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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , on May 30, 2010 by


Rasta Love (part two)

 © 2001 Norman Samuda-Smith

Rasta Love is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @


De following Monday, at Small Heath Community Centre yout’ club, Errol was playing table tennis wid Pedro, and him hear de same bredrin ah talk bout Lorraine. He never know de bredda, true seh him was from one nedda area, but him know seh de bwoy have one bad reputation.

          ‘At de end of de night yuh know roots, de gyal gwaan like seh she nuh want to give I nutt’n!’ Errol carry on listen. De bredrin seh it arrogantly, as if it was due to him.

          ‘So what happen den?’ ask one of de roots.

          ‘Cho, she chicken out wid some cheap double talk, man!’ de bredrin seh, bathing in certainty. Errol trow down de table-tennis bat in anger.

          ‘Nah man, yuh nuh fe talk bout de girl like dat, man!’ Errol feel like him face was gwine bruk inna one million likkle piece. He never feel so vex. De bredrin turn round. ‘Den who is you, I-yah?’ he ask.

Errol puff out him chest. ‘Jus a man.  S’pose smaddy talk bout yuh sista like dat?’

Pedro start edge round de table, coz it look like de argument ah go get weh from dem.

De bredrin step forward. ‘Cho, dat different.’


          ‘Yuh mus wah me cut yuh!’ De bredrin reached into his pocket like seh him did have one knife in deh or someting.

Errol cuss after him. ‘Yuh ignorant, man.’

          ‘Is who yuh ah call ignorant I-yah?  Me soon tump yuh inna yuh face!’

‘Come nuh!’

Pedro step between dem, as Errol and de bredrin go fe each other, a crowd gather round.

          ‘No Errol, come we go man. Come.’

          ‘Oh, is you.’ de bredrin seh. ‘Jus coz yuh can chat pon de mic good, yuh feel seh yuh invincible nuh? Go-weh! Yuh ah bwoy!’

          ‘Come we go Rasta!’ Pedro seh, guiding Errol out ah de club.

‘Yeah, run weh bwoy!’ de bredrin shout, laughing wid him bredrin dem.

‘Don’t seh nutt’n Errol! Jus walk, dread.’ Pedro seh.

‘Nah man!’ Errol was huffing and puffing. ‘Him outta order!’

          ‘Yeah, me know him well outta order, but all dis would ah never happen if yuh did mek a move faster, dreadlocks.’

De truth was, Errol found out later dat Lorraine had successfully simmer down dat bredrin’s lusting over her. She did know, deep down, he was meaning to tek advantage of her friendly nature; fe dat reason, she was branded a cock teaser.

          ‘Me nuh care what dem call me, me know ah nuh me dat!’ she tell her two sista, who both inform her, individually, about de rumour dat a spread. ‘Nutt’n never guh suh!’ She was well vex.  Is funny how half a story can be conceived, den believed.

Lorraine steer clear of man after dat incident. She lock herself away fe do her homework, her domestic duties, to watch TV at leisure, only setting herself free fe her school netball team.  Meanwhile, her sista dem come from St Oswald’s dance hall every Friday night…

          ‘Lorraine, Oswald’s was bad, man!’

Oh really?’

‘Yeah man, I mus have been ask fe a dance about fifteen time, and Errol was askin bout yuh.’

‘What for?’

‘Coz he like yuh.’

‘Yeah, and I bet he was one ah dem dat seh I was a cock teaser, now he want to get a use.’

          ‘Don’t be stupid!  In fact, Pedro tell me seh dat Errol was gwine fight fe yuh when him hear all dem man ah talk bout yuh.’



But why?  I hardly know him.’

‘Well, dat nah stop him from like yuh.  So wha yuh ah seh?  Yuh gwine start come out again?’

‘I dunno, maybe.’

Lorraine continue to stay in fe two months, till she get bored and de temptation of raving entice her back to de dance hall. Errol see her again, same finesse, rocking continually, not allowing de rumours of de past restrict her realism. When him tek a break from de microphone dem dance nice and slow and dem talk.

          ‘Thanks for stickin up for me.’

‘No problem, I like yuh.’

‘I never know yuh did.  Why yuh never seh someting?’

‘Coz yuh was always busy talkin; never tink yuh would be interested in me anyway.’

‘I was jus bein friendly.  I s’pose I learn me lesson.  Man dem only jus want one ting.’

‘I don’t want one ting.’

‘I didn’t mean you.’

‘Maybe yuh did, maybe yuh didn’t.  Where we go from here?’

‘Jus gimme a while to think, Errol please.  I’m still tryin to figure tings out.

‘Dat cool sista, I’ll be waitin, seen?’


As they dance, a strange vibe was in de air, everybody look nervous and uneasy. Lorraine sense it and decide seh she want to leave de dance early. Also, de bredda dat scandalise her name was around and about. She feel seh him might follow her home and give her hassle. Errol walk her home.  When him come back to de dance, him see one ambulance pull up, police was dere in force too. Pure chaos ah gwaan, sistrens running out ah de place screaming, bredrins shouting pushing and shoving to come out. Errol force him way in against de on-comin crowd fe see wha a gwaan.

