Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Amazon Reviewer Praises Realism In Heart Of Diamonds

An Amazon reader recently posted this review of Heart Of Diamonds

Dave Donelson's Heart of Diamonds is a well-crafted, well-informed story of fictional, but highly likely events in the Congo. Donelson captures the government corruption that prevents the Congo (and all of Africa) from rising to the position among nations that this resource-rich country could attain were it not for the history of exploitation by outsiders. The story is exciting, you care what happens to the characters. The rape and amputations and exploitation of child soldiers and general brutalization of the people by the military and by rebel forces is drawn straight from current reality, as is the power of greed to make people do the most terrible and idiotic things.

My only complaint is this is another story of white people set in Africa. It would be more compelling were the main protagonists African, perhaps wealthy sons and daughters of the elite sent to the US for college who return to do exactly what Valerie and Jamie do in this story. This is a small quibble, however, Donelson can write best from a perspective that he truly understands and his readers are mostly westerners who can better relate to the characters than if they were Africans.

You should read this book for a great story, but also to get some understanding and realization of the terrible conditions that prevail in West Africa today.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, November 8, 2010

Disaster Capitalism And The Congo

What is Disaster Capitalism?

Find out Wednesday at the Brecht Forum when a panel of experts updates the current situation in Haiti, the Congo, Pakistan and New Orleans. The panel will also look at the intersectionality of the psychological, socio-political and economic implications created by these natural disasters. What patterns and trends have been generated over the course of the decade? What are the long-term psychological after-effects? Under these conditions, how are local leaders and groups organizing? In solidarity with the people, how do we consider, organize with, and fight for justice.

Featured speakers include Beverly Bell, Kambale Musavuli, Adaner Usmani, Tracie Washington, and Marguerite Laurent.

Where and when: Wednesday November 10 7:30 PM, The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (Between Bank and Bethune-A,C,E, to 14th Street and 8th Avenune) 212-242-4201

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joseph Mbangu Updates Congo Situation

Congolese attorney Joseph Mbangu by interviewed recently by the UN's IRIN news service about the most recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The situation continues to deteriorate, and Joseph's comments are quite timely. Listen to the 10-minute interview here.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, October 4, 2010

Breaking The Silence Programs For Congo Week, October 17-23

Mark your calendar now for the third annual Breaking The Silence: Congo Week, October 17 – 23, 2010. Congo Week continues to grow rapidly as people throughout the globe utilize the occasion to articulate the challenges and potential that exists in the heart of Africa. Since Friends of the Congo launched Congo Week in 2008, over 50 countries and 200 university campuses and communities have participated in the global call for justice in solidarity with the people of Congo. Some Highlights of Congo Week III in October 2010 include:

Congo in Harlem Film, Performance and Lecture Series, NY
• Marathon Run by the International Criminal Court Staff, Amsterdam, Netherlands
• DC Green Festival, Washington, DC
• Caravan from Kenya to South Kivu for the International Women's March, Nairobi
• Commemoration Ceremony of the Lives Lost in the Congo War, Kisangani
• Salaam Kivu Film Festival, Goma
• Congolese National Ballet Performance, Kinshasa

Your participation in Breaking the Silence is making a difference by making more people aware and engaged. Your actions, no matter how small, strengthen the resolve of people inside the Congo who fight day and night for peaceful and lasting change. Knowing that they have support throughout the globe makes a tremendous difference.

Key Organizers in Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, The United States and many other countries are joining with groups inside the Congo to call for justice. In the wake of a recently published United Nations Mapping Exercise Report about the mass atrocities committed in the Congo, your participation and support is even more critical. Over 200 Congolese organizations have issued the call for justice NOW! This is a growing global movement to bring an end to what is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world and the deadliest conflict since World War II.

Kambale Musavuli, Student Coordinator for Friends of the Congo urged concerned groups and individuals to organize an event or activity for Congo Week on their campus, in their home, religious institution, community center or any other local venue. "This year we have a special initiative,' he says, "We are asking each organizing school or community to raise at least $100 to support the Friends of Congo global campaign. Organizers who raise the most funds will receive 10 autographed copies of Congolese superstar, Kanda Bongo Man's latest album "Non-Stop Feeling."

