Kaspa Kasembeko, The Sacred Tree, mixed media on canvas 46" x 35.5"
Yesterday, while doing laundry at my local spot here in Oakland (Coin OP Laundry on Claremont avenue), I was reminded how similar Oakland is to my home Kenya (and Africa in general). I had a chance to chat with the owner of the establishment, a 70 year-old African American man: Charles. He was very willing to share his early life stories with me and this reminded me greatly of my grandfather.
Charles is a deliberate talker and every word out of his mouth is coded with salt of the earth wisdom. He mentioned that he has owned the laundry establishment since 1984, when most of Claremont Avenue was still inhabited by African Americans and Italians. Just before I left, Charles asked me whether I owned a smart phone and I gladly said yes. He then told me to type "Dj Toure - New Oakland". Ostensibly, some young men came to him earlier in the fall to make a music video. They wanted to interview Charles about Oakland back in the 70's and 80's. He gladly shared. Here is what he had to say in the video interview: