Archive for January, 2011

GREETINGS AND NEWS

Posted in Articles, Black History, News, Newsletter with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

“One hand washes the other.”

 

Greetings and welcome to PANTHER NEWSLETTER

VOLUME TWO: ISSUE 14

This month has been another record-breaking one for PANTHER NEWSLETTER by way of the volume of comments posted from around the world.  Thank y’all for logging on, reading and taking time out to post your comments.

For those of you who would like to subscribe to PANTHER NEWSLETTER, you now have three options.  You can subscribe by submitting your email address, or subscribe by submitting your email address via the RSS feed, or for those of you who regularly use Face Book, you can click on The Face Book Networked Blogs Logo and follow PANTHER NEWSLETTER.  Either way, y’all will be updated of a new issue each month.  Check it out on the main page, it’s simple and subscribing is free.

Welcome to our new readers from Poland, Italy, Israel and the USA, PANTHER NEWSLETTER’s usual message to y’all is…

“Rock and come in.”

In this issue of PANTHER NEWSLETTER we have a conscious ARTIST OF THE MONTH, who hails from Oakland California; the FEATURED STORY, a brand new lick, THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET, check it out; the FEATURED ARTICLE by our guest writer Ras Flako Tafari who hails from Montego Bay Jamaica via Florida, and everybody’s favourite THE CULTURE CORNER.

SO KICK BACK AND ENJOY PANTHER NEWSLETTER ISSUE 14

EVERYTING BLESS

 

NEWS  (UK)

Boy, 15, Arrested Over Bus Death

A boy aged 15 has been arrested after a youth he is suspected of chasing was hit and killed by a bus; more…

National Theatre in Race Row

The National Theatre Wales is at the centre of a race row over claims that it “demeaned” the Somali community by circulating flyers depicting a cartoon Somali cab driver; read on…

Education Leaders Unite Against Student Visa Cuts Plan

Leading figures in higher education have attacked government plans to limit UK visas for international students; continued…

Congratulations to my team Birmingham City Football Club!

Birmingham City were true to both the words of their club anthem and mantra of manager Alex McLeish as they reached their first major Wembley cup final in 55 years; here… ; and watch the highlights and goals here…

 

AFRICA

Speculation Over Mandela’s Hospitalization

Nelson Mandela, the beloved but increasingly frail hero of South African democracy, remained hospitalized for a second day here Thursday for what his foundation called “routine tests”; more…

Sudanese Opposition Leader Arrested

Sudanese security forces have arrested a top opposition leader who suggested the country is ready for a Tunisia-style uprising; continued…

 Nigeria‘s Top Banker Wins International Recognition

Nigeria is frequently cited as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but its central banker has won two international banking awards; here…

 CARIBBEAN

 Survivors Gather On Anniversary Of Haiti Earthquake

It was a day of mourning on the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.  In Tampa, survivors gathered to reflect what they lost; watch the news report here… 

 Sizzla: “I will not condemn Robert Mugabe.”

He’s no stranger to controversy, having long been used as the poster child for the exasperating ‘homophobia in reggae’ debate and once again, much loved reggae star Sizzla Kalonji hit the headlines more recently because of a perceived affiliation with Zimbabwe’s notorious President Robert Mugabe; read on…

 

ALL THINGS POSITIVE

A CALL TO MEN

Tony Porter, (who is an educator and activist who is internationally recognized for his effort to end violence against women.  Full bio and more links here), makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.”  Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other.  His solution: Break free of the “man box”; check out his story here…

FROM HOMELESS TO HOUSEHOLD NAME

Ted Williams, whose deep, velvety voice and touching story prompted an outpouring of sympathy and job offers from across the country, has become an overnight sensation and he’s America’s hottest and most improbable star; check it out here… 

PANTHER NEWSLETTER ANNUAL SUMMARY

From its conception to its launch in November 2009, PANTHER NEWSLETTER has grown from strength to strength and has recorded around 17,000 hits in its first year!  We give thanks to y’all for logging on and we welcome you to read our Annual Summary here…

