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A celebration of our Elders

An Elder gets a foot washing

An Elder gets a foot washing

A celebration of our Elders

By Marie Carrie

      Jamaican music blared from the speakers as old and young enjoyed fresh fruit, cool breezes and great conversation.  There were elders being pampered with foot washing and back massages under the trees at Samuel Delevoe Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and children racing around playing tag.

This annual event in honor and celebration of our Elders took place on May 19, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was organized by Sister Amatula Thomas and sponsored in conjunction with Caring and Partnership (CAP).

This Day of Celebration has been an annual event in Broward County for nine years. Sister Amatula and her husband Raxton “Chiwara” Thomas began the event in 2005.

According to Chiwara, “This day is suppose to be a day where we apologize to our elders and say look we are sorry as young people. We are sorry for the neglect we’ve given you throughout the generations. Please forgive us.”

Chiwara’s wife adds to this by saying, “Our society is so segregated and separated that elders are just shunned and put over to the side.”

While the atmosphere was relaxed, everyone was busy making sure the elders were pampered and cared for.

Transportation to and from the event was provided free of charge and entertainment was provided by various groups, including one of the long-time sponsors- Holistic Arts Center.

School-age children from the center played the drums and performed an African dance in honor of the elders.

Lorna, another long-time supporter of the event, treated the crowd to music performed on her acoustic guitar. Of the event Ms. Lorna had this to say, “There isn’t anyone else doing anything like this. I hope when I get to this age I can.”

While there was lots for everyone of all ages to enjoy, according to Sauda, a parent and friend of Sister Amatula, “the best part is having everyone come together with peace and love and just honoring the elders because without them we would be no-where.”

Michael Sims, a native of Chicago, who moved to Fort Lauderdale four years ago for treatment, was enjoying his first time at the event. “I think it was excellent. The performers and how they put it together. The only place that has stuff like this is my hometown Chicago.”

On the other side of the park, Jordan a 14-year-old teen sits on the park bench enjoying the festivities with his aunt.  Jordan with a bright smile simply says “I think it’s a great turn out. My aunt enjoyed the performance.”

His aunt, Jessie, stated, “It’s a good idea to bring elders and young ones and you have all types of ages. We forget how important it is to be with the elders.”

She goes on to say, “Music is good and food is fabulous and next year I want more jerk chic-ken.” Considering her sister hosts the event, she just may get her wish. In addition, Jessie would like to see more vendors participating and activities for the children like face painting.

Speaking of next year, Sister Amatula has plans of extending the event to Saturday night with a celebration on the beach. Next year will mark the ten-year anniversary and according to Amatula, each year gets bigger and better.

“People don’t have the time anymore to like regard our elders in high esteem. So elders get pushed aside and my dream or vision is that some kind of way and some part of our liberty we see ourselves surrounding by babies and elders and teen-agers having a good time and nobody is upset.”


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