Wednesday, 22 September 2021

BBC Radio Ballads : The Travelling People


Broadcast on 17 April 1964, The Travelling People radio ballad took as its subject the gypsy and tinker population of Britain.Originally produced for the BBC, each one-hour radio-ballad consisted of recorded actuality from members of the public, a script and songs made by Ewan MacColl, musical arrangments and direction by Peggy Seeger, production and editing by Charles Parker, musical participation by singers and instrumentalists and ingenious procedures innovated by BBC technicians. The final programs were tapestries of speech, sound and song and were considered revolutionary for their time. They opened up new vistas and techniques for radio documentaries and many of Ewan MacColl's most popular songs were made for them. MacColl’s songs The Travelling People and Moving on was so true to their lives that it was taken up by travellers and absorbed into their repertoire#
The bulk of the recording fell to  MacColl and Seeger, who were already familiar with traveller families from earlier collecting sessions. They spent almost a month in tents, kitchens and caravans, at horse fairs and around campfires in Glasgow, Blairgowrie, Montrose and Aberdeen, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Birmingham, London, Hampshire and Dorset. The travellers were natural subjects with their rich folk life, songs, legends and inborn gift for storytelling; they were also a fascinating social study, maintaining fierce pride and independence in the face of constant hostility and persecution. 
Originally produced for the BBC, each one-hour radio-ballad consisted of recorded actuality from members of the public, a script and songs made by Ewan MacColl, musical arrangments and direction by Peggy Seeger, production and editing by Charles Parker, musical participation by singers and instrumentalists and ingenious procedures innovated by BBC technicians. The final programs were tapestries of speech, sound and song and were considered revolutionary for their time. They opened up new vistas and techniques for radio documentaries and many of Ewan MacColl's most popular songs were made for them. MacColl’s songs The Travelling People and Moving on was so true to their lives that it was taken up by travellers and absorbed into their repertoire.
A phenomenal  timeless piece of work The Travelling People is an examination of the Romany people in Britain, it serves mostly as a condemnation of attitudes toward them and their nomadic lifestyle, which, as reflected in many of the soundbites, were not complimentary. People simply didn't want them around, calling them "tinkers" and things much worse, as "I Mean, We're Fed Up With Gypsies Living in Our Area" highlights, with the incident of a woman about to give birth being moved on by the police. The attitudes were reflected in other ways too, like the boy who spent several years in the same grade without being taught to read or write, because, the teacher explained, "he's the best message boy I've ever had." But this programme did  more than simply look at the negatives. It examined the life of the gypsies, the way they'd settle in the winter time, or how traveling was part of their nature. MacColl's songs are among the finest he wrote for the radio ballad series, and the accompaniment is richer and fuller than before, and the singers,, people like Belle Stewart, Joe Heaney, and Jane Stewart,  serve the material brilliantly. They become integrated into the whole program , that's intelligently fashioned to bring out a whole picture, one which is sympathetic to the travelers, but also allows for opposing views. The listener comes away educated, and also humbled by the quiet pride of these people. 
 Mac Coll’s songs The Travelling People and Moving on was so true to their lives that it was taken up by travellers and absorbed into their repertoire. Meanwhile however the plight of the travellers a  people who live on the margins of our society who are still treated with suspicion to this day by the rest of the population. and persecuted around the world and still subject to discrimination in modern day Europe.
They are now house-bound, stuck in the worst part of our housing estates, but still suffering all the jibes that their ancestors did. Traditional stopping places  have became harder to find and travellers find themselves increasingly pitched against the interests of the settled population and land owners. Their persecution has become virtually normalised by the failure of central and local government to enforce their rights and protect them. Sadly, many countries in Europe still use their difference in culture as an excuse to systemically oppress them. Many public programs turn away members of the travelling community from health care, employment, housing, and other social services.
In addition to this for around two decades, from the late ’60s to the ’80s, councils were required by law to provide sites for Gypsies and travellers. Some councils complied with the law. Many didn’t, and carried on as if the law of the land was irrelevant. And in the weeks before the general election, dozens of Tory candidates shamelessly made “inflammatory and discriminatory statements about Gypsies, Roma and Travellers” as a vote-catcher, promising action against local traveller camps, according to research and campaign group OpenDemocracy.
The modern history of travelling people in Britain is one of discrimination and persecution enshrined in law. The Travelling People may be over 40 years old but its message is as punchy as ever,
Nevertheless, these proud  people, descendants from Romany migrants who migrated from  Europe to the shores of Britain from the latter half of the sixteenth century are difficult to completely erase, and the ancient lifestyle survives to this day, a history of endurance and resilience, We must continue to support their right to live  as they choose, opposing all forms of prejudice and discrimination and prejudice  inflicted upon them.and allow them to be given the respect and tolerance that they  truly deserve.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Daydreaming


