07 June 2011

Greetings Family,

First we would like to apologise to all the new subscribers to Ligali who are receiving this response several months later as their first newsletter. We have recently updated our database so ask anyone receiving duplicate or unwanted emails to please excuse us whilst we iron out the gremlins. We thank you all for your patience and would like to suggest that you also consider posting on our forums at www.ligali.org/forums/ where in these times of mass Facebook and Twitter addiction your thoughts and opinions on topics of merit would be welcome.

Two events to watch out for that Ligali will be involved in;

Bro Seyi and Black Magic will be presenting a screening of the film Maisha Solutions with Q+A on Tuesday 14th June, 6:30pm till 11:00pm @ the lavish Shortwave Cinema/Bar/Cafe @ 10 Bermondsey Square SE1 3UN (www.shortwavefilms.co.uk) - £5 concession for all.

As part of British Black Music Month - Toyin Agbetu will be part of the panel for the Where Is Africa In Words, Music & Politics? debate on Friday July 8 2011, 6.30-9pm at Voice Of African Radio 94 FM, 24 Swete Street. Plaistow, London E13 0BS

Remember, please feel free to share this newsletter amongst family and friends who you know will benefit from its contents. You can click here to subscribe for your own copy.

Peace & Love

Ligali Editor

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Nyansapo Radio Returns

Nyansapo - is the weekly internet based community radio station hosted by the Ligali Organisation. We broadcast honest and progressive discussion of community issues alongside pan African news, current affairs and feature reviews of cultural media and events.

This week we will be asking;

"What ten changes must we all make to secure a better future for our community?"

Nyansapo - Spring Hopes

You can listen to archived podcasts of previous Pan African Drum programmes at http://www.ligali.org/nyansapo/drum.php

The Pan African Drum

“If you no wan’ leaf drop ‘pon you, ‘tan’ from under de tree”
African Proverb, Jamaican

Toyin AgbetuOk, three months later...

Where have I been? Well let me get this out of the way first seeing it’s the question so many have asked -  the simple answer is right here, still working only that instead of my writing being dedicated to sharing news, views and thoughts with you my family and friends, it’s been tied into academia and let me tell you – creatively and intellectually it’s been both exciting and pretty exhausting.

You see as many of you are aware I have been studying at university for the past couple of years. Now in my forties I often feel that this is something I should have done in my youth when my memory was more... flexible, nonetheless it has been a challenging if not educative process which despite its flaws has not deterred me from the goal of acquiring wider knowledge especially during this time when we are told that there are only fifty African professors out of fourteen thousand currently in the UK.

I know some of us argue that these qualifications are useless, a paper based exercise in regurgitating eurocentric knowledge but in reality this is only true if we allow it to be that. My study choices in Education and Community Development has led to me researching Africentric pedagogy, disability and independent living, language change and creoles, gender security, home schooling, supplementary and alternative informal systems of education, identity in a multicultural society and a diachronic study of the autobiographies of Olaudah Equiano and Malcolm X.

This is all without touching on my post-graduate work studying Human Rights, Constitutional and Administrative law!

I have been fortunate to have learnt much under the tutorage of superb educators such as the inspiring Abiola Ogunsola, Kimani Nehusi and Kealeboga Bojosi. The university I am based at is located in east London so the campus itself is Pan African in character if not politics and has introduced me to many positive expressions of cultures and experiences outside the narrow confinements of post code boundaries. I look forward to hosting sessions where I can share what I have learnt for those of us seeking education through informal systems of learning.

But there has been a downside. Whilst engaged with such intense reading and writing I have found it hard to engage with my creative spirit, to read for fun, to create music at a keyboard or broadcast on the radio.

For the next three months at the very least I have a window to fix that.

I have observed a lot of significant events in our community and whilst moved, I have, perhaps uncharacteristically decided to remain silent. From the passing of Cherry Groce and Gil Scott-Heron to the continuing injustice faced by the families of Isaiah Young-Sam and Smiley Culture as well as all the other Africans who have died at the hands of racist killers or government agents. There has been little good news reported about us although there have been many positive events worthy of mention.

Shamefully, our own media has disgraced itself in its banality and political immaturity whilst through their deeds and actions against inequality many of our young people have excelled in demonstrating their passionate rejection of political policy designed to further entrench educational disparity.  

Over the past five months whilst I have been silent, I have noticed a creeping apathy, a resigned surrender, a fear of change, not only in our community, but across the pan African nation. Whilst the media has been hyping up the so called ‘arab spring’, we Africans have been hit by the post-revolutionary recoil. Gil said it won’t be televised, he was right, what we are observing is not a revolution but instead, a handover, a transference of illegitimate power. Some positive others not so.

I could write about the IMF, the World Bank, FIFA, but in truth my words would only be parroting the historical rape and war crimes committed against African people by corrupt immoral forces armed with malignant power. I use the words ‘rape’ and ‘war crimes’ deliberately for in this hemisphere I see these words bandied around in a manner that fails to display the correct contempt for what they truly depict.

And yet, as we passed 25 May, African Liberation Day, I thought about the late great Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem. He stood up and tirelessly wrote and spoke Truth to power. Today I fear we need to also remember how to speak truth to self.

So I write this piece not totally sure if I’m ready to step back right onto the frontline, fatigued from struggle yet revitalised from the unconditional love of my family and friends. It’s often a challenging path that makes us and our loved ones feel very vulnerable, and worst of all, whilst spiritually uplifting, physically it can be very lonely. But in remembering Ancestors like Tajudeen it is important we remember that we all have a responsibility to do the best with what we have. There is no shame in retreating to take the break when we need it, but it is important that we return to fight, even if in another guise, another day.  

The Pan African Drum radio programme will be back on Nyansapo, Tuesday evenings, starting 7th June 2011 at 9pm.

May the Ancestors guide and protect us.


Toyin Agbetu is a writer, film director, poet, and founder of Ligali, the pan African human rights based organisation.

Related Links

14,000 British professors – but only 50 are black
(Route: Undergrad > Postdoc > Fellow > Junior Lecturer > Lecturer > Senior Lecturer > Reader > Professor )

Isaiah Young-Sam: Lozells riot murder accused cleared

Book: Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan African Postcards http://www.ligali.org/review.php?id=64

The worst of all outcomes

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You can support us by making a single or regular donation online or volunteering to help at www.ligali.org/aboutus/supporting.htm.

Remember, we can’t continue to be successful without your ongoing support.

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Community News

The creep of anti-African (racist) media

An article by the Ligali Organisation

Ten years ago when the Ligali organisation launched, anti-African media racism was overt and blatantly rampant across the UK.  The BBC relished in producing anti-African documentaries with titles like The Trouble with Black Men, Channel 4 encouraged coonery with drivel like White girls are Easy whilst the then kings and queens of buffoonery from Lenny ‘okaay’ Henry to Rusty Lee and ‘I’m so happy massa’ chef Ainsley Harriet were our major prime time representatives who established the relinquishing of our cultural heritage and integrity as a pre-requisite for any actor or artist seeking mainstream success.

Worst yet, due to the compulsion of having to pay the governments media tax, our license fee extractions were used without our consent to finance these abysmal services. Stations like the atrocious BBC Radio 1xtra were set up - the alleged home of ‘black’ music where the majority of the audiences were wannabe wiggas and the rise of vicars’ son Tim Westwood continued as he led the cultural assault on our children, ignoring conscious rap in order to promote misogynist anti-African hip-pop. The less said about Wesker and MTV the better, music videos as were the various A&R music executives that supported them were morally bankrupt. As Bob Marley and the band Fertile Ground sang, culture bandits or amoral pimps of African creativity – were everywhere.

Even racists like Kilroy and Jon Gaunt were groomed from our money and given flagship prime time programs by the Beeb to promote their intolerant rhetoric. From racist adverts to the offensive stereotyping still present in newspaper masquerading comics like the Sun and the Daily Mail - in those days Ligali had a lot of work to do.  

African presenters with integrity: Henry Bonsu, Moira Stuart and Robert Beckford

Fortunately things slowly got better. Over the years there was more representation of our people and cultural issues in the media. In the print media there were more African (if not Africentric) journalists such as Joseph Harker and Gary Younge. Some were even culled from community publications such as the ground breaking African Business and Culture mag. On the TV and radio names like Esther Armah and Robert Beckford stood out whilst Geoff Schumann who was on Choice FM (whilst it was owned by Africans) and Henry Bonsu on the BBC had the main radio talk shows of substance and influence.

We had a healthier newspaper scene too, Michael Eboda later followed by Lester Holloway were at the helm of the New Nation newspaper and filled in the huge gaps in community reporting left by the compromising position led by the Voice. True, we may not have had a return to the days of quality investigative journalism of the 80’s where publications like the Alarm or the GAP Pocket News led the way with miniscule budgets or to the high of pioneering cultural programmes such as Alex Pascal’s Black Londoners or the beloved Real Mccoy, yet with attempts like 55 Degrees North and even the risible Crouches, a shift slowly took place that saw African people fight to become installed across the UK as mainstream actors, journalists, writers if not editors, producers and publishers of national institutions.

The Real Mccoy: Groundbreaking African comedy

In some cases this was simply a case of ‘blackface’ mimicry where culturally malleable African people parroted the actions of previous non-African formats without infusing their renditions with any consciousness or expressions of their own heritage or cultural essence. Trisha Goddard for example became the UK’s first Jerry Springer lite answer to Oprah, the Kanya Kings MOBO’s sold out its roots to become seen as a low rent version of the US Grammies.

In many ways this was the start of the return to overt racism in the media and in 2004 when Choice FM infamously sacked Geoff Schumann for dealing with issues that were too serious and the BBC simultaneously let go of Henry Bonsu for being too intelligent for an African audience (they still favour ‘black’ clowns and comedians) we had to grow up and stop relying on massa to provide us with media that claimed to empower us.

From that time onwards there grew a glutton of stations that dropped any form of intelligent political content and focused solely on providing mind numbing entertainment.
Fortunately, Bonsu and partner Kofi Kusitor came back to the media landscape and established the trend setting Colourful Radio which hosted the revolutionary Backchat with Sonny Decker and Lekia Lée. Several unlicensed radio stations incorporated weekly debate programs in defiance of attempts to silence our political voice. Community radio in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and even Wales set up with uncompromising Africentric content. Radio talent like Sis Ankhobia, Sis Mandisa Gordon and Eld. Herdle White proved quality did not have to mean compromise.

Today independent radio stations like Voice of Africa have a community license and use it broadcast programmes of empowerment, movements like Alkebulan even have a national newspaper called The Whirlwind named after Marcus Garvey but back then realpolticks were off limits to African people in the mainstream press and on 'legal' radio. It was somewhat paradoxically therefore that the face of national Television started to change quite significantly. The UK went beyond narrowly focusing on Andi Peters and Trevor MacDonald as the acceptable anglicised vision of African expression and faces such as Joyce Ohaja, Gillian Joseph, Brenda Emmanus, Kurt Barling, Clive Myrie and Moira Stewart became more familiar. Whilst plotlines in the leading soaps like Eastenders and Coronation Street for Africans remained stereotypical and ethnically as well as ethically unimaginative as actor Gary Beadle exposed, alternative names such as Kwame Kwei-Armah, Ashley Walters and Don Gilet appeared more frequently.

African people appeared on screen with more frequency although the quality of that representation was more often one dimensional with an endless stream of caricatures linked to crime, sports or entertainment being presented as the face of British Africans. Adverts still discriminated against in favour of lighter skinned Africans often those with dual heritage, and the African family unit even to this day is a rarity unless it is attached to a message about poverty, illiteracy and crime. Aspects of our history and culture were often covered in the news although this was frequently limited to discourses about the 'exotic' or some tragic circumstances involving our families back home in Africa and the Caribbean.

