Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Healing Our Relationships (3)

Click here to read part 1.

Click here to read part 2.

In her talk on 'Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome', Dr. Leary did not put a lot of emphasis on family life - at least, not in the part of the film that I watched. She did say that our patterns of relating are 'generational' - I would have said intergernerational.

Black men and women learned not to trust each other, not to rely on each other. Family life is crucial to all of this. We learn these patterns of relating from our parents - from the way they treat each other, and the way they treat us.

We have inherited toxic patterns from enslavement. They have infected our families for many generations- and we are in danger of passing them on to our own children.

Many of the problems faced by our Black youth today, particularly African Caribbean boys and young men, have their roots in enslavement, these toxic patterns of relating, and the self-hatred we internalised. Self-hatred became part of us. We were taught to fail. We were taught to be less-than.

My work is about solutions. About loving ourselves and each other, valuing ourselves and each other. Improving Relationships/Improving Communication is a practical workshop to help us learn methods of healing our relationships. Click here to check it out today.

Keywords: Black, African, relationships, healing

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Healing Our Relationships (2)

Click here to read part 1.

Click here to read part 3.

Dr. Joy De Gruy Leary spoke about how Black women learned to use harsh words in order to protect ourselves.

She also spoke about how we are harsh with each other and negative about each other’s success. When we see another Black person doing well, we immediately find some reason to put that person down.

Dr. Leary says this is due to fear of abandonment. I don’t completely agree with her assessment. Why should we fear abandonment? When one person is doing well, he or she needs to help others to succeed.

I write about this in my article, ‘Do You Think Like a Success?’. Click here to read it.

We need to celebrate Black people’s successes and achievements all the time. Harriet Tubman has always been a positive role model for me. She was not content to escape from enslavement herself. She risked her life time and time again to help as many other people escape as she possibly could.

My Book, Black Success Stories, is full of people who have that collective mentality, that collective intention. Having achieved success in their own lives, they are working to motivate and inspire others. Click here to order your copy today.

Keywords: Black success, history, relationships, healing, Dr. Joy De Gruy Leary

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Healing Our Relationships

Click here to read part 2.

Click here to read part 3.

I watched the DVD of ‘Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome’ on Tuesday night, at a meeting of the PanAfrican Society at South Bank University. Click here to read more about Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary is a brilliant speaker. She spoke about how Black people’s relationships have been damaged by the legacy of enslavement.

This is familiar territory, especially for those of us who have read the Willie Lynch letter and How to Make a Slave. Dr. Leary described how Black women don’t believe we can rely on our men to protect us, and how Black men don’t believe it is safe to show us their vulnerable side.

This was aptly demonstrated in the Tsunami programme on the BBC on Tuesday night. The wife was saying, ‘Why didn’t you protect me? Why didn’t you protect

our child?’ And the husband did not safe to express his grief, his vulnerability and his fear. They each blamed the other.

Because of the damage that was done to us during enslavement and colonisation, we often find we are afraid to trust those we should be closest to. My work is about healing. We can heal these toxic patterns in our relationships, and in the ways we communicate with each other.

My workshop, Improving Relationships/Improving Communication, is a practical workshop to help us with the healing process. Click here for more info.

Keywords: African American, African Caribbean, History, Relationships, Healing, Dr. Joy Leary

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Alex Wheatle, the Brixton Bard

The novelist Alex Wheatle, known as the Brixton Bard, was brought up in a children's home, left school with no qualifications, and has since completed six novels so far. He tends to write about his characters within the context of their community, and says that Island Songs, his most recent work, draws on the history and culture of the Akan people of Ghana within Jamaica. I interviewed Alex recently. Click here to read it.

Alex states that, as a young person, he was very influenced by Alex Haley's Roots.

René Carayol, whom I interviewed for Black Success Stories, told me that Roots was stolen from his family's history in Gambia and the family's documents. To read this interview, click here to order your copy today.

Keywords: Black history, literature, African Caribbean, Alex Wheatle, Alex Haley, Roots, Black Success Stories

See also: Caribbean Thinkers

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Caribbean Thinkers Part 2

Further to the previous blog, another thinker we were introduced to on this course was Dr. Robert Love.

Born in the Bahamas, Love moved to Jamaica in the 1890s and founded a newspaper, the Jamaica Advocate, in 1894. In it, Love published many articles which Dr. Scholes sent him from Africa, in which he described the sophisitcation of African civilisations. These articles would have been seen as works of sedition, designed to agitate the masses.

Love argued that Black people in the Caribbean were capable of running their own affairs, and that they derived dignity and identity from identifying with their African roots.

Jamaican people probably more Akan-speaking (Ashanti and Fanti) people than any other island in the Caribbean, and a lot of their African traditions survived. This led to their having a rebellious spirit and a sense of superiority.

Traditionally, in some African societies, the griot, or storyteller, told stories that were meant both to instruct and to entertain. They used humour and a lightness of touch. The folk tradition was brought to bear in the Caribbean, where educated people in the villages would read the paper aloud to locals who could not read and write. In this way, the message was communicated to people in the rural areas.

However, the local education system in the Caribbean was based on what was dictated by the colonial authorities, and often on the education that was available in Britain. It did not reflect the culture and concerns of local people.

Everybody has his or her own unique story to tell. Black Success Stories celebrates people of African heritage in Britain today. Click here to order your copy of Black Success Stories today.

See also: Caribbean Thinkers

Keywords: Black history, African history, Caribbean, identity, education, Dr. Love, Dr. Scholes

Caribbean Thinkers

Last week, I attended a course entitled Black Thinkers in the Caribbean at the City Lit. It was brilliant.

