From The Founder
Shekina Dellmar Donaldson
The Kinad Inc African American Time-Line Historical exhibition was created and designed during the early part of 2000, guided by a strong spiritual intervention which led to mosaic exhibit entitled "In Loving Memory." This was a memorial to the approximately, 50 million enslaved Africans who were forcibly transported as chattel for weeks or months across the Atlantic Ocean and scattered throughout North America, South America and the Caribbean Islands during a period that lasted from the 16th to the 19th century. This was the crossing known as the Middle Passage.
It defies belief that, in this worst atrocity known to humankind, that literally millions of captives who embarked on this crossing never survived to see land again. Tormented by unbearable thirst, hunger, heat and suffocation, surrounded by filth and vermin, tortured by confinement and routine abuse and violations, and often succumbing to the ravages of diseases, millions of human lives were tragically wasted and lost, their unnamed bodies thrown overboard as refuse to be mangled and torn apart by sharks. Those who survived to reach strange shores on this side of the Atlantic would discover, to their dismay, that the worst of their sufferings were yet to come.
In addition, to those who endured the crossing, countless others perished, estimated at as many as 20 to 50 million, men, women and children, many forcibly removed from their homes and communities in village raids, forced to march, often for days, to the coast and imprisoned in coastal “barracoons” and dungeons to await possible sale to slave ships, with deaths at every stage. Many more would die of the direct and indirect repercussions of these raids – profound social disruptions, destruction of agriculture, poverty and homelessness.
As people who have long understood and accepted that the transformations of birth, life and death are a natural reality, we have also long recognized the necessity of eulogy, or remembrance of those individuals whose lives on earth have ended, in order for life to continue harmoniously. However, no such simple act of benevolence has been offered for those millions of African captives who perished so needlessly. No national eulogy has been offered by any European nation in recognition of these millions who were sacrificed. Yet, research proves that thousands upon thousands of European perpetrators, engaged with their African collaborators, participated in these raids, murders, kidnappings, tortures and violations, and Europe and America benefited mightily from this ignominious system of commerce, and the generations of unpaid forced labor and uncompensated knowledge that it produced.
It is my personal belief that these inexcusable crimes, by Europeans and Africans alike, where millions of enslaved African lives were lost, and the remarkable strength of those who survived, should not be just a one-liner in conversation, or information stored away in a room. It must be a constant reminder to youth and adults of how we came to be, even as the mounting consequences continue to beset us at the beginning of the new millennium. This is knowledge that changes our former views and opinions of Africans, African Americans and African-descended people throughout the Diaspora. It is knowledge with the power to heal the human race. It brought grief to my life that these African Ancestors were given no eulogy, no memorial site, no street, and no date on the calendar to pay respect to these human beings.
My research in books, documentaries, archival materials and oral conversations with historians and scholars on the history of Africa and her peoples from five million years ago to the present, revealed that Africa today is home to more than 800 million people, and hundreds of different languages and cultures. It has been scientifically documented as the birth place of humankind, where the oldest human remains have ever been found. This extensive history suggests the wealth of knowledge that Africans brought with them through all of the horrors of the Middle Passage. It became my quest to find a way to eulogize those Africans who are gone but not forgotten. There are many reasons to preserve one’s history; it has been my concern and aspiration to ensure that those forgotten Africans did not die in vain.
Through Godís inspiration and my obedience and the aid of several managers at Bellsouth Gladys Williams, Melanie Davis and Margaret Kearse in January 2001 requested of me to do a presentation for Black History Month inside of Bell South Headquarters auditorium. Also being mindful of my husband Baswell Donaldson strong support and assisting in the development of this exhibit, including my children Baswell J. Donaldson and Kristal C. Donaldson moral support in helping to install the exhibit, made this dream become a reality on February 16, 2001 till today. I am truly bless to have my family and other supporting people in my life. All though this period my father Arthur Dellmar health was failing and made a transition to peaceful place, leaving us with great sorrow on April 28, 2001. The abundance of his positive life style enjoyment are memories planted deeply into our souls, his existence is daily embedded in us as he lived on earth, without hesitation it was more than appropriate to dedicate this project to my DAD.