          ‘Wha appen, Pedro?’

          ‘Bwoy, de same bredda yuh was gwine fight de other day jus cut up a yout’. He was lookin fe you, I-yah. I feel seh yuh bes’ lay low fe a while, seen?’


De dates between Errol and Lorraine soon come thick and fast. Errol put on him best Cecil Gee tops and tailor-made trouziz.  Him tek Lorraine fe see Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Fred Locks.  Dem go to de midnight dance and de Shaka dance, Coxsone, Mafia Tone and Duke Alloy. Nuff entertainment, nuff excitement. But as dem love start fe tek full bloom, Lorrainemother and father find out dat Errol is a dread.

          ‘Lorraine, Mrs Morgan down de road tell me seh she see you and one natty head bwoy ah stan pon street corner more dan once.  Is true?’ her mother seh.

          ‘Yeah, is true.’

‘Jesus Chris’ have mercy!’

‘So what’s wrong wid dat mom?’ Lorraine ask.

‘All dem do is smoke ganja, rob, steal and lay about.’

‘Not my man.’

          ‘Man? What yuh know about man?  Dem deh bwoy no good yuh know Lorraine. Dem have no ambition.’

          ‘He’s got plenty ambition believe me.’

          ‘Plenty ambition nuh?  Before you know it, yuh gwine come in yah wid a belly.  Den what yuh gwine do when him nuh want yuh?’

          ‘He’s not like dat, Mom.’

‘Girl, nuh bodda gimme no back chat!’

Then dem stop her from goin out completely. Wid de help of her sista dem, Errol and Lorraine mek a plan to meet at de corner of her street one Friday night. Errol stan’ up waiting fe her to come.

          ‘Mom, I done me homework, I’m jus goin’ over to de club, all right?’

          ‘Girl, find yuh self back in yah! Me know seh yuh ah try sneak out fe go meet dat deh natty head bwoy! Yu nah go no weh!’

Errol check de time pon him watch, 9.30 p.m. It was bitter cold. He bounce around trying to keep warm, while doing dat, him compose a lyric out loud.

          ‘De night is dark, de weather is cold

           I feel seh she can’t come

           So me ah stand yah alone

           Ah kick rock stone

           I feel seh she can’t come

           How can she leave me inna de street?

           Dress all slick and neat

           When de music out dere is fine

           Wid de treble and bass line

           I feel seh she can’t come . . . CHO!’

Lorraine never turn up. Errol start mek him way home. Him cold. Him vex. Him heart bruk.

          ‘ERROL, WAIT!’

He turn around and see Lorraine sista dem running toward him.

‘Where’s Lorraine?’

‘Mom and Dad won’t let her out.  She seh don’t worry, everyting’s gonna be aright.’

‘So dem ah fight ’gainst de natty.’


‘Where you two goin now?’

‘Oswald’s, man.’

‘Oswald’s open back up?  Who ah play?’

‘Your sound, Ital Nyah, Rasta.’

Errol enter de dance hall to see and hear a rebuilt Ital Nyah, entertaining dem biggess crowd fe months. Pedro smile as him hand de mic to a sad Pa-Pa Errol.

Errol him look pon Lorraine sista dem, wishing dat she was dere wid dem, laughing, dancing and joking. Den him realize seh he might not see her again. Him start chant…

          ‘When I say black people, nuff respect to Selecta Robbo, de greatest selecta inna de world, Jah know! So de man play, so de king sound say. Well black people, I don’t mean to brag and I don’t mean to boast, coz is you me love de most from pillar to post yuh know. Now here come one hit bound sound to really and truly trow yuh down, de man call Junior Delgado, Danger in your eyes ..’

De music start to play, de crowd start rock.

‘AH WHO SEH?!’ Errol ask.

‘GU DEH!’ de crowd reply.

          ‘Well I play it from de top to de very las’ drop. Sound call Ital Nyah, de greatest sound inna de world man.  Ital Nyah don’t run competition yuh know, we nuh look nex’ sound who ah look name offa we . . .

           Dem ah labba labba labba

          But dem cyaan test Ital Nyah

          Dem ah run up dem mout’, but dem cyaan test Pa-Pa Errol yuh know why?

          Coz when it come to lyrics me Pa-Pa Errol well great

          Me mek forty-five sound like dub plate

          Me mek crowd of people tear down dance gate

          Labba labba labba, but dem cyaan test Ital Nyah . . .Yes crowd ah people! Ital Nyah and me Pa-Pa Errol is back! And we gwine play nuff musical tracks from our record racks. Hear my lyrics when I tell yuh…

           Inna me, lyrics inna me

          Me seh lyrics inna me coz me well vex yuh see!

          Her momma lock de door

          Her poppa keep de key,

          Dat’s what stop her from lovin me!’



Errol tek a deep breath and decide seh him nah go bawl. He look pon de crowd and see how dem ah smile after him, like dem love him off. Him smile back.

          ‘Yeah man, I-man remember sweet Lorraine.’


