Nubiart Diary - Notting Hill Carnival Feedback

By The Ligali Organisation | Mon 12 September 2011


Since the end of Notting Hill Carnival 2011 last Monday I have been approached for my view on carnival this year. A friend of mine commented “Trinidad have curfew, now Notting Hill Carnival have 6.30 curfew!” I was on the road with Panectar and left them to find Cocoyea. People are giving me their feedback every day. So this is what I saw.

At 6.30 the police demanded that ALL music was switched off at carnival. I witnessed mayhem. I saw South Connections and Inspiration Arts taken off the carnival route and Nostalgia told to stop beating pan and move on. The policy was no music at Carnival after 6.30! This was what the Carnival organises and leaders of the associations had agreed to with the police when they threatened that if the music did not stop at 6.30, Carnival would be cancelled. There was mayhem when masquerade bands and sound trucks were sent off the carnival route. Elderly men and women some children and young women in skimpy costumes were made to walk to their transport points which were away from the Carnival route. Most mas bands, their bandleaders and masqueraders do not come from the Notting Hill area, and some were lost, confused and distressed. They only know around the Carnival route. They were forced to find their way back to their transport points which are all over the Carnival area. One person told me that women in costumes were met by sexual comments as they wandered through the streets. The safety of masqueraders was not considered in this strategy. Another said that playing mas in a band was how she chose to participate safely in Carnival.

Band leaders were totally unprepared for the diversion of the Carnival music trucks and floats away from the Carnival route. They had not organised transportation for their masqueraders. They couldn’t. Wherever the music stopped, that was it, the bands were taken off the Carnival route. This was regardless of where their transport home was located.

My view is that that treatment of the mas bands and masqueraders at Notting Hill Carnival was disgraceful. The current leadership of Notting Hill Carnival and its associations lack courage to stand up for Carnival culture. They misread the power they had in this 2011 Carnival season.

After the riots, the police and government in Britain for the first time in the history of Notting Hill Carnival said they wanted it to succeed! Why? Because the Olympics are coming next year. They already looked bad around the world during the August riots. It would be a public relations disaster, if they admitted they feared more riots and had to cancel the Notting Hill Carnival. They themselves admit finally, that our creation, Notting Hill Carnival attracts international visitors, the global media and generates fantastic amounts of money. This was the time to demand what we want to make the Carnival better. Our leaders in Carnival let us down. Instead mas bands and steelbands got treated like unwanted relatives. The masquerade bands and steel bands do not create violence at Notting Hill Carnival, but we paid the price.

The positives though were that there were fewer barriers around the Carnival route, giving a more natural Carnival atmosphere. There was the best provision of toilets (Portaloos) I have ever known at Carnival. This may be very temporary, as I hear all the Portaloos in the country next year will be used at the Olympics. The main magnet for potential violence at Notting Hill Carnival was removed with the non-appearance this year of Rampage and KCC static sound systems. The violence at Carnival was drastically reduced to one stabbing over 2 days of Carnival, which is less than occurs in one normal night in London, New York or Rio. Before 6.30pm, the police were behaving like human beings and went on a charm offensive. The crowds showed their support and sympathy for the police after their under-resourced efforts during the riots. But after 6.30 pm, the police turned back into monosyllable Robocops. We must demand intelligent and culturally aware policing of Carnival.

There have to be better arrangements for music at Notting Hill Carnival. 8pm is a good finish time. Most mas bands want to go home by then. Let the sound trucks and steel bands play music until they leave the route, bringing crowds behind them and draining the centre of Carnival of people. In the 1980s, the Carnival organisers and police agreed this was the best strategy. They called it the “Pied Piper” method.

Our Carnival leaders must fight to improve the Notting Hill Carnival for masqueraders, steel bands and mas spectators, by erecting £1 viewing stands with seats and bleachers at different points along the Carnival route. Erect the temporary viewing stands either side of the judging point, at “Trini Hill”, “Grenada Corner” and other suitable points along the Carnival route.

I say to our Carnival leadership, don’t get browbeaten by the authorities. They need us now more than ever, know your strength and stand firm for your culture.

Next Carnival I plan to tell my friends to bring some bottle and spoon and iron, to form a rhythm section so we can chip and jam our way home. No music at Carnival? Dey mad!

