In the late 1800s, our society transitioned from battling the darkness of night with candlelight and kerosine lamps to the explosion of electricity to brighten our homes and businesses.
Visionaries like J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse worked tirelessly to push the business of electricity forward.
There are times within our culture when we do not know what we are missing until a pioneer identifies a need within our community. We have a long list of Black men who are willing to go first on behalf of bettering our society. Berry Gordy, Robert Johnson, George Washington Carver, John H. Johnson, and Maynard Eaton all moved the needle forward for the culture. These trailblazers aren’t always positively embraced by the mainstream media and public; as a Black man in any industry, this can be twice as challenging and daunting.
The arts, business, and culture industries are a loaded minefield with barbed wire stretched out as far as the eyes can see as a means to discourage our thought leaders and innovators.
However, within the City of North Charleston, a movement and renaissance has been spearheaded by a true visionary, Okeeba Jubalo, who set his plans in motion to revolutionize the low country arts and business scene in October 2021. Fast forward to today, and he has accomplished just that within two short years.
A son of Charleston and resident of North Charleston, Jubalo made the long journey back to his hometown in October 2021, Jubalo made the long journey back to his hometown after serving as an arts and small business industry leader in Atlanta, Georgia, for nearly three decades. Jubalo has centered his vision on turning North Charleston into the epicenter of African-American culture.
Since his return, Jubalo has set up shop to meticulously impact the communities within Charleston, including the Black community, the business community, and everyone in between. From schools to organizations, he has partnered with several institutions and community leaders to make his vision a reality: writing the history of a new North Charleston.
“Most people who did not know me prior to my return are surprised by the amount of ground that we have covered over the last two years,” said Okeeba Jubalo. “Those who knew me knew exactly what North Charleston would get from me and the effort of my team. I came home with a plan in place; now everything is about execution at a high level.”
Jubalo has already made significant progress in his efforts to revitalize the image of North Charleston. He established the South's premier African-American gallery, Okeeba Jubalo Fine Art Gallery, where he has hosted countless events, from exclusive gatherings to public showings of a collection of fine art pieces.
People who have interacted with Jubalo and attended any of his first-class events and exhibitions have made the remarks of him being “a magnificent artist and entrepreneur” and his coming back to Charleston being for the “betterment of all of our communities.”
He plans to continue combining art, education, real estate development, and authentic leadership to transform communities with a commitment to making North Charleston a better place for all.
However, Jubalo's work is not without its challenges. North Charleston is a city with a long history of poverty, violence, and crime. Nonetheless, Jubalo’s business acumen, connections, and confidence have allowed his vision for the city to become successful.
“I have hundreds of years of blood in this soil. I did not come home to ask permission to be excellent; I am home. Okeeba Jubalo is nobody’s pet lion. This is not only about the arts, but this is about a new brand of leadership with the City of North Charleston. For our city to get unstuck, we need a creative and skilled leader who can see around the corners,” said Okeeba Jubalo. “What we have been able to accomplish within two short years is a very small version of what I have planned for the entire City of North Charleston. The ills of poverty and crime have been fueled by a lack of creative and loving leadership. I am here to serve my community and bring the best of myself to the forefront for our community. I am home now.”
Jubalo has improved the quality of life in North Charleston by providing opportunities for people to learn about and experience art and the authenticity that Charleston offers not only to its residents but also to tourists.
An intentional planner and thought leader, Jubalo is working on new real estate projects that will bring together the business, music, education, and fine art communities in North Charleston.
As Okeeba Jubalo and his team move into Phase 3 of 4 of his “Okeeba The Mayor” campaign, the 2024 events will be held at numerous locations around North Charleston, featuring various activities, including art exhibits, music performances, wellness workshops, and business networking opportunities.
“I get it. Experiencing me can be confusing and exhausting. I am relentless. Charleston and North Charleston are not accustomed to dealing with a brother like myself. These other institutions are helpful for pulling national and international eyes onto Charleston,” said Okeeba Jubalo. “Now, I will take their candlelight approaches and transfer it into electricity for the City of North Charleston. I am warmed up now.”