Beyond capricious government, wars of attrition
Arguments that arraign and rearrest the soul,
Find ascension in the land of dream
Where rainbows quiver with radiant glow,
Far from the spinning world of confusion
Receding and dissolving any pain within,
Upon seas of tranquility, clouds of safety
My heart wanders and freely roams,
The mountain paths shadow the calmness
Allow raging thoughts to find composure,
Against intolerance, grains of misunderstanding
Here at least, everything pulls into place,
Truth is found on sloping borders
As golden light dances upon leaves,
Slow beats of  transformation thunder
Rustle up some passionate fire,
Peaceful rivulets restore and deliver
A distant red headed lover to my side,
Our eyes smiling at one another
We kiss, soar high on iridescent sky.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Remembering the Racial Injustice of 1963, Birmingham Church Bombings.

 

On September 15, 1963, a dynamite bomb exploded , blowing apart the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. .Four young girls who were getting ready for Sunday School were killed almost instantly.
This cowardly, cold, calculating event should not be forgotten that saw Addie Mae Collins (14) Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14) killed in an act of racially motivated terrorism, as a result of a bomb placed under the church by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Twenty-two others, including Collins' younger sister Sarah, were injured.Showing clearly to the world the heart of racial injustice and hatred that today shockingly has not disapeared. In the months leading up to the bombing, Birmingham had become the focal point of the civil rights front. The city was all too familiar with racial violence. Both African Americans and moderate whites had been long terrorized by the Klan. This is  just one part of the landscape of America  that should not be forgotten.
The Church itself was the 16th Street Baptist Church and was designed by the State of Alabama 's only black Architect and was finished in 1911. The church was a large part of a heavily segregated in arguably one of the most racist towns in America. Birmingham had no colored Police officers of Firefighters and very few blacks could vote. The Church was very significant. The Church, besides having mass meetings of the local black community and holding various events was also a Rally point for the Civil Rights community.  
Immediately after the bombing, violence surged throughout the city as police clashed with enraged members of the Black community. Before the day ended, at least two other African American children had been slain: 16-year-old Johnny Robinson was shot by police as he fled down an alley, and 13-year-old Virgil Ware was shot and killed by white youths while riding his bicycle.
In the aftermath Civil Rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings.Only a week before the bombing Wallace had told the New York Times that to stop the civil rights movement and the march towards integration Alabama needed a 'few first-class funerals.'
Birmingham, a violent city, was nicknamed 'Bombingham, because it had been the scene of more than 50 bombings between 1947 and 1963. This bombing, however, would not go unnoticed. The murderous event awakened the nation and effectively galvanized the civil rights movement.
Years earlier, Birmingham minister Fred L. Shuttlesworth founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) to directly confront racism and segregation in the city. In the spring of 1963, Shuttlesworth's group joined forces with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the largest and best known organization fighting for equal rights at the time. Together, the men formulated a plan that called for months-long protests to end segregation in Birmingham.
In May of that year, after weeks of marches, sit-ins, boycotts, bus strikes, and prayer vigils, an agreement was reached. It had the input of local government leaders, white business owners, African American leaders and civil rights groups. The city would actively begin working toward integration. The agreement did not sit well with segregationists, among the most violent of which was the notorious KKK.
Civil Rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings.Only a week before the bombing Wallace had told the New York Times that to stop the civil rights movement and the march towards integration Alabama needed a 'few first-class funerals.'
Though Birmingham’s white supremacists were immediately suspected in the bombing, repeated calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice went unanswered for more than a decade. It was later revealed that the FBI had information concerning the identity of the bombers by 1965 and did nothing. In 1977, Alabama Attorney General Bob Baxley reopened the investigation and Klan leader Robert E. Chambliss was brought to trial for the bombings and convicted of murder. Continuing to maintain his innocence, Chambliss died in prison in 1985. The case was again reopened in 1980, 1988 and 1997, when two other former Klan members, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, were finally brought to trial; Blanton was convicted in 2001 and Cherry in 2002. A fourth suspect, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994 before he could be brought to trial. To this day, the perpetrators of the bombing still remain a mystery
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing is cited by many historians as the turning point in the civil rights movement. An editorial in the Milwaukee Sentinel said the bombing should “ continue to serve to goad the conscience” of the country. “The deaths...in a sense are on the hands of each of us.
We should always keep in mind that the four girls who died, while immortalized in history, were children with children's dreams. Carol Robertson was a straight A student who loved to dance. Cynthia Wesley excelled in math. Addie Mae Collins was quiet, athletic, and had a flare for art. Denise McNair wrote plays for the kids in her neighborhood.
History is not scripted. In the case of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing it was shaped out of racist hatred that ended the lives of four young girls.