The tutor, Clem Seecharan, from London Metropolitan University, spoke about Caribbean thinkers and academics dating back to the mid-19th century. I was very inspired by the fact that so many of them related their African heritage and antecedents to a sense of dignity and identity. Some of them travelled in Africa, and wrote about the societies they found there and how advanced and sophisticated those societies were. This was in stark contrast to the thinking of the time, which was that African people were backwards and had been ‘civilised’ by enslavement and colonisation. Many people in the Caribbean had been brainwashed by the educational system there to have a negative view of our African traditions, and we can still see remnants of these negative attitudes today.

I was particularly interested in Dr. Scholes, who wrote three books including Glimpses of the Ages, which was published in 1904. Unfortunately, all of his books are now out of print.

Scholes was born in St. Ann in Jamaica. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and also did a Doctorate of Divinity in Brussels. He then became a medical missionary and travelled in the Kongo.

Although trained as a Christian, Dr. Scholes had great respect for African traditional spirituality. He said that the traditional beliefs and spiritual practices were an expression of the reverence and respect that African peoples had for their environment.

Scholes wrote that African societies had great traditions in art and learning. Travelling in the area now known as Senegamia, he celebrated the people there including the Mandingos/Mandingas and the Fulani, and celebrated their physical attributes as well as their work with iron, gold, wood carving, ceramics and textiles, and their architecture. He also celebrated the crafts and skills of other African peoples.

In my book, Black Success Stories, René Carayol MBE states that he witnessed first-hand the effect that Roots, by Alex Haley, had on people of the African Diaspora, i.e. the Caribbean and the United States, in giving them a sense of their history and culture. Carayol, who was born in Gambia, also states that Roots was taken directly from his family’s documents, and he has copies of a great deal of correspondence on the subject between his father and Alex Haley. To read more, order Black Success Stories today.

Keywords: Black history, African history, Caribbean, Roots, Black success, Rene Carayol, Alex Haley

Thursday, October 26, 2006

African American Leadership: Recovery for the New Millennium

Joseph Chapman of Columbus, OH (a former addict in recovery for more than 13 years) has developed in conjunction with a non-profit corporation Recoverlove.com, an Afrocentric recovery program called "Recovery for the new millennium." Mr. Chapman states passionately, "The 'Recovery for the new millennium' goes beyond the traditional 12 step approach and looks at the vestiges of deep seated inferiority complexes and how African American addicts are also simultaneously facing poverty, slave mentalities, poor education and a lack of marketable job skills."

Dr. Alvin Poussaint on a controversial PBS special commented, "Of the two million people in jail, about 45 percent are African-American, most have been males. Of the homicides in the country, about 45 percent are African-American males, mostly killing other black people and black males. So there is a crisis, and the dropout rate from high school is still very high. It's better, but it gets camouflaged in the statistics. In Baltimore again, 50 percent of 9th graders don't graduate from high school. Well, if you get pockets like that in urban areas like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, there's a serious problem for the black community."

Joseph Chapman states discerningly, "The need for new African American leadership to address the above-mentioned problems in an unfeigned substantial way that does not continue in the blame game is imperative." Mr. Chapman has also created a recovery from dysfunctionality program that is designed to combat and alleviate the crisis in the African American community. Mr. Chapman has developed - through thorough exhaustive research and perspicacious insight - practical tools, CDs, DVD's, lectures, and workshops in order to facilitate the instituting of the necessary mental, emotional, and behavioral changes that need to take place in the African American community. Joseph Chapman goes on to say unwaveringly, "People need real workable tools in order to facilitate real workable change in their life situation."
CONTACT:Joseph Chapman AS, BS, MBA614-668-2075

now@recoverlove.com www.recoverlove.com

Taken from:

Success Strategies for Black People Order from Amazon

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Blood - African Heritage and the Arts

The next The Blood event will be held on Friday 20th October at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more details.

People were bought and sold like fax machines, cars and mobile phones, as if we were being traded on eBay.

Given our history of enslavement, how can we as artists of African heritage can uplift and inspire our community?

In popular, mass-produced depictions of Black people, where are we? Where is our experience? Click here to read more.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Black Visual Arts

I attended the Black Visual Arts course today at the V&A, on which there is a strong emphasis on the historical context, plus lively discussion. Click here to read more about it.

There are still places on this course, which runs for the next two Fridays, 13th and 20th October, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Click here for more details and to book.

Click here for more BHM arts events.

Click here to read about Black British artists' responses to objects on display at the National Maritime Museum.

The Blood event

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Arts Event - The Blood - Building Our Future

Given our history of enslavement, how can we as artists of African heritage uplift and inspire our community?

The next The Blood event will be held on Friday 20th October, 7:30 p.m., at Yaa Asantewa Arts Centre.

Panellists will include novellist Alex Wheatle, author of East of Acre Lane and often called the Brixton Bard.

For more info, click here.

Dancehall Queens

Queens of Sound– A Herstory of Reggae and Dancehall
Dir: Sandra Krampelhuber

This film explores the long neglected female side of Reggae and Dancehall music in Jamaica. Three generations of women in the Jamaican music business tell us about their roles, their first steps into the career, their struggle for acceptance in a male-dominated business, their life paths and success.

There are several showings during BHM. For this and other BHM arts events, click here.

Keywords: Black History Month UK, arts, films, reggae, dancehall, women

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sonia Boyce at Greenwich

This follows on from my previous post about the event at the National Maritime Museum last night. Click here to read it.
Sonia Boyce started out by saying that it has been said that political subject matter can never make good art.

One of the two objects she chose was a ladies’ whip. This was clearly designed to be decorative yet functional, and had a silver-plated, carved handle. Boyce then screened a short film she had made, part of which included her reading from the slave narrative of Mary Prince, an enslaved African Caribbean woman.

Prince described how familiar she became with the different types of pain inflicted by each of the different instruments used on her by her mistress, including fists used on her face and head.

