 30th The El Camino Real Music Festival goes throughout the weekend and offers Tejano, blues, folk, country and rock performances. Attendees can also explore the Juried Arts, Crafts, and Antiques Fair or head over to Bastrop Family Rodeo Club Arena for some barrel racing and calf wrestling. Near the Lost Pines Forest, it was founded by a Baron from the Netherlands.
7. Deutschen Pfest Pflugerville May 20-22nd. As the name indicates, this festival celebrates a German heritage. With plenty of Texas, this is an extravagant all-ages event complete with a parade, live music, and a carnival. There are plenty of shopping booths, children’s activities and fun rides to occupy the entire weekend. There are also “Pfun Run” 5k and Kids 1k races. Food and drink are available throughout the festival. Pfluger Park 515 City Park Rd
There are other festivals further out: San Marcos, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg all of which have unique elements to make them worth going to.
Free and a Helping Hand
Austin support immigrants in many ways. There are literacy and GED classes as well as schools that have been organized to help at-risk immigrant children (The Family Resource Center at Lanier High School). The Austin Library has many free courses, and their website should be visited. The city of Austin also helps in many ways, and their site can give an idea of what support services they provide. Many nongovernmental organizations help. As an example, the Black Chamber of Commerce provides a lot of professional support. In the next Austin Africa News Issue, support services for immigrants and newcomers will be detailed.
Planned Changes to Austin Africa
Princes of Africa will add pages on the history of Austin as well as a list of important venues and museums. Any information that is not likely to change will be posted there as a quick reference for AA readers.