Rites of Passage Graduation

Here’s a video of ORIGIN images. Or scroll down the page to see photographs of the event and read the comments.

Why not add your comments too?

ORIGIN Graduation 2011 was very special indeed.

Were you there? If so, what’s your account and comments of the big day?

Well, it was Saturday the 14th May. The community gathered for the arrival of the young men in the Village. Seven young men returned from their journey and asked an audience of about 300 people of family members, guests and supporters – to see them as young adults, not children.

And what a show the young men put on for the community. They performed their drumming piece together about the beginnings of the Universe. This was followed by their personal pieces where they reflected on the ORIGIN journey that for some of them began in January 2010, sixteen months earlier. A lot has happened in the Village since then.

Then to the their influential figures. So in came the Olympic athlete Jesse Owens from the 1930’s, the Parliamentarian Bernie Grant MP, the griot Gil Scot Heron, jazz musician Charlie Parker and the revolutionary Toussaint L’ouverture from the 1700’s. They all asked the community to remember them… because they are part of our history.

There was reflection, laughter and tears too as we considered the challenges faced by the group during the programme. Videos of Micah and Shaq, two of our gifted young men, just couldn’t help but touch us all. Yes, the tissues came out during the videos and as family members came to the stage to speak of their particular challenges.

It was a wonderful occasion. The graduating group performed some amazing pieces. Jumaane was incredible with his saxophone and later the piano and Laqwuan and Nathaniel delighted us with their conscious lyrics. Romaii had already burst onto the scene with a detailed account of the life and times of Jesse Owens.

Then Josh, a Graduate from 2008, performed a personal piece about family life. He reminded us that although we had arrived to celebrate, we should not forget that not all is well in the Village.

The graduating young men demonstrated their martial arts skills that they learned from training on Sundays. Then a drama piece about the New Cross Fire, where they announced to the community that they will never forget what happened to the young people who lost their lives in a birthday party in Lewisham – 30 years ago.

People, I’m still only in the first half of the evening and have made no mention of the arrival of Tunde Jegedy,  internationally renowned Kora player, whose family from West Africa trace an unbroken line of Kora players going back over three hundred years.

Tunde performed a solo piece and again during the transition to adulthood ceremony.

Were you at this event? What do you think of it all – the ritual, the response of the parents, how so many Graduates from earlier years flooded forwarded to welcome the new arrivals? I tell you… it’s a blessing for me to be part of ORIGIN.

Bro. Pablo and Bro. Adisa during the Transition Ceremony

Drumming – The beginning of the Universe

Jumaane plays the Sax as Charlie Parker

Laqwuan as Gil Scott-Heron

Romaii performs Jesse Owens

Micah family interview

Shaq Family interview

ORIGIN Circle 2011

Martial Arts demonstration

Neil – Warrior

New young adults

Elder NNA Pepukayi and Chief Omilade receive Kofi

Graduates receive ORIGIN 2011 CIRCLE

Aaron, Graduate Ambassador steps up

Chief Omilade presides over Blessings

Graduation ORIGIN 2011


13 responses to “Rites of Passage Graduation

  1. I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced at the at the achievement of Origin in elevating our young men and bringing together our village to celebrate such an important period of transition in the lives of the graduates – so meaningful for all of us. From the very talented musician (WOW -that saxophone!), to the very obvious growth of our two sons with special needs (such discipline!), to the extraordinarily courageous young man who so ably articulated his painful experience of childhood (find forgiveness and be a free man)- you should all feel very proud and optimistic about your futures – you have much to offer; to Pablo and the family of facilitators I bow down. To the Noye family – your dignity is humbling.


    Words such as special, moving, pride, fantastic, brilliant have been darting around the Origin facilitators since we saw the year and a half’s effort out on stage in front of us.

    Usually on graduation days the Facilitators are running around, or are anxiously awaiting last minute additions to the proceedings. This year strange, for everything was running on time. This gave enough time for a dress rehearsal and for the graduates to sharpen out their presentation to the Village.

    By start time we were ready to rock and roll the Lillian Baylis assembly hall, that has been the home to the majority of graduations, it was packed with family, friends and supporters of the Origin program.

    The young people had that look in their eye, the familiar look we had seen in previous graduates that said ‘we are ready for the next phase of our lives.’

    Before the young men were presented to the Village, the young people had a heart to heart with their older versions, the previous graduates, who were a little bigger, a little stronger, a little more focused but reflected what it was they are to become.