 

MUSIC

CHERRI POET

Rising Reggae Rap Star Cherri Poet sent me this link.  She was interviewed by Joanne “BlackPoet” Stephen on All Black Radio, Brooklyn New York, January 12, 2011.  PANTHER NEWSLETTER is planning to feature Cherri Poet as an ARTIST OF THE MONTH real soon; stay tuned for that.  Meanwhile check out Cherri’s radio interview here… 

IMELDA MAY

The hugely talented Imelda May sings “Inside Out” and her interview with Graham Norton; watch it here…

 

EVENTS

Do you know a woman who deserves special recognition?  Has she been encouraging and helping others despite her own situation?  Does she work hard everyday and never thinks about herself?  We would LOVE to hear your stories.

Well make sure you note down this date in your diaries for an amazing event organised by an amazing woman Makeda Ubiaro.  THE AMAZING WOMAN AWARDS 2011 will take place at THE ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB in Birmingham on Saturday March 5th 2011.  Special Guests for the night will be The Lord and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, Joanna Riley, The Apprentice Finalist and Birmingham’s very own up and coming comedienne Annette Fagon.  For more details of this event and all good things positive that Makeda does, check out her website; here… 

OBITUARY

Boxer Gary Mason dies in cycling collision in London

Former British boxing champion Gary Mason has died in a cycling crash in south London; more…

Malangatana Ngwenya, Mozambican Painter and Poet, Dies at 74

Malangatana Ngwenya, one of Africa’s best-known contemporary artists, whose phantasmagoric paintings were inspired by political conditions in his home country, Mozambique, died on Wednesday in Matosinhos, Portugal. He was 74; read on…

Marvelettes founder Gladys Horton dies at 66

Gladys Horton, co-founder of Motown girl group The Marvelettes, has died at the age of 66; continued…

Advertisements

ARTIST OF THE MONTH

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

“I am an African by way of America.  My family is from Benin.  We are Yoruba.  Man, no fronts and this informs how I work, how I live, my music and my spiritual life.”

I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with this brother in Oakland on my first visit to California by way of my cousin Mike in December 1992; and the times I go back to California to visit my family, we always hook up.  During my trip in 1992, he, my cousin and their friends introduced me to Kwanzaa, we reasoned about writing and he said one day he would write and produce a conscious hip hop album.  In August 2010, his vision became reality when his album Wisdom And Knowledge was released by Inersha Records.

Normski, Tadd Scott (centre), and Brotha Chaz Walker, Oakland December 1992

PANTHER NEWSLETTER proudly presents this issue’s ARTIST OF THE MONTH from outta Oakland California: “The High Priest of Hip Hop” Brotha Chaz Walker.  I hooked up with my bredrin Chaz to reason with him, about him, his family, and his works.  Check out his story here…

FEATURED STORY

Posted in Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter, Short Story with tags , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

Woman

 © 1982, 2011 Norman Samuda Smith

 

The front-room was a mess, empty glasses were scattered about.  Most of the cake, all the curry goat and rice and fried fish were devoured and the paper plates lay about on the table which earlier was beautifully decorated.  Her family and long time friends had gathered to celebrate her sixtieth year and her husband Samuel along with their sons David and Paul collaborated to manifest the festivity.  The last of the party guests were leaving while Ivey stood in the front-room gazing at her birthday cards.  She could hear their muffled voices and their ripples of laughter in the hallway, as they cracked jokes with Samuel at the front door.  Ivey drifted over to the fire-place and picked up David and Paul’s card:

 ‘To the best mom in the world.  Of that we have no doubt.

May all those sweet and meaningful dreams come true.

We love you.

David and Paul xx.’

Ivey smiled as she began to read a few more and didn’t notice Samuel when he crept into the front room.  He stretched and yawned loudly.