Boyce had a white woman on screen describing each of the objects and her own responses to them. The second object Boyce chose was an iron ring designed to be worn around the neck, with a long iron arm and hand to be worn in front of the face. This was to serve as a constant reminder to the enslaved person of his or her status of subjugation to the white master.

The film concluded with a dance performed by young people in Carnival-type costumes. The dance celebrated and commemorated resistance by enslaved African people. We must always remember that the enslavement of our ancestors was met with constant, continuous acts of resistance by our ancestors and that our creativity was and is part of that resistance.

There followed a long discussion about the collusion of African people in their own enslavement, i.e. we were sold by other African people. Bonnie Greer pointed out that the situation is very complex and needs to be addressed. She asked whether this was the moment to address it.

I feel that this situation has been addressed for many years, in ways that are not that helpful. People say ‘I ain’t no African, I am Jamaican’. We hear our contemporaries from the Continent refer to us as ‘sons of slaves’. Greer mentioned that Ekow Eshun had stated that the Fanti people of Ghana, his ancestors, were unhappy when the Transatlantic trade ended.

One person in the audience pointed out that among the complexities we need to address – and possibly a higher priority than addressing the complexities of African people’s complicity in our own enslavement – was the complexity of the ways in which we resisted our enslavement.

Clearly, greed and exploitation occur in every society. The Buddha taught that greed, hatred and delusion are part of each and every one of us. However, we need to discuss these issues in our history and address them in ways that are going to heal us, heal our communities, heal our people and heal our species. This ongoing culture of blaming is destructive and must end. And our creativity is one way in which we can heal ourselves and each other.

See also: Poem - The Blood


Keywords: Black Arts, African creativity, African history, Transatlantic trade

Carnival – A Deeper Rhythm

The establishment, the Powers that Be, have long tried to control, curb, limit or eliminate Carnival. When the veil between past and present, the dead and the living, grows thin, the divide between Black and white, rich and poor, narrows. Carnival awakens energies which are beyond anyone’s control. The authorities are right to fear them. These forces linger from ancient times and come to life once a year.

The dancers dress up in fantasy costumes which allow them to take on altered personae. They evoke other worlds, other realms, and a deeper rhythm beats beneath their feet.

Calypsonians’ tongues lick the politicians with their observations and their wit. They mock and taunt those in authority, reminding all of who has fulfilled his responsibilities, and who has ripped off, exploited or deceived the people. Those in power may duck, dive and dance, but they cannot escape the sting in the tongue. Those in power are right to fear them.

In 1881, riots erupted in Trinidad when the colonial police attempted to clamp down on the festivities, particularly the Canboulay (canne broulee). The rioting continued for a further two years’ carnivals.

The Notting Hill Carnival began after the African Caribbean community was put under ongoing racist attack in 1958. The Carnival was seen as a way to unite local people across the cultural divide, and it has grown to become the largest street festival in Europe.

In 1976, it was the turn of the Notting Hill Carnival to be the scene of riots. It was reported that the police were attacked by African Caribbean youth after arresting a pickpocket.

For many years since then, the police have clamped down on Carnival and the authorities have repeatedly called for the celebrations to be moved from their traditional home. However, Notting Hill Carnival is a tradition which belongs to the local people and will remain local for the foreseeable future.

The organisers do everything to protect public safety. However, the forces and energies of Carnival are drawn from ancient times. Taken from their homes in distant lands, the ancestors were forced to labour, to toil and to die. Ripped from their families and loved ones beaten, raped, bled and worked to death.

At Carnival time, they were allowed briefly to remember who they were, that they were human beings, with all the creativity humans possess.

These energies lie dormant, but not dead. Once a year they are awakened. The costumes, the colours, the songs, the dances, wake the sleeping energies of the ancestors. If you dance with them, sing with them, play with them, they will bless you, protect you, or at least let you be.

Dance and sing with them, enjoy them, dress up, play mas, but do not try to control or contain them, for within them moves a powerful force. Like placing a lid on a volcano – try to contain it and it will explode, either around you or inside of you.

Click here to read an interview with Shabaka Thompson, Artistic Director of Yaa Asantewa Arts Centre.
Keywords: Carnival, Notting Hill, London, Caribbean culture
The event at the National Maritime Museum last night was excellent. Bonnie Greer chaired a panel of artists, each of whom had chosen two objects from the museum’s collection.

It is interesting to see artists engaging with these objects because they tend to see things in a way the rest of us don’t, and to bring out points we might otherwise miss.

One of the objects chosen by Keith Piper was a clock which, apparently, has been described as the most important clock in the world. It even has a name – H4. It was invented by John Harrison in 1761 and was used to solve the problem of longitude so that ships could work out where they were in the world, horizontally, as well as vertically. Vertical navigation, i.e. latitude, had been worked out by the Moors centuries before.

In 1714, the Crown offered a huge prize, the modern equivalent of which would have been around £20 million, to the person who could work out how to calculate longitude. Harrison was eventually awarded a smaller prize, in 1773.

Piper pointed out that the reason why the British were desperate to solve the problem of longitude was completely tied up with the so-called slave trade – the Transatlantic trade in African people. This is never mentioned with reference to H4, even though a book – Longitude by David Sobel – was written about it and a film has been made about it.

H4 made it much easier to transport enslaved African people because the ships’ navigation became much clear after H4’s invention. The clock was even tested on two ships – the first, the Deptford, sailed from London to Jamaica.

Piper presented a chart which showed the markup on the price of African people. At one time the markup had been 975 percent, and from 1688 to 1692, I was over 600 percent. Between 1703 and 1707 – the height of the Transatlantic trade – the markup dropped to 197 percent. After the invention of H4, the markup dropped still further.

I find it disturbing to think that my ancestors not only had prices on their heads, they had a markup. But of course they would have done, as they were considered to be goods for sale.

