Archive for November, 2009

Books Published

Posted in Newsletter with tags on November 22, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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A Brief History

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Norman Samuda-Smith

Norman Samuda-Smith’s back cover of Bad Friday; the photo was taken in 1981 when Norman was just 22.

The Original Bad Friday

Above is the original Bad Friday published by Trinity Arts in 1982. They produced a print run of just 1,500 copies which were sold out in five months. The cover and illustrations inside the novel were designed and drawn by Norman and took two days. “To achieve that and to have my novel published was the fulfilment of the dream I had when I was fourteen.”

During 1983 and 1984, Norman began writing the revised version of Bad Friday. He believed the novel was good enough to reach a much wider audience.  Alongside that, he was writing plays for Ebony Arts Theatre Group of which he was a founding member in 1983. Each play he produced was successfully toured nationally in front of packed community audiences. Ebony Arts final national tour ended in July 1988 when they performed Woman to Woman and Ebony Versions.

Ebony Arts Theatre Group (Flyer)

New Beacon Books; London/Port of Spain were one of three black book shops based in London who helped Trinity Arts promote and sell the original Bad Friday. In 1984 Norman attended the International Black Book Fair in London and presented the amended Bad Friday manuscript to the late John La Rose (founder and Managing Director of New Beacon Books). He was impressed with the re-write and re-published the revised version of the novel in 1985. Bad Friday became popular in the school and college curriculums in the West Midlands region through the ’80’s and early ’90’s.

Bad Friday

Norman’s story Rasta Love is one of seventeen short-stories featured in the award-winning anthology Whispers in the Walls; Tindal Street Press, 2001.“1970’s Rasta rhythms reverberate through a teenage love affair. Rasta Love by Norman Samuda-Smith is a tour de force of angry, joyous patois as irresistible as the hard bass-lines it celebrates.”

Whispers in the Walls

Norman’s poems Life’s a Game and I Am Begging You are featured in the anthology Songs of Hope; Timeless Avatar Press; USA 2006. “The black poets of this anthology are singing dirges and manifestos (but also songs of victories gained) to inspire and instruct a new generation in the struggle to go beyond the status quo. They are paying tribute to the heroism, love, erotic moment, devastating self-revelation, the loss and despair, and the rise, rise, rise again that comes in lives great and small; and who is to say which is which?”

  Songs of Hope

St Ann – A tribute to his later mother Irene Ann Samuda-Smith is featured in the anthology The Heart of Our Community; Timeless Avatar Press; USA 2006. “These writers bring their own individual dialects and enthusiasms about life to shape this carnival of words dancing around boundaries. Their feelings about love and children, racism and oppression, death and remembrance of departed ones, reflect the joys and strains in each of their communities.”

The Herat of Our Community

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Current Projects

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BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN

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Cover Design by: Jermaine Samuda Smith

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AN ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES

By

NORMAN SAMUDA SMITH

BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN is a collection of short-stories by Norman Samuda-Smith. His stories were written and span a period of over 33 years. They chronicle the experiences of two generations of the black community born in Britain of West Indian parents, (The Windrush Generation), who migrated to the ‘Mother Country’ in the 1950s and 60s. These stories have never been brought together in the form of an anthology before. They naturally and harmoniously gel to tell one tale.

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Inner-City Blues

Cover was designed by: Aaron Linton-Chambers for Samuda-Smith Publications

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“Sometimes a hard line is a wrong line…”

“Two wrongs never make a right…”

When Peter is brutally assaulted after leaving a ‘blues party’ in the early hours of Sunday morning, robbed of his hustling money, face down, bleeding and motionless, the attack sends shock-waves, affecting his nearest and dearest. No longer the confident verbal swaggering youth, Peter’s a frightened fragile young man, unable to leave the sanctuary of his bedroom. The assault also scuppers his plans to relocate with Faye before their baby is born. Faye seeks help from her friends Lorraine, Vivene and her boyfriend Delroy (Peter’s cousin) and Lorraine’s boyfriend Errol to turn the situation around.

Peter’s side-kick Ziggy is convinced he knows who attacked Peter but his accusations fall on deaf ears. He quickly realises Peter is protected by a wall of silence from his family and friends.