However, indeed it has been disheartening, in the course conducting this research, to discover that for 400 years the peoples of Africa and the Diaspora had hardly been accorded any respectful account of their story. My desire as Founder of Kinad, Inc., is to share, year round, the stories of African peoples’ strong fight for survival, freedom, equality and justice, in order to inform children, youth and adults from all walks of life of the major contributions of Africa and her people to the world.
It is an incontestable fact of life that all human beings are far more alike than we are different. We all share the same basic bodily, psychic and spiritual needs. Yet, our superficial differences, in language, culture and ethnicity, as history shows, have far too often become lines of division, conflict and misunderstanding, which only weaken rather than strengthen us. Knowledge is power. It is important to teach our children the importance that the more we can know about ourselves and about one another, the stronger we are and the more able we are to live harmonious lives.
This is the basic premise in the creation of Kinad, Inc. exhibits and Mobile Museum programs, which are geared to address the very specific needs of schoolchildren in communities throughout our nation. Kinad recognizes that previous generations of Americans, whether privileged or poor, suffered from woefully inadequate educations because there was no tradition of teaching equal appreciation of all cultures.
Most pointedly, the racist myths and pretenses that were used to justify slavery and discrimination by denying that Africa or African people ever contributed anything of value to civilization found their way into history books, classrooms and the popular culture. We still live with the burdens of that cultural legacy, but today, in the dawning of a new century and with all of the technological advances of the “information age,” more educators than ever before are seeking ways to “light a lamp rather than curse the darkness.”
With an need to serve a broad demographic base, and through the support and assistance of many concerned individuals, Kinad Inc. has developed the ability to disseminate this valuable information through two interchangeable traveling units available year-round, equipped with educational hands-on and walk-through materials documenting history in Africa from 5 million years ago to present history of Africans in the Motherland and the Diaspora.
Looking back over the years, I am gratified that this spiritual journey continues to touch so many people, young and old. While overcoming many of the obstacles that had been placed in my path to success, I discovered that this project has given me a kind of spiritual rebirth and purpose in my life. This concept is inclusive and not exclusive. It touches the soul of mankind through the basic principle of recognizing the value of what is so often not included in history books but is so vital to understanding our whole story. Daily research and dialogue with concern citizens who continues to enhance my knowledge of denied history, which has excluded African present in American thousands of years before the European arrival. Reclaiming history gives me a boost and zeal to tell relevant history which stands in Mexico " The Olmec People". Is this information and other important historical finding noted in our children history books? If not then our tasks are not completed.
As an African American born in the 1950s, woven into 10 + generations of Africans living in America and linked to thousands of enslaved Africans and freedmen who helped this nation win its independence during the American Revolution, individuals who built the White House and the Capitol, they fought and became victorious unsung heroes as they participated in the Union during the Civil War. I am aware that my story is deeply rooted in America, and to those whom the Middle Passage brought to these shores. I have inherited their valiant and determined struggle to be free in America. I am grateful for all of their courage and to be able to keep their stories alive through such Kinad, Inc. traveling exhibits as “The Liberators.” This exhibit not only explores the unrecognized role of enslaved Africans and Freedmen in bringing about the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th and 14th Amendments, but also those many champions, Black and White, who, with integrity and tenacity waged a bi-racial struggle for freedom, equality and justice for over 400 years.
After many tours to schools, government building, colleges, small and large businesses, etc., thousands of visitors and participants have cited this creation as a valuable educational on-site experience for all nationalities to view and support. The designing of this unique educational and inspirational exhibit and mobile museum has encouraged individuals and organizations to collaborate with the Kinad, Inc. mission and goal.
I hope that people will begin to recognize and understand the greatness of Ancient African civilizations, of Africa before the conflicts of Arab and European intrusions, of the magnitude of the disruption of life styles, customs and language, and of the emotional distress, economic stagnation and social dysfunction that were imposed upon Africa and its people, who were forced into enslavement and colonization. Through this research and divine intervention I have been inspired to lift up the African Nation and Africans in the Diaspora by sharing with the world the impact of African and African American contributions to the world. This is why I personally share this message to visitors and participants alike, that "Danger confronts Us All when the history, culture and human rights of any race of people are denied."
Shekina Dellmar Donaldson