Send me your experience and comments on this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. Tell me your suggestions for improving Notting Hill Carnival for the Olympic year 2012.

Michael La Rose, September 2011

The Death of Smiley Culture.
Should police officers who knowingly, willingly and deliberately peddle lies to the media, families and official investigators be evicted from their homes?

This is not a reprint of the last Nubiart Diary Editorial about the killing of Mark Duggan but there are so many deaths ‘in custody’ where the police provide excuses / explanations that even the most inattentive toddler would be able to pick holes in that the question can be repeatedly asked. We are here again with the death of Smiley Culture who supposedly stabbed himself to death while making a cup of tea in his kitchen while his house was being searched by police in a drugs raid. After the stabbing the police handcuffed him before attempting any life-saving measures even though the wound was such that he would have passed away inside seconds. Even fatally injured Afrikans are seen as a criminal threat!!! They then repeat the mantra of intelligence-led policing. That sounds like stupidity-led policing at best and a heartless cover-up at worst.

The police seem to have no qualms or crisis of conscience as they stonewall, lie, say you have to wait for the outcome of an internal or IPCC inquiry while insulting the intelligence of bereaved families, aggrieved victims and witnesses and even the people appointed to do the investigations. Meanwhile, they continually find ways to avoid ridding themselves of guilty and suspect officers. In most IPCC inquiries the police are quickly not considered ‘suspects’ and so are under no obligation to answer any questions relating to the case. Where there is a disciplinary it is always for the least charges possible to bring. Police officers are more likely to be disciplined for letting a dog die in a car on a hot summer’s day than for any of the murders, assaults, abuse, negligence, racism, corruption and arrogance they display on a regular basis. They still do not understand that information based on prejudice, rumour, lies, malice and harassment is not intelligence. It is what it is. Intelligence is the ability to use factual information in a way that benefits the society. Alienating people through an abuse of power and force is not going to achieve that and explains why many people are loath to ‘co-operate’ with the police in their cover-ups.

NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.


~ FATALIMA (REMIND ME) - Samba Sene and Diwani [Creative Scotland - Out Now] We caught this band led by the Senegalese Samba Sene during their residency at last month’s Edinburgh Fringe. The ten tracks are a mix of mbalax, Afrobeat and reggae with a conscious message. Being a member of the Baye Fall the album kicks off with ‘Yonambi’, in praise of Cheikh Amadou Bamba for his courage during the seven years he spent in exile. ‘Mayla’ is a tribute to Afrikan women and all the attributes they show as they go about their daily endeavours while ‘Yaye Anna’ is a tribute to the ancestors. ‘Warouna’ is about the way friendship can be torn apart by selfishness. ‘Thiaroye’ tells the story of the Afrikan soldiers murdered by the French army at the end of the Second Imperialist War at Camp Thiaroye in Senegal. This is a very powerful album and Samba Sene and Diwani are a dynamic band live.

~ ‘ROCK THE TABLA – Hossam Ramzy [ARC Music – Out Now] Egyptian percussionist and producer Hossam Ramzy invited some of his favourite musicians from around the world to join him including Billy Cobham, A R Rahman, Manu Katche and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. There is a diversity of styles with a heavy emphasis on percussion but stand-out tracks include the Taarab-style ‘Cairo to India’ which has a bonus remix on the CD. Panamanian master drummer Billy Cobham puts in sterling performances on ‘Six Teens’, which is inspired by the ancient Egyptian Aksaq rhythm, and the jazz funk groove of ‘Billy Dancing’, where the belly dancing rhythm (Saidi) is mixed with El Tessaawy. Nahini Doumbia, the Malian percussionist, features on a musical call-and-response, ‘Dom & Doumbi’. Hossam Ramzy has brought all his decades of experience to bear on this album and there is always a new texture or emphasis to discover with every listen.

We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.

~ ‘SERVANTS OF THE UNDERGROUND’ - David Ssembajjo [Troubador Publications. ISBN: 978-1-84876-580-1] The Ugandan author’s third novel after ‘The Stolen Gift’ and ‘A Journey to Maleba’. In a bid to take a stand against the brutal dictator, Bamutu, Kalamachi opens up Café Royale, which becomes the site of revolutionary speeches, a place of trade, a rendezvous point for lovers, a place to settle conflicts, and where discussions to topple Bamutu are made. When the dictator realises that his rule is under threat, he orders his troops to end all political opposition against him. A love tussle ensues between Bamutu and Kalamachi, who are both in love with Malita. Bamutu forces her into a relationship with him but she is in love with Kalamachi – who tries to evade the watchmen and troops to gain access to her. Will the people who gather in Cafe Royale be able to unravel the myth of Bamutu’s rule. Ssembajjo is inspired by the magical realism of authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and this is reflected throughout the novel.