*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.*



Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , on April 30, 2010 by


Rasta Love (part one)

 © 2001 Norman Samuda-Smith

Rasta Love is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @


Errol see her every week, rocking in her regular place, near to de light opposite Ital Nyah control tower. As usual, she stand up wid her two older sista dem, laughing, dancing and joking, her sista dem smoking.  In Errol’s eyes, she outclass dem in every way. She was a natural beauty. Nuff man love her off. Like most girls, she was going through a transition from being a regular churchgoer, to accepting de roots and culture. Her name was Lorraine.

Errol step closer to de control tower, tek de microphone off his bredrin Pedro and start chat…

          “Yes crowd a people, as dat musical disc steps away, is lover’s rock time! I tell yuh say, come in selecta Beres!”

De lover’s rock start to play and all de bredrin dem find a girl to dance wid. It seem like nobody ah talk, jus de music inna de air. Errol continued, “As we stop to start again, tell her not to go away, cah here come de dub side wid my original lyrics as I would say . . .

            You’re my days, you’re my nights

           I hope your kisses will make me feel so bright

           I can see your natural beauty girl

           My heart skip a beat

           You turn my world

           Pour your love over my heart

           Make me live a likkle longer

           Pour your love over my heart

           You make me feel stronger . . .”

          “WHOY!” was de deafening cry dat come from de dance-hall crowd, as de bredrin dem leggo dem dance partner.  Errol could see Lorraine and de crowd now, punching de air wid delight, drowning his voice wid dem chanting.

          “GO INNA IT ERROL!”


“AH WHO SEH?” Errol ask.

“GO DEH!” de crowd reply.

          “Operator, I beg yuh jus get dere and stay dere!” Errol seh, as he watch Pedro mix and blend dem back inna easy skanking and more of him honey-sweet lyrics.

          “AH LOVE ME AH DEAL WID!” Errol wailed over de microphone as de forty-five come to an end.

Likkle did Lorraine know how special she did grow in Errol eyes.  Pedro bus’ out laughing. “Is where dem deh lyrics come from yout’ man? If yuh like de girl, grab her fe a dance and lyrics her while yuh dancing man! She nuh know seh yuh like her.”

Errol pass de microphone back to Pedro, keeping his eyes on Lorraine de whole time. He start to mek him way through de crowd of lovers wrapped around each other, locked tight together on de dance floor.  Lorraine smile at him, her pretty eyes beckoning.

Fe a yout’ of seventeen, Errol was regarded as de best yout’ toaster inna Birmingham, de baby of de Ital Nyah sound.  When he was fourteen, he used to loaf around outside all ah de dance dat Ital Nyah did play. As Pedro, Beres and Robbo carried in de big speaker box, Errol would offer to carry de small tweeter box dem.  It come a habit dat dem never refuse him help, so soon him start get inna Ital Nyah dance free. Den dem start call Errol dem likkle box bwoy, till him learn to master de art of microphone chanting. At school, him mek sure him educate himself well, him mommy and daddy see to dat. He leave school wid four O-Level and den him start search fe a job.

As him popularity grow even more, Errol get de opportunity fe mek guest appearance wid some ah de big man sound, like Studio City at de Chequers Night Club inna Small Heath pon a Wednesday night. Quaker City at de Rainbow Suite deh ah de city centre every Thursday, and Duke Alloy at de Tyburn House pub over inna Erdington every Sunday. He was like a magnet, wid de talent fe turning an ailing dance into a success.

Dese big man sound try fe coax him away from Ital Nyah fe join dem, giving him de chance to travel nationwide to London, Manchester and Leeds; and to appear at nuff bank holiday dance in and outta town and ting. But Errol remain loyal to him bredrins Pedro, Robbo and Beres, who nurture him rise to success.

Wid dis popularity come de admirers of de feminine gender. Ital Nyah, mainly coz of Errol, have a strong female following.  Him soon change him name to Pa-Pa Errol to fit de romantic side of him lyrics.  Pedro, de oldest sound member, warn him bout de possible jealous man who fah woman might fancy him coz him ah mic chanter. Dese was de times when a man fear de knife as oppose to de gun.  More time still, Errol being shy, despite all dat front him never mek him head swell.

Dat Friday night, when Errol leave de dance, dere was a full moon shining a silver light dat bright up de clear night sky and Jah stars. Him feel nice, like how him did get a dance wid Lorraine. De dance did sweet him. It was winter, 1974, minus six degrees and still dropping rapid, while de heavy frost dat sekkle pon de pavement was glistening. De dustman dem deh pon strike fe well over a week now. Nobody believe how much rubbish can accumulate in nine days. Every street yuh walk down, all yuh see is jus pile ah rubbish everywhere. De miner dem a seh dem want to guh pon strike too, dat gwine lead to power cuts again; and we all know wha dat mean – no dance!

Nuff bredrin and sistren file out the dance hall on St Oswald’s Road.  De bredrin dem sporting dem ites, gold and green crowns scarves and belts as dem bop wid pride along de icy pavement inna dem Clarke’s boots and ting. De sistren dem majestically wearing dem head-wraps in various shape, size and colour, wid dem long skirt, full-length sheepskin coat and fe dem Clarke’s boots, glide ’longside de bredrin dem. Every Friday night nuff ah dem would get off de number 8 bus at de Golden Hillock Road, Coventry Road junction inna Small Heath around eight. Dem destination: St Oswald’s Road dance hall to hear de musical bible of Rastafari featuring Small Heath’s baddess yout’ sound, Ital Nyah.  Dere was pure vibes every week.