                “They gone,” he said, “…Yuh comin to bed?  We’ll clean up dis mess t’morrow,” he was now massaging her shoulders.

                 “…Mmm, dat feel good,” Ivey sighed, “…I’ll be up in a minute.”

                 “You alright?”

                 “Yes, yes, I’m fine sweetheart.  You gwaan up, I soon come.” Ivey patted his hand.

                 “Alright, good night then.”

                 “Good night Samuel.”

As Ivey continued to read more of her birthday cards, her youngest son Paul entered the room munching on a large piece of her birthday cake.

               “Ahh, mom!” he said surprised, “…I thought you gone to bed.”

                “No, I’m still awake as you can see.  The cake nice don’t it?” Ivey’s tone had a hint of sarcasm.

Paul chuckled, “Yeh man, it sweet,” his chuckling stopped immediately when he glanced at Ivey’s frown speculatively, “…you alright mom?”

                 “Yes, yes, me alright, why?”

                 “Nuttn.  Is just that yuh look miles away.”

                 “Oh, I was just thinkin of de party.”

                 “It was a cool party enit mom?”

                 “Yes it was very moving Paul, and I thank unnu for dat.”

                 “No problem mom.  You deserve it.”

                 “So who do all de cookin?  Yuh Auntie Florence?”

                 “Nah man, Dad did.  I never know he can cook.”

                 “Well now you know it wasn’t me all de time who cook yuh dinner.”

Paul smiled and sat across the room facing her, munching and swallowing last bits of his cake.  He licked the icing from his fingers then rose to his feet.

                 “Well mom, that’s me done, I’m gonna turn in now.”

                 “Ok darlin’.  Before yuh go up, play dat record again fe me nuh.”

                 “Which record?” Paul’s eyes swept over his mom’s face through his furrowed brows.  Ignoring his examination Ivey replied, “Yuh know, dat one about de woman.”

                 “Oh yeh!  Now?”

                 “Yes, now.  I want to hear it.”  Ivey watched his eyes widen with concern.

                 “Ok.”  Paul drifted over to the stereo, his gaze returned to her again, before he searched through his selection of vinyl’s eventually finding the twelve inch she requested.  He turned on the stereo and placed the record on the deck, then placed the arm on the spinning disc and set the volume to a reasonable level.  The crackling of the record’s surface hissed through the tannoy speakers.

                 “Night Mom.” Paul sauntered over to her, leaned forward and kissed Ivey’s forehead.

                 “Good night darlin’ and thank you.” 

Ivey sat back in the sofa, sighed and listened again to the fullness of the lyrics…

‘Woman staring into space

She’s wondering where her life has gone

Dreaming of the land she once came from,

so far away across the sea;

home sweet home

Getting old now

Got to be moving on

Ain’t getting’ any younger

Got to go home

To rest her soul in peace in love

And the memories

Of when she was young…’

 

…Ivey originally came here to be a nurse or study to be a Mid-Wife.  Every time she was within touching distance of knowledge, life got in the way and she was side-tracked.  She finally settled and got her first job as piece-worker in a big clothing factory.  Although she had the talent to sew and make clothes, she hated it but had to love it for the money’s sake.  She was earning £3.00 a week in the old currency of Pounds, Shillings and Pence, out of that she had to pay her rent, buy her food and put a few pennies aside for the gas and electric meter.  So she hardly had any money left to spend on herself.  Even so, she always managed to send money back home to her parents to help them and pay back, bit by bit, her passage here to ‘England’s Streets’.  She lived in one room with three other West Indian women.  One was from Nevis, one from Barbados, the other from Trinidad, she was from Jamaica.  It was bad living she recalls, they had to share one bathroom with four other West Indian women who lived in another room down the hallway of the same house.  They got in each other’s way when they wanted to use the kitchen, but they were good times…

               “…We was all in our late teens to early twenties then and bwoy, de man dem would chase we like crazy!”  Her eyes had a burning faraway look in them, gazing into a vacant space, staying there.  Almost wishing that, in that spot, those days were back, there!