~ ‘JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V THE USA’ - Mumia Abu Jamal [Crossroads Books. ISBN: 978-0-9544372-9-9] Mumia Abu-Jamal’s sixth book from death row in the US where he was sent after being framed for the death of a policeman who was beating his brother. Here he looks at the role of prisoners who litigate against their jailers, risking punishment or even death to win justice for themselves and other prisoners. The book is full of ground-breaking legislation that prisoners can use to overturn their cases and exercise their rights to association, education and the return of lost remission. While most of the cases relate to the US penal system there are certain universal principles highlighted that make this book essential reading for prisoners, their families and supporters. The foreword is by Angela Davis and introduction by Selma James. NB: This book will be delivered free by the publishers to all those currently experiencing incarceration.

~ LEGAL ACTION FOR WOMEN & WOMEN OF COLOUR IN THE GLOBAL WOMEN’S STRIKE PRESENT CHRISTINA SWARNS (NAACP LEGAL DEFENCE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND). Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lead lawyer visits London to speak about the developments as he continues to resist his false conviction and death row sentence. On Fri 16 Sep at 6.30pm at Trinity Reformed Church, Buck St, London, NW1 8NJ. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7482 2496. E-mail: or


- ‘Jumping The Broom’ Dir: Salim Akil, 112 mins, US. Producer Bishop T D Jakes invites you to the marriage of Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso), who just might be the perfect couple. Unfortunately, their families are a perfect recipe for disaster. Mrs Watson (Angela Bassett) has an upper-crust sensibility that matches her family’s posh estate, where Jason’s straight-out-of-Brooklyn mom (Loretta Devine) seems utterly out of place... Will this couple endure the hysterical and harrowing trials of love and finally jump the broom? On Mon 12 Sep at 6.30-9pm at Kensington Library Theatre. Phillimore Walk, London, W87RX. BOOKING Advance booking only, limited seats available

- ‘The Great Debaters’ Dir: Denzel Washington, 126 min, 2007. USA. This fantastic educational and inspiring film is directed by two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, who also stars as the film’s main character. The story is based on the true story of Melvin B Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas (historically black university), who inspired students to form the school’s first debate team - A team of four students that included prominent African American figures such as Henrietta Bell Wells & a very young James L. Farmer Jr - to place black students on equal footing with whites in the American South during the 1930s. On Thurs 22 Sep at 6.30-9pm at Kensington Library Theatre, Phillimore Walk, London, W8 7RX. Advance booking only,

~ LONDON AFRICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL. Concerts across the capital from the pick of Afrikan musicians until Sep 18. For full programme e-mail: Web:


Put together by Tate curator Paul Goodwin and artist Lubaina Himid, MBE, ‘Thin Black Line(s)’ presents a selection of pieces drawn from three major exhibitions of Afrikan and Asian women artists curated by Himid in the early 1980s: ‘Five Black Women’ at the Africa Centre (1983); ‘Black Women Time Now’ at the Battersea Arts Centre (1983-84); and ‘The Thin Black Line’ at the Institute for Contemporary Art (1985). The display includes works by Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, Claudette Johnson, Ingrid Pollard, Veronica Ryan and Maud Sulter. Drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs are showcased alongside a video documentary on the ‘Black Art’ scene and archival documents comprising of exhibition posters, invitations, letters, etc. In Britain, the Caribbean Artists Movement (1966-72) and the Black Art (1980s) have enabled Afrikan artists and intellectuals to retain ownership of the discourse on their arts and cultures. Until 18 Mar 2012 at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7887 8888.