    Unlike previous graduations, the graduates played a crucial role in the ceremony. In years gone, Brother Pablo is rushing around trying to get performers, cameramen, photographers and other hands to help. This year, a graduate was filming, another performing, another taking photos, all ready and willing to give to a program that helped develop them. That sight alone was beautiful.

    We can speak about the highlights forever, from the traditional appearance of past influential figures like the late Great Bernie Grant, To Toussaint L’oveture to the Saxophonist Charlie Parker and Poetical great Gill Scott Heron. The impressive martial arts demonstration, or the moving presentations done by Shaq and Micah who were able to show the village their brilliance, and whose families gave a moving tribute to their journey on the program. Who can forget the amazing piano skills of Jumaane, or the emotional poem of passed graduate Josh Dada.

    At the end the new graduates, passed graduates, facilitators and family members joined to form a large circle, ending with the familiar words LET THE CIRCLE REMAIN UNBROKEN!

  3. Valerie White

    What can I say… I was due to attend another function with some friends but decided to attend the Graduation instead for the first part at least. Well, I couldn’t leave and had to stay to the very end!! It was breathtaking, a splendid evening words cannot express how I felt. Its so important that we continue to support our young men & young women. The evening for me was superb, I am still in awe. Every one of those young men have achieved something great that will stay with them forever. Such talent in each and every one of them. I wanted to gather them into my arms and give them all a great big hug. I am so proud of our young men and the facilitators who have given so much.

  4. Maureen Juliana-Harvey

    I have attended a couple of graduations previously so I was completely at ease when I arrived. Lillian Baylis has not changed. The reception area is the same. The kitchen area and theatre all look the same. Those things and the familiar faces all add to that sense of having been there and done that before. Then the young men took to the stage and it was as if this was the first Origin graduation I had attended. My first thought was – this just gets better. My second thought was – how is it, when everything around us seems to be in decline, Origin just keeps improving. I too had a packed schedule on that day, a wedding and an engagement party. I left the wedding before the reception and blew out the engagement party because I wanted to show my support for Origin, the graduates and the facilitators. There was never any question in my mind that it would be worth it but I have to say, that the event exceeded my expectations, and even though my son is a graduate I still left wondering – how do they do that? All of the graduates showed us their unique qualities as young men. My heart was particularly touched by Micah, Shaq and Josh’s contributions and life experiences. All of that plus I learned something new about our ancestors!
    As always, I look forward to my return to the village.

  5. Juneary Raymond

    Yet another successful graduation event and programme, but my heart is full of pride each time I attend.
    This time I brought my grandaugter for the first time we missed most of the first section due to her being late meeting me, but by the interval we proceeded to the back of the hall for an application to join the girl rites of passage proramme.
    This is how effective Origin is, we need to now offer more concrete support to Bro Pablo and team in making this happen across our communitities nation wide.

    Lets look to financing through our own efffects and not statutory means!

  6. sister kenyasue

    Greetings All

    Juneary I agree we need to develop our own sustainable fund raising strategy to created by us for us.
    We could call it something like empowerment gifting.

    What about all the young men’s performances where are the pictures of Romaii running on stage as Jesse Owen’s? and delivering that speech. Brother Daniel you really have the gift of capturing that moment “Gwan”! from sistar kenyasue

  7. Pablo
    The rites of passage graduation ceremony seems to get better every year. I still remember my own swell hearted laughter & tears when my son was there all those years ago. I hope you and all your colleagues and all our sons are all proud of everything you’ve achieved collectively and individually. I feel love & pride & joy just to know about it. Stay blessed and keep on keeping up the great works.
    Sincerely. D

  8. Iconic photos:
    1. Josh
    2. Tunde Jegede
    3. Drumming
    4. Martial Arts demonstration
    5. ORIGIN graduates

    The Ceremony…powerful, powerful, powerful.

  9. Delberth Hemley

    Thanks for sharing this, I think this is great and exactly what our young men and women need to know to feel and be part of our billiard and appreciate the struggle of our past and present ancestors.

    I too am m a photographer trying to document the celebrations and struggles we as a people face, and I must commend the fantastic tecnical and artistic quality of the images put froward by the photographer.

  10. I attended becos my son who is now 13 has been on Origins waiting list for over 3 years now, so when I saw the invitation in my email, it was on!! I felt it like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to attend and I am so glad I did come. I was in awe at how upright the young men stood, paid attention and were so thoroughly proud to have come so far. I marvelled at all the different factors involved in the actual ceremony and what it entailed, and I was proud for every young man and their supporters for having come so far. I pray that my son will get to experience such unity ..and as Pablo and everyone else repeated over and over again .. LET THE CIRCLE REMAIN UNBROKEN.