Nonetheless the hard work of thousands of Africans who tirelessly worked to change an anti-African media agenda succeeded in putting media institutions on notice that we were here, we were watching, and we were organised to respond if they stepped out of line. Every time they caused significant offence, we didn't turn the other cheek, we struck back. Ligali made many enemies both inside the media industry and amongst individuals in our community whose entire careers were based around exploiting our souls for fame. Nonetheless conditions improved, new opportunities appeared, racist media executives learnt the hard way that they had to treat us with respect for they were as Chuck D once rapped, in fear of a 'black' planet.

Ligali: Media monitoring and investigating complaints

However fast forward to 2011 and what we are seeing is rapid reversal of this trend. The failure of leaders within our community to organise collective responses to affronts to our dignity, the weakness of elders to assert our African identity has led to a continuing barrage on our psyche that appears to be allowing the return of the attitudes that created patronising offensive programming like the UK’s Love Thy Neighbour and the Black and White Minstrel shows.

When an article by the controversial Satoshi Kanazawa was published in Psychology Today claiming that African women are unattractive, a non topic as far as most rationale self loving Africans would recognise, this somehow became a focus for national debate. What was the impact on our young girls? What about our young boys who already face an unhealthy amount of media images training them to reject the rich diversity of African beauty in favour of the metropolitan banality promoted in films and music videos. 

How was it that with all the relevant community news stories currently denied but worthy of exposed media focus, it was this issue of scientific racism that dominated the media landscape? Yes, of course the issue should have been touched upon as a tangible example of the vile discrimination that African people still endure, but that’s it. There was no need for an analysis of Kanazawas’ ludicrous hypothesis or the plethora of debates questioning whether there was any validity in the claim. A simple statement from a collective body of academics stating that the research was fundamentally flawed and why would have been sufficient.

At first glance of a summary that compiled the research conclusions (admittedly I cannot be bothered to read the entirety of the original paper), it should be stated that any attempt to rate ‘attractiveness’ across ethnic lines without factoring in the fact that a research sample drawn from a group that share significant cultural biases would distort the results is foolish. This is unless the original intention of the paper was to identify what an ethnically diverse body of people resident in an assimilative based monocultural aspiring environment culturally rate as ‘attractive’. That is a valid scientific experiment although very likely to reveal that the majority of people exposed to the anti-African propaganda present in western media adopt a distorted ideal of beauty that favours european ideals. This is neither new nor particular surprising. Noting this, it would seem natural to assume that Kanazawa’s work was deliberately given an incendiary and offensive ‘tittle tattle’ title in order to generate interest in an unremarkable piece of work. 

But the topic at hand is media racism and refocusing on that topic brings us to the distracting case of Ben Douglas, a confused African who approves of trans-ethnic adoption and describes himself as an ‘English’ man. Douglas was recently abused when he was repeatedly called the n word by drunken ‘celebrity’ hair stylist James Brown. Douglas was so stunned that he would be ousted at a ‘prestigious’ event like the Bafta awards ceremony he did not respond even when his female companion was also accosted by the alcoholic fuelled bigot who labelled her a n word b*tch.

Idiots argue the n word is inoffensive: James Brown, Snoop and Brian Douglas

During an interview on Colourful radio, Douglas asserted how he believed African parents failed to prepare their children to attend such high profile events inferring they did not really belong there.  An unsympathetic character despite his abuse, the national media again gave this story undue prominence despite Douglas himself choosing to protect his racist assailants identity and later accepting an apology from Brown (who eventually came forward himself) using ‘the drink made me do it’ defense perfected by so many bigots.

The next non story being pushed forward with more weight than it deserves is that of Naomi Campbell’s threat to sue Cadbury for allegedly insulting ‘black' women. The roots of this story lies in an unfunny advert that draws on the realistic caricature of Campbell as a violent, immoral diva by adding the strapline ‘Move over Naomi there’s a new diva in town’  to the image of a new chocolate bar surrounded by diamonds in its poster launch.

Offensive not racist: Why are some people calling for a boycott?
(Cadbury's have since apologised to Campbell and removed the advert from circulation.)

Firstly there is no doubt that the campaign is abusing Naomi’s notoriety for cheap laughs. It fails. Yet to claim that this is somehow a deliberate racist attack on African women is a stretch. Naomi is a pioneer in the modelling world for African women, her recent sudden awareness and apparent willingness to speak about racism in the industry is welcome if not a little too late. However it is difficult to believe Naomi would have refused or indeed felt 'insulted and hurt' about this campaign if she had been paid for the privilege. It’s like when earlier this year a sick advert featuring athlete Linford Christie was published making a crude joke about his ‘lunchbox’ despite all the times when this unwarranted focus on his genitalia was used to demean African people by sexually objectifying them across the British media. Christie who now joins the growing rank of role muddles makes it difficult to complain when he accept payment to demean us collectively and then later like others wants to hide behind cries of racism to mask their own shameful lack of integrity.

This is a similar situation with Naomi, only in reverse. Naomi makes her money from the objectification of the female form. Some of her work is beautiful whilst others, extremely distasteful and deeply hypocritical of someone claiming to be angry about the abuse of her people by europeans. In fact it is more preferable when she is being honest as when she admitted in the October issue of Interview magazine;

“Listen, I make many mistakes. Many mistakes. I'm not a perfect human being... I have to learn from my mistakes. And a lot of the ones I've made have been public. So I always get nervous when people speak about something that sounds like a role model, because I don't know if I've been a great role model myself.

This is not to suggest that we should not defend our sister when she is genuinely under attack on the basis of her African identity, but it is important that before we do not participate in the elevation of insensitive and/or exploitative words and images targeting an individual for their dubious behaviour into a crime of racist abuse against a whole people. As annoying as the aforementioned examples of repugnant media fuelled behaviour may be, we always need to engage our brains with critical thought and carefully assess which fights are worthy of our energy, especially at a time when we have bigger battles to deal with.

Consider the recent case of the alleged sexual assault of an African woman by former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. What we can see here is that despite the hushing up of this man’s apparent dubious history of abusing women, he was still seen by many as a suitable candidate of having unprecedented influential control over the economies of many African nations. What are the implications for African people if due to his ability to afford the best legal defense he escapes justice and the character of our sista is falsely discredited  internationally?

The unconvicted child abuser, singer Robert Kelly attempted to marry Aaliyah when she was barely fifteen yet he is still supported by some people in our community who continue to buy and play his music.

Will people turn on African women as in the Mike Tyson case? Will the rapist by virtue of being financially affluent be able to reinvent them self?  The pervert Robert Kelly continues to sell albums to millions of music fans despite him being a child rapist. In other communities, where there is no doubt of an artist being involved in such heinous crimes (consider Paul ‘Gary Glitter’ Gad) their material is shunned and barred from being played on the radio and clubs despite making ‘great’ music. R. Kelly may have reinvented himself as a 'born again' Christian but there can be no doubt that he is not a role model for young children. So why is his work being played when there are countless of more deserving conscious artists who are not? This questioning of the media support for role muddles may seem as if the debate is going off at a tangent but is it not the responsibility of our media to ask these difficult questions and commit itself to the great moral questions asked by pioneering groups like the BTWSC organisation who rightly call for the support of home grown artists and responsible, respectful radio?

The final stories worth touching upon involving media racism are that generated by users of the social networking platform Twitter, this follows the publication of racist posts by Luke O'Donoughoe after his football team signed the African striker James Vaughan from Everton. There seemed to be very little media interest in this story despite the Norwich City bigot being banned for life from the club's home ground and now facing a police investigation into the incident. Apparently this good news story is not that important.

Or what about Simon Parker, the racist primary school head teacher who attacked children, staff and parents at Coppice Primary School, Chigwell, Essex and has now been banned from the classroom. From 2008, Parker was described as having labelled supply teachers as ‘black’ bitches, called less-able pupils 'Congo Bongo' and referred to colleagues as “working like a ‘blackie’” as he bullied and intimidated many in his capacity as head teacher. This last insult seems to be growing in currency amongst some europeans. There is currently some controversy taking place in New Zealand after Sky TV sports commentator Murray Deaker was caught describing somebody as “working like a n word” on air. Yet even these stories do not seem to get much attention as they blow wide open the myth of the election of Obama heralding in a new ‘post-racial’ utopia. Surely these stories should be acknowledged in our own media as well as the mainstream outlets?

Terror Cops: Mark Jones, John Donohue, Nigel Cowley and Roderick James-Bowen

In fact, deeper analysis of this type of news alongside the horrendous fact that people from other communities are now exploiting our children by hiring them as contract killers, the whitewash that led to thugs in police uniform PCs Mark Jones and PC Roderick James-Bowen escaping justice despite violently assaulting African and asian men on duty, the current situation in Ivory Coast, the failing of the Met Police to take a modern day case of African enslavement serious, the partitioning of Sudan, the possibility of a new trial over the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the recent revelation about the extent of land acquisitions in Africa for biofuels or the unnecessary loss of the BBC Caribbean service remains in desperate need of greater scrutiny. Instead there have been leading and sometimes even extended reports on the Royal wedding, the visit of Obama to the UK, and other such nonsense.

There are many amongst us that like to pretend that racism is over, that we should not discuss it, talk about it and hence address it. Sadly those that do often choose the wrong topics (and corrective strategies) to comment on and those that don't have too often been promoted as role muddles and through their 'forgiveness' and apologist attitudes leave our next generation defenseless and those that consume 24/7 eurocentric media dazed and confused.

A packed venue listens as an essay contest winner reads her work.

We seem to forget the good news. For example earlier this year there was the inspiring Operation Sankofa Dolls event and a few weeks ago saw the sixth anniversary of Lorna Jones Essay Contest for Children of African Descent 2011 where the quality of young winners exhibiting at the ceremony was astounding. There was also a premiere screening of the excellent new film Ancestral Voices: Esoteric African Knowledge and for several hours, the Ritzy cinema (which had a full house) was full of positive vibes, debate and constructive social networking. Each week there are hundreds of similar positive stories and great events taking place but little of it is reported about. The cause is simple, the more we give focus to silly distractions, the more we will continue to get the racist media we deserve -in 'white' face, 'black' face or otherwise.

You see when we look for solutions we are too often looking for institutions outside ourselves to deliver them and history has taught us time and time again that this is a foolish approach. It remains imperative that we become our own liberators and work together with like minded people to subjugate ego and build our own cultural media institutions that only supports writers, artists and broadcasters that are spiritually and politically mature enough to cover the true issues, stories and local news that affects our day to day existence. We get enough bad news already.

Our Ancestors led the way with some great examples of how this can be done with far less resources than we have access to now -lets not drop the baton and slip backwards.

Opinion: Faith and the Politics of Terrorism

by Ayi Kwei Armah

(GB-N.com) - Abdelwahab Meddeb, born in Tunisia, now lives in France, where he teaches, writes and hosts a media show lending Arab-Muslim culture a Europhile glow. One of an accelerating flow of migrants fleeing Africa’s multiform poverty for refuge in Europe, their haven of freedom and affluence, Meddeb, having achieved the integrationist dream, should be happy in his earthly paradise.