De following Friday, St Oswald’s was ram.  Members of other yout’ sounds gather to learn how fe entertain de people wid pure dub-wise and pre-release roots music.  While dem listen and learn, de treble section ring inna dem ears, de bass shake dem trouziz and rattle dem ches’; de lyrics educate and mek dem meditate. Pure peace and love inna de dance as de congregation rock cool and easy to every rhythm dat touch down. De Ital Nyah followers stand up surrounding dem amp-case as Pedro, de operator at de control tower, mix and blend de music, teasing de crowd wid pure treble.  Halfway through a tune, him give dem a full dose ah bass and it shake everyting in its path. De selector dem, Beres and Robbo, dig deep inna de record box to find a nex’ hypnotizing tune, and Errol, cool and easy, chat him owna lyrics inna style and fashion dat taste like milk and honey to de dance-hall crowd…

          “Yes crowd ah people, yuh tune into de baddess yout’ sound, Ital Nyah sound and we nuh wear no frown! Don’t f’get, tomorrow night all roads lead to St Agatha’s church hall, right down dere inna Sparkbrook way! In tune to de mighty Jah Shaka from London town versus Mafia Tone Hi-Fi from Lozells! Is one fifty pon de door, security, tight! So mek it a date and don’t be late cah Shaka gwine trow down dub plate dat no other sound can imitate, seen? So nuh worry bout de energy crisis, nuh worry bout unemployment and redundancy.  Don’t yuh know, Jah will work it out seen?  JAH!”

          “RASTAFARI!” de crowd reply.

          “Selassie I, ever sure, ever pure. Right about now, hol’ on to de one yuh love de bes’ wid out any contes’. Dis yah tune is one cut pon forty-five, stric’ly dub-wise, Gregory Isaacs, Your Smilin Face, trow it down, Robbo!”

De intensity calm down fe a likkle while as de bredrin dem search fe a sistren to hold a dance in de dim light.

          “OOPS, excuse me selecta Robbo! Tek it slow as de love grow inna de dance hall yuh know!  As we stop to start again, yuh got to grab a skirt and see what it’s wort’. Got to get inna de mood, but don’t be rude, jus get down and scrub . . . rub-a-dub!”

A couple of weeks go by, Errol try fe get to grips wid Lorraine.  Since de night weh him did hol’ her fe a dance, nutt’n nah gwaan. She was always talking to a bredda or two, cah she did know quite a few bredrins and she never find it hard fe chat wid any a dem. As a result, him get beat to de post when one bredrin decide seh him like her and want to go out wid her. Errol look pon de rocking crowd and he see her dancing wid her man. He decide seh him nuh done wid Lorraine yet…


RASTA LOVE (Part two) – click here…


*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.*



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 February 28, 2010 by

“Who Can’t Hear Must Feel!”

© 2006 Norman Samuda-Smith

“Who Can’t Hear Must Feel!” is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @

WHO CAN’T HEAR MUST FEEL!”  How much time yuh hear yuh mom and dad seh dat to you when you was a yout?  Nuff time enit?  Do you remember when they used to tell you; “DON’T DO DIS! – DON’T DO DAT! – DON’T TOUCH DIS! – DON’T TOUCH DAT!” and you, the mischievous child, run off and do the complete opposite to what dem tell you?  Well sekkle steady, warm and easy, and listen to dis likkle tale…

In the inner-city suburb of Small Heath Birmingham, live two likkle yout man name Wendell and Leroy, they were born in England of Jamaican parents.  They live in a flat above their mother’s hair boutique, which she and her younger sister Maud, work hard to run six days a week.  Now her shop stand up on one busy main road where bus and car run up and down day and night; and in fear of de boys being killed by one of dem vehicle, their mother always seh to dem…

            “Don’t play out on the street, play in de back yard where it safe yuh understand?”

            “Well how come our friends can go to the park by demself and kick football Mom?”

            “Me nuh care what yuh friend dem do.  Dat is fe dem and dem parent’s bizniz!  What me and yuh Father seh goes yuh understand?”

            “Ah Mom!  That ain’t fare man!”

Dis backyard have a history.  Wendell and Leroy’s parents move in dis house twelve months before when they was six and seven.  The neighbours on each side of dem own an Alsatian dog; one name Prince, the other one call Rover and  bwoy, the way they used to bark and carry on, was like they just come out the wild the other day!  Anyway, when the boys first come out to explore their new garden, Prince and Rover jump pon the six foot fence barkin and growlin, it come like, if they did scale the fence, they woulda nyam up the poor pickney dem. Yuh shoulda see Wendell and Leroy run to their back door faster than Don Quarrie yellin and baalin…

            “Mommy, Mommy the daagy dem gwine bite us!”

Nuff time, Jean would go roun and complain to her neighbours, bout how dem could allow dem dog to grow wild; and it was reveal in one ah dem cussin session dat Prince was never take fe a walk since it was a puppy!  So all Jean’s cussin was in vain.

