A Leader's Death Revisited

Prof. David Gibbs speaks as part of "Mysteries in History"
7 p.m., Thursday, April 3; reserve before April 1
Copper Room at the Innsuites Hotel
475 N. Granada Ave.

It begins with independence and ends in murder: It's the brief history of Patrice Lumumba's rule as the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lumumba came to power in 1960, when the Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium. But regional divisions based on ethnicity and rivalry led to infighting and a constant battle for power.

"It was an extremely complex civil war," says David Gibbs, an associate professor of history and political science at the UA.

Gibbs will speak about Lumumba's death and those involved as part of the UA Department of History's "Mysteries in History" series.

Some of the talk will focus on the role of the United States.

"The U.S. certainly had an indirect role in this," Gibbs says. "There was an implicit understanding that (the murderers) could do this."

The information pertaining to the U.S. role came out in two phases. First, in the '70s, a Senate investigation concluded that the CIA did not play a role in the assassination, and that it was solely Congolese opponents.

"The catch is: The Congolese opponents were on the CIA payroll!" Gibbs says.

The second phase occurred in the late-'90s, when information was revealed showing the indirect role that the United States played in Lumumba's execution, at the hands of a Belgium firing squad. It appears that Lumumba's death was part of another clandestine operation with U.S. influence--something that can be placed in a contemporary context when looking at relations with countries like Venezuela or Iran.

The event is $25; RSVP at least two days before the lecture. Toward the end, expect a Q&A and a buffet with desserts and beverages. --M.K.

A Festival Is Reborn

The Comcast Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Festival
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30
Pima Community College Northwest Campus
7600 N. Shannon Road
797-3959; govac.org

The Oro Valley Festival of the Arts has a new name and a new home.

The Comcast Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Festival will host a multitude of events and happenings at the Pima Community College Northwest Campus this Saturday and Sunday.

"It's going to be very, very large," promises Kate Marquez, the executive director of the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council.

Thanks to the title sponsor, donations and fundraising, this year's event is free.

"It's a family event, with events for children up through teenagers, as well as adults," Marquez says.

So here's a rundown of what will be offered to these families: Some 150 artists will showcase their talents in music, painting and/or a variety of other media. And, of course, many of the artists will have their works available for purchase.

Although the event and parking are free, the food vendors do charge a fee.

"The food is wonderful," Marquez says before listing off all of the varieties of eats; it's too difficult to keep up. To give you an idea, the vendors are slated to include Domino's Pizza, Rod's K.C. Barbeque and Yia Yia's Greek Goodies.

Live music performances will begin each day at 9:45 a.m. and will go through the late afternoon. The Tucson Jazz Society's JazzWerx players will perform, as will Tucson Music Hall of Famer Lisa Otey.

And for the children: massive, inflatable contraptions and people walking on stilts!

Visit the Festival Web site for a complete schedule. --M.K.

Mixing the Senses

Pan Left's Synaesthesia II
7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, March 29
Splinter Brothers and Sisters Warehouse
901 N. 13th Ave.

While looking at this text, you most likely see black letters on an off-white page. However, if you saw each particular letter in color, you would be experiencing synaesthesia, a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sense creates an involuntary stimulation in another: Sounds may also be perceived as colors; words may invoke taste sensations in the mouth.

This mixing of the senses is at the heart of Pan Left's Synaesthesia II. Five musical acts--Amy Rude, Vicki Brown, VORTEX 4, Jose Saavedra, The Human Arts Ensemble and Matthias Düwel--will perform live improvisational interpretations of short silent videos that are being projected onto a nearby screen. The videos are the creations of Pan Left Productions members.

"Pan Left is a nonprofit organization, a collective of artists, video makers, progressive people, local musicians ... that puts the tools of the media in the hands of people who don't have access," says producer J.M. Aragón. As a co-organizer of the Synaesthesia event, Aragón enjoys the ability to "create a bridge between local musicians and video makers."

Aragón says a week before the actual event, the musicians were given a short description of the videos that will be screened. While the musicians can use the description as a reference for the performance, they may also decide to simply improvise on the spot.

"We'll see everyone's work come together for the first time," says Aragón. "It is an open forum for improvisation that happens that night. People will see music and video in a form not like anything they are used to. It's pretty unique to Tucson. You have to see it for yourself."

Admission for the event is $5 to $10. For more information, visit the Pan Left Web site. --I.M.

Return of the Wolves

Dia de Los Lobos
3 to 7 p.m., Saturday, March 29
La Placita Village
Broadway Boulevard and Church Avenue
623-9653, ext. 6; defenders.org

In the late-'70s, the last known male-female pair of Mexican wolves was caught and brought to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

It was looking bleak for the "lobo." However, those wolves and their progeny would spend two decades in captivity--and the species survived.

On March 29, 1998, 11 wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, inside the Apache National Forest in Eastern Arizona. Today, 52 known wolves are again running wild in Arizona and New Mexico--and proponents of the wolves think it's time to celebrate.

This weekend, a number of environmental groups are throwing a party: Dia de los Lobos. The free event will include food, drinks, a raffle and entertainment, including the bluegrass music of the Titan Valley Warheads, an interactive chalk-art exhibit, the pyrotechnic wonders of Flam Chen and a special performance from the Apache Crown Dancers from the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Craig Miller, the Southwest representative with the Defenders of Wildlife, says Tucson is a perfect place to celebrate the wolf reintroduction.

"The wolves that were reintroduced into Arizona are essentially the relatives, the offspring, of the wolves captured and taken to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum," Miller says.

Miller cites the reintroduction program as a prime example of people working together. For example, the program was (and is) unpopular with many ranchers in the reintroduction area--they feared for their animals and were unhappy about what they saw as government interference--but the Defenders of Wildlife helped develop the Bailey Wildlife Foundation Wolf Compensation Program to reimburse ranchers for proven wolf kills.

"This shows we can resolve our differences constructively," Miller says. --J.B.


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