But the dreamer feels insecure. In a Europe waging political, military and economic wars against several Muslim countries, and fearing blowback in the form of suicide bombs and Taliban insurgents, the demonization of Arab Muslims as fundamentalist terrorists can turn the immigrant dream into a security nightmare at any moment.
Meddeb blames this insecurity not on European prejudice, but on his fellow Muslims. Muslims, he says, inhabit a sick, cursed society, because they have carelessly allowed a violent minority of fundamentalists to hijack their common image. The disease, then, is fundamentalism, the tendency of believers in one God, or one Allah, to want to impose their faith by violence. Its symptom is terrorism, the use of violence, murder and the threat thereof, as prime arguments for God, against unbelievers.

Europeans today, like Americans, have used their media arsenal to link terrorism with Islam. This places a terrible obstacle in the way of Meddeb’s dream of Arab-Muslim integration into Europe. His task is to conjure away the European stereotype of Arabs as terrorists, and of Islam as a religion of unreasoning violence. For, beyond simple integration, Meddeb wishes Europeans could see Arab Muslims as cultural kin sharing a superior faith - monotheism - that makes them an integral part of Western civilization, which to him is the only real civilization, period. Occidentalisez-vous is his fervent plea to fellow Muslims. Get Westernized!

To accelerate the integration of Arabs and Muslims into Western society, Meddeb wants to cure the fundamentalist disease, to exorcise the assassins’ curse. The task would be easier if he could deny that according to holy writ, the Muslim Allah himself calls on believers to practice murder to push their faith. But the injunction is inscribed in the Koran. Since Muslims believe their book is eternally true, the inconvenient incitement to violence cannot be changed.

Unable to defend the Koran against its own words, Meddeb does the next best thing. He points out that the violence of fundamentalist Islam is not unique. It’s a trait Islam shares with the other monotheistic religions. Before Muslims took up cudgels and suicide bombs on God’s behalf, Christians before them, and Jews before Christians, exalted the idea of murder in God’s service. Meddeb cites examples: Moses the Jewish prophet, angry at his backsliding followers on the exile road, ordered the massacre of three thousand in a single day. The Biblical prophet Joshua, after the capture of Jericho, ordered the mass extermination of women and men, old and young, not forgetting beasts. “Thus, as far as violence is concerned, the prophet of Islam stands directly in the Mosaic tradition. The notorious Verses of the Sword enjoining the killing of pagans, and the so-called War Verses, calling on Muslims to fight to the death against Jews and Christians, have an altogether ‘Biblical’ resonance. And it is these verses that today feed the murderous fanaticism of Islamic fundamentalists.”

But if violence is the shared property of all monotheists, why has the violence of Muslim fundamentalists come to be specially identified as terrorist violence? Meddeb’s answer is that Judaism and Christianity have somehow grown beyond their bloodthirsty fundamentalist origins. Today they inhabit a Kantian universe, the secular west, in which religion, leached clean of its youthful toxins, provides the cultural ground on which a civilization of universal peace can grow. It’s onto that ground that Meddeb urges his fellow Muslims to migrate, to rejoin their long-lost Jewish and Christian brothers, leaving behind their bloody past and the benighted rest of the world.

Meddeb thinks Arab Muslims would be welcome in the West if they didn’t carry the cultural baggage of fundamentalist violence. To help Islam present itself in a cleansed state, ready for a three-way love fest with the two older monotheisms, Meddeb aims to isolate, marginalize, and eliminate the fundamentalist strain. For such chores NATO can use drones, long-range missiles and large-scale military invasions with or without the fig leaf of United Nations resolutions. But Meddeb has only metaphysical weapons – ideas -at his disposal. His biggest ideas, believe it or not, are literary criticism and historical perspective.

Meddeb says that unlike their healthier Jewish and Christian brethren, Muslims are still caught in an archaic time frame dominated by literal interpretations of outmoded religious texts. He acknowledges that violence did wonders for Islam in times past, since Islam owes its historical expansion to the vigorous practice of jihad, holy war. Divine violence made sense in the seventh century, because - and here Meddeb slips into unintended humor - it was practiced by well-armed Muslim armies against unarmed populations. Now, though, it is invoked against European and American enemies possessing vastly superior firepower. A jihad under such circumstances makes no sense. It’s time to junk holy wars.


Here Meddeb overlooks an insight that, applied to his beloved Europe, could have saved him a lot of confusion. Overwhelming military superiority against an unarmed world is exactly the position the West is seeking to consolidate today. In effect, when Meddeb says the West has left behind the unreasoning violence of its religious beginnings, he mistakes a gear switch for a total halt. Monotheistic faith is the religious form taken by the urge to dominate everyone and everything. The same urge, deployed in its intercontinental political form, was called imperialism - the drive to conquer all lands, to control all resources, and to exploit all peoples. Now, the same drive has shifted into its economic form, and taken a new name, globalization - the unreasoning urge to take over everybody else’s economies and resources.

Because these three urges to total power are based on injustice, they cannot hope to work through persuasion. So they have always relied on massive doses of brute force and fear, shock and awe; in a word, terrorism. The violence of Muslim fundamentalists today is a small-bore caricature of the tremendous institutional violence that the armies of Europe and America used in the days of imperialism, and continue to use today, against the peoples of the world. The fact Meddeb overlooks, in his hurry to embrace the West, is that the largest national and international armies at work today are the leading terrorists of our world.

But how does Meddeb propose to get out of the jihad impasse? He suggests starting with a split vision, reading the Koran not as one book, but as two. The first, an outdated, violent Koran, should be jettisoned. The second, a modern, peaceful Koran, should be endorsed. Muslims living in Europe can start by dropping all reference to the Sharia. Worldwide, Muslims should stop preaching death to infidels, and embrace instead the mystical flavor of Sufi Islam, compatible with a civilized, European life. Imams can lead by searching Islamic scripture for passages whose inclusive, humanistic message can counter the venomous, exclusive thrust of fundamentalist Islam.

Letting his literary training overcome his prudence, Meddeb admits that the notion that the Koran is the word of God is, from a purely philosophical viewpoint, just fiction. He thinks it’s time to interpret scripture as a special kind of poetry. This would help readers move away from precise, literal meanings, toward the deliberate ambiguities and obscurities typical of poetry; for he sees precision as negative. He blames the violence of fanatics on the culpable clarity of holy texts: “la clarté du sens … predispose les esprits à être réceptifs au message intégriste.” The clarity of meaning draws impressionable minds to the fundamentalist message.

So let poetry, living on nuance and uncertainty, replace prophecy, with its furious focus on one truth and one alone. Let history, which re-examines old words in their context before judging their relevance in a changing world, replace fundamentalist theology. After that, Islam can rejoin the other monotheistic societies, so that together, Islam, Christianity and Judaism can once again be a civilizing light unto the rest of the world. So says Abdelwahab Meddeb.

According to Meddeb, there was a high time in history when Islam was a creative cultural and scientific force. Nostalgia for that time deepens his despondency when he contemplates the present decline of Islamic culture. The whole Muslim world, he says, translates only 330 new books a year; a tiny European country like Greece publishes a thousand. A UNDP document produced by Arab specialists says that the GDP of all Arab countries, petrodollar giants included, is less than that of a single poor European country -  Spain. In the Arab world, technical productivity has stalled. And, Muslims are absent from the major intellectual adventures of humanity today. Arab Muslims with anything to contribute to world progress must go into exile, because “l’excellence arabe s’exerce dans l’expatriation.

Meddeb’s argument can be summed up thus: From 750 to 1250 AD, Islam was a world leader in philosophy, mathematics, science - making pivotal contributions to civilization, alongside Judaism and Christianity. (117). But since then, Islam has declined, and lost its ability to innovate, because fundamentalist thinkers have enshrined the Koran as definitive, unchanging truth. Science and human fulfillment are, by definition, open to future innovation. A philosophy that declares itself the definitive truth dies as a vehicle of human progress. Islam, in short, wilted when it let fundamentalists rise to central prominence. It should now distance itself from them, so as to “rejoindre la civilization.” It’s that aim that gives Meddeb’s book its title, The Challenge of Civilization.

Literary critics and historians might find Meddeb’s proposals intriguing. He wants literature and history to rescue humanity from theology. Theologians will be less thrilled, especially the many imams and ayatollahs whose material and spiritual wellbeing depend on the willingness of multitudes to believe that the Koran is the word of God, true for all time. Meddeb skirts dangerous territory here. Scholarship, based on reason, cannot serve religion which is based on faith. To subject holy writ to scholarly criticism is to highlight the precise issue monotheistic violence is designed to evade. It suggests that holy scripture is just another literary genre.

No self-respecting believer can live with that insight. Literary texts, as products of human intelligence, are open to criticism. Scripture, on the other hand, is, by the nature of the trade in holiness, defined as divine truth, and so exempt from criticism. The definition of fiction as truth lies at the heart of monotheistic belief. Touch it, and you shake the pillars of uncritical belief.

That is the indissoluble connection between monotheistic faith and fundamentalist terrorism. Belief in a single, all-purpose, all-powerful controller of everything makes no sense, in nature or in philosophy. But belief in divine power is able to dispense with sense. Where the rational tendency to doubt stands in the way, believers throughout history have won their arguments not through logic but with violence.

Monotheism has always needed massive violence to establish itself in society. It needs the soft psychological violence of miracles, stage-managed, or simply reported, and unverifiable. It needs the more complex violence of indoctrination - the controlled injection of selected falsehoods into children’s minds in the guise of education. It needs relentless propaganda, the bombardment of adults but busy minds with excitingly packaged half-truths and untruths presented as obvious reality. Above all, against opponents, it needs the hard violence of physical assault, backed up with the institutional violence of torture and the threat of violence as daily reality. Monotheism rides on terror. It’s only logical if its most fervent defenders are terrorists.

This may sound odd, until we trace the belief in one omnipotent God to its origins. Meddeb thinks he has done this, by asserting that the inventor of monotheism was the Jewish prophet Moses. But all he does is to demonstrate how blind, intellectually, he is. He is spiritually blind in two connected senses. First, he has eyes only for Europe, and, all he’s willing to see there is positive.

He is delighted with the 18th century European Enlightenment, because he thinks that was the high tide of civilization, even though that was also the time when Europe was busy massacring humanity in Australia, the Caribbean, and North and South America. He is dimly aware that the West he adores turned Africa into a hunting ground for captives over centuries, but he manages to fit that also into a scenario of universal civilization. He knows that the business that took the French to Haiti, Madagascar, Vietnam and Algeria was the barbaric one of exploitation and empire, not civilization. No doubt he has heard about waterboarding and Guantanamo, and he knows that Al Qaeda, before it got appointed public enemy to the West, was an American CIA ally recruited, trained, funded, and equipped to carry out terrorist missions against the Soviets in Afghanistan. But Meddeb is unwilling to contemplate what all this information, critically analyzed, may mean. So whenever he bumps into evidence of industrial-scale Western terrorism in the world, he resorts to aporia – rationalizing the utterly irrational.

Meddeb’s blindness is selective when he looks at Europe, but it is total when it comes to Africa. That is what prevents him from seeing that the key to the riddle of monotheism and violence lies right here, in the cultural and intellectual history of Africa.

African history covers millennia of settled life before nomadic armies invaded the continent. The normal demographic pattern was a combination of settlement with movement, and the basic unit moving across and around the continent was a modular social group, the family, that could grow and combine with others to create clans, which again combined to create tribes, accretions of which, coming together, formed nations and federations of nations.

Anthropologists studying African society have focused on blood-based kin relationships and identified a typically African social unit, the extended family. As a rule, they’ve missed the presence of a second, parallel type of basic social group—an equally extensible family based not on blood but on values. Both types of family relationships can be found throughout Africa in all historical time, but the clearest traces from antiquity come to us from the Nile valley, where the oldest recorded cases of monotheism also occurred.

