Monday, July 30, 2007

Sekou Sundiata dies at 58

I was shocked to hear late Friday evening while listening to WMNF 88.5 that poet, performer and activist Sekou Sundiata passed away on July 18 from heart failure.

I met Sekou when he was here in Tampa performing his one man show blessing the boats as part of our Expanding Horizons series, a piece about his drug addiction and subsequent kidney failure. He was a soft-spoken, wise, gentle man full of as much love as possible. His show was truly captivating and one that has stuck with me since I saw it in our Shimberg Playhouse.

I had to take him to a meeting at the local organ donor charity organization one morning, and as he approached my truck he say my REPUBLICANS FOR VOLDEMORT sticker on the back window. Clearly not understanding it he hesitated for a moment and asked me what it meant. I asked him if he read Harry Potter, and still cautious he looked at me with no understanding and nodded quickly with a furrowed brow. Suddenly feeling very self-conscious and possibly as if he was taking offense to it I quipped "It's a joke. Voldemort is like the devil." He still didn't seem that impressed and got inside my truck. We then spent the next 20 minutes driving around downtown trying to find an ATM machine that worked. He's one of the many artists who've come here shocked at the lack of decent services in the middle of Downtown Tampa.

It was an honor to know Sekou Sundiata, however briefly our paths crossed. I was moved by his performance and am a better person for seeing it.

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