After a slow recovery and rejecting the temptation to persue a 9 to 5 life style, Peter and Ziggy team up again. Ziggy however, has one aim in mind, revenge. Peter’s attacker’s must pay a heavy price. Revenge is a dish best served cold but the heated consequences of these actions may jeopardise the lives of Peter, his family and friends.

Inner-City Blues is based within the back-drop of inner-city Small Heath Birmingham during the mid 1970’s and is the long-awaited sequel to Norman Samuda-Smith’s ground breaking first novel Bad Friday.

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Enjoy reading The Featured Story, Normski’s Article, and The Culture Corner.

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FEATURED STORY

Posted in Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , on November 22, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

St.Ann

(A tribute to Irene Ann Samuda-Smith)

© 2006 Norman Samuda-Smith

St. Ann is featured in Britannia’s Children – Volume II – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Britannias-Children-Volume-II-9781788763851.aspx

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My mom flew away to Zion on 13th June 1987. Although I’ve grown to accept her loss, a gap remains inside me. Especially when her Birthday and Mother’s Day comes around. Cancer took away mom’s life here on Mother Earth. Her friends said it was because she was a smoker, but I knew it wasn’t that. In my opinion, it was worry and stress. This is her story.

Irene Ann Samuda was born on 10th December 1929 in the Parish of Trelawny, Jamaica. There were many conflicting stories about why she originally came to England, however, my sister Tatlyn, who is the family historian, told us that mom was the youngest and most talented of the three children of our grandparents Albert and Adina. The eldest was Uncle Isaac, the middle child was Aunt Hilda.

Mom’s family are descended from the Maroon Nation whom the Spanish, (they colonised Jamaica before the British took over) called Cimarron, meaning wild or untamed. The Maroons were Israelite slaves taken into captivity and shipped across the Atlantic via The Middle Passage. They freed themselves from bondage and chains in Jamaica, eventually, they established communities and their own culture in the Trelawny, St James and St Thomas parishes of Xaymaca. They fought the British Army, (The Red Coats) for 94 years to preserve their freedom and in 1738, Cudjoe, (Mountain Lion Chief of the Maroons) and Red Coat Colonel Guthrie signed a treaty at Petty River Bottom. This treaty meant the Maroons gained the right to govern themselves and autonomy from British rule; that treaty still exists today.

During her formative years, mom developed a genius for making men and women’s clothes, especially wedding dresses. It was said, and my dad bears witness to this, mom used to take the measurements of clients and make their garments without the guidance of a pattern. The end results were clothes that fitted like a glove. Tatlyn told us it was for this reason that my grandparents decided to send mom to England to further her career since the economics and job prospects in Jamaica at that time were not good. So, in May 1951, she left Crossroads Maroon Town and arrived in England, The Mother Country at the age of 21, along with multitudes of West Indians of that period who had high hopes and dreams of a better future.

Mom’s first impressions of England were, in one word: “grim”. During the 1950’s she experienced being spat at on the streets and being called names by men, women and children. She came across colour bars from places of entertainment. Landlords and landladies refused to offer her accommodation because of the colour of her skin. She even encountered colour bars from churches.  Racism of the highest degree, which she and her fellow brethren and sistrens couldn’t understand. Mom once told me that England’s boasting of being The Mother Country for over 200 years did not ring true: “You show me a mother who would greet her children by calling them horrible names, initiate colour bar and refuse to give them accommodation in her own house…”

Despite all of these adversities, the West Indians stayed and tried to live a normal life as British citizens. They went to their respected jobs each day in an effort to help their Mother Country, or in mom’s words: “Clean up Hitler’s mess.” Although my parents managed to buy a house and a car and build a happy family life, it wasn’t enough for mom. Something was missing. Her sombre feelings and anxieties had a lot to do with the Maroon blood running through her veins and, just like her ancestors, she wanted to be free from being bossed around. She wanted to be her own boss.