The evening was moving and challenging. More later.
Keywords: slave trade, Transatlantic trade, Black history, African heritage, arts, museum

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reparations + Slavery Remembrance Week

Black Britain today publishes an excellent interview with Esther Sanford who states that “What colonialism and enslavement did was to take away the African psyche and replace it with a European mindset.” Click here to read this article.

This clearly continues to have a powerful impact on us as African people, our self-image, self-esteem and creativity.

Artists have a great deal to contribute to this discussion and one of the events of Slavery Remembrance Week will be a Freedom debate to be held tomorrow night at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. Click here to read more.

I am collecting interviews with artists on the subject of enslavement and emancipation. Click here to read some of them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

An African-Centred Success Story

An elementary school in Kansas City, Mo is using an African-centred approach to learning to support its students to achieve success.

Says Kevin Bullard, coordinator of African-centered education at several schools in the district. "With the African-centered model, we ... look at [slavery] as part of the context of our history and our struggle, but only a small piece." Their timeline includes the intellectual legacy of ancient African civilizations.


Business guru René Carayol thinks we should be concentrating only 5% of our time on history, and 95% of our time on building our futures. He believes that concentrating on our history holds us back. You can read an interview with him in Black Success Stories Volume 1.

I agree with him to some extent: if we concentrate only on the history of enslavement, this may hold us back. It depends how it is taught, however. I was always taught the history of resistance alongside the history of enslavement, so I found my history very uplifting and inspiring, and I still do. My ancestors were survivors, heroes and sheroes, and I take inspiration from their example.

Of course, it is true that enslavement only forms a tiny part of our history as African people. But it is still having a devastating psychological, emotional and financial impact on us. In order to understand why we are in our current position in Western society, and why Africa is in its current state, we must understand the history of our enslavement.

Still, I agree that we also need to focus on building our future, starting from now.

Click here to order Black Success Stories Volume 1.

See also Kuumba-Survivors.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Buchi Emecheta Speaks of Women

London-based Nigerian novelist Buchi Emecheta OBE, author of over 20 novels including The Slave Girl and Second Class Citizen, talks to Zhana about her experience. Click here to read this interview.

See also:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Course for Parents and Carers

The next Parents/Carers Personal Development event will be held on Saturday 12 August 2006 at Southwark Town Hall, from 11am - 3.30pm.
The event will include information on forming a focus group to influence policy and decision makers in:
  • education,
  • housing,
  • race & crime,
  • health,
  • employment and
  • poverty.
The organisers say state that "To effect change that our children will notice requires Vision, Intelligence and Courage to do what we know must be done. Come join us, together we can change the world".

Friday, August 04, 2006

Henry Bonsu + African Identity

I have just been listening to Henry Bonsu on Colourful Radio. Of course, it is interesting listening to these things because one hears a whole range of different views, opinions and experiences.
One of Henry's guests is saying that we don't need to worry about our history or what happened 100 years ago. I completely disagree.
We need to have knowledge of our history and heritage as African people in order to be aware of our greatness and our potential. When we are clear about our identity, we know that that there are no limits to what we can achieve as people of African heritage. We live in a society in which we are constantly fed negative images of people of African heritage. Some of this conditioning is very subtle, but it is powerful all the same. It affects us and it affects our young people.
I have taught so many people in adult education who have told me that they 'can't' do such-and-such a thing because they have been fed these negative images all their lives, in the school system, through advertising, television programmes and so forth. This is why we need to celebrate our African role models and success stories.
We need to reinforce our own positive images. Our history tells us the truth about ourselves and the fact that we have contributed a huge amount to human civilisation in general, and to British society in particular, and we are continuing to do so.
Henry Bonsu is one of the interviewees in my new book, Black Success Stories.
Keywords: Henry Bonsu, Black Success Stories, African history, African heritage

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How Does Buddhism Relate to the Black Man and Woman?

Check out these links to and about Black people and Buddhism.

I am going to be leading a meditation course specifically for people of African heritage, starting in September. Please join us - you don't even need to be interested in Buddhism to get the benefit of Buddhist meditation. Click here for more info.

I am also leading a workshop on Improving Relationships/ Improving Communication with our partners, children, friends, work colleagues. Again, you don't need to be interested in Buddhism, although I have found Creative Communication/NVC to be enormously beneficial to my life and my practice. Click here for more info.
Keywords: Meditation, Buddhism, Black people, African Caribbean, Creative Communication, Nonviolent Communication, NVC

Friday, July 21, 2006

African Caribbean Diversity

Still on the subject of me doing too much, on Wednesday night, I went to the launch of African Caribbean Diversity's new year. Every year, they take on a new intake of young people who will be mentored by people in major institutions such as the Bank of England.

The event was held at J.P. Morgan and, as usual, I arrived late. This is something I need to look at and probably tap on. Not just 'I arrive late', but also 'I feel guilty and ashamed'. Even though I arrive late, I deeply and completely accept myself.

For more about tapping, visit Emotional Freedom Technique.

When I arrived, Trevor Phillips OBE was speaking. He looked up and recognised me. This is starting to happen to me more and more - the person on the stage recognises me as I slip in. More guilt and shame.

He stressed the importance of the young people staying in touch with each other. He said, 'Yes, there will be rivalry among you. You will be upset because the other person got the job you wanted'. But, he said, it is important that you have a network of people who have been through the same experience you have had. Over the years, these friendships will be increasingly important to you.

Hearing him speak made me remember why I interviewed him for Black Success Stories. This is a man who cares deeply about the African Caribbean community, about our young people and about their future in this society.

He advised the young people to be grateful to their sponsors and mentors, 'but not too grateful', and he reminded them that they are doing these institutions a service. Every institution in the Western world is having to get used the fact that there are people working there who don't look like the Chairman. And these young people are helping them make this adjustment.

He said, 'You will learn things that nobody else knows. It will be like being a Martian'. And he reminded them that there will always be something they don't know, and that they should not be afraid to ask.