After a couple of weeks of livin in fear, the bwoys come to realise dat Prince and Rover can’t jump the fence like their pet cat Smokey.  Coz it so happm dat one day, when they was lookin out dem dining-room window, which have a clear view of Prince back yard; they see Smokey creep cross the yard while Prince was busy chewin him bone.  When Prince see Smokey, he rush at him.  Now most cat woulda run fe cover, but no, not Smokey, he just stand firm and stare Prince in him eye.  Then like Mohammed Ali, Smokey side step him wid ease.  Prince run past him slippin and slidin as he try fe turn himself aroun and do another run; but by the time he was ready fe come again, Smokey done scurry up the fence leavin him standin.  Now wid dat bit of inspiration guidin dem, Wendell and Leroy start to play in their yard again.

In the back yard, they used to play Batman and Robin, Superman, imitated Spiderman by climbin the tree nuff time, and when they get bored wid playin super-heroes; they would sometime kick their neighbours fences, teasin Prince and Rover to jump, bark and growl; then they would throw stones at dem head when they appear, hittin their targets most of the time.  Then the neighbours would come round and complain to Jean bout the cuts and bruises Prince and Rover have, and they would accuse her sons of throwin stones.

            “Listen me now.  My bwoys don’t trow stones!  They know if I catch dem doin dat, I would give dem a good hidin’!  Guh blame it pon the other neighbour pickney, it must be dem who doin it, not my bwoys!”

Now when Wendell and Leroy turn seven and eight years old, they was gettin fed up of bein lock up in the back yard all the time.  Sometime Jean would send dem to the shop two doors away so dat they could buy some sweets and ting, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy dem.  What they really want to do was go to the corner shop dat was closer to Grange Road Park where their friends usually hang out and play football.  So they decide dat a way of gettin out was to scrounge more pocket money from Jean and persuade her to let dem go ah the corner shop by demself.

            “No, I will go wid yuh!”

            “But mom, we know how t’cross the road by ourself.”

            “Me seh no!”

            “Aahh go on Mom please!”

            “Alright, but be careful fe God sake!”


Now we know how mischievous yout and yout can be, these two was no exception.  They would use these trips to the corner shop as cover fe visitin Grange Road Park.  Dis coulda turn out to be a serious ting if they didn’t watch the time.  Usually they would get away wid half-an-hour or so, but sometime the attractions of the park would lead dem to be careless.  Like one time right, Jean give dem some money fe go ah the corner shop and she seh to dem…

            “Mind how unu cross de road yuh hear me? And after unu buy unu sweets, come straight home, yuh understand me?”

            “Yes Mommy,” they seh to her.

And they run gone ah the shop.  On their way back, they decide fe make a detour through the park in the hope of seein some their friends fe a likkle while.  Once inside the park, dem jump pon the swing, dem spin pon the roundabout, dilly-dally pon the see-saw and they kick a likkle football til they realise dat…

            “OH KNOW!  Is two hours since we leave home.  Mommy must be wonderin where we deh!”

So in dem panic, they run home expectin Jean to be there waitin fe give dem a spankin.  Lucky fe dem, she was too busy workin in the shop to realise how long they was gone.  Sometime they would get some serious licks for goin to the park without Jean permission, but the growin urge fe freedom mek the risks seem small yuh nuh.

So, ah so it go.  Nearly every day durin school holiday and weekends when the sun decide fe smile pon Birmingham, and their sweet shop escape route was cut off; they climb the one tree nuff time, play super-heroes and trow stones at Prince and Rover.

Now tings come to a point where they was desperate fe ideas fe games and was gettin sick of the sight of each other, when on Wendell’s ninth birthday, Uncle Isaac buy him a cricket bat and wickets, but not a real cricket ball.  He seh to dem…

            “Unu gwine strike the ball like Gary Sobers one day yuh nuh, and unu might break a few window, so me buy unu a tennis ball instead.  Hee, ketch!”

So every day dem play cricket, Leroy bein the older one, always win.

One summer mornin, their Auntie Maud, come round to the house dwellin in fits of hysterical cryin.  It so happm dat her fourteen year old daughter Jennifer decide to run away from home due to one domestic argument.  Jean decide dat the conversation which was about to take place, was not for Wendell and Leroy to sit in and listen to…

            “Unu guh play outside,” she seh to dem.

The bwoys leave the room and they decide fe listen at the door as their grievin Auntie Maud describe the events leadin up to Cousin Jennifer’s disappearance…

            “Lord me God Jean, me nuh know wha fe do!” Auntie Maud sniffle.

            “Is alright Maud, don’t fret yuhself.  Come we guh use the car and see if we can find her.”

Auntie Maud agreed wid dat.  So Jean grab her car keys then open the dining room window and shout to the bwoys…

            “WENDELL AND LEROY!”

            “YES MOMMY!”

            “UNU COME INSIDE NOW!”

When Wendell and Leroy reach inside, Jean seh to dem.

            “You two stay inside, me and yuh Aunt Maud is goin out fe bout an hour.”

            “Can we play outside then mom?”

            “No!” Jean reply.

            “Why not?”