~ BLACK HISTORY WALKS in St Pauls on Sat 17 Sep; Trafalgar Square on Sun 18 Sep and Oct 9.10
Elephant Castle on 24 Sep. E-mail: info@blackhistorywalks

~ ‘HIDDEN COLOURS: SECRET HISTORY OF MOORS, AFRICANS AND ABORIGINES’. ‘Hidden Colors’ is about the real and untold history of people of colour around the globe. It shows some of the reasons the contributions of African and Aboriginal people have been erased. The film features scholars, historians, and social commentators who discuss amazing facts such as: Black Businessmen in London in 1810; The original image of Jesus; How Africans civilised Europe in the 1400’s; Black people in China and Vietnam 1000 years ago; The great West and Central African empires of the 1300’s; African sailors in America before Columbus; How IQ tests are connected to Eugenics; and The real reason US slavery was ended and much more. Features Francis Cress Welsing, Tareeq Nasheed and Booker T Coleman. On Sat 17 Sept at 4-6pm at the Roxy Bar, Borough High St, London, SE1. Adm: £7.


- ‘Bang Bang In Da Manor’. A social investigation into the disproportionate levels of violence and murder suffered by the black community of Britain. This documentary identifies the failure of the British educational system, the breakdown of family units, and consumerism/capitalism as significant contributory factors into this phenomenon. With interviews from gunmen, underground arms dealers, drug users and victims of the violence, the film attempts to define the social environment which conditions and nurtures the desire to consume and destroy. Filmed over six months, ‘Bang Bang In Da Manor’ has been described as the most graphic and disturbing documentary ever made in Britain. With unprecedented access to the lives of young men participating in and affected by this violence it exposes the raw underbelly of so called street life. This film sheds light on a social phenomenon previously shrouded in mystery. This film will re-invigorate the debate about youth culture in Britain by offering an alternative perspective to that normally presented in the mainstream media. On Wed 14 Sep at 7-9pm.

- ‘Injustice: A Film About The Struggles For Justice By The Families Of People That Have Died In Police Custody’. In 1969, David Oluwale became the first black person to die in police custody in Britain. Many others have died since then. None of the police officers involved have ever been convicted of these deaths. In this documentary, the families of these victims ask “Why not?”

This is a blow by blow account of the relentless struggles of the families as they find out how they lost their loved ones in extremely violent deaths at the hands of police officers. Each family is met with a wall of official secrecy and the film documents how they unite and challenge this together. The documentary uses powerful exclusive footage filmed over a five year period and witnesses the family’s pain and anger at the killings. It documents the fight to retrieve the bodies for burial, the mockery of police self-investigation and the collusion of the legal system in the deaths. ‘INJUSTICE’ documents the horrific loss of life at the hands of the state and its attempts to cover up these killings. The British police have been responsible for hundreds of deaths and have walked free. There will be a discussion with the director Ken Fero after the screening. On Wed 21 Sep at 7-9pm.

Both films at the PCS LEARNING CENTRE (Victoria), 3rd Floor, 231 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1EH. Adm: £4. Tel / Fax: 0208 881 0660. Mobile: 07951 234 233. E-mail: Web:

~ ‘SLAVE - A QUESTION OF FREEDOM’. In the remote Nuba Mountains of Sudan in the 1990s life was still a good fire around which stories were told, until the men on horseback came. They burnt villages, murdered, raped and abducted the children to be sold into slavery. Mende Nazer was one of those children. She was sold to a slave trader and eventually shipped to Khartoum along with other children and re-sold to a vicious Arab woman who treated her like a dog, feeding her the family’s leftovers which were collected and scraped into a bowl placed on the floor. Until 1 Oct at 7.30pm & 2.30pm. Q&A’s with the cast and director following matinee shows on 14, 15, 21, 28, 29 Sept and following the evening show on 22 Sept. Special Event: ‘Slavery - Break the Silence on Sun 18 Sep at 2pm. At Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London W6 9RL. Adm: £18 / £15 (concs). Tel: 020 8237 1111. Web:

~ MARCUS GARVEY NEXT GENERATION & PASCF YOUTH SECTION. State of Emergency Community Youth meeting with youth panellists and a film show on Sat 24 Sep at 3-8pm at the West Indian Ex Servicemen and Women Association 161-167 Clapham High St, London, SW4 6DB. Tel: 07940 005 907 / 07944 204 955.