Samuel, the man in her life came forward:  “…I have no intention of goin out on a date with you,” she told him in her ‘speaky-spokey’ cheeky way, but she fancied him really.  He was persistent, that kind of chat didn’t discourage his advances at all.  Nevis, Barbados and Trinidad found their men too, Ivey got married, so did they.

A month after her fourth wedding anniversary, Ivey gave birth to David, who favoured her in every way.  She and Samuel moved from one room into a house, they bought a car, more money was coming in, not a lot, but they were getting by.  Then Paul was born seventeen months later.  Paul’s pregnancy was a difficult one.  Ivey was continuously sick; she was always in and out of hospital with complications.  Her labour wasn’t any better; it was bad, seventeen hours.

               “…Get ready for the caesarean!” the doctor said.

               “No, don’t cut me!  He have to born natural like me first one!”

With one final effort from Ivey, Paul was born natural.  She and Samuel mutually decided after that wicked experience, they would have no more children.  Six months after the birth of Paul, Ivey heard the tragic news that her parents died back home within days of each other.  She was so weak, she didn’t have the strength go to Jamaica to witness them being buried.  With a mixture of bitterness and love, Ivey strove through the hard times.  She grabbed her chance to become a Mid-Wife and worked hard to see that her sons grew up happy and they did.

Ivey is a grandmother now.  She couldn’t believe it when it happened, it was so quick.  Once her little baby David, now he and his wife to be Sharon are mother and father to baby Luke.  In the church at the christening, she knelt and prayed asking God to allow grandson Luke to grow wise and strong and for his parents to guide him in the right way with wisdom, love and understanding.  Then as the congregation strolled down the aisle to where Luke’s head was dipped into holy water, she rivets her eyes on a woman.

               “Kiss me neck! Is Nevis!”

They felt like shouting and jumping for joy, but being in church they saved it until the service was over.  When they were outside, they ran to each other like two crazy wild horses, embracing.  Bitterness was cancelled out, only love remained.  Forty five years had flashed by, now Nevis and she were sharing a grandson.  How strange is destiny, how strange…?

…The record came to an end.  Ivey hoisted herself from the sofa and drifted across the room to switch off the stereo.  She nodded her head and smiled…

               “…Is about time me and Samuel book a holiday,” she whispered, “…and go to Jamaica to visit we family.  Forty years is too long.  Is time we go.”

 

*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.*

THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

________________________________________________________________

“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain.”

Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)

Music has always played an important role in all our lives, especially Reggae, the music genre first developed in Jamaica, strongly influenced by traditional African, American jazz and old-time rhythm and blues.  Reggae owes its direct origins to the progressive development of Ska and Rocksteady in 1960s Jamaica.   Each month, THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET will salute the legendary artists and recording studios from out of Jamaica that have placed reggae on the musical global map.

________________________________________________________________

THE QUEENS OF STUDIO ONE

Women have taken integral roles throughout the Studio One empire, starting with Doris Darlington, mother of Clement Dodd.

Sir Coxson’s Downbeat Sound System which ruled the dance halls of Kingston Jamaica throughout the 1950s and 60s, started off as the musical entertainment for customers of Mrs Darlington’s Nannys Bar; and Coxsone sometimes referred to his mother as ‘Jamaica’s first female DJ’, as she would play records at the bar whenever he was on trips to the US, hunting down R ‘n’ B records.  As the Downbeat Sound System grew larger, Mrs Darlington would often work a food stall on the night.  When Brentford Road studios opened in the early 60s, Mrs Darlington continued to run a food stall for workers, artists and musicians in the yard and she also ran a canteen at the back of the studio.