It’s common knowledge that ancient Egyptians, no matter how distant in blood terms, called each other brother and sister. That’s a simple indication of the widespread acceptance of the family as key social module. Less well known is the custom, among intellectuals, especially teachers or mentors, of recognizing two sets of kin, one biological, the other intellectual. In hieroglyphic texts the distinction might take the form of phrases like sa.i n ht.i meaning son of my body, or my biological son, as distinct from sa.i n ib.i: son of my heart, that is to say, my intellectual kin.

Family-type groups based not on blood but on values or goals were known as Shemsw. The word, from the verb shem, to travel, can be translated as followers, or companions. Shemsw were individuals who chose to belong to a group going along a particular social, intellectual or spiritual path.

The nature of the system of kin relationships was such that each family originally brought its household deities to the clan. Clans coalescing into tribes also brought their gods and goddesses to the common pool of divinities. The system of associations of Shemsw meant that in addition to being a collection of homes for biological families, ancient Egyptian society contained many intellectual kin-groups, small and large, each pursuing a chosen line of work and study or worship.

Because it allowed groups of friends to focus on shared values and work, the Shemsw culture generated multiple innovations in different fields: architecture, agriculture, irrigation, weaving, arts, music and medicine. Codified into the politics and administration of Egypt as a federation of forty-two original states, it was the foundation for a religious culture that recognized the presiding spirits of numerous groups, letting each group choose its favorite deity, and taking care not to impose the god of any one group on all others.

The idea of replacing such a system of free thinking and innovative individuals and groups with one uniform way of thinking, one uniform behavior pattern, one God for all, seemed properly retrograde and unintelligent to the scribes and functionaries of ancient Egypt. For that reason, monotheism, though long known as a concept that appealed to particular individuals and groups, was not elevated to the status of an exclusive State religion, except, notably, in the brief reign of Akhenaten.

Gods are ideals—psychic projections humans use to achieve long-term goals. Monotheism, from this perspective, is the projection into the universe of a powerful desire to control everything and everyone. In ancient African society, such an urge was considered pathological. For society at large, it brought the risk of unnecessary conflict.

The natural pattern of religious practice was poly-centered. The balance of this social system was threatened if one group attempted to monopolize spiritual power, meaning the right to tell everyone else how they should live. That was the challenge posed by the 14th century BC pharaoh Akhenaten, decades before Moses, so impressed with the power of the sun that he tried to turn all Egyptians into worshipers of a single, all-powerful God.

Given the multi-ethnic, multipolar nature of Nile valley society, such a project made no sense. There were thinkers like the Shemsw Hepy, companions of the Nile, who could point out that powerful as the sun was, on its own it would only produce deserts. They preferred to see life as a combined result of the workings of sun, water, air, and numerous other forces. Still, like all fanatics, Akhenaten was slow to appreciate other points of view, quick to impose his own. He destroyed the temples and images of gods and goddesses he did not like, and generally tried to reshape the entire society in the image of one jealous, violent God.

After Akhenaten’s death, the Egyptian intelligentsia went back to old ways, reminding the reigning pharaoh as high priest not to impose his favorite among the forty-two main deities on everyone, but to maintain their peaceful social coexistence in a state of reasoned balance, Maât. They had good arguments on their side. The old system allowed the majority of believers—people who chose to entrust their lives to an outside power—to coexist with magicians and manipulators—people who wished to grow powerful by manipulating the hidden powers of a baffling universe. Besides these two types, there were others whose vocation was not to fear or worship the unknown, but to study reality, to measure it, and to record their knowledge, thus gradually bringing the unknown inside the boundaries of the known.

One cluster of like-minded groups in particular, the Shemsw Jehwty, the Shemsw Maât, and the Shemsw Asar, was particularly creative, because it organized itself as a series of families living together, sharing a common devotion to the pursuit of knowledge through observation (maa), research (jer) experimentation (djanwti), recording (sesh), study (sba), criticism (sipt), and renewal (whm meswt).

The scholars Chancellor Williams, Cheikh Anta Diop, and Théophile Obenga have over the past few decades pointed out that the intellectual history of Africa contains enormous reserves of information, some of which could help us make sense of the present and work out strategies for the future. To individuals like Meddeb, too far gone in their infatuation with Europe to notice that there was an intelligent world before Europe awoke, this information is hidden.

African intellectuals need to understand that souls like Meddeb are blind and lost, in their ignorance of, and their indifference to, Africa’s intellectual history. The information exists. Some of it puts in clear perspective the burning issues of our day, including monotheism, unipolarity, imperialism, globalization, and the culture of terrorism. We can retrieve it by going directly to the languages in which the concepts and images were developed. Knowledge thus retrieved would change our perception of Africa, and our self-perception as Africans, enabling us to leave the suffocating hold in which European domination has locked us, to begin life as a new type of beings—conscious, self-defining, innovative Africans.

Intellectually, most Africans living today are less awake than the ancestral scribes who, in the 14th century BC, after Akhenaten’s death, quietly repaired the damage done to society by fanatical monotheists given power. Most of us living now are marching gladly, and blindly, on the monotheists’ road. This brother here is a Muslim, that sister over there is a Christian, and some of us are Ethiopian Jews. We have for leaders a Nelson, a Robert, a John, a Paul, an Abdoulaye, a Moussa and an Ellen. It is hard, in these times, to remember that monotheism was long ago recognized among our ancestors as a social bomb, a big terrorist one. It’s likely that when we wake up, one of our first acts will be to throw off the heavy, destructive freight of monotheistic ways of thought and action.

Then we may even have the good sense to remember the way of the Shemsw.

Copyright 2011 www.globalbreakingnews.com

Community Noticeboard

Forthcoming Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum (PASCF) events:

Marcus Garvey Annual Memorial Lecture
10th June 2011 @ 6.30pm
At London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

PASCF Workshops
Every Friday @ 7pm
Lysada Aventure Playground, 6 Montegeo Close, (off Railton Rd), Brixton,London SE24 0CH

Marcus Garvey Afrikan Family Day
Saturday 20th August 2011 @ 12 noon
At Max Roach Park, Brixton Road, London SW9 7ND

For more information contact the Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum c/o:
14, Gowlett Road, London SE 15 4HY. Phone: 07944-204-955. Email: pascfevents@gmail.com; Website: www.pascf.org.uk

Campaign: Save the Africa Centre

From: savetheafricacentre@gmail.com


 Adam Neill, Capetown. When you sell our history, you sell your soul

We Ask You To Save The AFRICA CENTRE at 38 King Street, Covent Garden


Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

Out of the Africa center in the heart of London has come history. Over the years the center has captured the heartbeat of the continent in the world. Please let it not die

Wala Danga (CEO Limpopo Club)

We are sadened to hear about this intended sale. We at Limpopo Club started the Live African Music concerts at the Africa Center in the early 80s and made it one of the most viable cultural platforms for African Music in Europe it was here we gave stages for the first time to groups like Angelique Kidjo;Baaba Maala;Thomas Mapfumo;Bembeya jazz;les Amazones de Guinee;Bhundu Boys +many more

We fully support this petition Let us stop this sale https://www.facebook.com/savetheafricacentre

"If you sell YOUR decision will be remembered by the community forever. The young members of the African Diaspora are the ones that have most to lose. It is we that will remember you for longer than you will be with us".

Draft Statement from the African Liberation Day and the Africa in the 21st Century and the Quasquicentennial of the Scramble of Africa Conference: May 25-May 27, 2011


We the 100 plus delegates from various countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, having met in Tshwane South Africa over three days to commemorate Africa Liberation Day and deliberate on Africa affairs and global issues hereby resolved the following Tshwane Declaration


  1. May 25, 2011 marks the 48th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day since the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963.
  2. The OAU had the mandate to achieve two main goals: to end colonialism and apartheid and to create a strong, free, independent, dignified and united Africa.
  3. Colonialism and apartheid formally ended in 1994, some 34 years after formal decolonisation took place and many of the current existing states came into being in the 1960s.
  4. The unity of Africa has remained a big challenge despite the fact that nearly all the states in Africa if asked will concede unity of Africa is important and it should take place.
  5. But to date the unity of Africa remains elusive and the aspiration by Africans for full dignity and the end of humiliation have not been realised.
  6.  After half a century of African de-colonisation, the former colonial powers such as France and Britain have managed to persuade the USA and even African states to pass a UN resolution to intervene militarily in Africa on several occasions. This demonstrates the increasing weakness of African States.
  7. Whatever the merits or demerits for their intervention, the fact that Africa is in a state of disunity, to  be so ignored  as to let  once more the former colonial powers  to intervene militarily, compellingly brings home how much the lack of African unity is costing Africa by continuing its historic humiliation. It is important to recognise that the weakness of the African States lies in their artificial borders which ignore the cultural and linguistic characteristics of the peoples of Africa.
  8. African unity may not make Africa rich quickly, but it will certainly bring the benefits that others will find it difficult to violate African dignity as they have continued to do to this day, based on their authentic reconstitution. A call for Africa unity, therefore, calls for the removal of these artificial boundaries. Cross-border integration that violates the borders others drew for divide and rule thrives in every region of Africa.  Though the existing artificial boundaries are violated in the process, in many ways it is more real than the elite driven regional integration schemes that overlap and make the emergence of a genuine African national learning and innovative economy difficult.
  9. Currently Africa and the Africa Union are being ignored and former colonial powers do not feel any reason to restrain them to take military action to pursue whatever interests they prefer by using any means necessary.
  10. It is clear Africa’s problems cannot be solved within the current colonial, neo-colonial and post-colonial frameworks in which they are being re-created, enacted and re-played. Colonialism left structures that did not bring an end to the colonial structures which continue to make African economic and social development to remain complicated since the 1960s. The colonial structures left behind have given rise to rent-seeking behaviour by elites who seem unable to develop social economic strategy that can eradicate poverty and increase the wellbeing of the people. There is a real need to go beyond the post-colonial state framework and bring unity now and not later in the future by firmly putting African unity first through the termination of colonial boundaries.

    Actions to be taken 
  1. There is a need not only to dwell on problems, but also strive to find solutions in order to accelerate African unity. When solving Africa’s problems, we must excavate the roots and not dwell superficially at the surface.
  2. The goal of a united Africa dwells where Africans engage first and foremost with each other before they deal with and respond to major challenges coming from elsewhere. This is yet to be achieved.
  3. Africa must unite now, if not now, when can Africa unite over 125 years after the European Scramble for Africa, over 50 years of decolonisation and nearly twenty years of the end of apartheid.
  4. Unity can start by making sure that all that the 53 states learn to communicate with each other and share decisions that affect Africa, such as the current NATO invasion of Libya. Africa should not be in a position where the AU decides   to go for dialogue and a few states that are members of the AU sign up to the UN resolution 1973 that sanctions: ‘to use any means necessary to protect civilians.’ Unity means to stand either for dialogue together or for the UN Resolution, but not to prevaricate picking one or the other as time goes by.
  5. The AU must practise and not merely pronounce Pan-African values, including ensuring full participation of the Diaspora defined as Africa’s sixth region. Above all, African leaders who come to power must learn how important it is to do what the first democratic president Mandela did in South Africa to leave power while ‘there are one or two people that still think well of me.’
  6. This means that term limits for power transition that the AU proposed should be enforced and those that wish to continue beyond ten years should not be allowed to enjoy support as if they are building institutions by staying longer when they are in fact undermining the opportunities to create sustainable institutions. Examples of success from South Africa and others must be promoted. Ten years is more than enough for a person to stay in power and have the right to do both wrong or right. If the person cannot do all that is to be done, adding more years is not going to make a difference. In fact it can bring diminishing returns.
  7. As researchers and activists gathered from all over the world we wish to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
  8.  In our research, education and training, we need to bring back at the centre the ideal of Pan-Africanism that inspired the liberation of Africans. This is necessary in order to ensure that the 'Africaness' or the African identity of the billion Africans living in Africa and those that have been forced out the continent from the times of slavery and the current difficulties of despotic rules achieve paramount significance in shaping the future of Africans.
  9.   The education systems after decolonisation have not fully developed Pan-African education. It is incumbent upon all those involved in science to develop learning materials at various levels to wean the younger generation with strong Pan-African (from Africa and its Diaspora) values, norms and ideals to overcome the pettiness of political tribalism and vernacular divisive blocks to the realisation of the fullest expression of the African identity.
  10.   The education system must recognise indigenous knowledge systems and include them in the curriculum from primary to higher education in Africa. Building knowledge and learning economy in Africa requires harvesting the existing grassroots knowledge processes within the indigenous communities in Africa by identifying, using and applying the existing knowledge that exists within the communities. This requires a willingness to be open by combining indigenous and scientific knowledge, creating a two-way dialogue and communication between them.
  11. We need to re-define Pan-Africanism for the 21st century and implement practical building on and improving on the AU sixth region concept as we prepare for the Africa and its Diaspora summit in 2012 in South Africa.