Services for Victim of Birmingham Church Bombing

The following Alabama was written by John Coltrane in response to the racially-driven bombings which took place in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. It features a melancholy melody, a much slower tempo than many of Coltrane’s songs, and a hauntingly sorrowful tone from Coltrane’s saxophone. These aspects not only capture the tragedy and sorrow of the Birmingham event, but of the human injustice that ignited the civil rights movement.
 
 
 “Alabama,” among other politically motivated songs, remains known as an anthem of a kind for the Civil Rights Movement. Not an anthem that was sung during protests or at speeches by Civil Rights leaders, but that was heard on the radio and sparked a remembrance for the four girls who lost their lives in Birmingham in 1963. The piece was released on the album Live In Birdland in 1964.
 It is said that Coltrane was motivated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s eulogy for the girls In his eulogy, King stated, “These children, unoffending, innocent and beautiful, were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity…They did not die in vain. God still has a way of bringing good out of evil.” 
This video, featuring King’s eulogy, also shows clips from the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting from 2015, which has evocative parallels to the 1963 Birmingham bombing. We  must remember and continue to stand against racial injustice wherever it occurs.:


Sunday, 12 September 2021

'Bantu' 'Stephen Biko (Dec. 18, 1946–Sept. 12, 1977) - Gone But Not Forgotten

 
 