Studio One in Kingston Jamaica was like Tamla Motown in Detroit USA.  Its chief record producer Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd, (who died of a heart attack in 2004 aged 72), nurtured the careers of nearly every internationally renowned reggae artist, songwriter and players of instruments, for example: Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Jennifer Lara, Dawn Penn; not forgetting Bob Marley and the original Wailers (Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh), John Holt, Dennis Brown and Bob Andy to name a few.  Clement Dodd was one of the first to record local talent, and an integral force in the development of Ska.  He was also, (by way of his sound system Coxson Downbeat), the first to introduce the DJ or ‘Toaster’ to the dance hall.  The first being Count Machuki, followed by King StittTHE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET will do a special about the ‘Toasters’ in the forth-coming  months.

The haunting rhythm tracks created from the Brentford Road Studios A.K.A Studio One, or as some say: ‘Studio First’, still sound good today as they did back then…

So in the words of the legendary Coxson Downbeat ‘Toaster’ King Stitt who always chanted these words through the microphone

“No matter what the people say, these sounds lead the way.

It’s the order of the day, from your boss DeeJay!”

TUNE INTO…

THE QUEENS OF STUDIO ONE

Angela Prince – No Bother With No Fuss, Angela Prince – You A Fool Boy, Ben Bow – Mama Lulu, Cecile Campbell – Whisper To Me, Claudette Mclean – Give Love Another Try, Dawn Penn – No No No, Denise Darlington – War No Right, Hortense Ellis – I’m Just A Girl, Jay Tees – Come To Me, Jennifer Lara – Consider me, Jerry Jones  – There’s A Chance For Me, Marcia Griffiths – Feel Like Jumping, Marcia Griffiths – Let Me Hold You Tight, Marcia Griffiths – Let Me Be Yours, Myrna Hague – What About Me, Rita Marley and The Soulettes – You’re My Desire, The Tonettes – I’ll Give It To You.

‘Til next month – Everyting Bless’

FEATURED ARTICLE

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

**************************

HEAD SPACE

© 2011 Ras Flako Tafari

**************************

*******************************************************************

Sitting and pondering how the politicians have the nation on the edge of expectancy while poverty and unemployment is eating at the core of the good, the willing and able. So many of us have not inherited any substance from our parents or grandparents, we were not a beneficiary to the stolen legacy, nor do we have any fancy castles on earth or flashy sport cars, we are always strapped for cash standing in the line of hand to mouth.

Why are we painting every one with the same brush? It is not nice to be forecasting just doom and despair and gloom, some may argue. Now prosperity is not measured by the wealth of the few who wield their financial power to continuously enrich themselves at the expense of others. Why are so many of us are still labouring in sweat shops collecting starvation wages without any hope of improving our selves?  It is so hard to make ends meet in this economic meltdown, yuh know.

Now the system has the majority of brilliant minds in the mental illusion of work hard to reap success; what success? Does working for the corporation, bring success, or is it the status and the prestige to be among the rich and famous which will bring forth the success? Will academic achievement bring the success that one expects? Is success achieved when you reach the top and forget where you are coming from?

Many of us knows from experience that when it rains it pours, the flood waters will surely wash you away if your roots are shallow, know that the society will spit you out  if you deal with folly, all your life history will be written on toilet paper, if you get my meaning.

Many Africans are struggling hard to regain the glory of their ancestors, it is a case of mental, physical and emotional struggle to come to grips with the real self, worse if one is born within the crossover of multi ethnic transformation, which would place him or her in the middle of the road and put parents on edge.

Can’t blame the youth as he tries to get in touch with his mix up DNA, one could be going through a silent revolution, emotional withdrawal or just charged with renewed energy to create a new trend in society.

On this mystic journey, the sage will rise and speak to those who have ears to hear and a willing heart to carry out the work.  Rastafari is the conscience of the people, the living ancestor, the I within the I, the one whose physical presence is the one of old, trodding in the modern era of time.

So what about Africa and its liberators? It is said that Africa awaits her creators, are these creators in the Diaspora, or are they sleeping giants on the continent mesmerized by years of mental slavery that set one against each other for power which they already have, but don’t realize it? What is it that triggers these religious wars which plunge the nation into poverty, starvation, suffering and homelessness?  Is this the man made hell on earth?