For more information, email: info@friendsofthecongo.org or phone: 202-584-6512

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Podioracket Explores Heart Of Diamonds

podioracket.comThe audio book edition of Heart Of Diamonds has drawn a whole new audience to the novel. It's also garnered some attention from devotees of the form. I was interviewed recently by the team at Podioracket.com, who wanted to know how the book came about and how it differed from my previous fiction. I also talked about the connection between American televangelist Pat Robertson and Mobutu Sese Seko, which gave me the idea for the novel.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Celebrating eBook Week

As an author, I can attest that technology is a wonderful thing. I've published three books (so far) and every day seems to bring new ways to put them in front of an audience. One of the most exciting is in eBook editions, a format that's growing like crazy and reaching more and more people every day.

To celebrate eBook Week, March 7-13, I'm offering Heart Of Diamonds at half off the already-low eBook price at Smashwords.dom. This week only, the book will be available for your Sony Reader, Stanza, Palm, or just about any other device for just $4.98--a 50% discount. The special only applies to purchases through Smashwords.com.

Isn't technology wonderful?

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Friday, March 5, 2010

Heart Of Diamonds Now In Audio

Now you can listen to the exciting story of Valerie Grey's struggle to reveal a diamond-smuggling scheme that threatens to plunge the Congo deeper into war--dragging the United States along with it. The production is complete and unabridged, too, with nearly eleven fast-paced hours of narration.

And best of all, it's free. You can download the entire novel to your iPod, computer, or any device that will play mp3 files at Podiobooks.com or iTunes at absolutely no cost (although there's a donation button if you're so inclined).

Heart Of Diamonds--now available in trade paperback, eBook, and audio book editions.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, March 1, 2010

More International Women's Day Events To Support Congo Women

It is truly heartening to see the swell of support for the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Numerous events in celebration of International Women's Day (March 8) are dedicated to them as more and more people raise their voices in protest of the victimization of women in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo. I wrote recently about the day-long celebration of Congo women scheduled for Harlem for Sunday, March 7. Here are some other events to put on your calendar.

Friday, March 5, Run For Congo Women is sponsoring a concert fundraiser featuring singer/songwriter Jess King at Ella Lounge, 9 Avenue A (between 1st & 2nd st) in New York. All proceeds from the event will go to Women For Women International, an organization whose work on behalf of the women of the Congo I've supported heavily. Tickets for the concert, which starts at 7 PM, are $15 at the door or $12 in advance. You can make a reservation (or donation) at Paypal and then give your name at the door. Remember ALL proceeds will go to Women for Women International.

At noon on Monday, March 8, the place to be in New York will be the Brooklyn Bridge, where Women for Women International is holding a walk across the bridge and a rally to mirror those held that day on bridges all around the world, including one on a literal bridge between Rwanda and the DRC. The event will be filmed and featured in a viral video to be released following the campaign.

Another event of note is inspired by Half the Sky, the NY Times bestseller by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The event features musical performances, celebrity commentary, and the world premiere of “Woineshet,” a short film by Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei and Lisa Leone. It was captured live on February 11, 2010 in New York and is being rebroadcast to select theaters nationwide on March 4, 2010 at 7:30 PM (local time). While not specifically dedicated to women of the DRC, Kristof's long-running coverage of the war in Congo heavily informs the work. This event will benefit CARE International.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, February 22, 2010

International Women's Day In Harlem Dedicated To Congolese Women

International Women's DayInternational Women's Day will be celebrated in many ways, but none more sincerely than the commemoration in Harlem on Sunday, March 7. The day is dedicated to the women of the Congo and features a day-long lineup of important events and inspiring performances.

11:00 AM Morning Church Service
Riverside Church, Clermont Ave. (between 120th & 122nd Streets)

2:00 PM Procession & Rally at Ndunga Public Art Project
Plaza of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building, 163 W 125th Street

3:00 PM Conflict Resolution Workshops for youth and adults
Black River Studio, 345 Lenox Ave. (between 127th & 128th Streets)

6:30 PM Screening of "Lumo" the documentary film
Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Ave. (between 127th & 128th Streets)

8:00 PM Panel Discussion and Dialogue
Recording of Personal Statements and Testimonials

There will also be performances by LaBurga, Global Kids, Jumping For Justice Double Dutch Social Initiative, Kim Weston Moran, Linda H. Humes, Gloria Lowery Tyrrell, Garifuna Day Woen's Coalition, Drummers, and others.