I may be doing too much, but I am getting loads of inspiration. I am having an amazing time.

One person in the audience asked why so few successful people are willing to share the secrets of their success. Trevor Phillips and Henry Bonsu, who presided over the evening, have both shared their secrets in my new book, Black Success Stories. For more information and to order your copy, click here.

Click here to visit African Caribbean Diversity

See also: Linton Kwesi Johnson

Keywords: Trevor Phillips, African Caribbean, Henry Bonsu, young people, Black Success Stories

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Having spent part of the day at a conference on HIV and sexual health in the Caribbean community, I went to the Arts Depot in North Finchley last night to see Linton Kwesi Johnson. North Finchley is so far away that, in the past, those of African American persuasion would have referred to it as 'North Hell'.

I first met LKJ at Brixton Art Gallery last year, where he was being interviewed by Henry Bonsu. LKJ informed me that he had once been on the Board of the gallery, which has now sadly closed. Lambeth Council suddenly raised the rents in Brixton Station Road to more than double their previous rate, and several small businesses, including the gallery, suffered. I think this is part of a government policy to raise these rents to 'commerical' rates. But I digress.

I got to the Arts Depot really late and felt very guilty and ashamed as I took my seat. Its Not My Fault!!! I kept silently reassuring myself. I had called a cab at 7 p.m. but it did not arrive until 7:40. The driver then told me he had been sitting around for two hours waiting for work.

It's not my fault!

I got home from the conference before six, plenty of time to get to North Hell for 8 p.m. But I decided to do something on the computer and it should only have taken five minutes, 15 minutes, etc., but it took far longer. Doesn't it always?

Of course, I kept saying 'I should switch off the computer and go now', but then my other voice would say 'This will only take another couple of minutes'. Yeah, right.

Okay, it is partly my fault. Serves me right for listening to the voices.

I know the real problem was that, having sat inside working all day when, outside, the sun was brightly shining, I just could not face the journey up to North Hell, so I distracted myself.

I am just doing too much these days.

I got there in time to here LKJ do three poems, including New Word Order, and to hear him say that the term 'ethnic cleansing' is 'very disturbing'. He made reference to Nelson Mandela, Chief Butelezi and the Holocaust, all in a few short minutes. That's a poet for you.

I spoke with him afterwards adn he remembered me from the gallery! Wow!

LKJ goes for quality, not quantity. Some say his output is small, but I say, who cares when his words have such power? Such weight? Such penetration? And he stands on the stage and delivers them - on an empty stage, just him and the podium - as if it takes no more effort than asking for a cup of tea.

Keywords: Linton Kwesi Johnson, poetry

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

African Health Forum

The African Health Forum is an African-led organisation of voluntary and public sector groups. Membership is steadily growing, facilitating effective networking, information sharing and partnership

We work in the area of health, particularly but not exclusively sexual health and HIV, amongst African people in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. We also promote research and evaluation which is leading to improved service provision and uptake amongst African communities.

Health workers in London are finding that HIV infection frequently occurs in Africa. The HIV-infected person comes or returns to the UK and is treated here. Therefore, as part of our work, we are liaising and working with workers within African countries to raise awareness around sexual health and prevention of HIV.

We provide opportunities for networking and information about funding and other resources.

If you are a healthcare worker based in Lambeth, Southwark or Lewisham, in the voluntary or statutory sector, you can join the African Health Forum. For more details, visit the African Health Forum or contact

Maria Loizou, Health Promotion Specialist - African Communities on 020 7188 2837 Ext. 82846

or Anna Aguma, Senior Health Promotion Specialist - African HIV and Sexual Health on 020 7188 2837 Ext. 82846

Thursday, July 13, 2006

When We Ruled

When We Ruled is a new book by Robin Walker which has been described as by far "the best general work on the ancient and medieval history of Black people there has ever been".

The launch is tonight, 7.00 – 9.00 PM, at A.F.F.O.R.D., 31-33 Bondway, Vauxhall, SW8 1SJ, Vauxhall Tube (Victoria Line, Exit 2, 1 minute walk)

Call (07875) 186 695 or (07984) 759 506 to confirm that you are coming.

Meanwhile, Ligali's annual African Remembrance Day is next Saturday, 22nd July. Ligali remind us that "Whilst African history includes the injustice and travesty of enslavement, there are substantial and significant elements of our history that have occurred outside this era and it is essential and indeed respectful that the people and culture outside this element of history are also acknowledged and remembered".

Click here for more details and to register for this event.

See also: 2007 Commemoration

Keywords: African history, African heritage, Ligali, Robin Walker

Monday, July 10, 2006

African Caribbean Parents

We had several speakers at the Parents' Personal Development open day. A few of the many points they raised included:

Dr. Kimani Nehusi
The Importance of Identity: Problem and Solution

For us as Afrikan people to form alliances with other groups, we first need to be clear about our own identity. That way, we will know what will benefit us and our community. Only when we are clear about our identity can we effectively determine which groups we want to ally with, and on what basis to form these alliances.

When you have your identity, you know what is in your interests. You will unify with those people who share your values and your interests.

History is an engagement with our ancestors.

Ancestors are a storehouse of knowledge. We will continue to confront the same problems from a condition of ignorance because we refuse to learn from our ancestors and our elders.

Clarence Thompson
The Importance of Supplementary/Complementary Education

The campaigns against discrimination and for equal rights began in the African Caribbean community, amongst grassroots people and organisations.

We need to take over the regular schools, not just complementary education. Where our young people are in the majority, the community needs to take over the school and ensure a high quality of education.

We need to know our history in order to take pride in ourselves.

Dr. Lez Henry

Black children are failing because the educational system is not for them.

A qualification is a tool – that is all it is. It is certified by the dominant society.

Black self-empowerment, elevation and upliftment can be achieved by understanding how you can use knowledge to better your life chances.