Tears are not enough to wash away the grief of the innocent and vulnerable, no amount of inquiry into an atrocity, or a crime against humanity will bring about a closure.

This divide and rule mentality has robbed the world of human values. The beast like nature of mankind is on the rise, the world is powered by competition and not partnership, thus the weak are trampled by the strong and many promising ones are nipped in the bud because of their poverty status.

There are many who have seen the light of a better tomorrow. There are also many who have a chip on their shoulder because they have academic qualifications. Remember knowledge not shared becomes useless and what is good for the goose is surely good for the gander.

No time to hop skip or jump, yet we know that life is an obstacle course and survival is imperative. It is a mental struggle for some to survive each day as there seems to be no breathing space to cope with bad state of the economy. Many will have to resort to the ways of their ancestors and chant, “…the day when the dollar die things will be better.”

So it is, so it will be.

 

*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 Ras Flako Tafari.*

THE CULTURE CORNER

Posted in Articles, Black British Literature, Black History, Newsletter with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

________________________________________________________________

“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.

________________________________________________________________

Blacks in Britain (Part Two)

Not widely known – But true…

Between 1562 – 1563, Sir John Hawkins, an “unscrupulous adventurer,” purchased 300 Africans from the coast of Guinea, and sold them at Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic), thus beginning England’s foray into the slave trade.

In the 1570’s, Afican slaves came to England in the capacities of servants for households, prostitutes to the wealthy, and as entertainers at court.

In 1596, Queen Elizabeth I, who found blacks at court entertaining yet was disturbed by their presence throughout the realm, issued what would be the first of two commandments, (the second was issued in 1601) that ordered English slaveholders to “have those kinde of people sent out the lande.”  Historians speculate that England’s limited food supply and the Queen’s own religious intolerance led her to demand the expulsion of blacks.

In 1641, Frances, a “Blackymore maide” servant who joined a church, became the first recorded person of African heritage in Bristol.  In 1677 Ann Atkins, another Bristol black, would join the church and die 18 years later; and in 1687, Dinah Black would be involved in a court case, where her mistress tried to force her into plantation slavery. Dinah was prevented from being shipped abroard and, when her mistress refused to take her back, the court decided she was free to make her own living. At the time of Dinah’s case, English law was unclear on whether slaves could be compelled into plantation slavery against their will.

Between 1650 to 1800, sugar, needed to sweeten the newly-created and insatiable English appetite for tea, chocolate and coffee dramatically increased the number of African slaves in Britain.  Absentee plantation “sugar barons” brought slaves as household servants. Officers from slave ships were allowed “a few ‘privilege Negroes’ from each cargo as perks,” and later sold the Africans for profit to wealthy English in the West Indies or were brought and sold in England, or were passed on to descendants. Government officials, naval and army captains, and merchant ship officers also purchased African and Asian slaves and brought them back to England. In much smaller numbers, Africans came to Britain as free sailors, recruited to replace white English sailors who had died while at sea. Slavery brought the bulk of blacks to Britain, however, and the slave trade became, for the next 150 years, the driving force behind Britain’s Triangular Trade economy, and may have also fueled its Industrial Revolution.

________________________________________________________________

TRIBUTE TO OUR S/HEROES

Rosetta Tharpe (March 20 1915 – October 9 1973) was a pioneering gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment. She became the first great recording star of gospel music in the late 1930s and also became known as the “original soul sister” of recorded music. Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her inspirational music of ‘light’ in the ‘darkness’ of the nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, her witty, idiosyncratic style also left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists, such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the world of pop music, she never left gospel music.