The events are hosted by a long list of prominent organizations including Friends of the Congo and Ndunga Public Art Project. Space is limited, so please rsvp NPAP (718) 855-8616.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

"Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" should be repeated every hour on the hour by every school child all over the world until it becomes the mantra of all societies. It is Bantu for "A human is human because of other humans."

The simple but profound adage is the theme of Chinua Achebe's collection of essays, The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays.It may also be the theme of his life's work, judging by the simple message it conveys about the importance of the communal aspirations of the peoples of Africa. He uses it several times in various essays in the book, but really drives the point home in the concluding paragraph of the last one, titled "Africa Is People."

"Our humanity is contingent on the humanity of our fellows. No person or group can be human alone. We rise above the animal together, or not at all. If we learned that lesson even this late in the day, we would have taken a truly millennial step forward."
Achebe, winner of the Man Booker International Prize and best known as the author of Things Fall Apart,one of the seminal works of African fiction, has a subtle, dry voice that makes each of these seventeen essays something to savor and linger over. He makes his points about racial stereotypes, African development, history, and politics, and the African-American diaspora, sometimes with humor, sometimes with biting directness, but always graciously and without rancor. You sense Achebe knows that to rail against injustice is futile; change must come through education achieved one cogent argument at a time.

While Achebe is a scholar, he is also a master storyteller. More often than not, he makes his points not with dry logical argument but with an exegetical tale about someone he's met or something that's happened to him. Those little narratives are much more illustrative than pure cant. In "Spelling Our Proper Name," he tells the story of Dom Afonso of Bukongo, for example, who negotiated with King John III of Portugal in 1526 as an equal. He then writes:
"Such stories as Dom Alfonso's encounter with Europe are not found in the history books we read in schools. If we knew them....young James Baldwin would not have felt a necessity to compare himself so adversely with peasants in a Swiss village. He would have known that his African ancestors did not sit through the millennia idly gazing into the horizon, waiting for European slavers to come and get them."
I found his exploration of the complex politics and history of Africa in "Africa's Tarnished Name" to be particularly thought-provoking. He also talks frequently about Joseph Conrad's purported racism, which has become an important theme in the deconstruction of Heart of Darkness. Some of these essays have been presented elsewhere, although they have been revised and updated since they were first published. Nothing in them is dated, however, and Achebe's insightful discussions with Langston Hughes and James Baldwin ring as true as his observations about the potent symbolism of Barack Obama's election as President of the United States.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Exciting New School For Congo

Mark your calendar now for a special event March 1. That's when Studio MDA unveils the architectural model of the new school being built by the Georges Malaika Foundation in the village of Kalebuka in Katanga Province. The school is a big step forward for the foundation spearheaded by international model Noella Coursaris Musunka, who broke ground for it just last year.

The school is the first of many the foundation hopes to build to give Congolese girls a solid educational experience. Their dedication and "can-do" attitude has produced results, not just press releases, which is one big reason I support GMF.

Students of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation conducted extensive research to develop a model for educational institutions when they visited the school site last year. Their plan holds great promise for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Education has suffered greatly in the nation as ongoing conflict in many regions drains the country's resources.

In addition to the unveiling of the school's model, attendees will hear Matthew Bishop, NY Bureau Chief for the Economist and Khaliah Ali, dedicated humanitarian and daughter of boxer Muhammad Ali.

The event will be Monday, March 1, from 6 to 8 pm at the James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street in Manhattan. For more information, contact GMF at rsvp@gmfafrica.org.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Friday, January 8, 2010

Heart Of Diamonds in New e-Book Editions

What's your preferred reading device? You can now put the new edition of Heart of Diamonds on your Kindle, Sony Reader, Stanza, Palm, or just about any other e-Book reader with just a couple of clicks.

Check your favorite online bookseller, or go to Smashwords.com for a comprehensive listing of available versions. For the Kindle edition, visit Amazon.com.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heart Of Diamonds Promotes Congo Aid Groups

I happily started the new year with the release of the second edition of Heart of Diamonds. The revised edition corrects a few typos and slightly updates the text.

Most significantly, perhaps, the new edition recognizes four organizations whose work helps the people of the Congo. A couple of these organizations are large, the other two are small, but the work they all do contributes to the well-being of the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

HEAL Africa

Women For Women International

Georges Malaika Foundation

Doctors Without Borders

The new edition of Heart of Diamonds is available from the publisher or Amazon.com. You can also find (or order it) from your favorite local bookseller. If in doubt, use the ISBN 9781449919924.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the