I heard some time ago it said, “That in order for a man to produce great works, he must first suffer”. I don’t know how true that is but I can certainly assure you that it was the case with the birth of the “Our Afrikan Heritage Magazine”. I Paul Rock known in the Rastafari community as Simba am the one that created the OAH. Effectively the history of the OAH starts with me, but will not end with me.
Grounding with the Ancestors
OAH was started with absolutely no capital. When I got the call to produce a publication of this nature, I was unemployed and facing great personal problems that had brought me to the doors of depression. Being Rastafari of 17 odd years at that time, I started rereading speeches from Haile Selassie 1st and Marcus Garvey. Although I had read these writings previously, somehow the words took new shape in my mind.
Birth of the Idea
One afternoon after my reading, I was overwhelmingly convicted that one of the things Pan Africanism in Barbados was lacking was a social media outlet that would interest the people of the young and middle aged demographic. The idea was birthed as a newspaper similar to Marcus Garvey’s “Negro World”. My first step was to take the idea to the then director of the “Commission for Pan African Affairs” (CPAA), Dr. Ikael Tafari. After sharing my idea with him and listening to his feedback, I decided to transform the idea of a newspaper to that of a magazine. It was felt that a quarterly magazine would be more manageable than the newspaper, provide economic benefits to the community and have a much longer shelf life than a newspaper.
Development of the First Edition
I was allowed the usage of the conference room at the CPAA, and their computers, as at that time I did not own one. I was also assisted by the CPAA with the payment of $1500.00 BDS to a lawyer who drafted up contributors and advertisers agreements for me. Without any other funding I proceeded to procure the services of a graphic artist, contributors and a photographer. All these people were convinced to lend their various talents to this endeavour without payment.
Ready for Print
In March 2008 I was ready to go to print with an edition of the OAH that was to be used as a market tester and for promotion of the actual magazine. Still with no sight of funding anywhere, I was able to negotiate terms of payments with a printer. Here was the birth of the OAH magazine – a full colour, glossy magazine with professional photography and well written articles.
Time for Distribution
Still with no money in hand, I had to work out distribution points, meet with school principles and create social awareness of the magazine. I did this with no advertising or any form of marketing. I got the publication into almost every school library and bookstore. The magazine sold out in all their outlets. One college purchased numerous copies for its students to use in one of their classes.
As one would expect everything was not smooth sailing as creating awareness of any product without a form of marketing or promotion is a long process. Due to this the selling time of three months allotted for the sales of one edition was overstepped. Adding insult to injury, the fact that I had included an exact edition time of Jan – Mar 2008 severely affected outlets that were sold out from restocking. Keep in mind the magazines were only printed in March the end of that quarter. I incurred interest on my payments to the printers and although late I was able to clear my debt later that year.
Persisting with the Second Edition
With all of this taking place, I was able to get ready another edition of the magazine ready for print, purchase a laptop, get an official website for the magazine and publish the first online version. To date I have tried without success to harness funding from different government agencies and private middle and upper class businesses. I have spent three years trying to raise the funds it will take to officially put OAH on its feet. I have no other source of income and that has effectively recently cost me my marriage.
The people who are working their secure jobs here are not the ones making steps to create systems and avenues whereby vital information can reach the masses of people and thereby aid in their empowerment and development as Africans. Those are the talkers and not the walkers. Without apology, I have and, am presently making the sacrifice needed to make this outlet for Pan African ideologies and agendas to be shared with the people, manifest.
A New Approach
After three years of disappointments, rejections, broken promises and the list goes on, I have decided to turn to the very people who enjoy the information shared on the magazine’s Facebook group and on its website for assistance. It was suggested by another member of the magazine’s group and a fellow Pan Africanist that members of the OAH grouping should be willing to donate just $5 to the development of the magazine. Per Ankh Khamniversity Institute has led the way with a $20 donation.
Your $5 donation will go directly to the printing and marketing cost. This will also ensure that the magazine will be ready for the OAH summer youth cultural sales drive. The OAH employs numerous youths to sell magazines at different vantage points throughout the island. Youths are paid on a commission basis. In the summer of 2008 the parents of youths working in the program thanked OAH for not only adding some income to the home but for the fact that the youngsters were learning more about their culture and heritage and acting in more responsible ways. OAH would like to see this transpire again in 2012. Your contribution will make this a reality.
Pro Afrikan Festival and more
In closing, I would like to note that without any funding OAH has embarked on the creation of the first Pro African festival in the form of a fair and cultural show entitled “Sankofa”. This OAH activity has for the last two years welcomed in Black History Month here in Barbados. This activity has drawn critics from the government due to the fact that at “Sankofa” an effigy of a perpetrator to the African race is burnt. OAH in 2011 has also produced a cultural dance in celebration of African Liberation Day and produced a documentary on Libya and the affairs surrounding such in 2011. Evidence of these activities can be seen here on the OAH website to show the intent and direction of this magazine.
Make your Donation Count
Please note that this donation drive for OAH development will officially begin on May 1st 2012 and last until June 7th 2012. This is being done so that the OAH has sufficient time to print, promote and market the magazine in time for its release in its third quarter, July- September.
I thank you for your donation and am available to answer any questions you may have on the magazine or any aspect of this donation campaign.
Checks and/or money orders may be mailed payable to:
Our Afrikan Heritage (c/o Paul Rock)
79 Prior Park Terrace