~ ‘I HAVE A DREAM’ (PLAY). August 1963, USA: Martin Luther King prepares to deliver a speech that will change the course of American history forever. But Yolanda, his daughter, isn’t happy that her dad never has time for her. 48 years later, and Raheem is at home in south London. Life seems so unfair: not only is his mum a teacher at his school, she is now applying for the job of head; this is sure to ruin his reputation! But when Raheem falls asleep, he finds himself transported back to the 60s, face to face with Yolanda King. Their friendship takes them on a journey of discovery across decades and continents in this powerful and inspiring production written by Levi David Addai. From 23 Sept to 29 Oct 6pm at Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, London, SW19 1SB. Tel: 020 8543 4888. On Fri 30 Sept only ‘400 Years of Black British Civil Rights (Short version)’. Adm: £12 / £8. Entry to talk: Free. Web:

~ 400 YEARS OF BLACK BRITISH CIVIL RIGHTS The bias in schools gives the impression that racism and civil rights was an American issue and totally ignores the struggles Afrikans in Britain endured. Schools often spend two weeks studying Rosa Parks and US segregation in the1950’s but know nothing of the ban on Afrikans working in London’s Oxford Street and living in certain areas in the 1960’s. This interactive presentation will provide the names and achievements of Afrikan people that fought against British racism over the last 400 years. Topics include: Ottobah Cuguano, Robert Wedderburn, Phyllis Wheatley, Mary Prince, Learie Constantine, Mavis Best, Dame Jocelyn Barrow, virginity testing at Heathrow, deaths in custody, Saturday schools and much more using the BFI Mediatheque film resources to show extraordinary scenes of Afrikan society since 1906. On Thurs 29 Sept at 6.30-9.15pm in The Blue Room, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1. Adm: Free. Web:

~ SANDBLAST RUN THE SAHARA 2012 LAUNCH To raise funds for Studio-Live and connect British people directly to the Saharawi refugees through their participation in the long distance races held in the camps in SW Algeria. The screening of award-winning film ‘El Problema’ ( will precede the launch at 3pm and feature a panel discussion with film director Pablo Vidal and a young Saharawi human rights activist. The launch proper begins at 5pm with readings of Saharawi poetry and short stories by poet and playwright Inua Ellams, followed by a sneak viewing of an excerpt from the long- awaited documentary, ‘The Runner’, by Saeed Taji Farouky, about the life of world-class athlete Saharawi Salah Ameidan. Former participants in Run the Sahara will share their stories and give people a chance to find out more about the experience. Special invited guests are Ken Loach (Sandblast patron), Paco Peña, Rageh Omaar, Zeinab Badawi and Inua Ellams. On 1 Oct at 3-6.30pm at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, W6 9RL. E-mail:

- STUDIO-LIVE LAUNCH In partnership with Fairtunes. An exciting music empowerment project to enable Saharawi artists in the refugee camps to develop professionally and reach international audiences through music. The launch coincides with the digital release of Tiris’s debut album ‘Sandtracks’ by Believe Digital. The evening will feature several bands and DJ Rita Ray and Movimientos DJ Cal Jader and some special guests. On 6 Oct at Darbucka, 182 St John Street, London, EC1V 4JZ. Tel: 020 7490 8295. E-mail:

~ AUTOGRAPH PRESENT ‘THE BLACK CHRONICLES: PHOTOGRAPHS BY IAN BERRY, WAYNE MILLER, GEORGE RODGER & CHRIS STEELE-PERKINS’ ‘The Black Chronicles’ brings together the work of four different photographers through their work as longstanding Magnum members. On 14 Sep-21 Oct at Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA. For more info contact: Emma Boyd, Tel: 020 7749 1266. Fax: 020 7739 8748. Mob: 07734 682 239. E-mail: Web:

~ BIS PUBLICATIONS present ‘What is the African Contribution To Science Past, Present and Future?’ Speakers: Dr. Mark Richards, DJ and Lecturer in the Department of Physics, Imperial College London; Leeroy Brown, winner of the Inventor Consumer Award at the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Awards; and Michael Williams, engineer, publisher and author of the best-selling book series Black Scientists and Inventors. On Thurs 22 Sep at 7-9pm at The Dana Centre, Science Museum, 165 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5HD. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7942 4040. E-mail: Web: or

~ REEL TRINI fortnightly screenings. The new rendezvous for local film aficionados on Sundays at 5pm at Trevor’s Edge in St Augustine, Trinidad. Tel: 744-4956. E-mail:

Afrikan Quest

Contact Details

Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: Web:

External Links
Afrikan Quest International

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