Marimba Ani was a reluctant witness at Wednesday’s memorial for her friend, Joseph Baldwin.
She was at the celebration in Lee Hall because he had insisted on it. Baldwin was her dear friend, as well as a mentor to many.
“He gave us a black print for a African identity,” she said.
Baldwin, a longtime professor of psychology at FAMU, died Dec. 31. He was 75.
The memorial service program described the home going of Baldwin as a “farewell celebration for a distinguished Afrocentric psychologist, educator, researcher and author.”
Although there were tears and sobs, the service was done in a celebratory manor and it maintained that energy.
Jermaine Robinson, a psychology professor at FAMU and the facilitator at the memorial, said it was his goal for the event to honor Baldwin’s legacy as a vital force in the psychology department.
“What we wanted to do is to make sure that what we do will honor this great spirit,” Robinson said. “To that energy, we will be obedient.”
Friends who had know Baldwin for decades and former students were in attendance and spoke bout Baldwin’s impact on them and, in some cases, their children.
With every individual who spoke of their encounters with Baldwin, those who might not have known him well learned other sides of him and other aspects of his life.
Some were shocked to find out that he treated his dog like a human and couldn’t play basketball with his friend until his dog had eaten and been taken for a walk.
When this story was told, some in the crowed broke out with laughter while others gasped with shocked looks on their faces.
Marimba Ani , an African-centered cultural scientist, needed help getting started when she got on the stage.
Two people gave her physical support up the steps and emotion support as they held her hands escorted her.
When she started to speak, her words came out in a low tone and inconsistent pace. Her shoulders appeared slightly tense as she maintained that low tone before taking a deep breath.
Once she released that breath, her pace became consistent, her voice gained strength and her shoulders relaxed. Her arms sprung in the air when she spoke.
She explained the rebirth cycle of life and referred to Baldwin's death, like many others did, as his “transitioning.”
“Baba Koby now is actually beginning a transitional process in which he will then be able to be reborn, and grow further,” she said.
One might say her words about Baldwin were both comforting and empowering.