Councillor Martin Seaton

The final speaker on the day was Councillor Martin Seaton, who related how he had become a school governor for a school situated across the street from where he lived. The school had poor test results, but he worked to improve the school’s performance and got other Black people to join as governors.

The school is now doing so well that they train governors at other schools. He is actively recruiting more Black people who have an interest in the community to become school governors.

He made the point that the Council and the education system believe that Black parents don’t care about their children’s education. They are surprised when they see us taking an active interest.

To join the Parent Personal Development Programme, contact:

Pamela Hamilton (020) 7525 5504 pamela.hamilton@southwark.gov.uk

See also: New Course for Black Parents

Black Community Criticizes Government's Plans for 2007 Memorial

Community groups met last Friday to discuss strategies to counter government plans for the 2007 Bicentenary, which are said to 'dishonour' the memory of African people who fought for their freedom and resisted enslavement.

Black Britain reports today that groups have branded the government's plans as "propaganda" and see them as an insult to the memory of our ancestors. Click here for more info.

They also pointed out that the Maafa, or enslavement, exploitation and mass murder of African people, has had long-term psychological effects on us and our community, and that what is needed now is healing and emanipation from mental enslavement. This is the same thing I have said in my work for many years.

However, I certainly do not agree with the assertion that "the [black] child from the age of six learns to understand that I was a slave and therefore being black means being inferior". I learned at a young age that my ancestors had been enslaved by white people, and I certainly did not and do not consider myself to be inferior. On the contrary, I have always been proud of my ancestors because they were survivors, and I have inherited their genes. My ancestors did not enslave and exploit African people, so what do I have to be ashamed of? It is the enslavers and their descendants who may wish to hang their heads in shame, not us.

The knowledge of the history of our enslavement helps us to understand why Africa is in the position it is in today - why the richest continent on earth is beset with poverty and disease.

As African people, we must take the initiative in deciding how the memory of enslavement and emancipation is commemorated. The British government and governments of other western countries which participated in the trade in African people fail to even begin to understand how to mark the anniversary of the end of the Transatlantic trade, and why this is important to us as African people in the Diaspora.

See also: poem - "The Blood"

Slavery Memorial Day

2007 Commemoration

Soul Survivors

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bristol Group Criticizes Slavery Memorial Plans

A Bristol-based organisation, The Consortium of Black Groups (COBG), have called for non-compliance with the City of Bristol's plans for commemorating the bicentenary of the UK abolition of slave trading.

Bristol was one of the UK's major centres for the trade in African people. The transatlantic trade in, and enslavement of, African people led to multi-billion-pound profits being made by UK and international shipping and other industries including the sugar trade of the Caribbean and the American cotton industry.

The UK's banking system was founded on profits of the trade in African people.

The COGB have condemned the City of Bristol's plans as a "PR exercise". Click here to read more.

See also: Slavery Memorial Day

2007 Commemoration

African Heritage Links

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Slavery Memorial Day

Respected community activist Esther Stanford has spoken out against the proposed slavery memorial day.

She states that this would be a token gesture by government, and that the African community should choose a date which is relevant to us to commemorate our experience of enslavement, rather than a date which is relevant to the government, who wish to focus on William Wilberforce’s actions.

Click here to read more.

The reason why the trade ended was that it was no longer economically feasible for European ships to trade in African people. The insurance companies were refusing to pay when cargoes were lost, so this trade was no longer financially viable.

Remember that the ship captains often tossed their entire cargoes overboard in order to claim the insurance. The floor of the Atlantic is carpeted with the bones of African people.

Next year, we will mark the 200th anniversary of the ending of the Transatlantic trade in African people. This is obviously an important date for our community. But I agree with Esther - why should we focus on Wilberforce? Enslaved African people fought for their liberation continually. We should not be grateful to Wilberforce or any other white politician for stopping doing what they should not have done in the first place.

"The UN proclaimed August 23 of every year should be recognised as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This date was chosen in reference to the War of Independence on the night of August 22-23 1791 in Saint-Domingue (today Haiti and Dominican Republic) which was to play a pivotal role in the abolition of chattel enslavement and the emancipation of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean." - Black Britain

Billions of dollars and pounds were made by Europeans from the trade in African people. African people want to mark the end of the trade in a way which reflects our experience, and which preserves our dignity and restores the dignity of our ancestors. We want an apology from Blair and from all of the governments of the countries that profited from our exploitation. More to the point, we want to be financially compensated for the atrocities commited against our ancestors.

See also: Maafa Photographs

2007 Commemoration

Bristol Group's Criticism

Soul Survivors

African Heritage Links

Keywords: Slavery, Enslavement, Slave Trade, Emancipation, African History, African Diaspora

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rene Carayol - Dedication and Motivation

This blog has moved to:

Keywords: success, Black success, African Caribbean, UK, business, enterprise, achieve your goals

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Afrikan Heritage in Latin America

Nubiart - Wed 5pm / Fri 10pm, Sound Radio 1503AM. Tel: 08700 414 606.
Also on the web at: www.soundradio.info
African Americans escaping enslavement in the United States were welcomed into Mexico.
The following is taken from the Nubiart Diary. Many thanks to Brotha K. for this research.