'Bantu' Stephen Biko was one of South Africa's most significant political activists who was strongly against the apartheid system and the white minority rule in South Africa. He was  born in Tarkastad in the Eastern Province (now Eastern Cape) on 18 December 1946, the third child of Mzingaye Biko and Nokuzola Macethe Duna. Mzingaye worked as a policeman, and later as a clerk in the King William’s Town Native Affairs office. An intelligent man, he was also enrolled at the University of South Africa (UNISA), the distance-learning university, but did not complete enough courses to get his law degree before he died. In 1948, the family moved to Ginsberg Township, just outside of King William’s Town in today's Eastern Cape. The Bikos eventually owned their own house in Zaula Street in the Brownlee section of Ginsberg - this despite Nokuzola's meagre income as a domestic worker. 
From an early age, Steve Biko showed an interest in anti-apartheid politics. After being expelled from his first school, Lovedale College in the Eastern Cape, for "anti-establishment" behavior. such as speaking out against apartheid and speaking up for the rights of Black South African citizens. he was transferred to St. Francis College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Natal. From there he enrolled as a medical  student at the University of Natal Medical School (in the university's Black Section).
While at medical school, Biko became involved with the National Union of South African Students. The union was dominated by White liberal allies and failed to represent the needs of Black students. Dissatisfied, Biko resigned in 1969 and founded the South African Students' Organisation. SASO was involved in providing legal aid and medical clinics, as well as helping to develop cottage industries for disadvantaged Black communities and combatting  the minority government’s racist apartheid policies and to promote Black identity. In 1972, he helped found and lead the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) alongside fellow activists, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele and Barney Pityana.  and in the next year was banned from politics by the Afrikaner government.
 The BCM was an anti-apartheid movement that filled the power void when the ANC and Pan African Congress leaders were banished and jailed and was founded as a direct result of the Sharpeville Massacre https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2021/03/remembering-sharpeville-massacre.html in the late 1960s. The massacre saw around 300 South African police open fire on unarmed civilians who were peacefully marching against the apartheid pass laws a regulation that required Black people and other people of colour to carry a pass book whenever travelling so that the government could monitor their movements. 
The movement sought to empower young Black South Africans and inspire them to break themselves free from the chains of white governance. The BCM helped with the empowerment and mobilisation of Black people in urban areas. During the struggle Biko gave South Africans hope for a better future, he never gave up and he fought for what he believed to be right. As he once said  “The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed"
In September 1977, Biko was arrested for subversion. While in police custody in Port Elizabeth, Biko was brutally beaten and then driven 700 miles to Pretoria, where he was thrown into a cell. On September 12, 1977, he died naked and shackled on the filthy floor of a police hospital. News of the political killing, denied by the country’s white minority government, led to international protests and a U.N.-imposed arms embargo.
 Biko's funeral  was marked by passionate denunciations of the apartheid regime, and became something of a political rally, lasting more than six hours. Mourners thrust their fists into the air and shouted ‘Power!’ when Steve’s coffin was lowered into the grave.
 Although his death was attributed to "a prison accident," evidence presented during the 15-day inquest into Biko's death revealed otherwise. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage by the time he was driven naked and manacled in the back of a police van to Pretoria, where he died.
Soon after Steve’s death, the state banned 18 organisations on 17 October 1977, the majority of them allied to the BCM. The BCM launched the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO) in 1979, but the organisation was also banned soon thereafter. By the early 1980s the Black Consciousness Movement was in decline, eclipsed by the re-emergence of the Congress movement, most notably in the shape of the United Democratic Front. Steve’s dream of uniting the various liberation organisations never came to fruition; rather, the Congress Movement took the reins of the anti-apartheid struggle and eventually the ANC became the ruling party after the first democratic elections in 1994.
in 1995, after the peaceful transfer to majority rule in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to examine decades of apartheid policy and to address the widespread call for justice for those who abused their authority under the system. However, as a condition of the transfer of power, the outgoing white minority government requested that the commission be obligated to grant amnesty to people making full confessions of politically motivated crimes during apartheid. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu was appointed to head the commission, which was soon criticized by many South Africans for its apparent willingness to grant pardons.
In early 1997, four former police officers, including Police Colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt, appeared before the commission and admitted to killing Stephen Biko two decades earlier. The commission agreed to hear their request for political amnesty but in 1999 refused to grant amnesty because the men failed to establish a political motive for the brutal killing. Other amnesty applications are still in progress.
In 1978, a few months after Steve Biko’s death, Stevie Wonder called and asked Millard Arnold if he would accept the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples’ (NAACP) Image Award for Biko posthumously. Arnold was flown out to Los Angeles for the Eleventh Annual NAACP Image Award celebration at which he accepted the Stevie Wonder Perpetual Award in Biko’s honour. This is the poem Arnold wrote and read for the event.
 