            “In case unu hurt unu self out deh.”

            “We won’t.”

            “Me seh stay inside til me come back, and don’t answer the door to any stranger!”  Jean and Auntie Maud leave the house fe guh find Jennifer.

Now Wendell and Leroy was in the middle of one grippin cricket game the day before, but play was abandoned coz they had to come in for dinner.  Wendell wanted desperately to finish off the game coz he was a couple of runs behind Leroy on him last innings; whereas Leroy had no innings leave and had two more overs to bowl.  Dis was the first time dat Wendell have the chance to beat him bigger brother, so yuh nuh, pride was at stake.  After careful reasonin bout whether they should resume play or not, they take a chance and go outside to finish off the game…

Leroy bowl him first over wickedly, forcin Wendell to make defensive strokes – maiden over.  On the third ball of his last over, he catch Wendell leg before wicket.

            “OWWZZAT!” Leroy bawl.

            “NO WAY…!” Wendell rebel.

            “Ah c’mon man yuh out!”

            “No I ain’t, that was way off target man!”

            “Yuh cheatin now Wendell.”

            “Cha, jus bowl man!”

            “No, yuh out, new game, my innins now!”

Wendell get vex now, he trow down the bat and run to the back door.  He decide dat he was goin to lock Leroy out.  Leroy suss what him likkle brother was goin to do and start chase him.  When Wendell run inside, he let down de latch of the lock, and in him vexation and anxiety to stop Leroy gettin in, he slam de door shut.  When he do dat, his right hand went straight through one of the frosted glass panes.  Leroy see de glass break, it scare him.

            “Open the door Wendell.”

Wendell open the door, Leroy walk in the house careful and stare at the broken fragments of glass, wonderin how tings was goin to be explain. Wendell was busy starin at the cuts on him wrist dat was stingin him some bad way.

            “You alright?”

            “No it stings.”

            “Put some water on it.”

Wendell put him wrist under the pipe of cold runnin water.  The cut dem start to bleed and Wendell start cry coz he never see so much blood before. Leroy start cry too when all him effort to try and calm Wendell down was in vain.  Jean walk through de door exactly on de hour as promise.  Leroy have guilt write all over him face, but Wendell was well please to see her.

            “What happen?” Jean ask slappin the two of dem.

A tearful Wendell and Leroy explain to her wha gwaan…

            “Didn’t I tell unu not to play outside til me come back?”

            “Yes Mommy!”

            “Now look what you do to yuh hand.  Unu too hard ears!  WHO CAN’T HEAR MUST FEEL!”

After she finish cuss dem, Jean race Wendell to East Birmingham Hospital where he cry some more when he receive twelve painful stitches.

*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.*


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, british dialect, Community, Culture, Education, Fiction, History, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , on January 30, 2010 by


The Football Match

(Based on true events)

(Part two)

© 2009 Norman Samuda-Smith

The Football Match is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @


Form 3A was silent for a while and scribbled into their exercise books the solutions to the equations Mr Goode had left for them on the blackboard.  Outside, they could hear Mr Highley’s raised voice cussing Steven Callow; and they knew Steven was in big trouble.  Sitting together at the back of the classroom were three black boys, Delroy, Peter and Errol.  A few of their peers glanced nervously at the classroom door hoping Mr Highley wouldn’t come in and catch them cracking jokes about a certain classmate’s short, back and sides hair cut.

          “You should perm yuh hair and grow an afro like us slap ‘ead,”  Delroy giggled at freckled-faced Paul Shaw, “…then you wouldn’t have to cut yuh hair.”

Peter and Errol laughed loudly with Delroy, while the rest of the class wished they would calm down, cos they didn’t want to get the cane.

          “Anyway,”  Peter intervened after he gained control of his tittering, “…leave Shaw alone, there’s more important things to chat ’bout.”

          “Like wha’?”  Delroy resumed scrawling into his exercise book.

          “Like did you see Match of the Day on Saturday?”

          “Yeh man!” Errol yelled, “…did yuh see Clyde Best’s two goals ‘gainst Man United, did yuh see it Delroy?”

          “Course I did man, he was brilliant.  Pity West Ham lost 3 – 2 though.”

          “Is true.  He’s got skills like Pele star.  They should pick him to play for England.”

Delroy threw his head back and laughed loudly at Errol, “How can he play for England when he was born in Bermuda, yuh joker!”

          “How’d you know he was born there?”

          “Cos I read it in the Shoot Magazine last week Errol, that’s why.”

          “Oh, me never know.”

          “Black guys can’t play football!”  Harry Keane better known as ‘H’ interrupted their conversationHe was the captain of the third year ‘A’ team who always had his hair in the brush cut American marine style; a very skilful footballer who played attacking midfield.  Nobody liked H.  He was the sort of guy that would wind up a person to the point of a fight, then he would call his elder brother to back him and bail him out any time situations got too far.  His smug grin wiped the smiles off the faces of Delroy, Peter and Errol.

          “Course we can play football.”  Delroy snapped.

          “Nah.  They can’t.”  H laughed sarcastically.  “How many black players are playing in the first division then?”

          “One.”  Errol sheepishly replied.

