Archive for December, 2009

DEDICATION

Posted in Newsletter with tags on December 29, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

This month’s Panther News Letter is dedicated to Ricardo Campbell aka David Jah Rastafari, son of Small Heath who is no longer with us in the physical. 

 Sunrise: July 9 1962 – Sunset: December 7 2009.

Ricardo’s philosophy of life was about Livity:  How you live good with people.  My Mom and Dad have always said: “The good you do, lives after you.”

Ricardo always lived good with them and those he loved the most.  Rest in peace Ricardo – We know your love-light shines on us always and you’ll never be forgotten.

Jah Bless.

GIVE THANKS

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Newsletter with tags , , on December 29, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

Welcome to this month’s Panther Newsletter.  Before you settle into this edition’s topics, I want to give thanks to each and every one of you for logging on to the first edition, enjoying it and taking time out to offer me your words of encouragement; very uplifting.  I trust you will find this second issue as enjoyable as the first and don’t be shy, subscribe to Panther Newsletter, it’s free!

Coming up we have THE ARTIST OF THE MONTH; THE FEATURED STORY (part one); NORMSKI’S ARTICLE  and everybody’s favourite THE CULTURE CORNER.

Bless – Norman Samuda-Smith

ARTIST OF THE MONTH

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Newsletter with tags , , on December 29, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

She writes the things we think about, but dare not say out loud.  She touches on the ‘Taboo’ and has readers everywhere gasping as she echoes their thoughts in words on a page.  She cuts no corners and spares no emotions.  Simply, this unique writer tells it like it is in her racy tales of love, passion and yes, good old ‘Infidelity’.  She is a writer on a mission with a message at the heart of each story she tells…

Panther Newsletter’s ARTIST OF THE MONTH is Birmingham’s Jasmine Johnson.  Born in Jamaica, she came to Britain when she was a teenager.  A Media and Communication Studies graduate from the University of Wolverhampton, Jasmine has come a long way since her first novel Mr Soon Come hit the literary scene in 2001.  Following that, she wrote and self-published her two subsequent novels The Devil I Know and The Day Hell Broke Loose.  I hooked up with Jasmine to find out more about her and her work…

Read Jasmine’s interview here…

FEATURED STORY

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Newsletter, Short Story with tags , , on December 29, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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The Football Match

(Based on true events)

(Part One)

© 2009 Norman Samuda-Smith

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Mr Goode the math teacher wasn’t in a good mood on this particular Monday morning. It was in evidence as the pupils of Form 3A sat in silence at their desks, scribbling into their exercise books, the equations he was writing on the blackboard. Any time Mr Goode was in a mood like this, nobody wanted to be caught whispering or messing around, for he had a heavy hand. When he slapped somebody on the back of their head, they would know about it for a long time, especially when they just had a haircut.

Mr Goode looked everything like a math teacher, the big round shiny bald head, large enough to fit a mathematical genius’ brain, perhaps two. He wore thick black plastic framed glasses, with lenses that looked like convex mirrors, from which shone a silvery reflection onto his face continually; and his double chin made him look like Humpty Dumpty. Every day he dressed in black. Proudly on display on the breast pocket of his blazer, was a large Royal Air Force crest. Instead of walking, he marched about the classroom as though on drill as he explained to form 3A, how to solve a mathematical problem.

The school he was teaching at was Alston Boys’ Secondary Modern in the Bordesley Green East area of Birmingham. It was a strict school and boasted of its Victorian attitudes toward education, demanding from its pupil’s manners, discipline and respect. It was intolerable if their pupils failed to attend school in the proper school uniform; the official school tie, white or grey shirt, black or grey trousers and a black blazer with the school badge sewn neatly on the breast pocket; disgusting to arrive at school in unpolished black shoes; unacceptable for any pupil not to complete their homework or submit it late; sacrilege to be cheeky to the teachers and long shoulder length hair was not allowed. The cane was used across the hand or on the finger tips as punishment for all of these offences with no partiality; they were just a few of the rules.

The outcome of this policy was very high sporting standards and achievement, but more importantly, excellent exam results which were second to none. Many West Indian parents, who lived in and around the area, sent their boys to this school. It reminded them of the manners, discipline and respect they honoured their parents and school teachers during their childhood back in the West Indies; so they were in total support of the Alston Boys’ School philosophy.

          “YOU BOY!”  Mr Goode blared, pointing an accusing finger.