They tell me Steve Biko is dead 
To persuade me perhaps that his strong but sensitive voice can be stilled by hatred and fear
They tell me Steve Biko is dead
To show me perhaps that humanity and dignity can be bludgeoned into submission
They tell me Steve Biko is dead
To convince me perhaps that courage and compassion can be somehow compromised 
But what they are afraid to tell me is that Biko lives
That the spirit, the ideals, the dreams, the glory of Steve Biko lives
That it lives in Soweto
That it lives in Watts
That it lives in Harlem
That it lives in the minds of all those oppressed
Steve Biko lives because the aspirations of a people cannot be denied
Steve Biko lives because violence and repression will not quench the thirst for freedom and decency
Steve Biko lives because his special sense of humanity and integrity cannot be forgotten
But they, they would have me, they would have you believe that Steve Biko is dead
You and I…
We know better
 
 Many of Niko's writings were posthumously collected in the 1978 anthology I Write What I Like. It is compulsory reading for everyone – especially as a way of understanding his nuanced theories and expositions of racial inequality and racist violence. In the preface to this collection, the editor Aelred Stubbs grappled with Biko’s passing, suggesting that while it was difficult to directly comment ‘in depth about his death’ or to begin writing a biography of him, Biko’s teachings were desperately needed: they were, and sadly continue to be, ‘timely, [as they] serve to inform those who all over the world know the name Biko only in the dreadful context of his death’. There are haunting echoes of what his happening, ‘all over the world’, today.
Before his untimely death in detention at age 30, he was instrumental in uniting Black Africans in the struggle against the apartheid government in South Africa. His place in history is firmly cemented and the struggle that he gave his life for continues. He left a legacy of thoughts and words, and these words pay tribute to the courage and power of the young leader who was to become one of Africa’s heroes.
 Internationally, many years after his death, Bantu Stephen Biko is memorialized as one of the most important activists of South Africa’s apartheid era, but in his hometown he is remembered as “Big Brother Bantu.”
 In Xhosa, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, “Bantu” means “the people’s person.” Those who knew Biko said it was a name that described him well, according to Nkosinathi Biko, CEO of the Steve Biko Foundation and the eldest of Biko’s four children.
It has been many years  since the police arrested, interrogated and beat Biko with enough force to cause his death,yet the former medical student has not been forgotten. Biko became not just a hero of South Africa’s liberation struggle, but a universal symbol of resistance against oppression, with his memory praised in films, (1987's Cry Freedom, for instance) books and songs. " In popular culture, he remains  a very powerful symbol of hope … an icon of change,” Biko’s son Nkosinathi once said. “He helped to articulate our understanding, our own identity that continues to resonate in young South Africans to this day.“His ideas have a real influence well beyond the political field, in cultural organisations, in research organisations and in churches.”
Nelson Mandela  South Africa's post-Apartheid president who was incarcerated at the notorious Robben Island prison during Biko's time on the world stage, lionized the activist 20 years after he was killed, calling him "the spark that lit a veld fire across South Africa."
Biko’s brutal murder had a palpable impact on South Africa and the rest of the world, sounding a forceful wake-up call to non-Black citizens who wilfully overlooked the inhumane cruelty of apartheid. As well as impacting the politics of well-known figures like Nelson Mandela, Biko continues to be a source of inspiration today; his name has been leant to numerous organisations including the Steve Biko Foundation which has developed projects like Accelerate Hub to support young people across Africa.Movements like Black Lives Matter carry forward  versions  of ‘grass-roots’ organisations for which Biko advocated. They challenge anti-Black racism – in the US, the UK, and across the world – by unapologetically stressing the worthiness, the importance, and the value of each individual Black life existing within a system which derides all Black experiences as a whole. Black Consciousness remains a vital lens through which these ideas are being conveyed. In fact, Steve Biko was the great-uncle of Cherno Biko, the founder of Black Trans Lives Matters. 
I.will end this post with Peter Gabriel’s haunting 1980 song Biko:
 
 
“You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire.
0nce the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher.”
 
Sources : 
 
Biko, Steve. I Write What I Like. Bowerdean Press, 1978. 
 
Cry Freedom.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 6 Nov. 1987. 
 
Steve Biko: The Philosophy of Black Consciousness." Black Star News, 20 Feb. 2020. 
 
Donald Woods. Biko. Paddington Press, 1978.

