November 24, 2011

Keba Konte Gift to Grow

I value community leaders. Community leadership often extends beyond those that we normally imagine—people democratically elected to govern or those trusted to manage large scale community based organizations and campaigns. Community leadership is found in artists, entrepreneurs, teachers, elders, social workers, and young people.

One such leader is Keba Konte.  An Oakland native, artist, entrepreneur, father, and all around investor  in the “future of young people,” Keba is a community leader and a gift to those who know him.

Keba Konte at Life Is Living Emancipation Park in Houston, TX. Photo by Alefiya Akbarally

Keba and I have built with each other in several capacities, most notably collaborating for years on Life Is Living. We often exchange ideas, share technology, and recently have been working together to launch a new cafe in San Francisco named Chasing Lions.

I am a big fan of the artistic practice he has of printing photography on small and large scale wood, copper and vintage books. Many of these works were collected and presented in an epic art installation named  888 Peices of We. Keba writes:

a process of reviewing and selecting from thousands of images spanning my 42 years in order to choose the 888 that reflect my journey thus far: protests and portraits, street moments and political movements, freaks, friends and family members.”

Today, I was surprised with a very generous gift from Keba. 

Keba Konte Gift To Grow

I’m amazed by how many pieces of myself I see in this photograph.
I dont’ see the young man in this photo as a stranger. 
Neither is the environment surrounding him.
This is here I grew up.
And I feel connected, invested even.

Below a poem inspired by the photo.

“GOD” tattooed on the neck of a young man dressed in white
much like me at one point in my life.
Handball & Basketball courts with concrete floors, high walls and fences.
Surrounded by brick buildings and full of  people who gather.
Reminds me of places where I gained my earliest insights into
what it means for all to be human, and what it means for some to be raised.

Many of us experience moments in our lives where we are thankful for the gifts of others. Some of us share these stories, some of don’t. I encourage all of us to consider at the very least sharing these moments with the people who take time to offer you gifts.

As we go into the holiday season, expressing gratitude for and honoring the many people who contribute to your life can be a source of great joy.

Thanks Keba!


P.S. Here’s a great article about Keba Konte and his work written by Kori Chen for 12 Ft Dwende.

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