I’m currently visiting Guyana with my family: my mom, 3 out of my five sisters, aunt Diane, my son Muruwah and my daughter Sajda. My mother and aunt Diane are Guyanese, and this is my mom’s first time returning to her home country since she was 12 years old. I’ve been balancing participating in the Muslims in the Caribbean conference, enjoying the scenery with my family, meeting the locals, and documenting our experience in this special place.
Guyana is considered part of the Caribbean and it is geographically in South America. It feels like the Caribbean but not being an island, it looks more like West Africa. Fun fact: Guyana is one of the least visited and least densely populated countries in the world, which also means it’s one of the less documented. I’m excited that my artistic career opens up opportunities for me to share this special place with you
While here, I’ve been having Pepper Pot (Guyana’s national dish), for breakfast every day since the first morning I arrived here and it is so. good. The dish is actually Amerindian, and it’s made with beef, cassava sugar and wiri wiri peppers — small and spicy cherry peppers native only to Guyana. It is a real treat because my mom rarely makes it.
I’ve also been seeing plenty of my mom’s favorite fruits everywhere. When I sat down with my mom to learn about her childhood in the Caribbean she fondly told me how she used to love eating fruits as a child, especially green mangoes and star fruit. I can easily imagine loving to eat fruits and relaxing under the open sky now that I’m here.
I’m excited to get back into my studio at the Queens Museum next week, where I’m organizing a new community engaged program – The Bilalian Night at the Museum (see the P.S. below) as part of my fellowship and preparing for my spring 2024 exhibition — which might seem far away but actually isn’t. For the time being though I will be documenting my family’s return to our roots in my mom’s homeland in Guyana, relaxing and having a fun time.
Finally, Please Mark your calendar!!!! As part of my Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts project at the Queens Museum, on September 23rd from 6-9pm I’ll be transforming my studio to host a one night exhibition: The Bilalian Night at the Museum – a mobile presentation that preserves and safeguards an African American Muslim community 90+ year history and culture from the Nation of Islam (under Hon. Elijah Muhammad) through its transition with Imam W.D. Mohammed. The Bilalian Night at the Museum is an initiative under The WDM Collective (Cultural Heritage Preservation Project). The museum includes pictures, books and records that demonstrates the evolution of this community. This project is curated by Bilal Hassan – a local Queens community organizer who will lead a guided tour through this unique archive. The September 23rd event is sponsored by Amana Mutual Funds Trust, and will conclude with a financial education workshop on investing and preserving the legacy of the Black Muslim community. Bean pies and other Black Muslim specialty refreshments will be served. More info and an official invitation to RSVP will be sent early this week inshaAllah so make sure to join the mailing list.