In March 1962, mom was awarded a World Diploma with honours from the National Hairdressers Federation for passing her final exams. She had received three other diplomas from them prior to that, and, in June 1962, she opened her own hairdressing salon.  The sign outside her shop read: Women’s World Hair Boutique. Mom often voiced with pride that she was the first black woman in Birmingham to drive a car and own a business; she probably was. In her glory days of the ’60’s and ’70’s, her shop was packed 6 days a week with women of all colours and creeds flocking to mom to have their hair cut, styled, permed, and straightened. Many brides and bridesmaids were coiffed in that boutique. Mom and her many assistants, who she trained, did their best to see that their clientele was given the best service. This is where I enjoyed my formative years, surrounded by the female energy and raised by the matriarchs of our family; The Mighty Three I called them. My mom, her sister Aunt Hilda and my eldest sister Tatlyn.

My favourite times with mom only a couple of years after she launched her successful hair salon business was during the musical era of Blue Beat and Ska. Not only was mom a class act at styling hair, as I said earlier, she was a bespoken master tailor and seamstress. She designed and made an abundance of brides’ wedding dresses and the bridesmaid’s outfits too, as well as the bridegroom’s suits. This meant nearly every other Saturday we were invited to many wedding receptions and house parties. So when mom finished work on a Saturday evening, my brother Bruce and I would help her sweep up and tidy the salon, then we’d put on our party clothes and forward to the wedding receptions and parties, where the sound systems would play the Rock Steady beat.

Aside from being a successful businesswoman, she was a great mother, the best, and my best friend. In the summer of 1964, she took us on a one week guided tour of France and Belgium. She also financially helped my Aunt Hilda pay the fare for her children, our cousins to come from Flagstaff Maroon Town to London. Every year without fail, right up to our eighteenth birthdays, Bruce and I had a birthday party. Mom achieved so much in a short space of time.

Mom, Bruce and Norman on the Hover Craft journey to France 1964

When we told mom she had cancer, I could see it in her eyes she knew it was too far gone for her to fight it. Thinking back now, eighteen months before she flew to Zion, she was visiting her doctor too many times each month for my liking. She knew what was happening and I’m guessing that knowing mom’s character, she wouldn’t allow anyone to try and fix things at a time when they could have made a difference. Was it fear of the operating table? Or was it an acceptance that her time had come? I still wonder. She took the news like the brave warrior queen she was; she shrugged her shoulders and said: “I’m in God’s hands now.”   

From February to April 1987, only Jah knows how mom went to hell and back while she was in hospital, being poked and prodded by doctors and jabbed with needles. They took her blood and gave her some back. She was asked numerous questions about her problem, followed by test after test, all in vain to find out what was wrong with her.

On Saturday, June 13, 1987, after Tatlyn, Bruce and I  spent all day at mom’s bedside until 8 pm, we received a phone call from the hospital that mom had taken a turn for the worst. We drove there as fast as we could and arrived at five past ten.  As we ran down the corridors with Bruce leading the way, everything was moving in slow motion. When a doctor stopped Bruce in his tracks and whispered something to him and Bruce reeled away from him saying: “Oh no!” I knew mom had flown to Zion. She was still warm when I touched her.  I could tell by her features she was at peace, they were relaxed for the first time in eight months.

I write this tribute to her because we all live on and share Mother Earth. I believe we should share with each other our experiences we gain in life whether it’s good, bad, happy or sad. I believe this, my experience should be shared among the multitude and I truly believe Jah stretched forth his hands and welcomed mom into his kingdom. I know right now her love-light is shining down on them and those people she loves the most. St Ann is truly our Queen Amina, a woman as capable as a man.

For those of you who have gone through an experience similar to mine, or who are going through it now, have faith and stay strong, cos even in death, there is glory.

Jah Love.

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*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda-Smith.*

Normski’s Article

Posted in Newsletter with tags on November 22, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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ROLE MODELS

(Every Sporting Hero/Celebrity has their Role Models too)

© 2009 Norman Samuda-Smith

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There was a question my friends and I used to ask each other regularly in our conversations when we were kids in junior school: “Who is your favourite role model?”

