Editorial Note: The subject of this article is a world-renowned highly-accomplished creative artist in his own right. He is also a true modern renaissance man who in his youth made his way to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania––widely recognized as the oldest Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in America––so he could follow in the footsteps of such Harlem Renaissance greats as Langston Hughes and Melvin B. Tolson.
A Definition of genius
One self-penned definition of the word genius is: a focused intensification of individual intelligence resulting in works of exemplary creativity, visionary leadership, or uncommon spiritual depth and beauty. This definition is perhaps a fitting one to describe much of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Ja A. Jahannes, who was born August 25, 1942. in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Savannah, Georgia, on July 5, 2015.
As recently as April 28, Jahannes (as he was known to many of his friends) had started a new blog in which he stated his intentions as follows:
“This is the beginning of me putting my thoughts, observations, queries, photos and insights in one place for present, current, and past generations (it could happen…time travel) to read and witness that I made some small, if not minuscule, contribution to Planet Sol-3.”
Unfortunately, battles with illness and the drive to continuously produce creative works did not leave much time or energy for the planned blog entries. That does not, however, mean there was or is anything at all “minuscule” about the contributions Jahannes managed to make to the world community before leaving it. Proof of that statement may be found in the announcement that his latest play, “Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly,” will be performed July 26, 2015, at the Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah.
Indeed, anyone even vaguely acquainted with his name find themselves astonished when learning about his prodigious output as a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, an educator, minister, proud alumnus of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), composer, playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, photographer, family man, community leader, publisher, and public intellectual.
For those who imagine the word “genius” might be too strong a term for the polymathic Jahannes, consider that someone of his dynamic qualities in a different era would have been accurately described as a renaissance man. From the pulpit he extolled the virtues of faith as taught by Jesus Christ and interpreted through the traditions of Liberation Theology. As an essayist he was a remarkably astute observer of the human condition, particularly as manifested by members of the African diaspora.
As Bodacious as any Lincoln Man
Supporter of principles advocated by PEN American Center and the Academy of American Poets, Aberjhani is also the Choice Academic Title Award-winning co-author of the world's first Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.