NUBIART EDITORIAL: Editorial Pt 1 Following Chief Lola Ayorinde repeating her view that Afrikans outside Afrika are no longer Afrikan, both Nubiart shows were dedicated to the Afrikan diaspora in places where it doesn’t get much coverage. In the first half of midweek Nubiart, we looked at the western diaspora and in the second half, at the eastern diaspora. Nubiart welcomes equally well-documented research that supports the stance of Chief Lola Ayorinde and her fellow travelers.
Mexico – We started with an article called ‘African Roots Stretch Deep in Mexico’ by Roberto Rodriquez and Patrisia Gozales. The article came with photos of a man and woman (who may be the authors) and confirms their Afrikan identity. This article supports ‘Mexico Welcomed Fugitive Slaves and African American Job-Seekers: New Perspectives On The Immigration Debate’ by Ron Wilkins of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition which we read out on the show a month ago.
Afrikans still live in Mexico, mainly in Veracruz and the Costa Chica in Guerrero and Oaxaca states. The groundbreaking scholar on this issue is Aguirre Beltran, who published ‘The Black Population of Mexico’ in 1946. Afrikans had first lived in Yucatan, Michoacan, Tlaxcala, Mexico, Chiapas, Veracruz, Guerrero and Oaxaca but moved around the country to work in mining, textiles, ranching, fishing and agriculture.
“The first documented slave rebellion in Mexico occurred in 1537; this was followed by the establishment of various runaway slave settlements called ‘palenques’…In 1608, Spaniards negotiated the establishment of a free black community with Yagna, a runaway rebel slave. Today that community in Veracruz bears its founder’s name.”
The Afrikan, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s second President, abolished slavery in 1822 (143 years before the US civil rights movement). “In the summer of 1850, the Mascogos, composed of runaway slaves and free blacks from Florida, along with the Seminoles and Kikapus, fled south from the United States, to the Mexican border state of Coahuila. Accompanying the Seminoles were also ‘Black Seminoles’ – slaves who had been freed by the tribe after battles against white settlers in Florida. The three groups eventually settled the town of El Nacimento, Coahuila, where many of their descendants remain.”
There are Afrikan instruments in Mexico that are played by the indigenous peoples. More information is available from: www.afromexico.org
Venezuela – Humberto Marquez wrote ‘Venezuela: 150 Years After Abolishment of Slavery, Racism Persists’, from Caracas on Mar 23, 2004. Mar 24 is marked in Venezuela as the abolition of slavery in 1854. At the time, there were 25,000 slaves in a population close to 1 million. It is estimated the free Afrikan population in Venezuela at that time was 400,000. Slaveholders were indemnified for their loss with 200 pesos for each slave. However, the total of 5 million pesos was more than the state budget of 3 million pesos and their claims were never paid as civil war broke out (1859-64).
The main centres of Afrikan population are Caracas, Maracay-Valencia and Maracaibo. The insults heaped on Hugo Chavez, who is of mixed Indian and Afrikan ancestry, give an idea of the general treatment and attitude of many Venezuelans to Afrikans. Many are spurred on by US racism and the media, which includes the notorious monkey noises which TV station Globovision made over footage of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe when he was in the country to attend a Group of 15 summit in February 2004. This brought a statement of protest from the Ambassadors of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the Saharawi Republic (Western Sahara), Nigeria and South Afrika. The station’s managers justified their coverage by saying that the Afrikan ambassadors didn’t understand Venezuelan humour!!!
Colombia – On Tues night, we attended the Colombian Solidarity meeting with Jorge Isaac Aramburo Garcia & Maria Encina Valencia Córdoba, members of Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN - Black Communities Process), who have been visiting Europe for the last two months. Maria has been a teacher for 24 years and concentrates on giving advice and support and the promotion of culture. She believes that music and dance are central to the struggle. She kicked off the evening with a song of solidarity to stop children lamenting that their parents did not struggle for a better life. We have to answer to history.
Jorge Garcia claims Mandinke forebears from the west coast of Afrika and so wants to be called Naca Mandinka. Their forebears were dominated by imperialism and they are now dominated by the Colombian state. They want an autonomous state on Colombia’s Pacific coast to live their culture.
Afrikans make up 26% of Colombia’s 45 million people – 11 million. Colombia is third after Brazil and the US in terms of the size of its Afrikan community, yet their history and culture has never been properly documented or promoted. They were never allowed to return to Afrika and slavemasters separated those from the same region or language group to stop rebellions.This led to the loss of their language and culture so NM is frustrated that he cannot speak an Afrikan language.There are 83 groups in their network covering arts, students, farmers, politics and the environment. They areunited by the struggle for the right to their identity and also work with Mestizos. 4 million Afrikans are organised along these lines.They demand the right to self-determination and control of any project that affects them as part of their campaign for reparations for the crimes of slavery.
They helped the Creoles in their fight for freedom but when independence came, it only benefited the Creoles. European nations supplied Bolivar’s army but Haiti played the biggest part but when the independence celebrations came, Europeans were invited but not the Afrikan Haitians.
The 1991 Constitution said Colombia was a plural ethnic society and Afrikans are using this to gain recognition. But the Colombian state is promoting uniculture. “Every culture has its own concept of what is necessary for its evelopment.” They refuse to integrate in to the dominant culture. Discrimination has a double sense – that which is equal is treated differently and that which is different is treated equally. “A pig doesn’t eat dog food.”
Justice and reparations is a law of impunity, as people won’t find out the truth of what happened. In the past, there was the slave triangle, now there is the triangle of multinationals, paramilitaries and the multinational inland theft. He called for a human rights mission to report on the mistreatment of Afrikans and for groups in Europe to denounce attacks on them as Colombian media doesn’t do it as it is controlled by the state. In Durban 2000, they struggled to get slavery recognised as a crime against humanity, but the perpetrators left the room when reparations came up, showing their racist ideology.
MC said that education in Colombia has negated Afrikan-Colombian identity, making them out to be ugly and brutish. Afrikans mix with whites and mestizos, claiming they want to ‘improve the race’. PCN wants education that generates autonomy, equal pay, gender equality and justice. They stressed the importance of ending discrimination against women at home, school and work. Illiteracy is 40% in rural areas.
NM said the 1991 law legitimised what was already standard Afrikan-Colombian practice. Pacific lands are common lands, but this was interpreted as empty lands, allowing multinationals to move in and claim them. Afrikan-Colombians didn’t have an instrument to resist this, but Law 70 passed in 1993 should allow them some defence. They are also using International Labour Organisation Article 69 which promotes the rights of indigenous people.
Slavery still continues. In Choco, workers are not paid wages, but given vouchers that they can only use in the landowners' shops. Choco is the poorest region in Colombia but has the most Afrikans. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and sub-Saharan Afrika is the poorest region in the world. This is not because of divine providence but the institution of racism. The racism is also present in meetings they go to outside Colombia, where women and indigenous issues make it to the final recommendations but the Afrikans rights don’t get mentioned. He urged the left to be modern and accept that capitalism, while global, impacts and manifests differently at a local level.
They both stressed the importance of Afrikan links and would like to unite with other diaspora groups on projects in Afrika especially in the fields of education and medicine. In Colombia, healthcare is is provided by private agencies, so it is effectively privatised. PCN is setting up health collectives but, although they are recognised by central government, they do not have the resources to really make an impact. They will be looking to make links with Cuba and their Latin American School of Medicine although there are no Cuban doctors in Colombia at present. There are links between Colombia and Cuba’s Ministries of Education.
MC rounded off the talk with two songs about exploitation among workers and people who migrate from rural to urban areas only to find that life is harder there and so return to their home region.