          “Me Sir?”

          “YES YOU SIR!  I SAID NO TALKING DIDN’T I?”

          “…I wuzn’t talkin’ sir.”

          “YES YOU WERE TALKING BOY, I SAW YOU JUST NOW!”

          “No I wuzn’t!”

          “DON’T ARGUE WITH ME!”

          “Wuzn’t talkin’!”  The pupil folded his arms in defiance and tutted under his breath.

          “GET OUT AND STAND BY THE DOOR!  I CAN’T STAND INSOLENCE AND I HATE LIARS!”

Either Mr Goode fell out of the wrong side of his bed, or he had a heated argument with his wife that morning, whatever the reason; Steven Callow, innocent as the day he was born, was a victim of his math teacher’s wrath. One of the unwritten golden rules among the pupils of Alston Boys’ was, if you get thrown out of a lesson, it was best to be thrown out at the end, rather than the beginning or the middle; that way, one will stand a chance of getting away without receiving punishment.  Unfortunately for Steven Callow, it was the beginning of a double lesson and the deputy headmaster, Mr Highley was on one of his unpredictable corridor rounds. Dressed in a slick dark blue suit, six-foot five-inch tall Mr Highley, (nicknamed “Pigeon Chest” by the pupils because of the way his chest jutted out of all his jackets) strolled along the upper and lower corridors, hands clasped behind his back, peeping through all the classroom door windows; occasionally brushing aside his straight black locks that obscured his vision from time to time. He wasn’t an ugly-looking man, but at a time like this, when he was on a ‘mission’, his piercing blue eyes together with his stoned-faced glare, was enough to make the toughest of men cringe. His black brogue shoes created an echo that rippled through the building as the steel tips which protected his leather heels touched down on the shiny concrete floor. As Mr Highley’s footsteps came ever closer and louder, it spelt danger for Steven Callow.

          “STAND UP STRAIGHT BOY!”  Mr Highley’s deep volcanic voice roared through the upper and lower corridors. His footsteps quickened until he was standing in front of Steven, who stood to attention immediately. He caught Mr Highley’s piercing eyes and then looked away quickly.

          “Straighten your tie boy!” Mr Highley grunted.

As Steven did so, Mr Highley asked, “Why are you standing out here?”

          “Me sir?”

Mr Highley looked about his structure, left, right and behind, then in a patronising gesture, he shrugged his shoulders…

          “I don’t see anybody else standing out here, do you boy?

          “No sir.”

          “NO SIR!  WELL SIR?”

          “Well what sir?”

          “Do NOT get wise with me Callow!”  Mr Highley remonstrated; each word warranted a poke in Steven’s chest with his forefinger, until they were nose-to-nose.  “…I’ll ask you again Callow, why are you standing out HERE!

          “Coz Mr Goode sez I wuz talkin’ sir.”

          “And what was your interesting conversation about Callow?”

          “Nothin’ sir.  I wuzn’t talkin’.”

          “Are you calling Mr Goode A LIAR BOY?”

Steven Callow shrugged his shoulders, “I s’pose I am callin’ him that sir, yeh.”

Mr Highley’s blue eyes widened; his face became beetroot red, he looked as though he was going to explode any second.

          “You wait here boy.  We’ll see what Mr Goode has to say about this.”  Mr Highley brushed past Steven and entered the classroom.

Everybody in Form 3A stood up. That was another rule of the school. If the Headmaster or the Deputy Head entered the classroom, everybody must stand up.

          “Sit down boys.”  Mr Highley said.  “Mr Goode, can I see you outside for a moment?”

          “Certainly Mr Highley.”  Mr Goode marched toward the classroom door with big strides, while  Mr Highley addressed the class and uttered words of warning…

          “If I hear a SOUND from any of you, it will be the CANEFOR ALL OF YOU!  Do I make myself CLEAR?”

          “Yes sir.”  Form 3A mumbled.

          “Good!  Now get on with your work!”  Mr Highley’s eyes made serious contact with thirty-five fourteen year olds; they watched him back out of the classroom like a gangster covering himself from a trigger happy sniper…

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THE FOOTBALL MATCH (Part two) – click here…

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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.*

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NORMSKI’S ARTICLE

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Newsletter with tags , on December 29, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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I’M GLAD I HAD A CHURCH UPBRINGING

© 2009 Norman Samuda-Smith

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The University of Life throws trials and tribulations at every man, woman or child from time to time, regardless of who we are, our backgrounds or where we come from; but we still move forward, learning the lessons along the way and becoming stronger for it.  We know and understand, deep down, time will tell that what we learn through the years, our higher selves inform us, what we interpret is our truth.