Dame Shirley Bassey,theoriginal Diva who sung 3 different James Bond film soundtracks.  Born in January 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, Dame Shirley Bassey was the youngest of seven children.  Her parents, a Nigerian sailor and an English woman, divorced before she was three years old, but they kept the family together for the most part, and Shirley was able to sing duets with her brother at family get-togethers. After finishing school, she found a job at a local factory, and earned extra money singing at men’s clubs after-hours. After pairing with arranger Nelson Riddle, it increased her prestige in America during the early ‘60s. When Goldfinger hit number eight in the American charts, it instantly became her signature song across the Atlantic. After the crowning achievement of her career, a 1977 Britannia Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the Last 50 Years, Shirley Bassey gained her own highly rated BBC-TV show in the late ‘70s, but gradually slowed down her busy schedule during the next decade.

Baroness Valerie Amos; first black woman cabinet minister and joint first black woman peer and recently appointed Leader of the House of Lords, the third woman in history to lead the upper house of Parliament.  Baroness Amos is one of three black peers that sit in the House of Lords.  She was created a life peer in 1997. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Amos was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs in June 2001 with responsibility for Africa, the Commonwealth, the Caribbean, Overseas Territories, Consular Issues and FCO Personnel. Born in March 1954 in Guyana, Valerie Ann Amos began her career in local government, working in various London boroughs from 1981 to 1989. She was educated at Townley Grammar School for Girls before completing a degree in sociology at Warwick University in 1976, a master’s degree in cultural studies from Birmingham University in 1977 and doctoral research at University of East Anglia.

Ottobah Cugoano, Political activist and abolitionistwas born was born around 1757 in the village that today is Ajumako, Ghana.  At the age of about 13, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. At one point he saw the exact price he fetched: ‘a gun, a piece of cloth, and some lead.’  From Cape Coast Castle, he was taken by ship to the West Indies. After several years of enslavement there, his master brought him to England. The late 1780s found him working as a house servant in London.  Just as abolition organising got under way in 1787, he published a book, ‘Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species’. It is believed that Olaudah Equiano collaborated with him on this work, which attacked the colonial conquest of the Americas as well as slavery. It went through at least three printings in 1787 and was translated into French. In 1791, Cugoano travelled to ‘upwards of fifty places’ in Britain promoting a revised and condensed edition, contributing his voice and first-hand personal testimony to the campaign against the slave trade.

Robert Wedderburn was born on a plantation in Jamaica in 1762.  In the 18th century, he along with many people of African descent played an important role in developing the political and cultural life of Britain, especially in the area of politics. His mother was a slave; his father was his mother’s slave master. As a child, Wedderburn witnessed both his mother and his grandmother being whipped. His father was James Wedderburn, a ‘respected’ member of Edinburgh society. Robert Wedderburn was very politically active and was one of many radical thinkers of the time and attended meetings to discuss political ideas. These meetings were also attended by a Government spy and Wedderburn was arrested for his views and spent time in prison. In 1824 he published a book called The Horrors of Slavery. He described the connections between the evils of slavery and the life of the working classes in Britain and campaigned for people’s rights and freedom of speech.

Dennis Emmanuel Brown (February 1 1957 – July 1 1999) was a Jamaican reggae singer.  When Dennis died from respiratory disease in 1999, the reggae world knew what it had lost.  Although he spawned many imitators, there was only one Dennis Brown.   During his prolific career, which began in the late 1960s at the age of eleven, he made his first hit, “No Man Is An Island”, followed by “If I Follow My Heart”, both giving birth to albums of the same title.  Although his voice then was childlike, his phrasing revealed a marked maturity.  He recorded more than 75 albums and was one of the major stars of lovers rock, a sub-genre of reggae.  Bob Marley cited Brown as his favorite singer, dubbing him “The Crown Prince of Reggae”, and Brown would prove hugely influential on future generations of reggae singers. 

Here ends your history lesson for this month.

________________________________________________________________

Log on for more CULTURE CORNER next month and remember…  

“Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.”

Mahailia Jackson 

(October 26 1911 – January 27 1972)

 

“Til next month – Everyting Bless.”

%d bloggers like this: