Why This Blog?
“An old dog does not hunt because of speed, but his endurance of the heart.”
(An African Proverb – Uganda)
Why this particular blog?
For those not familiar with previous blog postings, many of those were decidedly geared within the context of addressing sensitive and/ or controversial issues from Ancient Africa, The Middle Passage, Slavery, Emancipation, Jim Crow, Black Codes and Lynchings to Segregation (military and civilian life), School Desegregation, The Civil Rights Movement, voting rights and contemporary political or politicized interests across the globe. Future postings will likely be within the same genre. As I’ve often advised my kids (and grandkids), “…if it ain’t controversial, it probably ain’t worth writing about.”
Previous blogs were accessed through one of my son’s music and creative services website, named “rizingcubenterprises.com” (now under a similar name, rizingcubenterprise.com). Then, I wrote as a “guest” blogger and we had a strong, above-average following. Now, I’m starting out all over again. So, it may take a while before we have similar ratings.
Perhaps, like most bloggers, my writing represents mere snippets from many of my experiences which include athletics (high school and military-related), military service (Viet Nam Era & Cuban Crisis), undergrad, graduate and independent studies in Ancient African History, African-American History, Journalism and Business and Criminal Justice Administration completed while married, working and raising a family before retiring as a Senior Investigator, from Dominion Resources, Inc. (Virginia Power), in 2008. Many Richmonders (Virginia) might recognize this profile when adding that, while a freshman in college, I was a reporter (Sports, News & Feature Writing) with the now-defunct Richmond AFRO-American Newspaper, during the late 1960s, as well as a sports reporter for VCU’s “Postscript” ( then, with by-lines under given name, not “Backstreet…”).
My freshman college year was a continuation of my life-long goal was to become a full-time reporter, ultimately, for the New York Amsterdam News, a once major African-American daily paper in New York city’s Harlem community. But, like many working Americans, the curve balls of life have a way of letting you make the best out of the finest pitch tossed your way. And, as I’ve pointed out to my kids (2 are now college grads and another soon to be), when it comes to family matters, it’s always “first things first… first and foremost.”
In a nutshell, that’s why I’m only now, in retirement, returning to those initial journalistic pursuits- because I can. In addition, I also sing in a couple of gospel choirs and act in a couple of local, faith-based community theater groups. I feel that I’m blessed many times over, but among my greatest blessing is my family and extended family, as well as the true friends which have crossed my path, during this unique life journey. I pray that my horizons will be as rich and rewarding, so I may further share them with you.
Oh, yes, by the way, “Backstreet Djeli” is merely a pen-name which, I’ve previously suggested that I may someday drop, someday. It stems from my experiences while in the Navy, overseas, particularly while stationed for several years in Southern France, hobnobbing or playing soccer with the French-Algerians and North Africans while off-duty, drinking warm home-made beer- chock-full of flies and other stuff. Translated, it simply means a “grio” or “griot” from the back streets, or off the beaten path. “Griot” is simply a storyteller in western African tradition who perpetuates the oral tradition and history of a village or family.
Surely, I’m no “Griot,” nor an historian, in the literal sense of those terms. I’m merely another life observer— even “grandpa” or “pa pa” to our grandkids– and, a sundry of nicknames to my friends and family, none of them being “Backstreet Djeli.”
Yet, this blog is simply part of what I now do, among other things in retirement, and hope to continue, in various ways, “Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise” (as in the much debatable, but still interesting, 18th Century quote).
Afterall, according to an old African proverb: “Until lions have their historians (or, write their own history), tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”
As for the penname, well, that “someday” for revealing it happens to be today, as indicated below. As for why today, it’s less complicated to simply say, “Why Not?” But, within the freelance writing goals, established for myself, I promise that you’ll understand it better by and by.
Meanwhile, please stay tuned. Thank you so much for reading “Backstreet Djeli’s Blog,” as well as your continued support.
William “Duke” Smither (a.k.a., “Backstreet Djeli”)