         “Yeh oneClyde Best.  Let’s face it lads, black players ain’t got the guts or the skill.  They just can’t play football.  End of story.

         “D’yuh wanna kick in the mouth!”  Peter yelled rising from his chair.

         “C’mon Peter, try it.  C’mon!”

         “Hold on, hold on!”  Delroy butted in.  “Brazil are world champions H.  How ’bout that then?  And the best player in the world is black.  Pele ennit?”

         “That’s Brazil mate.  How about here in England son?  Look at you Delroy.  You’re such a wuss.  You used to play in the A team, didn’t yah?  But when yah got tackled four months ago and yah saw a little blood, yah gave up football to play basketball, didn’t yah?”

         “That tackle almost broke my leg H, you know that.”

         “Ahh, yah crap!  Yah can’t play football.  None of yah!”

Just as Delroy was about to launch into a verbal attack, Mr Goode re-entered the classroom with a smile on his face like somebody had tickled his fancy.  Steven Callow crept in seconds later nursing his left hand.  His eyes were welling up with tears, but he fought to hold them back.  Form 3A realised he just got caned for something he didn’t do.

         “Right!”  Mr Goode said rubbing his hands in delight.  “Where were we?  Oh yes…”

The bell finally sounded for morning recess, the pupils of form 3A headed for the door.  Delroy wanted to finish his unresolved conversation with H, so he followed him closely through the corridor, down the stairs and into the playground.

         “So what you sayin’ H, we can’t play football then?”  Delroy asked.

         “Oh give it a rest Delroy why don’t yah.  I’ve said what I’ve said, end it now ok.”  H turned to walk off and join the rest of his mates, but Delroy stopped him in his tracks.

         “Ok then H.  Seein’ how yuh feel yuh better than us.  How about us black guys takin’ you white guys on in a football match?”

         “Gedoff!  You’ll get thrashed son!  No way!”

         “So yuh chickenin’ out then H?”  Peter’s smirk irritated H along with Errol’s giggling.

         “What you two laughin’ at?”  H lunged at Errol who took a step back.

         “Hey, what yuh dealing with H?  We just talkin’ man!”  Delroy stepped in and pushed H away.

A crowd gathered around them.  Those who didn’t know what the disagreement was about began to coerce Delroy and H to fight.  The boys then exchanged offensive words until H cracked and swung at Delroy.  The rabble got what they wanted, a full on fight.  Mr Williams, who was on playground duty, burrowed his way through the fanatical mass.  He grabbed Delroy and H by their blazers, lifted them off the ground and placed them on their feet.

         “Who started this?”  He asked in his heavy Welsh accent.

         “He did!”  H threw a punch at Delroy.

         “Yuh Liar!”  Delroy dodged it, sneered and tried to dance around Mr Williams and pop a sneaky shot at H.


Delroy and H fixed their disarranged clothes, grabbed their bags and strolled into the building.  Mr Williams made sure the mob made their way peacefully to their respected lessons.

Inside the staff room minutes later, Mr Williams demanded that Delroy and H told him why they were fighting…

         “…So yuh see sir, I challenged H to play a game, blacks verse whites, but he chicken out.”  Delroy concluded.

         “Didn’t chicken out, I said you lot can’t play football!”

         “Shut up Keane!”  Mr Williams snapped.  “From what Delroy has explained to me, it sounds like a perfect way to settle your differences than fighting in the playground or even on the streets…”

         “But sir…”

         “Here’s the deal Keane.  You choose your best eleven players plus a sub by Thursday.  Delroy, you do the same.  On Friday evening after school at the Ritz, I’ll referee the game.  Mr Davies and Mr Ellis will be the linesmen.  If you don’t present your team to me by Thursday lunch time Keane, you will get the cane.”

         “What for sir?”

         “For almost inciting a racial riot in school.  Do I make myself clear Keane?”

         “Yes sir.”

         “Good.  Now the two of you go to your lessons; and on Friday evening, may the best team win.”

During the rest of the week, Delroy told his brethren what happened in his maths class.  They were more than ready to play the football match and prove what H said was wrong.  Delroy chose the best twelve players.  When he produced the agreed team list, they called themselves the Caribbean Stars.  Every evening after school, they strolled to Digby Park in Small Heath and trained hard.  H however, revealed all his cards, arrogantly showing off his A Team players who were ready for battle.  Every day during recess, they displayed their football skills, playing head tennis and how long they could pass the ball to each other without the ball touching the ground.

         “Hey Delroy, d’yah wanna take on the Scorpions now son?”  H asked donning a smug smirk.

         “Scorpions?  What crap name is dat H?”  Delroy chuckled.

         “We gotta sting in our tails for you lot son.  We’re gonna slaughter yah!”

         “Yeh, yeh, we’ll see H.  We’ll see.”

Friday finally arrived.  The Scorpions decided on this day not to display their skills during the morning or afternoon recess, as they realised their scare tactics were not working.  School was peaceful.  No trash talking exchanged, no eyeballing each other, everyone went about their merry way to their lessons.  When the last bell rang at 3.30pm, the Caribbean Stars’ players and a big group of supporters met at the main school entrance as arranged and strolled the short journey down the dual carriage-way road to the Ritz playing fields.