  1. We strongly recommend that the Africa Liberation Day should be celebrated with both intellectual and popular education and other exhibitions so that Africans can engage with one another, network and build trust and spread the Pan-African logo and message to all sectors of societies by going deep into the places where younger generations live.
  2. The start of this Africa Liberation Day and the conference should become an annual event and the current partnerships (e.g. AISA, NRF, TUT and other universities, DST etc) should be entrusted to plan ahead by starting now preparing for the second and subsequent annual Africa Liberation Days and conferences to disseminate widely into the communities and townships pan-African knowledge and unity.

  3. May 25 every year has been recognised as Africa liberation day. Like the Black History Month, the whole of May must be dedicated by all the African states as Africa Liberation Month, turning the whole month for spreading pan-African education to find various ways of making Africans engage with other Africans a number one priority.
  1. South Africa should play a leadership role in promoting the African Renaissance. Its African policy need to be clear and should be the leading advocate of Pan-African unity.
  2. The African Institute of South Africa and partners should bring together a group of Pan-African thinkers to start work to revisit Pan-Africanism for our time by demonstrating how it can be implemented by all Africans in the 21st century.
  3. TUT and AISA, with the support of the DST and the NRF should establish a suite of Research Chairs to be named for leading pan-Africanists.  These chairs will encourage intra-African higher education teaching, training and research cooperative arrangements to foster Pan-Africanism in the 21st century.
  4. Post graduate short courses and even master’s degrees, doctoral and post doctoral research to create a Pan-African research area must be formed.
  5. Funding for this initiative should be provided by the leading African Governments such as South Africa, Nigeria and others, including the African Diaspora.
  6. A strong Pan-African Academy should be created with AISA forming a working group to plan and work out how it can be realised
  7. There is a need to produce, after a few years work, by engaging all sectors of African society to design and craft the African Unity First Manifesto (AUFM) that all Africans must be exposed to. The leadership to provide this must come from South Africa. The AUFM must involve all sectors of society, women, the youth, workers, farmers, communities and other stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, education and Governments across Africa and the Diaspora.

This Tshwane Declaration from South Africa should be communicated widely to reach all Africans and friends of Africa across the world.

Drafted:  By Mammo Muchie, edited by AISA, NRF, Dan Nabudere and Kimani Nehusi and approved unanimously by all the scientists and participants from all over the world at the International Symposium on 27 May, 2011 (http://www.nesglobal.org/symp125/ )

Petition to Clear Marcus Garvey's Name

By: Geoffrey Philp

Marcus Garvey, founder of the UNIA, was arrested by the FBI under the Hoover administration and charged with mail fraud for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. Although his sentence was eventually commuted by President Calvin Coolidge, it is now abundantly clear that Garvey did not commit any criminal acts, but as Professor Judith Stein has stated, “his politics were on trial.


Petition @ http://goo.gl/y0ZNG


Starting Sunday 12 June 2011 (11.00am) and Thursday 16 June 2011 (7.00-9.00pm) -  Walthamstow, London E17
Our courses are an excellent introduction and progression into self-development providing a realistic insight into our history, present day situation and future. Our courses are popular and have been running for over 15 years. We will be hosting enrolment & induction sessions for our Black and World History. You will have to attend an induction session before commencing the course.



Type of student

Sun 29 May 11


New starter

Sun 29 May 11


Past student

Sun 29 May 11


New starter

Sun 29 May 11


Past student

Sun 29 May 11


New starter

Hi All

I hope you are well, and you are enjoying the beautiful weather.

Good news there is still one-or-two places available on the 
BIS Publications 1 Day Intensive course for African Caribbean writers who want to self publish Successfully.
Register at at http://www.wegottickets.com/event/120544

Sarah Joel-Rodgers
0208 880 9076

Managing Song Rights & Income Streams – 8 June

A seminar that highlights the rights and income streams available to songwriters. It also tackles the issue of whether songwriters need managers, and producers being credited as songwriters.

Panel: David Stopps (MMF), Kennedy ‘Prezedent’ Mensah (Back 2 Da Future), more tbc. Chair: Kwaku (BBM/BMC founder). In association with MMF and PRS.

PRS, 29-33 Berners Street, London W1T 3AB (Goodge Street/Tottenham Court Road)

COST/BOOKING: Free but must pre-book: www.britishblackmusic.com    editor@britishblackmusic.com

Dark Skin Trailer

Please find 10 mins to watch this documentary that looks at the issue of "dark skinned" black women. It's painful but very honest. It reflects the "pigmentocracy" and internalised racism we as black/African people have imbibed since slavery (i.e. lighter skin/pigmentation is more attractive than darker skin). I have touched on such issues in some of my classes.

One day maybe people of African descent will truly think "black is beautiful" and celebrate the beauty of the different hues of our skin without elevating one above the other.



"We must dare to invent the future" - Thomas Sankara

Africa Fashion Week


For the first time in history, the city of London will be hit by a two-day Tsunami of an event that will showcase everything that defines fashion from an African point of view. The event is known as Africa Fashion Week London. It will be held between 5th and 6th August 2011 at the Gibson Hall, 13 Bishopsgate London EC2N and will make history as the biggest platform ever dedicated to African inspired fashion in Europe.

Africa Fashion Week London will give equal opportunity and priority to top international fashion designers alongside new and emerging designers who use African fabrics in their designs, are inspired by African culture and art, sell to the African market or have ties to Africa. The new and emerging designers will be showcased in an event known as Revelation Show within the AFWL.  Africa fashion week London is a project designed to create a loud and wide exposure and propagation of style, beauty and fashion from an African perspective, in European environment, thereby creating an atmosphere for cultural exchange; a fusion of western and African cultures, through fashion.  The event will:
•     Feature  designers from the whole of Africa;
•     Offer those in the fashion industry a free platform on which to showcase
their brands;
•     Act as an opportunity for fashion designers to network among each other;
•     Create a portal for new designers to enter into the market and integrate
into the international fashion system;
•     Highlight the African Textile Industry to a global audience thereby
enhancing development;
•     Enable African countries to showcase their national fabrics through
their designers, thereby enabling them to carve a niche in the global market;
•     Make African textiles visible to the rest of the world by creating an
interactive platform that will involve the Media, Manufacturers, Designers, Retailers and Consumers.


The city of London, having the highest number of Africans in Diaspora of any European country, is the obvious choice for this event. Africa fashion Week London will also provide a platform for selected charity organizations and NGOs to propagate their missions and raise funds for their projects.

Africa Fashion Week London will be attended by fashion designers, milliners, fabric manufacturers and printers, jewelers, beauty range manufacturers, leather goods designers and manufacturers, perfumers, photographers, make-up artists, models, media houses, buyers, local and international press and indeed anyone that has any link with fashion, especially with an African interest. AFWL is open to members of the public who can come see the latest collections and buy from the numerous exhibitors from within the fashion industry who will be parading their wares for sale.

Participants include new/emerging designers under the Revelation label and renowned fashion designers. Categories accepted include fashion design, textile prints, accessories, bridals, jewelers, foot wears, milliners, lingerie and swimwear.

The event will host over 2000 members of the public.

Africa Fashion Week London is organized by Ronke Ademiluyi of Rukkies Concept and produced by Mahogany Productions.

For General Enquiries please contact:ronke@africafashionweeklondon.com.
For Media Enquiries please contact: kamari@africafashionweeklondon.com.


Recollections of Ivan Van sertima - The Early Years

30 May 2009

Pan African Scholar: Ivan Van Sertima

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

I first met Ivan Van Sertima in either late 1980 or 1981. I went to a lecture that he gave in a classroom at UCLA. An evening or so later I attended a reception in his honor at the residence of Legrand H. Clegg II. The lecture was about the African presence in America before Columbus and the reception gave us a chance to have an up close interaction with him.

He was a light skinned Black man of medium build. He wore a jacket and tie. He was clean shaved except for a mustache and wore a short Afro. And he spoke with a distinct British accent. I was honored to be in his presence. He seemed rather detached and aloof but you could tell that he was a great scholar. And he really seemed to appreciate the ladies!

It was around this same time that I quit my job with a mortgage company and started working in the EOPS department at Compton Community College. My job was to organize cultural awareness programs designed to expose the students and the community in Compton to things African. I believe that Ivan was our first speaker. Among the other early speakers that I brought to Compton at that time were political activist Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and the great cultural historian John G. Jackson.

Another person that I got to know during those early days at Compton College was Charles S. Finch, MD. Jan Carew who, like Ivan, was from Guyana, South America and who was Ivan's major mentor also I invited in as a speaker. Jan even stayed at my apartment. But Ivan became our regular. He was a great orator and had a grand and commanding on stage presence. You know, I think a lot of it had to do with his British manners. Whatever the case, his speaking style and presence were clearly captivating.

Sometime in 1982 I started writing for Ivan. In 1977 his great book They Came Before Columbus was published and in 1979 he began publication of the Journal of African Civilizations. How I began to write for the Journal makes for a good story.

Legrand Clegg and I had driven down to San Diego, California to attend a program highlighted by Ivan and John Henrik Clarke (another wonderful scholar that I was to get to know and develop am excellent personal relationship with).

I remember that Van Sertima, Legrand, myself and a San Diego brother named Chuck Ambers, were parked in front of a liquor store talking about what spirits we were going to buy when Ivan asked no one in particular if anybody knew anybody who might know somebody if they knew anybody who had photographs of the people of ancient Iraq. He wanted to use the photos to illustrate a new issue of the Journal. I had recently begun to study the subject but did not say a word. Legrand Clegg, busy trying to promote me, pointed out immediately that Runoko Rashidi was just the man! Ivan looked at me as if to say, "who, that guy?" He appeared to have no confidence at all at the suggestion and seemed extremely dubious. But Legrand was persistent and Ivan relented. His parting words to me were, "Well just write a few words and send in the photos."

He later told me that the photos were actually terrible but that the article that I wrote was very good and he was impressed with my style. (I wonder what he would say about my photos now?) From that day on I held him in awe and wrote for all the Journals from 1982 to the last one in 1995.

