Close Up with a Champion of World Music

December 2, 2014 Music , MUSIC/FILM/TV , OPINION/NEWS

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By

Mbizo Chirasha

Who is Dorothy Johnson-Laird?  Dorothy comes from a family of musicians and is passionate about African music, working as a journalist for ‘Afropop Worldwide‘ and ‘World Music Central‘.

She is also a poet and long time activist focusing on women’s rights. Dorothy has also devoted her time to progressive causes in Africa and is now developing a project on Women Warriors. Holding Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing and Social Work from Sarah Lawrence College and Fordham University respectively, she has also worked as a Community Social Worker in Manhattan for the last nine years, serving the older population.

Your greatest artistic Achievement – I have written poetry since I was seven years old. As a child, I kept my writing to myself, it was a private exploration. In my early twenties, I began to explore the local poetry scene in New York City. At first, I was very inhibited to perform my poetry openly. Finally, I found the courage to perform. Poetry takes on a different dimension when it is spoken to an audience, it can hold a different power than when you read it to yourself. As a woman, it feels powerful to share with others in a public setting and to start believing in yourself as a writer. For me it was a great achievement to perform my poetry aloud, but also to perform it for causes that I believed in, for justice, sometimes to hundreds of people. Since growing older, I always encourage younger people. So many of us are talented creatively. Why keep those gifts for ourselves alone?

Role you are playing in transforming communities around you – As a professional leader and social worker in a senior center in my community, I hope that I and my team are making a difference in the lives of the older people. I always like to believe that we are listening to and approaching work with older people in a deep and comprehensive way. As a poet and activist, I hope I have provoked people in positive ways and made them think about issues that they may not otherwise have considered.

Your future prospects – I am developing a project on what it means to be a warrior woman. It is true that not all of us as women are warriors. I think it is vital that we critically examine the role women warriors such as Harriet Tubman and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti have played. Often they have been overlooked in our classrooms or by society as a whole. There is so much we can learn from these great heroines. There are so many traits of the woman warrior that we can learn from, openness, boldness, strength, determination, to name just a few. I have developed a Facebook page devoted to this initiative and I hope people will join me there: https://www.facebook.com/JourneywithWarriorWomen

 

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Your parting shot to the reader – In a documentary I watched recently about Muhammad Ali, “I am Ali,” he asked one his daughters as a girl, “If everybody was born for a purpose, what do you think you were born for?” In a sense it is a very basic question, but in another way it is profound. As women and girls we sometimes undervalue ourselves and our place in life. It is important that we each work on improving our self-esteem and that self-esteem is so often connected to our passions in life, whether they are professional, in the work force, or personal, for example, in creative work. As women, we need to consider ourselves and our lives more seriously than we sometimes do. Questions that we can ask ourselves as women are: Instead of looking to another person for power, leadership and direction, what strength(s) do you have within you? What courage do you have within you?

 

 

 

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Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo Chirasha The Black Poet, works as a poet/writer in residence , creative/literary projects expert , poetry festivals manager and performance poet. He is an acclaimed international performances poet and is published in more than 60 journals around the the world, websites, anthologies and literary reviews. He also works as a media relations strategist and consultant.

Mbizo’s Poetry can be found at http://www.mbizotheblackpoet.blogspot.ca/  and blog at http://personalitiesofinspiration.wordpress.com/ also.

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