See also: 2007 Commemoration; Maafa Photographs; Soul Survivors.

NUBIART PODCASTS NOW AVAILABLE: ‘What Is Beauty?’, looking at attitudes to hair, skin bleaching, relationships and Afrikan identity. You can downloadthis now at: www.soundradio1503.wordpress.com

NB: Nubiart Diary can also be read weekly at www.ligali.org and on the Afrikan Quest website.
Keywords: Afrikan identity; Afrikan heritage; Latin American; slavery; Black history

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Juneteenth Everyone

Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans were informed that the Civil War had ended and with it, their enslavement.

On June 19, 1865, the Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the news. Texas was apparently the last part of the United States to be liberated, two and a half years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth is celebrated in many parts of the United States as well as other parts of the world, as the day when African Americans finally were free. Or rather, when the government finally got around to telling us we were free.

I ask myself, are we really free? Compared to our enslaved ancestors, of course we are. Reading Soul Survivors recently, I was reminded yet again of the daily brutality which the enslaved Africans faced and accepted as their lot.

Seeing the Maafa Photographs reminds me of the unspeakable conditions they endured when brought to the Americas as ships' cargo.

But remembering Stephen Lawrence, Rodney King, Cherry Groce, Cynthia Jarrett, Joy Gardner, and so many others, I have to ask, how free are we really? Too many white people in authority continue to want to treat us as objects, brutalise us and discourage us from enjoying the freedoms which are ours by right.

Last year, when I was verbally abused by a racist white man, the police did nothing to protect my freedom (see State of London – Policing).

I am reminded, too, of Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. After she had finally escaped and moved to the North, a white friend of hers bought her from her 'owners' in order to spare her any further harassment by them. But, she reports, although in enslavement she had sought her freedom, living in the North she came to realise that she was entitled to it - freedom was her birthright.

Soul Survivors also reminded me of the enslaved African people's determination to escape and to liberate their family members, whatever the cost.

We have never had an African President of the U.S.A. Many of our brothers and sisters on the Continent are living and dying in grinding poverty and losing their family members to preventable diseases. Many of us still deny that we are even Africans.

Next year, we shall commemorate the ending of the Transatlantic trade. What are we really celebrating? Is freedom not ours by right? And what do we need to do to really be free?

Juneteenth Resources:




African Heritage Resources:


See also: 2007 Commemoration

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Abolish the N Word

Some of these images are disturbing, but this site is definitely worth viewing.



I am not convinced by their argument that 'The “N” word is not a term of endearment. It cannot be reapropriated. We cannot redefine the “N” word' because I have personally seen it redefined and I have seen it used as a term of endearment. That does not mean it is appropriate to continue using it today.

Of course, the argument is vastly more complex than this. Some of the most racist people and institutions do not use the 'No' word - they act in a way that is far more subtle.

See also: Soul Survivors

Click here for dozens of Black history links.

Keywords: African American, Black History

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Course for Black Parents

Saturday was hot and sunny and I had passed up an opportunity to be in the countryside, doing some Buddhist practice and chillin', to be in Camberwell with its smog, traffic and ever-present sirens. Why? Because I had helped to plan and organise the open day for the Parent Personal Development Programme. I think I made the right choice.

Despite the fact that it was the first day of the World Cup, many men and women chose to join us at Southwark Town Hall because they prioritise the education of the next generation.

Some statistics show that 70% of African Caribbean children are failing in Southwark schools. We want to know what to do about it. The PPPD will help us to gain skills to support young people to succeed and excel within the educational system.

The speakers were very articulate and erudite. They included academics Dr. Kimani Nehusi and Dr. Lez Henry, as well as Clarence Thompson, a pioneer in supplementary/complementary schools movement.

I shall be blogging about some of their key points in future, once I have typed up my notes.

Equally impressive were some of the audience members, including Mia Morris of Well Placed Consultancy and Decima Francis of the Boyhood to Manhood foundation. Decima made the following points:

1) There are two types of GCSEs and our young people are not being put forward to the A-C type GCSEs, they tend only to be put forward for the lower grades.

2) You only need five children in order to set up your own school. You have to provide teaching in English, maths and science, and after that you can provide any subject - Yoruba, Twi, Caribbean history, whatever you want.

It was very heartwarming to see so many people there who are committed to helping our young people achieve a better future and better choices.

The Parent Personal Development Programme will be offering our first course for African Caribbean parents from the end of June. To join, contact:

Pamela Hamilton (020) 7525 5504

See also: Black Success Stories, a brilliant resource for parents and teachers.

Keywords: African Caribbean, education, young people, schools, parents