Ninety per cent of the time the answer was a professional sportsman. Then we would split them up into three categories.  Boxing: That was easy, Mohammed Ali every time.  Football/Soccer: No problem, it was always Pele and Eusebio. Later in my teens and up into my thirties when basketball was my number one sport, the mighty three stood out for me, Julius Erving AKA Doctor J, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Boxing was never a sport I attempted to venture into, simply because I didn’t want to be punched silly, but when Mohammed Ali stepped into the ring, he was poetry in motion and made the art of boxing look easy and enjoyable. Outside the ring, to me he was the first performance poet and a natural psychologist. He would psyche out his opponents, get inside their heads, mess it up and win a fight before his challenger stepped in the ring. As a person, he is true to his word, has strong morals which he always stood by and he has the love and respect of the world.

Pele and Eusebio were black pearls of the world’s football/soccer arenas. Back in the day we received limited TV footage of these players; but when we did see them, guaranteed the next day in the school playground, we would try to emulate the moves they performed on the field. Everybody wanted to be Pele and Eusebio, two of the greatest football/soccer players of all time.

We move on to Doctor J and his ‘against gravity moves’ he executed on the NBA basketball courts for the Philadelphia 76ers; slam dunking, double-pumping and finger-rolling the basketball with style, finesse and power.  Michael Jordan took Doctor J’s ‘against gravity moves’ to another level. Most of the time we would see him scoring three-quarters of the Chicago Bull’s total points in a game, while his team mates and the world watched in awe and wondered: ‘How did he do that?’ Magic Johnson of the L.A.Lakers was always thinking three/four moves ahead of the rest. Honoured with the accolade of being the best Point Guard of all time; tall, athletic and fast, his play-making skills were second to none; and his famous ‘look-away’ passes always deceived and broke down the most stubborn of defences.

Yes they entertained me and being an athlete for most of my younger years, they inspired me to become a better player in the sports I specialised in. Mohammed Ali added an extra dimension to his persona by speaking his truth and standing by his beliefs. However, we’re in an era where the youth of today are obsessed with sporting celebrities or boy and girl bands who become celebrities and celebrities who are celebrities for no reason whatsoever. The youth are watching and want to be famous just like them. The sporting legends I mentioned earlier are being over-shadowed by some of the modern-day ‘role models’ who are in their vocation just for the money, the fame and to pacify their egos.

So let’s step back and analyse why the likes of Pele, Magic Johnson and Mohammed Ali chose their professions. It was for the love of their sport first and foremost. Secondly, they were committed to work hard to become the best at what they do.  Third, the money was a bonus, alongside the major sponsorship deals and sports shoes made with their names on it. They became household names and role models through being watched on television via interviews and documentaries about them.  Some, not all, come from humble beginnings. You know the thing, born into working class families with not much money around. Dad had to work maybe three jobs to make ends meet and put food on the table, shoes on feet, the whole nine yards; while mom stayed at home and kept the family unit together. Some of these legends spent most of their formative years in their respected tough ghetto streets where they had the choice of going straight, or stumble on the narrow, but they had a special talent. A talent their parents recognised, honed in on and encouraged until their special ones were spotted, recruited, coached and the rest is history.

Most of the youth of today say and believe they will become famous and expect fame and fortune to be handed to them on a plate. “They want something for nothing,” my mom used to say. This is something they must understand and the 21st century parent must impress in the minds of their off-springs. For the youth who wants to become famous and be the best there is and ever was;  hard work, dedication and love what you do are what you need to achieve your goals; together with the support of the whole family unit. Encouragement naturally comes from the parents anyway.

Now I go back to the original question my friends and I were asking each other at the age of ten:

“Who is your favourite role model?”

I know what my answer is now; my mom and dad.  All my favourite sporting legends are in a respected second place. If I were to ask the legends who were their role models, I have no doubt what their answers would be.

Til the next time – Everyting Bless.

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*All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda-Smith.*

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The Culture Corner

Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.”

 Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887 – 1940)

Every year in October we celebrate BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Black history is with us every second, minute, hour, week, month and year. PANTHER NEWSLETTER’S Culture Corner will attempt to enlighten you with what they never told you in your history class. Our story will be told right here – So enjoy the journey of clarification.

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Not widely known but true…

 

MUSIC

Ludwig Van Beethoven the classical composer and musician was black.

Joseph Haydn another well-known composer and musician who wrote the music for the former Austrian National Anthem was also black.

HISTORICAL FACTS

Before Abraham’s birth, the sacred river of India, the River Ganges was named after an Ethiopian King  General Ganges who conquered Asia as far as this river and established an empire.