Let Robeson Sing - Manic Street Preachers



Let Robeson Sing  is a song by Welsh alternative rock  band the Manic Street Preachers that was released twenty years ago this month on September 10th in tribute to the black American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. It was the fourth single to be released from their record Know Your Enemy.It shares its title with a book by Phil Cope published by the National Library of Wales in 2001, with a reprint being published in 2008. The record also featured a cover of Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel on the B-side
The Manics have long been famous for the meaningful and political nature of many of their songs, The title of their fifth album, 1998's This Is Mt Truth Tell Me Yours lifted a quotation taken from a speech given by Labour party politician Aneurin Bevanhttps://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2019/11/happy-birthday-aneurin-bevan-15.html . That albums track If  You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next took ts title from a Spanish Civil War poster.https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2020/08/if-you-tolerate-this-your-children-will.html
Paul Robeson  has been described as one of the Unites States’ greatest musicians, scholars, athletes, actors, and activists of the 20th century. Certainly, Paul Robeson’s fame on the football field, on the concert and theatre stage, in film, and through his own scholarship and activism reached around the world. T
Robeson was born in 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey, to Maria and Reverend William Robeson, an escaped slave and Union veteran. This was just two years after the Supreme Court upheld racial segregation. Robeson grew up during a period of overt racism, confronted by continual racist abuse,but always managed to rise above it and went on to achieve much success at every level of his life.Not only was he an exceptional athlete, cultural scholar, a polyglot who spoke over a dozen languages, actor and singer, he was also a man dedicated to the causes of freedom and social justice, as a fearless political activist he was hounded and persecuted in the U.S for his opinions.
Robeson earned a scholarship to Rutgers University, where being selected for the College Football All-American team in 1918 and 1919 was among his many accomplishments. In 1923, he graduated from Columbia University with a law degree, but while financing his education he played football professionally and joined a theatre company that traveled to Britain. Encountering the intense racial divides that limited his ability to practice law at the level which he desired, Robeson took his life in a more professionally artistic direction by acting in theatre, later on screen, and eventually as a musician. After moving to London for almost a decade, he began to further his interest in ethnomusicology, African culture, and politics. By the mid-1930s Robeson had fully integrated these interests into his art. Not long after, Paul Robeson began very actively to participate politically in issues of labor rights, anti-colonialism, and human rights, specifically in such political debates as Welsh unionization, British decolonization, the Spanish Civil War, and ultimately the griping violation of human rights occurring in the United States. It was during his travels in Europe that Robeson became a socialist.
Paul Robeson is regarded as one the greatest U.S. vocalists, actors, and civil and labor rights leaders. He holds the record for the longest running Shakespeare play on Broadway. He was a member of an NFL championship team as well as the 1918 and 1919 All-American college football teams (Harris 1998). He held a key to the city of Boston, three honorary doctorates, and a law degree from Columbia (Ramdin 1987). In the early 1940s, Robeson was considered one of the greatest African Americans alive, yet not ten years later, he was classified as one of the greatest “un-Americans.”
People like Robeson who refused to abandon his socialist beliefs began to be regarded with suspicion.  In a speech to the World Partisans for Peace Congress in Paris in April 1949, he stated that he didn’t believe African Americans should, or would, fight against the Soviet Union—a country which treated him, his people, and other minorities immeasurably better than America did. This speech was distorted by the American press as they ramped up anti-Communist sentiment. And, by the time Robeson returned to his country that summer, he had become a public enemy.
It was in this atmosphere that Robeson traveled to Peekskill to sing on August 27. Encouraged by the press, local militia attacked the organizers and the audience before the concert was due to start, forcing it to be cancelled. Robeson returned to New York and announced at a press conference that he would be back to sing for racial equality and peaceful relations with the Soviet Union.
Another issue Robeson faced was that of antisemitism. His wife was part-Jewish, his son had married a Jewish woman two months earlier, and Paul himself was already a strong lover of Jewish culture, to the extent that two of the many languages he spoke fluently were Hebrew and Yiddish. 
The concert went ahead on September 4, and labor unions had organized a protective guard of a few thousand trade unionists to encircle the 20,000-strong crowd. This included about a dozen guards around Robeson on stage, to shield him from any prospective sniper’s bullet. After his set, he was immediately spirited away. 
But, as audience members left, they were led by the police into an ambush, where the local militia lay in wait to attack them. Dozens of cars were damaged, and 135 people were injured, including one Black man who lost an eye. Yet again, the mainstream press reported the incident as violence initiated by Blacks, Communists, and Jewish supporters of the un-American Paul Robeson.
Another sad, striking irony here is that only two years previously, Robeson had recorded these words, to great acclaim, describing America as: "The house I live in, my neighbors, white and black / The people who just came here, or from generations back . . . The man who penned these lyrics was Abel Meeropol, writing under the alias of Lewis Allen, presumably in order to deflect attention from his Jewish heritage, his membership in the Communist Party, and to protect his position as a school teacher.

