Remembering The Life  and Times of Sidney Phillip Mejia  
By: Jos� Francisco �vila

� 2014 by Jos� Francisco �vila, All Rights Reserved

 

As we continue the celebration Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation, we dedicate this day to remember the life  and times of Sidney Phillip Mejia  a Giant in the Garifuna Performing Arts. Sidney was a Garifuna Language teacher, historian, musician, drummer, songwriter, actor, publisher, writer of "The Life and Times of Chatoyer" and much more.  

 

On Saturday May 18th, 2013, Sidney participated in the Bronx Music Heritage Center's Bronx Rising! Palabras/Words: Reading from  the Life and Time of Chatoyer AKA The Drama of King Shotaway 

 

Lucy Blanco

 A theatrical reading, in Garifuna, The passages were read by Sidney, who was accompanied by the drummers Oracio Alvarez, Rosendo Blanco, Julio Rubio and Julio Avila.

 

The play is a recreation of the original play, "The Drama of King Shotaway", written by William Henry Brown in 1823, it is credited as the first play written by a Black playwright in the United States. The play's subject is the defense of St. Vincent against the British by the Black Caribs (Garifunas) in the mid 1790s. No copies of the original script are known to exist.

 

The reading coincided with the 12th Anniversary of the UNESCO (The United Nations) proclaiming The Language, Music and Dance of The Garifuna People a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on May 18, 2001.

 

Sidney Mejia was a drummer, singer/songwriter and author, and co-founder of the Garifuna Writers Group of Los Angeles, California and was co-owner of Chatuye Books and Music. In addition, Sidney was the publisher of Dumurei.com an online quarterly magazine. 

 

He  lectured and taught classes on the Garifuna culture and drumming at many colleges, universities and cultural institutions throughout the United States. He taught and lectured on Garifuna drumming, dancing, singing and songwriting. In 1981, Sidney co-founded the Garifuna musical group Chatuye and co-wrote and produced the critically acclaimed album "Ahmuti. The group also recorded a CD on the Arhoolie label.

 

Sidney Phillip Mejia passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 28, 21013. He is survived by his only daughter, Dr. Ameenah Mejia, her mother Sonia, his mother Carrie, brother Charles and sisters, Sidonie, Charlotte and Sharon. May He Rest In Peace along with the Garifuna Ancestors!

 

 


 

 

Photo courtesy of GAHFU Garifuna All Rights Reserved
Photo courtesy of Rootz Kreaionz All Rights Reserved
Photo courtesy of Teofilo Colon, Jr.