Just about at that time the Journal of African Civilizations ceased to be a Journal per se and became a book that was published two or three times a year. The first was Egyptian History Revised and the second one was Black Women in Antiquity. He published my first article in the former and my second (an even bigger essay) was published in the latter. By this time I could see that the respect that he had for me and the confidence that he had in me was beginning to grow immeasurably, for in the Black Women in Antiquity anthology he not only published an article of mine on African goddesses, but I also helped him do some of the editing for the book. He was extremely grateful and at this point we actually began to be something approaching confidants and friends.

You know, with Ivan's transition (I could not write the "d" word) it seems almost like I have lost my bridge to those early years and those scholars that mentored and influenced me at that pivotal stage in my life. Little by little and one by one they are all gone now, or just about gone. First Chancellor Williams and then John G. Jackson passed. Then Charles B. Copher and Edward Vivian Scobie and, especially John Henrik Clarke, joined the Ancestors. Then Ivan got sick and Jacob H. Carruthers died. Shortly after that Nana Ekow Butweiku I got sick and died. William Mackey and Baba Donaldson died. And it seems like just yesterday that my friend Asa Hilliard made his transition. Jan Carew is sick and Dr. Ben is in a nursing home in the Bronx. And now Ivan is gone. Kind of takes my breath away and puts a tear in my eye. I am oh so grateful for the fellowship that they provided and the mentoring that they gave. But, still, I miss them very much.

It seems like the end of an era.

In love of Africa,

Runoko Rashidi Okello

Call for Applications:
The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy on Africa

The Rise of Africa - "Strategies to confront the Challenges of the 21st Century: Does Africa have what is required?"

(Berlin, International Conference, 14th - 17th July 2011)
Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA)
(Berlin, Weeklong Seminar, 11th - 17th July 2011)
The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy on Africa
The Rise of Africa - "Strategies to confront the Challenges of the 21st Century: Does Africa have what is required?"
(Berlin, 14th - 17th July 2011)

The year 2011 serves as a milestone in African history, presenting an excellent opportunity to take a look back at the continent's achievements, and consider the next steps for addressing its remaining challenges, along with those emerging on the horizon. Over the past five decades, significant effort has been put into Africa's development on multiple fronts, ranging from economic growth to social and political stabilization. However, with the rapid economic and political trend towards a global society, and the arrival of new global challenges, such as climate change, the water scarcity, and the growing gap between rich and poor, there is now more than ever a dire need for innovative new strategies to ensure an equitable and sustainable future for the African continent. The Symposium will explore the range of new ideas and initiatives being implemented in support of Africa's development, and assess the challenges and opportunities that will present themselves to the African continent in the near future.

To Apply Please Visit: http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/experienceafrica/index.php?en_the-rise-of-africa_application-form

Cultural Diplomacy in Africa:
A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA)
(Berlin, 11th - 17th July 2011)
* Participants in the CDA Weeklong Seminar will also take part in the International Conference: The Rise of Africa - "Strategies to confront the Challenges of the 21st Century: Does Africa have what is required?" (Berlin, 11th - 17th July 2011)
Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA) is a network of young, dynamic individuals from across the world, who share an interest in the African continent. The program is based on the recognition that cultural diplomacy represents an important tool in helping Africa to address the challenges it currently faces. The network conducts ongoing activity aimed at supporting development and strengthening relations between different countries and cultural groups within Africa, and between African and external partners. Individuals can join the CDA Forum by taking part in one of the CDA Weeklong Seminars, which are held every 3-4 months in Berlin, Germany.

Each CDA Weeklong Seminar will be focused on a specific theme related to the African continent and the goals of the Forum. These Weeklong Seminars include lectures, seminars, and workshops lead by experts from the fields of politics, academia, and civil society, as well as cultural and social activities. In addition to raising awareness amongst the participants of the field of cultural diplomacy and salient issues concerning the African continent, the week also provides an opportunity to network and experience the vibrant Berlin.

Interested in teaching in top private schools in Nigeria?

Then please feel free to contact R & A for other opportunities in private schools in Nigeria.

Urgent teaching vacancies: Nigeria
Lagos: Secondary PE teacher, Special needs co-ordinator (must have special needs education degree and experience of leading SEN within a school environment) and secondary science teacher (chemistry/physics specialism) - education degrees essential and a minimum of 3 years experience. Salary£18,000 - £24,000 tax free. September 2011 start

Abuja: Special needs teacher - primary and secondary - up to £18,000 tax free depending on experience and qualifications. Must have special needs educational degree with a minimum of 3 years experience in an international school. September 2011 start

Kano: Headteacher and 5 teachers for a new primary school in Kano for September: headship (must have been head of an international school, education degrees essential, National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) or equivalent desirable post up to £40,000 tax free, teachers up to £20,000 tax free (education degrees essential and minimum 3 years experience of teaching in an international school). September 2011 start

Kaduna: Key stage 1 (ages 5-7) & Key stage  2 (ages 7-11)  lead teachers (must have education degrees and at least 3 years experience of teaching at these stages). Salary  £15,000 - £20,000 tax free. September 2011 start

Abuja: PE teacher (Primary) - between £15,000 - £20,000 tax free. Education degree in Physical Education essential and experience of teaching primary PE. September 2011 start

All the above posts come with a return economy ticket, accommodation and medical insurance

Kindly email your CV with your application letter to Abiola Sanusi at asanusi@randaedu.com

Deadline June 5th 2011

Abiola Sanusi
Principal Consultant
Riplington & Associates
23 Cairo Street
Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent
Abuja- F.C.T
Office: +234 96232121 (Mon- Fri, 9-5pm)
Tel: + 234 1760 5167
Mob: +234 807 850 3887
Mob: +447529629811  (UK)
E: asanusi@randaedu.com
W: www.randaedu.com

New Children Books For this  Summer:

One Thing About History
One Thing About History Is: Maiza and Mastura meets Alexander Miles the Inventor by Natasha- John Baptise, RRP £6.99 

Maiza and Mastura meets Alexander Miles the Inventor is the first in the One Thing About History Is... series. They are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction children adventure stories.  They aim to teach children about the hidden contribution of black inventors. Maiza and Mastura are taken to a land far off into a place called Historyland through their favourite world history book where they learn about a black inventor who solves problems for them. The inventors and their inventions are based on historical facts.

Singer/Songwriter Natahsa says "...I am more accustomed to writing songs as I have worked with many recording artiste such as Desmond Dekker, Light of the World, Sister Sledge and others. I have put to use my creative nature and written these books in a poetic fashion. I have every confidence that the One Thing About History Is ... series will make a big difference, it is important that we educate our children to be more than what they are presumed to become. I've heard it said many times that with knowledge comes power...".
Now taking advance orders at only £4.99

 "...Fabulous books regarding African history..." - Nora, School Teacher at Northumberland Park School
"...We need something like this for our school..." - Niambi Boniswa
"...excellent! As soon as its published I will purchase, I love these types of books" - Mark 


Dear Pambazuka Reader,

Today, May 25th, is Africa Liberation Day. It is a day to celebrate what has been achieved, and to remind us what what is yet to be done.

There is little doubt that political independence brought, for a while at least, progress to our people - a relief from the yoke of colonial domination.

But the movement for liberation has had its set-backs over the last 30 years as the imperialist North, in collusion with African governments, overhauled the entire structure of our economies through structural adjustment programmes. This has enabled finance capital and the giant corporations – the 500-700 oligopolies that control almost every aspect of our lives – to occupy our countries and extract wealth through exploitation of our natural resources, our land and our people.  Through the privatisation of the commons they have engaged in massive accumulation by dispossession, leaving millions landless, homeless, unemployed, hungry, sick and angry.

And that anger is being manifested in the new awakenings that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Djibouti, Botswana, Uganda, Swaziland, and South Africa. These awakenings are just one phase in the long struggle of the people of Africa to reassert control over our own destinies, to reassert their dignity, and to struggle for self-determination and emancipation. The governments of the North have not sat silently in the face of these uprisings – witness the invasions of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, and the attempts to establish compliant regimes in Tunisia and Egypt that have, for the present, been resisted by the mass movements.

The promise of emancipation for the peoples of Africa will depend on ensuring that voices for freedom and justice are heard loud and clear across the continent and around the world.

And that is what Pambazuka News is about – amplifying voices and nurturing solidarity around struggles for emancipation across the continent and throughout the diaspora and the global South. Many alliances and networks have used Pambazuka News to help advance their own campaigns - for example the campaign around the protocol on the rights of women in Africa; the struggle for land and housing by shack-dwellers; the campaign for LGBTI rights; and many more. Their ability to continue to use Pambazuka News as a weapon for justice depends on your support.

Produced by a community of some 2,800 writers, bloggers, activists, intellectuals, poets, artists and representatives of social movements, Pambazuka News is committed to nourishing and supporting the building of a strong, progressive, pan-African social movement for freedom and justice.

To do that, Pambazuka News must remain free and independent.

The generosity and solidarity of our community of readers and authors is what makes Pambazuka News possible. Pambazuka needs your support to thrive! If you value what Pambazuka News has achieved over the last 10 years, if you appreciate what Pambazuka News is and does today, make a donation now.  Make the donation you can afford. But make it now.

By supporting Pambazuka News you are enabling thousands of social movements and organisations committed to freedom and justice across the continent to be heard in a space that remains free and independent.

Join those who are ensuring a free and independent future for Pambazuka News and the movements it supports! Donate on line today at: http://pambazuka.org/en/donate.php and help make Africa Liberation Day a true celebration of emancipation.


In solidarity,

Firoze Manji
Pambazuka News

Gun and Knife-enabled Murders in the African Community:
A People’s Inquiry

We need a People’s Inquiry rather than a Royal Commission or government appointed inquiry presided over by some grandee who is totally out of touch with life in Britain’s urban centres or/and with the dynamics and history of black people’s interface with British society and its institutions. 

Above all, we need a People’s Inquiry because we need to do some straight and serious talking to ourselves about ourselves and about our responses to how we and our children are positioned within this society.  This means creating space in appropriate settings and providing a framework for the following people to tell their stories and raise their concerns:

  1. Young people who have lost siblings/uncles/aunts/cousins as a consequence of gun and knife crime
  2. Bereaved parents and families
  3. Young people involved in groupings or/and activities ‘on road’
  4. Young people who carry weapons out of fear of other young people
  5. Young people who use weapons to defend ‘bitz’ and ‘endz’
  6. Young people who are ‘gang’ members
  7. Young people who were ‘gang’ members and are now pursuing other ambitions
  8. Young people being coerced into joining ‘gangs’
  9. Young people with ready access to guns and ammunition
  10. Young people who supply guns and ammunition
  11. Young people proceeded against and convicted for street crimes
  12. Young people in Young Offender Institutions
  13. Young people in the care of the Probation Service and Youth Offending Teams
  14. Young people who act as peer mentors
  15. Young creative artistes who use their art to convey positive, anti-violence and anti- youth-conflict messages
  16. Parents/families of all the above
  17. Especially parents who are struggling to retain control of their young people and not lose them to the influence of ‘road’ and ‘mans on road’
  18. Members of parents’ and young people’s support networks, including Ministers of Religion
  19. Community projects working with young people involved in or on the periphery of street violence
  20. Community projects working with young people who were or were associated with members of ‘gangs’ or street posse.

We must also, inevitably, hear evidence from:

  1. Operation Trident, local Metropolitan Police Commanders and from special operation teams in other police forces around the country
  2. Surgical and medical staff in trauma centres and A &E units in hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester, etc
  3. The Ambulance Service
  4. School managers
  5. the Court Service
  6. the Prison Service
  7. the Probation Service
  8. Politicians,  including local councillors and MPs

Terms of Reference
Specific terms of reference will be drawn up from the foregoing section of this paper.