.
 Robeson himself refused to hide behind anything or anybody. When a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (known as HUAC) asked at his hearing in June 1956 if he had once been known by the name of John Thomas, he retorted, “My name is Paul Robeson, and anything I have to say, I have said in public all over the world, and that is why I am here today.” 
In June 1946, Robeson gave a speech at Madison Square Garden which showed why he was such a threat to the Establishment:
A day or two ago, Mr. Bevin, the British Foreign Minister said . . . ‘If we do not want to have total war, we must have total peace.’ For once, I agree with him,” Robeson told the audience. “But Mr. Bevin must be totally blind if he cannot see that the absence of peace in the world is due precisely to the efforts of the British, American, and other imperialist powers to maintain their control over the peoples of Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.
As true today as they were then, such words demonstrate why Robeson’s voice, like his rendition of The House I Live In, can be considered to be the soundtrack to a lost opportunity. It is the opportunity to hear and heed messages of truth, peace, and justice such as he delivered through his art, a weapon in defense of all the oppressed people on Earth.
In 1950 Robeson's passport was withdrawn on the grounds that his right to travel was against American interests. Robeson would challenge this ban in the courts for eight years; meanwhile a campaign on his behalf was spearheaded in Britain by trades unions, artists and the Left.
With independence movements growing across the globe, MI5 were adamant that even if Robeson were allowed to travel he must be banned from the UK: "He is convinced that he has a mission to lead oppressed negroes and colonial peoples everywhere. He is a fanatical communist and intensely ambitious" [Internal memo, 13 July 1951; National Archives: KV/2/1829].
MI5 regarded the campaigners as Moscow's dupes or worse ["Plenty of thought has been given to the problem of getting suitable persons to wring tears from the Home Office on Robeson's behalf"] but support was intense and widespread.
In 1957, unable to accept countless invitations to perform abroad, Paul Robeson sang for audiences in London and Wales via the transatlantic telephone cable: "We have to learn the hard way that there is another way to sing".
Finally - in June 1958 - the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny a US passport on political grounds. The following month Robeson flew to London [Passport no.1145187]. In an intense few months, he sang to millions on television and radio; he became the first lay person - and the first non-White - to take the pulpit in St Paul's Cathedral; he revisited the USSR; and he prepared 'Othello'.
Having been blacklisted, Robeson’s passport was revoked during the McCarthyism era for his firm and outspoken Antifascist stance on social issues such as labor exploitation and racism. Before, after, and during (via mail correspondence) this period Robeson developed a widespread international influence through singing, acting, and speaking in areas such as Spain, the Soviet Union, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Beyond any of the international relationships he formed, his bond with Wales and the Welsh people was the strongest. He developed a special bond with Wales and its people because he recognised a culture  built  around the values of community, work and church and a musical tradition born out of struggle and oppression. He also saw parallels  between the exploitation of black people in the United States and that of the Welsh coal miner..
Robeson’s association with South Wales dates from 1928 when, whilst performing in ‘Show Boat’ in London’s West End, he met a group of unemployed miners”who had walked to London from the Rhondda valley to draw attention to the hardship and suffering endured by thousands of unemployed miners and their families in South Wales. He marched and sang with them, then gave them the money for their train fare home, he recognised a shared suffering, and a mutual bond was born.