    Our young men desperately need such programmes, as the sense of togetherness, which is lacking in external world is sadly missing from families.

    I sincerely appreciate all that ORIGIN has to offer and provide to our young men, as with such support, its harder to fail, but rather succeed at all they put their minds to.

  11. Hey Brothers big things. Another set of Brothers made it threw the program, proud of them cos the journey was long and hard. I’m still over here in the USA. If you all have a meeting tell everyone I miss them dearly and thank you for giving me the tools to becoming a man and being able to prioritise strength and wisdom. This is what you all installed in me and without you I wouldnt of been able to make it over here. Thanks once again to my family and my Brotherhood. May the circle remain unbroken.

  12. Greetings Bredren and sistren.
    I am going to share with you some of my thoughts at length, so please bear with me!
    I have been an associate of Origin since it’s inception and have acted as a critical friend an supporter since that time. I have watched with pride as it has grown and matured over the years and this year was no exception. I shared with the leaders of the programme, a vision I had on NewYears Eve, of the coming revolutionary events that this year would bring and the need to prepare ourselves and our young people for the coming challenges. I emphasisied the need to look back in order to understand previous times and then be able to apply that knowledge and understanding to the comtemporary situation. I don’t think I have to list the things that have transpired this year, that differentiate it from previous ones but the fact that so many anniversaries have fallen this year, has also given it a particular character. All of this has been reflected in the Origin programme and was referred to by the graduates in their projects and general observations. We have reflected on events such as the 40th Anniversary of the Mangrove Trial, the 30th Anniversary of the passing of the Most Honourable Robert Nesta Marley OM, the 30th Anniversary of the New Cross Fire and the attendant Black People’s Day of Action.
    We recently all participated in the 30th Anniversary Retrospective of the first Brixton Uprising in which Origin participants, graduates and leaders all took part. We have had the sad experience of many stalwarts in our community passing over to the ancestors, such as Gavton Shepard, who helped to found and run the first Black youth club in Brixton, the Methodist sponsored, Railton Road Youth and Community Centre. Spartacus R who after having had a very succesful musical career with the groudbreaking African band, Osibisa, became a community activist, par excellence, promoting the interests of people of African heritage. Others such as Orville Brown, George Greaves and the most untimely death of Keith Reid, community worker and only son of the ubiquitous Jackie and Clovis Reid, both tremendous servants of the community interest in our area.
    Finally last week we laid to rest, Dorothy ‘Cherry ‘ Groce, our now iconic figure, who like Nelson Mandela, had to endure 26 years of suffering, after being shot by police in her own home in Brixton. She had had to overcome the pain and indignity of disablement and dependency upon others for help in undertaking the most basic human activities but had the strength of character and fortitude to rise aboe that and stiil run and manage her family and see all of her 8 children, ultimately succeed in their lives.
    The example these ancestors have set for any Origin participant, is very large and daunting but only what we should expect of any self respecting programme that seeks to achieve the objectives that Origin has set itself.
    Our challenge as a community is, ‘ how do we scale up Origin so that it can reach out to those who really need it most?’. How can we spread the principles and practices embodied in it, to communities of African origin, around the UK, and indeed to other communities, to be one of the tools to beat back the challenges of the crisis of youth that we are living through? These are big questions that a number of us have entered into dialogue to come up with some solutions to.
    Even a 50 year veteranof community affairs like me has been taken aback by some of the carnage that has taken place this year. A child being shot in the pharmacy on Stockwell Road, the innumerable shootings and stabbings of you men themselves and the final ignomy, the spraying of the congregation of the New Testament Church of God, Lambert Road, with automatic gunfire, as they filed out of church, after their Sunday service, 3 weeks ago and a 15 year old youngster carrying out a hit on a stranger, a young mother, for £200! The horror and barbarity is somehow unfathomable. How do we challenge mindsets that can carry out such acts?
    Please contact me through Origin if you wish to join this conversation.

    As Bobby Seale, joint founder of the Black Panther Party of the USA said, ‘If your not part of the solution, your part of the problem!’


    Devon C. Thomas
    Lambeth Enterprise and the Black Heritage Group

  13. Love Love Love this may the circle never end xxxxxxxxx

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