Monday, December 8, 2008

Sister Somayah Joins the Ancestors

Sister Somayah, songstress's, former Black Panther, and healer passed unto the ancestors Friday, November 28, 2008. For further info. called Brother Akile at 323-799-8409.
bilal ali

Dearest Friend of my Sister "peaches',

My heart is at once heavy for the movement's loss and grateful to our merciful God of Abraham that she is at last free from the pain she bore for all the oppressed people of the world.

From my first conversation with her in autumn of 1993, when I was an intern at the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics in Washington, DC working with Robert Randall, I knew she was different. She called in tears to say that folks at the Sickle-Cell conference had laughed at her when she first started speaking about the hemp oil's use for sickle-cell pain. She said she was embarrassed and broken-hearted -- to the point she almost left. We talked for a while. I don't recall what I said to her, probably just some "hang in there" type platitude. I barely knew what sickle-cell was, just that only black people get it. Well "hang in there" she did, and a day or so later she was back on the phone with me. Scott you are never gonna guess what happened. "Over night, one of the conferees had an attack, had no narcotics, those folks started lookin' for me. The never found me but one of the folks in the hotel had a bottle of Hemp Oil I gave 'em. this gal used it, they pain went away, and do you know when I arrived in the dining room for breakfast the next morning, well you'd thought I was Winnie Mandela -- before the soccer team. You hear me Bubba.

I heard her alright. I heard a women on a mission, a women of steely determination, who knew the righteousness of her cause, and was not going to let anybody dissuade her. Oh yes, Lord, Somayah was different.

I remember her first visit to to the original "cannabis club" out in Santa Monica in 1995, "I am gettin' me one of these" . . . . and her Birthday party that same year, when she served us Ginj-a-juana tea and her and her friends taught us white-boys some of the old Black Panther songs, "Johnnie get your gun, get you gun, get your gun, piggy's on the run, on the run, on the run . . . .

Well we definitely weren't in Kansas anymore.

I remember three of us went. We hadn't been in Los Angeles very long, so we put on our nicest jeans and some polo shirts and a little spritz of nice cologne. I'm telling you, we were West Hollywood on parade . . .one guy Gilberet even wore white Levis and penny loafers. We were having a great time -- had us a little loop on -- from the Ginj-a-juana, when all the sudden one of musicians turns to me and says quite matter-of-factly, "we're glad you could come, but you gotta go now." Well I thought we'd done something wrong or said something inapproariate or something. He said no everything's cool, you just gotta get out of this neighborhood dressed like that, before it gets any later.

I also remember the look of utter and complete joy when she opened the box and first laid eyes on this seed squishing machine we got for her from Germany or Belgium or some such place, so she could make hemp oil for her Crescent Alliance . . . . and riding overnight on the LACRC charter buses to San Francisco and then Sacramento to protest with her -- always with her Autoharp singing "Jah Herb.

I remember testifying at her trial for "Jah plants". . . convincing her in the cafeteria that if she really was growing those plants for Crescent Alliance -- which she was -- then that's what she should testify to -- regardless of what her attorney was telling her -- and then driving her to Parker Center, an hour after her acquittal, to pick up four boxes of, albeit, moldy plants -- but damn it -- they were HER moldy plants, and she was takin' 'em home come hell or high times. She WAS something.

There WERE times, to be sure, when the good Sister and I tangled. You never had to worry about Somayah NOT tellling you exactly what she had on her mind. She read my beads more than once . . . . for being too cautious . . . . too elitist . . . too WEHO-centric . . . too insular . . . . too tall. And if she had you in her sights, she couldn't be bought for any price.

Like that seed squishing machine? When it finally arrived -- from wherever it came from, Mirron and I had to go pick it up, so we set a time with Somayah that we'd be by her house with it, not knowing it would take four hours to spring the damn thing from customs. Now this was before cell phones mind you.

So we arrive at her house, drag this beast of a machine out of the car, up to the front door -- it must've weighed a thousand pounds -- we knock on the door. No response. We knock again, no answer. I'm lookin' through the screen door, and she's just sittin' there on the couch. So I knock again, "Somayah." Finally she gets up ever so poised, strolls to the front door, opens it an says "Can I help you." Not a hint of recognition that she knows us. "Somayah.
" "What can I do for you?"

After spending like five grand on this thing, go through this grueling bureaucratic miasma at the airport with customs, schlepp it over to her house, haul it up to the door, and she say "what can I do for you? "Well you can start by getting this half-ton hunk of steel off my foot is what you can do for me." "Next time get here on time, she says." But that was Somayah.

But, no matter how mad she might get, fussin' and fumin', she always came from a place of love, and care, and concern -- without rancor, without hate, without condescension. She'd just smile at you with those little baby teeth she had, and then skin and filet you like a catfish, just pattin' you on the head the whole time. The Sister was something, alright.

I remember shortly after 9-11, when George Bush and John Aschcroft, with nothing better to do -- like tell the truth -- sent the DEA into the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center -- an undid undo in six hours what it had taken us six years to build. We had a gathering at the my church to discuss our next steps. And they closed us down.

After much consideration and soul searching -- and five years of open, honest, transparent, and charitable operations -- and one year completely free of street products -- and some 900 people to provide for, we had concluded that we COULD not and WOULD not be driven back into the shadows, to buy overpriced, poor quality cannabis that we could NOT vouch for the safety of. We knew by that time that I and two other officers of the CoOp would be federally prosecuted and we didn't want anyone else to go down with -- a specific threat the US Attorney had made. So at this meeting I was trying to soften the blow of decision, and I apologized apologized for not being able to everyTHING to everyBODY. I knew that for all intents and purposes I was out of the medical marijuana game for good. It was pretty much over for me.

Well Somayah came to that gathering, sat stoically and patiently, listening attentively to each person, until everyone else who had something to say had spoken, then slowly rose to her feet and said,

"My brother in the struggle, words cannot express the full measure of the love and respect I have for you. You have been there for us for five years, and I am forever on your debt, but if you think that I am going to sit here for one minute, as the REASON that AIDS patients in this town are no longer going to be able to get their medicine, you have lost a damned screw. I do NOT need YOU to protect me from the man. I need YOU to do the right thing for YOU. Oh, and by the way, while we're on the subject of YOU, my little brother, for the record, don't you ever apologize for who you are, or how God made you, or what he has called you to do in this world. If you're going to apologize, apologize to God, for all the times you denied his creation in you, and tried to be anything other than the beautiful human being you are. You just be the best you, you can be -- and let all the rest of us do the same.

Somayah was one of a kind. No doubt about it.

In the words of the song "For Good," from the hit show Wicked, I'd say to Somayah:

I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.
And we are led
to those who help us most to grow, if we let them and we help them in return.
Well, I don't know if that's true, but
I know I'm who I am today because I knew you.

It well may be, that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, "So much of me is made of what I learned from you, that you'll always be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now, whatever way our stories end I know you've re-written mine by being my friend.

Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Yep, Somayah had a way about her. They just don't make 'em like her anymore. I'm gonna miss her.

And boy oh boy, does the Good Lord have his hands full now.

grace and peace,
Scott Imler

Reverend Scott T.
Imler, Pastor
Crescent Heights United Methodist Church
1296 N. Fairfax Ave.

West Hollywood, CA 90046
323-656-5336 (office)
323-848-9522 (home)
323-572-5221 (cell)
pastorscott.chumc@gmail .

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