The Inquiry Team
I envisage an Inquiry team of five (5) people, led and chaired by an eminent black person with the requisite skills, experience and knowledge of black struggle in the British context and who enjoys the respect of the African community nationwide.
The team would be supported by a researcher and a secretariat of three persons, including a Secretary to the Inquiry.
The team should be able to call upon the services of a Lawyer to the Inquiry as necessary.

Mode of Operation
The Inquiry will have an official base and will hold sessions at that base.  Most of all, however, acknowledging the limitations on travel and free movement outside one’s immediate area, and the heightened anxiety about ‘snitching’ and ‘grassing up’ that exists throughout the communities with whom we are concerned, the Inquiry will operate flexibly and go where people are in order to encourage and accommodate as many voices of people in the above mentioned categories (and more) as possible.  
Participants will be enabled to tell their stories and raise their concerns in private if requested. 
The Inquiry will operate a 24 hour Help Line which people could call anonymously.
The Inquiry will meet and gather data across the key boroughs in London in the first instance and will meet subsequently in Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol.
The Inquiry will not wait until the completion of its work to report back to communities and to register its findings and recommendations.   As its work progresses, should data gathered or strategies recommended by contributors be considered to justify interventions in response to any given area or ongoing situation, the Inquiry will report to communities and recommend a course of action.  Such interventions might involve local or central government or/and schools and other agencies.
In this sense, the Inquiry could be seen as operating in the mode of an Action-Research Study, except that while the ‘action’ might arise from the work of the Inquiry, the interventions will not be made by the Inquiry itself.

Time Scale
The Inquiry should seek to begin its work on 1 June 2011 (or 15 June 2011 latest) and should complete its work by end December 2012, feeding back to communities in the various cities as its work progresses.  A final report should be produced and published by 31 March 2013.


The last government and specifically the former Community Secretary, Hazel Blears, funded an elaborate ‘REACH’ role modelling scheme that was rolled out across the country to support young black men and help raise their aspirations and their belief in themselves and their abilities.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has commissioned a mentoring scheme for some 6oo young black men in the capital and is in the process of recruiting and training mentors to operate that scheme.

As stated above, Brooke Kinsella was commissioned by Teresa May to head up a fact-finding mission into the work of schemes designed to stop young people carrying and using knives, and to assess the effectiveness of current work designed to keep young people away from violent crime.

I believe the African heritage community across Britain should demand that the Government provide the funding to make this Inquiry possible and give the community a chance to have its own conversation, share its stories, work collectively towards identifying solutions and hold one another and the government and its institutions to account.

The crisis in which we are gripped and have been for almost two decades did not originate in ‘the black community’, however much some might want to lay the blame on ‘feckless’ and ‘absent’ fathers.

This Inquiry is an opportunity to enable the African heritage community to take an incisive look at itself and at how we have come to be where we are, where in the first decade of the 21st century, in one of the most developed countries in the world, British born black children are killing one another routinely on our streets and where the vast majority of the British population see this tragedy as having nothing whatsoever to do with them. 

Despite financial austerity, the British Government is actively engaged, at great cost, in saving Libyan citizens from violence perpetrated by forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi.  We believe that the taxes paid by African people over the last sixty years and our £trillion contribution to the British economy over the same period entitle us to government funding to keep black British citizens alive.

For more Info or to get involved please contact:

Professor Gus John
27 April 2011

Professor Augustine John
International Consultant & Executive Coach
UK Mobile: +44 (0)7539 476041

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Community Events

Theatre: American Trade

When: 2 – 18 June 2011
Where: Hampstead Theatre
Adm: From £10 - Quote 'Afridiziak offer'

When things get too hot for him in New York, the cool, charismatic hustler Pharus decides to start afresh in London. Little does he know that this is not the place to take it easy. With an incensed cousin, a rap star and an immigration officer on his case, Pharus has to learn to roll with the punches. The RSC's season of new writing continues at Hampstead Theatre with the final play American Trade by award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. This stylish, fast-paced and hilarious new play celebrates 21st century London in all its exciting and extravagant diversity. American Trade is at Hampstead Theatre for just 18 performances from 2 - 18 June 2011.  Further information and trailer

Special offer - see Tarell Alvin McCraney's American Trade for £10
We are delighted to offer Afridiziak Theatre News readers £10 tickets to see the RSC's American Trade by award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney [Wig Out, The Brothers Size; In the Red and Brown Water] at Hampstead Theatre. This offer is valid on performances from 2 - 8 June. To book your tickets, call the box office on 020 7722 9301 and quote 'Afridiziak offer'. To book online, visit http://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/page/3031/American+Trade/233  and at the final stage of booking, quote the promo code AFRIDIZIAK. Subject to availability, offer cannot be used retrospectively. Please forward to anyone you feel might be interested in this offer.

The Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem Memorial Lecture:
Challenges of the Obama Presidency

When: 6 June 2011, 5PM
Where: A J Herbertson Room, School of Geography & the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY

Guest speaker: Professor Horace Campbell , Syracuse University and author of Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics (Pluto Press)

All welcome to attend  |  No need to book  |   patricia.daley@ouce.ox.ac.uk

Centerprise Midsummer season

When: Starts Saturday 11th of June 2011-06-04
Where: Centerprise, 136-138 Kingsland High Street, LondonE8 2NS
Adm: Workshop Tickets £75
Contact: Centerprise on 0207-254-9632 to book

A Lecture By Dr Llaila Afrika

World leading holistic health expert:  Author of African Holistic health, the worlds only best seller on the subject, Nutricide, Melanin and many others is in London for June.
Dr Afrika will be running a workshop on Detoxification of the body on Sunday 12 June 2-6pm Fee: £75.00 Phone Centerprise for reservations on 0207-254-9632 

Dr Melanie Stevenson

Dr Afrika's co-presenter has over 10 years experience as a holistic practitioner in the health sciences and the arts.  She has a wealth of knowledge on many health and spiritual related  subjects and is agifted teacher of holistic medicine. 
Dr Stevenson will join Dr Afrika in running a workshop for Detoxification on Sunday 12 June 2-6pm @ Centerprise

Plus Special Guest: Akala

In Nov 2010 Akala headlined a live performance at the British Library to launch the Evolving English exhibition and featured performances by the renowned British poet Zena Edwards, comedian Doc Brown. The live event also included Akala taking part in a hip hop panel discussion alongside Saul Williams, US professor M.K. Asante.

Barack Obama & 21st Century Politics

Where: The Africa Centre, 38 King Street, London WC2E 8JT
When: 6 June 2011, Please arrive at 6PM for a 6:30PM start
Adm:  £3 donation recommended. Please RSVP to ensure your place by emailing sheila@businessofculture.com

Following the new awakenings that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, and other parts of Africa, the Africa Centre welcomes Professor Horace Campbell to talk about his latest book, Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA.

In conversation with Firoze Manji, Editor in Chief of Pambazuka News, Professor Horace will discuss why, given the history of racism in the USA, the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 constitutes a revolutionary moment, and what the implications of this are for the pan-Africanist movement. 

Professor Campbell will also discuss the main arguments he puts forward in his book, namely the ability of the Obama election campaign to mobilize the youth and other social groups, who were motivated to participate in the 2008 elections; the embrace of the new information technologies to unleash new forms of political organising; the tipping point of global warming; and the humanist principles that will be needed in the era of technological revolution.

 More about the book: Barack Obama and Twenty-First-Century Politics provides interesting perspectives on the evolution of Barack Obama from a community organiser to President. Obama has been called a transformative and transcendental figure. This book argues that Obama is not a revolutionary, but is caught up in a revolutionary moment in world history. Professor Campbell examines the networks that made the electoral victory possible and discusses the importance of self-organization and self-emancipation in politics. Situated in the context of the agency of new social forces galvanised in the 2008 electoral season, the book develops a theory of politics that starts with the humanist principles of Ubuntu, healing and reparations for the 21st century. It argues that key ideas like quantum politics and a 'network of networks' move away from old forms of vanguardism during a period in history that can be characterised as a revolutionary moment.

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Professor Campbell is a pan-Africanist who spent most of his adult life in Africa, away from his land of birth, Jamaica. He is the author of Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney; Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; and Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st century. His most recent book is Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA. He has been involved in the peace and justice movements for decades and is a weekly contributor to Pambazuka News.

Firoze Manji, a Kenyan, is founder of Fahamu, Editor in Chief of Pambazuka News and Managing Editor of Pambazuka Press. He has formerly worked as programme director for the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, CEO for Aga Khan Foundation UK, and as regional representative for health for the International Development Research Centre’s office for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Horace Campbell’s book will be on sale on the day.

The Walter Rodney Story

When: Sat  11 June2011,  6-9pm
Where: Kensington Library Theatre, Phillimore Walk, London W8 7RX
Tube: High St Kensington on District/Circle
£9.00 in advance £12.00 on the door
Advance tickets here http://www.wegottickets.com/event/120246

See trailer here http://www.youtube.com/blackhistorywalks#p/u/6/yF5PHRPe2Kc
W.A.R Stories: Walter Anthony Rodney takes a straightforward, chronological approach to Rodney's life in Guyana, Jamaica, Tanzania and England, footage of various physical locations interspersed with interviews of persons who knew and worked with him, as well as his daughter Asha. Michael O. West said that Rodney was under surveillance almost all his adult life and there are also interviews with researchers Horace Campbell and Robert Hill, among others.

Substantial treatment is given to Rodney's political activities in Guyana in the final few years of his life in which he formed the Working People's Alliance. Included in those years was his 1979 trial for arson, along with colleagues, after two government buildings were razed. Robin Small was involved in his defence.

Rodney was killed on June 13, 1980, when a bomb disguised as a walkie talkie, given to him by Sergeant Gregory Smith of the Guyana Defence Force, exploded in a car in which he was being driven by his brother Donald Rodney.

Close to the end of the documentary, there is the all too common testimony of collective amnesia, as it was said "there is so much ignorance in the country. You ask young people about Walter Rodney and they don't know".

Interviews with, Horace Campbell, Ph.D., professor of African-American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; Rupert Roopnaraine, Ph.D., principal of the Critchlow Labor College, Georgetown, Guyana; Clive Thomas, Ph.D., professor of Political Science, University of Alaska Southeast; Issa Shivji, Ph.D., professor of Law, University of Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania;  the late professor Haroub Othman, Ph.D., University of Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania; and the late Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Rex Nettleford, Ph.D., professor of Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies, at Mona, Jamaica. Also included among the list of those interviewed were poets, U.S. poet and playwright Amiri Baraka and Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) member Eusi Kwayana, writers, and activists including, Karen DeSouza and Andaiye, members of the WPA, the political party in Guyana to which Rodney belonged. Manning Marable Malcolm X biographer ,Asha Rodney (daughter) and Donald Rodney (brother)

Food of the Gods weekend

When: 10 – 12 June 2011
Where: See below

Over the "Food of the Gods" weekend Kilindi Iyi will present an Introductory Lecture followed by 2 Shroomshops where you will learn the basics of mushroom cultivation... Exploring the techniques of growing some of these Gourmet and Medicinal mushrooms such as Oyster, Reshi and Shiitake mushrooms.