I was christened in April 1959 at the Moseley Road Methodist Church in Birmingham. When my parents moved to Small Heath in 1961, they became members of the congregation of The Holy Family Roman Catholic Church. I can still remember our family ritual every Sunday.  Mom would wake my brother and I at 9.00am. We made our way bleary eyed downstairs to be welcomed by the smell of breakfast being cooked. We would bathe, get dressed in our best suits (that our Mom had made for us) and put on newly polished shoes. We all looked slick!  The one thing I hated about this ritual was that we were never allowed to eat breakfast before attending church service. As Mom used to say…

“…Is de best way to praise de Lord.  For de food we eat, every breath we take and for roaming dis beautiful heaven call Earth…”

All we were allowed was a cup of tea. We’d pile into Mom’s sporty Ford Anglia for 11 o’clock service which lasted for an hour.

Every week in church, my eyes would roam around at the walls, ceilings and altar as the priests conducted the service. As in every Roman Catholic Church, there were pictures portraying Jesus carrying his cross with captions telling the story of his crucifixion. On the ceiling were pictures depicting God in the Kingdom of Heaven surrounded by his army of angels. At the altar; painted carved statues of Mary and Jesus and hanging as though suspended, was a huge crucifix with a wooden statue of Jesus nailed to it.

When I was eleven, I was given my first bible. I recall being surprised at its thickness.  You see, I was unaware of how many books were in the Old Testament (66). When I attended Sunday School and occasionally listened to the priest’s teaching, they only referred to the Gospel of Matthew. “Why is that?” I wondered. So, I started to read my bible from Genesis to Revelation; not every single word, but I read it nonetheless.

The stories which fascinated me the most was Samson, his locks, which were the source of his strength and how Delilah betrayed him. King Solomon, his wisdom and his glorious reign over Israel who were the envy of the world; and Makeda Queen of Sheba who yearned so much to meet the wise King, she set out from Ethiopia to travel to Israel.

By the time I was fifteen, I was becoming disillusioned with what I was being taught in church. Around that time my brethrens and I had formed a sound system. We entertained in and were regular visitors of the reggae dance hall scenes during the mid to late 70’s; absorbing and reasoning with each other about the musical Bible of Rastafari being played.

Jamaican Rasta singers like Rod Taylor sang the lyrics in his tune Ethiopian Kings: “King David, he was a black man, King Solomon, he was a black man of Africa…” Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear released a song called Columbusand sang: “Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar,” referring to Columbus claiming he discovered Jamaica. Further on in his lyrics, Burning Spear questions Columbus’s declaration: “What about the Arawak Indians and the few black man who was around here before him?”  And Bob Marley sang: Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights…”

The dance hall became my church, my new centre of learning about our African ancestors. I came to the conclusion that the church had sold me the idea that the likes of King Solomon, Makeda, Samson and Jesus were white.

One Sunday morning before church, I announced to Mom I was not going to attend church any more. Well, World War III almost broke out!  She said all kinds of abominations and atrocities were going to happen to me because of my decision. But I’m still here and still learning about my ancestral past. Mom soon came round and began to see where I was coming from. We spent many Sunday evenings together listening to my Bob Marley albums and through his lyrics, Mom recognised Bob was speaking his truth.

After further reading, what the church had omitted, Rastafari taught me; black people in the Bible as well as in Coptic literature are among the most famous figures. Ancient African people’s existence and experiences are recorded in the Bible and in many cases large amounts of information were written by black people and are addressed specifically to them. I learned it took the Queen of Sheba six months to travel from Ethiopia to Israel. She and her entourage loaded 797 camels and asses too. A clear indication of her wealth. Furthermore, in the time of Solomon, Israel was a nation of people who were mixed, not just dark people, but black in feature as well.  Delilah gave birth to Samson’s son Menahem after Samson died in the act of destroying the Philistines’ temple. Years later, Menahem became King of the Philistines. Finally, Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus were Nazarenes, which stems from the old Hebraic laws of non-defilement; no trimming of hair, no shaving of beards.

