by Edwin Buggage
King Zulu 2018
For over a century the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club has been an organization that’s been known for being one of the Premiere Mardi Gras Parades during the carnival season.
This year’s King is Brent D. Washington, Sr. who will be succeeding 2017 King Zulu, Adonis Expose’.
Brent D. Washington, Sr. was born in Connecticut and moved to New Orleans when he was four and has always called the Crescent City home.
He is a graduate of Francis T. Nicholls High School, where music was a big part of his early life playing percussions in both the marching and concert bands and later in the legendary Southern University Marching Band.
By day Washington is the owner of a successful accounting business he’s been running for more than 30 years in New Orleans; which specializes in accounting, taxation, and special consulting projects. In addition, he is Chief Financial Officer at Edgar P. Harney Charter School.
He’s been a member of Zulu for 27 years, and what is a king without his queen; this year’s Queen Zulu will be Washington’s wife of 30 years, Troye Madison Washington.
Zulu Characters 2018
The organization also has characters that support King Zulu and hold their own parties and are important members of Zulu and adds to its rich history. Some of the characters are as follows:
This year’s Big Shot is John Gourrier, Jr. The “Big Shot” of Africa was created by one of their deceased members, Mr. Paul E. Johnson in the early 1930´s. The “Big Shot” outshines the King. (The term outshine was used in the earlier days which meant to look better than someone else in competition.) The “Big Shot” is the man behind the throne. No one can see the King without seeing the “Big Shot” first.
Kevin Guidry is the “Witch Doctor”. This was one of the first characters of Zulu. In Zulu’s ancestral land of Africa, the witch doctor is referred to a sorcerer, prophet, or shamanistic healer, someone who heals through magical powers. Zulu’s “Witch Doctor” prays to the Gods for the safety and good health for our King and the members. He also prays for good weather for our activities. For the lucky few who receive the “Golden Nugget” at the parade.
Rodney P. Mason Jr., is this year’s Zulu “Mayor” character and was created in the 1970’s. The “Mayor” is the Chief Magistrate responsible for the daily affairs of the King in Zululand. “Whatever the King needs, the ‘Mayor’ will make it happen”.
Philip Frazier, founder of Rebirth Brass Band is Zulu Governor 2018 character. It was created in the 1970’s. The “Governor” is the Chief Executive who controls political influence in Zululand for the King. It is said, “If you’re friends with the ‘Governor’, you’re friends with the King”.
Christopher Brown, Sr. is Mr. Big Stuff. This character was created in the 1970’s by Brothers James L. Russell and William Sonny Jim Poole. The idea for this character was inspired by the 1971 enormous hit recording by New Orleans Soul Singer Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff”. Where the Big Shot tries to “outshine” the King, Mr. Big Stuff tries to “outshine” the Big Shot; so, citizens of Zululand, when you see Mr. Big Stuff, ask him, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
More than Mardi Gras
While many know them for their parade and Carnival Ball and Lundi Gras Celebration on the river; Zulu is a year-round organization that does many things giving back to the community. These include working with toys for tots; giving gifts to many needy families during the holiday season.
Zulu is an organization that is committed to the next generation. Washington and other Zulu Characters visit schools around the New Orleans area talking about their organization in addition to inspiring and mentoring young people.
Continuing a Legacy and Celebrating a Cultural Heritage
New Orleans is a City that has been coined “America’s Most African City.” With the food, music and rich culture as a backdrop; Zulu, in it’s over a century of existence continues to flourish. And while post Katrina the indigenous culture in many ways have been under assault, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club continues to grow and is stronger than ever.
They are a beacon of light shining brightly as a Krewe, that’s grown from parading only through the African-American neighborhoods of New Orleans, to one that is enjoyed by all. Zulu is bringing people together and making an impact and is an inspiration to all; showing the best of Big Easy.