Immortality and the Food of the Gods
Friday 10th June - 6pm to 10 pm (Introductory Lecture)
@ The Threshold Centre, 1 Ada Place, London E2 9BA
Entry Fee: £10.00
Concessions: £7.00
(Payment can be made on the door) 


Growing the Food of the Gods: Organic Brown Rice Flour Technique.
Saturday 11th June - 6pm to 10pm (Shroomshop) Ticket Only - 20 Spaces
@ Navarino Mansions Community Hall, Dalston Lane E8 1AJ
Ticket: £20.00*


Growing the Food of the Gods 2: Organic Grain Technique
Sunday 12th June - 4pm to 8pm (Shroomshop) Ticket Only - 20 Spaces
@ Navarino Mansions Community Hall, Dalston Lane E8 1AJ
Ticket: £20.00*

Unihood Presents: An evening in honour of our youth - The next generation

When: Saturday 11th June 2011, Doors open from 7 pm with a drinks reception. Show starts at 7.30 pm.
Where: The Edutainment Palace, 1-5 Hinton Road, Brixton, London SE24 0HJ
Adm: Under 16s: £5   16-18s: £7   Over 18s: £10
Food on sale provided by Supreme Cuisine.

An evening of Rap, R & B, The Spoken Word and Presentations, celebrating the achievements and great potential of our youth.

Live rappers and singers on the night plus much, much more!

Telephone: 020 7501 9800 / 07960691401

Purchase your tickets via the links below or contact us via email or phone.

Under 16s Tickets (online): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8Y82SLN3P4EAW

16-18s Tickets (online): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3SK4XV9UZV7D2

Over 18s Tickets (online): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=AV7BWASP77ZPQ

Contact: info@edutainmentpalace.co.uk
Info: www.edutainmentpalace.talktalk.net

Help to raise funds for UNIHOOD - Click here to sponsor Zainah Ali, aged 6!

Screening: Maisha Solutions followed by Q+A

When: Tuesday 14th June, 6:30pm till 11:00pm
Shortwave Cinema/Bar/Cafe @ 10 Bermondsey Square SE1 3UN (www.shortwavefilms.co.uk)
£5 concession for all. Arrive Early and don't be late.


Itsssss Back, Time to use the lips and rest the thumbs........

What's WRONG OR RIGHT WITH BLACK BRITAIN. The saga continues.!!! PART 7!!!...

Forget these Mockumentaries let's watch a Real documentary and discuss after...I will be screening a productive and informative documentary from the UK, which to no surprise most of US haven't seen...1hr 40min of brilliance!!......It's "SOLUTION TIME"!!!

Come and Support as I know "WE" always do. The next generation needs to KNOW!!!

NUBIANS...ASE and HOTEP.({})...:O Oh and arrive early limited seats#:-s....;)....
Bring pen and paper info to blow yur mind:D

About the Film: Maisha Solutions is an emotional and personal film by Toyin Agbetu, the man behind the groundbreaking Maafa series of films. The documentary presents Agbetu’s journey across three years and three continents, in seek of solutions to the many problems African people currently face as a result of Maafa (the terms refers to the centuries of suffering faced by Africans across the world, through slavery, colonialism and exploitation.) The film features contributions from various voices across the world with a strong emphasis placed upon the empowerment of young people and women.

BIS Publications: 1 Day Intensive course for African Caribbean writers who want to Self Publish Successfully

When: Thursday 16th June 2011, 12pm to 4pm  
Where: Voluntary Action Islington,  200A Pentonville Road London N1 9JP
Adm: £35.00 in advance

For more information or to register call: 0845 226 4066 or 07903 791 469, info@bispublications.com

Have you ever wanted your writings published? Do you have a manuscript written but its still in your head or maybe its already on paper?, You’ve heard friends and family say its great! and should be in the bookshops.

Do you write children stories for your child(ren) and they just love them. Are you a spoken word performance poet or you just write poetry for fun and now you would like to put it in book form?

Have you written or would you like to write an autobiography, biography, a crime story, science fiction piece, a How To book, a children story, poetry book. Whatever your fancy this one day intensive course will give you all the tools you need to have a successfully published book which can be bought in major book stores and online stores such as Amazon, W.H. Smith and Barns & Nobles.
On this course you will learn:
• How to create a best-selling African Caribbean book
• How to get your potential best-seller published
• How to get your book selling
• This course is for authors who are tired of receiving rejection after rejection from publishers
• This course is for authors who want more control over their book(s), and want to self publish and reap all the benefits of a best-selling book
• How to get your book published in other countries
• How to see your book published in other languages
• This course is for authors who want to know how to make real money from their books
• This course is for authors who want to know how they can retire early from writing a best-selling book

If any of the above appeals to you then this course is for you. This course will be delivered by professionals in the industry. Hear this information for the first time, from first hand from a leading UK African Caribbean publisher.
No matter what educational background you have, if you have a story to tell you will have readers who will want to know. So don't waste time register today!!!
Please note that this course will be taught in small numbers so unfortunately we can only register those who sign up early. We do apologize in advance if you haven't been accepted._
BIS Publications
T.: +44(0)208 880 9076
E. info@bispublications.com
Skype: bispub
Publishers of the Best-Selling Black Scientists & Inventors Series

African Odysseys:  British African and Caribbean Women Stars of the Screen 

When: Saturday 18th June 2011 at BFI Southbank  
Where: BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT 

As part of the African Odyssey* programme, BFI Southbank will be holding a day of talks and screenings celebrating the talents and achievements of British African and Caribbean women, and exploring their struggle to contribute to excellence in UK film and television.

In the morning Corinne Skinner-Carter (Empire Road, Pressure) will join filmmaker and author Nia Reynolds for an illustrated discussion of her work.

In the afternoon, scriptwriter Ade Solanke of Spora Stories will chair a panel discussion with actresses including Cathy Tyson, Ellen Thomas, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Cassie MacFarlane, and look to the roles and stories of tomorrow.

Organised in association with Spora Stories

The talks and screenings will take place on Saturday 18th June 2011 at 11am- 1pm and 2pm-5pm at BFI Southbank.        

Tickets for each screening is £5.00 per person   

To book the tickets, please call the BFI Southbank Box Office on 020 7928 3232 (11:30 - 20.30 daily) to book tickets at this special price. 

* The African Odyssey programme provides inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, from archive classics to new cinema.  

Quality Time 2011

Adm: £10 (adults); £5 (children 15 years and under)
Where: We’re going to Brighton!

In celebration of Fathers Day please join us on our annual 'Quality Time' event for men and children.

This event is open to all men, including uncles, grandfathers, guardians and of course fathers looking to give our overworked super-mums a well deserved break. We always hold quality time on the Saturday before Fathers Day, which encourages further opportunities for dads and children to have fun together.

Join us and enjoy the famous pier and beach, fairground attractions, football and rounders (fathers vs children), black history quizzes, prizes and more


Additional details and final confirmation will be forwarded once your booking is received.
Further enquiries e-mail: qt@100bmol.org.uk or call 0870 121 4100.

Naturally Nubian Workshops Presents:

Natural Hair in the Work Place, Complete the look with a Makeup Tutorial

When: Sunday 19th June 2011, 2-6pm
Where: Noon Etienne Salon, 5 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3BQ
Nearest tube:  Tottenham Court Road exit 3 - Make right, pass large Argos, to next traffic light make a left and we are 3 doors away
Adm: Early bird tickets £22.50 for entrance only
Mineral Makeup Packages start from £45.00 this includes entry fee
Light refreshments will be provided

Join us for an afternoon of learning how to create simple yet beautiful, professional looking styles that can be done on your own at home.  Complete the look with a makeup tutorial session using natural mineral makeup.  You will have an opportunity to experiment with different colours before choosing your makeup package.

Hairstyle demonstrations will be led by Michelle Olorunda
Makeup session will be led by Makeup Artist Liz Legunsen

For more info and to purchase tickets please visit:www.naturallynubian01.blogspot.com

Upcoming events:
·         Learn to braid
·         Your Hair and Scalp Questions Answered
·         Traditional Head Wraps
·         Healthy Hair Care

100BMOL: An Audience with our children

When: 25 June 2011, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Where: Castle Lecture Theatre, London South Bank University, 100-116 London Road SE1 6LN

An opportunity for parents and children to participate in lively debate over the issues and lessons learnt over the past seven months of the Parents in Partnership (PiP) programme.

The event will be chaired by Karl Murray from the Black Training and Enterprise Group – BTEG and joining the panel will be many of the Guest Speakers who have blessed us with their knowledge and expertise over the past seven months;

Writer Karlene Rickard,
Writer and Lecturer Paul Ifayomi Grant,
Performance Poet Zena Edwards, and
Education Advocate Paulette Douglas.

Where Is Africa In Words, Music & Politics? 

When: Friday July 8 2011, 6.30-9pm 
Where: Voice Of African Radio 94 FM, 24 Swete Street. Plaistow, London E13 0BS (Plaistow. Buses 262 and 473 from Stratford). 
Adm: Free but must pre-book: www.britishblackmusic.com  

A free and open discussion on where Africa and Africans are within British society, arts, media and politics. It will be recorded for later transmission on Voice Of African Radio 94 FM.

Panel: Space Clottey (Voice Of African Radio station manager), Biyi Adepegba (Joyful Noise promoter), Baffour Ankomah (New African editor tbc), more tbc. Chair: Kwaku (BBM/BMC founder). In association with Voice Of African Radio 94 FM.

Pan-Afrikan People’s Phone-in

Every Sunday - 7-10pm
 at: http://www.live365.com/cgi-bin/mini.cgi?station_name=kalydosos&site=pro&tm=4647
or go to: www.pascf.org.uk and click on link

Mashufaa Classes


Spirit Of A Warrior

Date: Every Week
Adm: 1st lesson is free.  Thereafter, £4.50 per lesson.  Members £2.00 per lesson

Mashufaa is a martial are created for the mental, physical and spiritual upliftment of a generation of people who have become detached from themselves! Mashufaa is about living a life with light through the sweat of training.  Sweat lets you know you are alive.

Remember Mind, Body and Spirit are one.  Train to live and live to train. Mashufaa Classes will take place from at The Albany Theatre (Plum Room) nearest Rail: Deptford or DLR Deptford Bridge.

Monday and Fridays*
Time: 7 - 9:30pm
Venue: Lord Morrison Hall, Chestnut Grove (off Scales Rd), Tottenham, London N17 9ET
Travel: Tube: Seven Sisters (Victoria Line), Tottenham Hale / Rail: Bruce Grove
/ Buses: 243, 341, 149, 259,279

*Adults and Children
with the children's classes, We encourage learning through positive encouragement and use games and skills to reinforce the martial arts techniques that they learn.

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: The Plum Room, The Albany Theatre/Centre, Douglas Way, Deptford, London SE8 4AG
Tube: New Cross
/ Rail: Deptford Station / Buses: 53, 453, 177

Website: http://www.mashufaa.co.uk

For further details please contact us on: 020 8808 7547 / 07956 337 391 or, via email on: info@mashufaa.co.uk

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About Ligali

Revolutionary Pan Africanism Working

Nyansapo - In service to our family, with the spirit of our Ancestors

LIGALI is a Pan African, human rights organisation. It is maintained and funded entirely by friends and family of the Ligali organisation, donations are welcome as we need your help to keep it running.


Nyansapo logo

NYANSAPO is the name of one of the many Adinkra symbols in Akan culture, it is a knot that is so intricately tied it is said that, “only the wise can untie the wisdom knot”. This ebe (proverb) points to the fact that only wisdom affords one the ability to see parts in relation to the whole within which they belong. Wisdom breeds patience, and the insight needed to untangle complex issues and arrive at just solutions grounded in divine order without profaning Ancestral culture in the process.

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Ligali, PO Box 1257, London E5 0UD. Tel: 020 8986 1984

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The Law Society's Directory of Solicitors and Barristers 2010-2011

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