This prayer, I learnt from when I was small, makes more sense to me each day my knowledge increases…

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

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, Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter with tags , , , on December 29, 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…

        Did you know?:

  • Africa’s original name is the Land of Ham – The term/name Africa came after a Roman General, Leo. S. Africanus led the attack which defeated Hannibal’s army in Carthage (North Africa, now Tunisia).  After the victory, in the General’s honour, the Roman Empire renamed the Land of Ham, Africa, after him.
  • The word: Laba-laba; to chat, gab, gossip, originates from the Daju languages of South-West Sudan – Meaning lib or lebe/to say, talk, tell.
  • The word Corral (an enclosure for cattle or livestock), used by the North American Cowboys, originates from the African word Kraal – The Bush Men of the Kalahari in southern Africa, for centuries have located their Kraals within their homestead or village; and they are surrounded by a palisade, mud wall or other fencing, roughly circular in form.
  • The United Kingdom can fit into Nigeria 11 times.

        THE BLACK MADONNA; THE BLACK CHRIST

The Saviours of Mankind from Buddha to Jesus were Black.  In fact, the earliest statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ in Europe as far north as Russia were black.  They are still worshipped today in parts of Europe:

One can find a Black Christ:

  • In France, the Cathedral of Millan.
  • In Germany, the Cathedral of Augsburg.
  • In Italy, the Church of San Francisco (at Pisa).

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TRIBUTE TO OUR SHEROES

Nephertiti (or Nefertiti), her name meaning “the beautiful one approaches” was the Queen of Ancient Egypt and one of the most beautiful women in history.  She was the chief wife to Pharaoh Akhenaten.  Nephertiti generally wore close-fitting dresses, but was also depicted naked.  In part this related to her role in the fertility cult.

To her native people, The Queen of Sheba was known as Makeda (960 BC – 930 BC); meaning beautiful.  She ruled Ethiopia and Saba in South Arabia.  Fascinated by tales of Israel and King Solomon, she travelled there to learn from him and adopted his religion Judaism.  Her greatest joy was their son Menelik.

Queen Amina of Zaria reigned over the Zazzua region (now known as Zaria in Northern Nigeria) for 34 years.  At a time when strength, courage and military prowess were traditionally associated with men, it was Amina who restored the pride of Hausaland. Usually pictured riding at the front of her army, Amina won battle after battle until she united the seven states of Hausaland and extended and secured its borders.

WRITERS AND FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Mary Prince was born in 1788 on a plantation in Bermuda in the Caribbean.  She was the first African woman to escape slavery and publish her experiences in England.  Her book about her life and experience of enslavement contributed to the abolition of the British slave trade.

Queen Nzingha began the first liberation movement in Angola, Central Africa.  She waged war against the Portuguese slave traders and despite their occupation of Angola, Nzingha maintained the resistance until her death in 1663.

Phillis Wheatleywas born in Senegal around 1753.  She was captured by slave traders and brought to America in 1761.  Purchased by John Wheatley, a tailor from Boston, Phillis was taught to read by one of Wheatley’s daughters.  Phillis studied English, Latin and Greek and in 1767 began writing poetry.  Her first poem was published in 1770.

BLACK WOMEN INVENTORS

  • Sarah Boone – The Ironing Board – April 26 1892
  • Mary Toland – Float operated Circuit Closer – April 26 1916
  • Mary J Reynolds – Hoisting/Loading Mechanism – April 20 1920
  • I.O. Carter – Nursery Chair – February 9 1960
  • Marie Van Brittan Brown – Home Security System; Utilizing T.V Surveillance – December 2 1969
  • Valerie Thomas – Illusion Transmitter – May 4 1980
  • Joan Clark – Medicine Tray – April 1 1987
  • Patricia Bath, M.D. – Apparatus for Ablating & Removing Cataract Lenses – May 17 1988
  • Joanna Hardin– Keyboard Stand – February 23 1993
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Here ends your history lesson for this month.

I trust each and every one of you enjoyed or are still enjoying your holidays.  For those of you celebrating Kwanzaa; Happy Kwanzaa and I pray your affirmations of the Nguzo Saba, (The Seven Principles) guides you to a happy and prosperous New Year – Jah Bless.

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Log on for more Culture Corner next month and remember…

“To educate the man is to educate an individual.  To educate the woman is to educate and liberate a nation.”

Malcolm X (1925 – 1965)

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‘Til next month:  Everyting Bless.

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