There were no changing-rooms on this recreation ground.  Usually when the school used the playing fields for their games lessons, the boys would change into their kit at school then walk the short distance to the Ritz.  So on this damp, rainy March evening in 1972 at the Ritz playing fields, Delroy and his team braved the elements, changed into their Manchester United kit and began warming up.  As promised, Mr Williams turned up to referee the game along with Mr Ellis and Mr Davies who promised to officiate as linesmen.  While both teams worked up a sweat during their warm ups, it became clear the game meant a lot to both black and white supporters.  They began to sing songs and shouted words of encouragement to their respected teams.

Mr Williams blew his whistle and signaled for the two captains to join him on the half way line.  Delroy and H jogged to the centre circle reluctantly shook hands at which point Mr Williams produced a fifty-pence coin.

         “Heads or tails Delroy?”  He asked.


Mr Williams flicked the coin into the air and it landed on the wet grass.  All three of them glared at the coin.

         “Tails it is.  Your team to kick off Delroy.  Do you want your team to stay as they are or do you want to switch ends?”

         “Stay as we are sir.”  Delroy replied.

         “Ok.  We’re going to play forty minutes each half.  Now I want a good game of football you two.  Any high unnecessary tackles, I’m not going to stand for that, you’ll be off, so tell your team gentlemen.  Do we understand each other?”

         “Yes sir.”  Delroy and H said in unison.

         “Good, now let’s play some football and may the best team win.”

The trash talk between both sets of supporters began to flow when Mr Williams blew the whistle to start the game.  Both sets of players threw themselves into hard physical slide tackles, stretching every sinew.  The skillful players hurdled swinging legs and jostled with defenders who were pulling at their shirts.  It was a messy first ten minutes, but Mr Williams allowed the game to flow.  The Scorpions soon realised the Caribbean Stars were not intimidated by them.  Delroy and his brethren passed the ball to feet and moved into space.  They kept the ball on the ground and at times they were running rings around their opponents.

Then came the breakthrough when Peter cleverly dribbled the ball passed two defenders on the left-wing, he crossed the ball towards the goal, which swung away from the Scorpions’ goal keeper and landed plum on Errol’s right foot.  Without changing his stride, Errol’s volley almost ripped a hole in the net.

        “GOAL!!!!”  Yelled the players and their supporters.

H and his crew knew they were in a game.  Almost after they restarted the game, the Scorpions hoisted the ball  into the Caribbean Stars penalty area.  There was confusion as the defenders tried to clear the ball, but H pounced first and guided the ball into the net to equalize, 1 – 1.  They played the rest of the half with the passion which would have graced any cup final.  End to end entertaining football.  At half-time the score was Caribbean Stars 7  Scorpions 2. 

The second half picked up from the first, fast, furious, skillful and entertaining with plenty of near misses.  The Scorpions pulled the game back to 7 -7 and were beginning to gain the upper hand.  Then the Caribbean Stars created a rare good move through midfield half way into the second half.  The Scorpions defended it well and conceded a corner kick.  Delroy jogged over to take it.  He floated a peach of an in-swinger into the Scorpions penalty area and from a running jump; Peter rose above everybody and headed the ball powerfully into the back of the net.  The goalkeeper had no chance of saving it, 8 – 7.  It was the boost the Caribbean Stars needed after their rough patch.  They grew in stature and confidence, as the Scorpions faded and began to run out of ideas.

The Scorpion’s supporters fell silent, while the Caribbean Stars’ supporters cheers grew louder.  The full-time score ended Caribbean Stars 17  Scorpions 7.

There were no incidents after the game.  Both sets of players sportively shook hands before the Caribbean Stars ran off and celebrated their victory.  H and his A team were proven wrong and a mutual respect between black and white pupils grew between them in and out of school.


The original Caribbean Stars (Sons of Small Heath) who took part in that game: Earl Anderson aka Marcus Simeon; George Farqhuson; Norman Walsh; Everton Francis; David Sadler; Dennis Hamilton; Beresford Callum; Teval Mayers; Petrie Hendrickson; Norman Samuda-Smith; Tony Stephens; Ucal Woodley.  My brethrens, I salute you!


Since 1972 and those solitary Clyde Best MBE days, black professional football players here in England have grown from strength to strength.


These are the first black professional football super-stars of the 1970’s who followed in the footsteps of our legend Clyde Best and paved the way for today’s black British football players:

Viv Anderson MBE; Cyrille Regis MBE; Laurie Cunningham; Brendon Batson MBE; John Barnes; Luther Blissett.

We salute you.



*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.*



Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , on December 29, 2009 by


The Football Match

(Based on true events)

(Part One)

© 2009 Norman Samuda-Smith

The Football Match is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

Buy your copy @


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?”


          “…I wuzn’t talkin’ sir.”


          “No I wuzn’t!”

          “DON’T ARGUE WITH ME!”

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


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…


THE FOOTBALL MATCH (Part two) – click here…


*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.*



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


(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 @


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.


*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 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


“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.


Not widely known but true…



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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).


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


‘Til next month:  Everyting Bless.

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