The most ancient lineage in the world is that of the Ethiopian Royal Family.  It is said to be older than that of Queen Elizabeth II by 6160 years.  The former Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I, traced his ancestry to King Solomon, the Queen of ShebaMenelik I and beyond to Cush 6280 B.C.  (Song of Solomon I verse 6).

A black man Matthew Henson was in the party of 6 who were the first to reach Antarctica in 1909.

There were Africans in Britain before the English!

MEDICINE

Imhotep, a black man was the real father of medicine.  Hippocrates, the so-called father of medicine lived 2000 years after Imhotep.  Greece and Rome obtained their knowledge of medicine from him.

Doctor Daniel Hale Williams, an African/American who died in 1931 was the first surgeon to perform a successful operation on the human heart.

FAITH AND RELIGION

There were three African Popes of Rome.  Victor I (189 – 199 A.D.) Melchiades (311 – 312 A.D.) ; and St Gelasius (496 A.D.).  It was Melchiades who led Christianity to final triumph against the Roman Empire.

The celestial saint of Germany is St Maurice, an African.  While in command of a Roman legion in what is now Switzerland, in 287 A.D, he refused to attack the Christians when ordered to by the emperor Maximian Herculius, for which he was killed.  His picture is in many German cathedrals and museums, sometimes with the German national emblem, the eagle on his head.

Akhenaten

The beginning of religion was in Africa.  Pharaoh Akhenaten gave the world the belief  in one god.  In Egypt, he insisted that his people worship Aton, the Sun God only.  His beliefs were strong enough to completely change art and literature in Egypt.

WRITING

Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870)

Alexandre Dumas was one of the most famous French writers of the 19th century.  He is best known for his historical adventure novels like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.  Dumas’ grandfather was a French nobleman who had settled in Santo Domingo, now part of Haiti.  His paternal grandmother, Marie Louise Cessette Dumas was African/Caribbean, who had been a slave in the French colony.

Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)

Alexander Pushkin has become one of Russia’s national heroes.  Born in Moscow of African blood, portraits often tried to disguise his features.  His political verse got him exiled from Moscow in 1820 and his atheist opinions also hampered him.  Among his great works are the poem The Bronze Horseman (1833) and also the short story The Queen of Spades (1834).

FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797)

Olaudah Equiano was born in what is now Nigeria.  Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood, he was taken to the New World as a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy and later to a Quaker merchant.  He eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving.  As a seaman, he travelled the world.  When he arrived in London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789), a strong abolitionist autobiography.  The book became a bestseller and as well as furthering the anti-slavery cause, made Equiano a wealthy man.  Equiano’s passion, committment and energy to the anti-slavery cause, informed and inspired William Wilberforce, a religious English MP and social reformer to convince the British Empire to bring about the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895)

Frederick Douglass was best known for delivering stirring speeches about his life as a slave and he became a leading spokesman for the abolition of slavery and for racial equality.  The son of a slave woman and an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey” was born February 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore.  He spent his early years with his grandparents and with an aunt, only seeing his mother five times before her death when he was seven.  During this time Douglass was exposed to the degradations of slavery, witnessing firsthand brutal whippings and spending much time cold and hungry.  When he was eight he was sent to Baltimore to live with a ship carpenter named Hugh Auld.  There he learned to read and first heard the words abolition and abolitionists.  Living in Baltimore laid the foundations and opened the gateway to his prosperity.

Douglass won world fame when his autobiography was published in 1845.  Two years later he began publishing an antislavery paper called North Star.  He served as an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for black people.  Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.

Here ends your history lesson for this month.

I’d like to take this opportunity to big up my daughter Shereen for encouraging me to make this newsletter possible; bless up Administrator Denise Dunn for posting all things cultural on the Panther Newsletter Facebook page and last but by no means least, Candice Smith for taking time out to offer her technical skills.  “Bless you ladies.”

 

Log on for more Culture Corner next month and remember…

“The greatest thing is to know, what you don’t know.”

Irene Ann Samuda-Smith

So said my mom: Irene Ann Samuda-Smith

Sunrise: December 10 1929 – Sunset: June 13 1987

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‘Til next month:  Everyting Bless.

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