Robeson visited South Wales many times between 1929 and 1939, singing in various towns including Cardiff, Neath and Swansea. In 1938, he sang to the 7,000 people who attended the Welsh International Brigades Memorial at Mountain Ash to commemorate the 33 Welshmen who had died in Spain. He addressed the audience thus :- 'I am here because I know these brave fellows fought not only because I know these brave fellows fought not only for me but for the freedom of the people of the whole world, I feel it's my duty to be here.'
Robeson’s links with South Wales were reinforced when in 1939, he starred in The Proud Valley, a film about life in a mining community in the Rhondda. He starred as a Black American coal miner and singer  named David Goliath who gets a job there and joins a male voice choir.It documents the harsh realities of coal miners' lives, which Goliath shares. He becomes a hero as he helps to better their working conditions, and ultimately, during a mining accident, sacrifices himself to save fellow miners. One of the most iconic parts of the film occurs when he encounters racism from a fellow miner who refuses to work alongside a black man. This is quickly challenged by a Welsh miner who leaps to David's defence with the fantastic line: "Damn it, well aren't we all black down the mine?" also said it was the “first time he felt human dignity” because of the lack of racial prejudice.He was once recorded as saying about Wales: “It was there I first understood the struggles of white and negro together – when I went down into the coal mine in the Rhondda Valley, lived amongst them.


Every year between 1952 and 1957, Robeson was invited to sing at the Miners' Eisteddfod in Porthcawl but he was unable to travel because n 1950 Robeson's passport was withdrawn on the grounds that his right to travel was against American interests. Robeson would challenge this ban in the courts for eight years; meanwhile outrage ensured  with a campaign on his behalf Let Robeson Sing spearheaded in Britain by trades unions, artists and the Left.
With independence movements growing across the globe, MI5 were adamant that even if Robeson were allowed to travel he must be banned from the UK: "He is convinced that he has a mission to lead oppressed negroes and colonial peoples everywhere. He is a fanatical communist and intensely ambitious" [Internal memo, 13 July 1951; National Archives: KV/2/1829].
MI5 regarded the campaigners as Moscow's dupes or worse ["Plenty of thought has been given to the problem of getting suitable persons to wring tears from the Home Office on Robeson's behalf"] but support was intense and widespread.
In October 1957,  however Robeson was able to participate in the Miners’ Eisteddfod by means of a transatlantic telephone link to a secret recording studio in New York.unable to accept countless invitations to perform abroad, Paul Robeson sang for audiences in London and Wales via the transatlantic telephone cable: "We have to learn the hard way that there is another way to sing".
This occasion  was an  important gesture of international solidarity with Robeson, a fierce critic of American capitalism and imperialism, and it is supremely ironic that the attempts of the Eisenhower Government to silence Robeson, actually achieved the opposite of their obective, and secured his plce in history.. I  just happen to have a copy of this lgendary  recording, which is one of the most spine tingling things I've ever heard. 
The South Wales miners added their voice and signatures to the international petitions that eventually forced the US Supreme Court to reinstate his passport in June 1958, ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny a US passport on political grounds. The following month Robeson flew to London [Passport no.1145187]. When Paul arrived he added his voice of support to the Musicians’ Union who at the time were witholding the services of its members from The Scala Ballroom in Wolverhampton after the colour ban by its owners.
 In an intense few months, he sang to millions on television and radio; he became the first lay person - and the first non-White - to take the pulpit in St Paul's Cathedral; he revisited the USSR; and he prepared 'Othello'.
On 4th August 1958 he attended the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Ebbw Vale,where he was presented with a Welsh hymn book to mark his visit, he sat alongside Aneurin Bevan a long term friend and delivered an address to the people of Wales.Significantly was the first man to be granted permission to speak English on the llwyfan (eisteddfod stage) He spoke of the importance of his Welsh links:"You have shaped my life - I have learned from you.I am part of the working class.Of all the films I have made the one I will preserve is Proud Valley"
Having been blacklisted, Robeson’s passport was revoked during the McCarthyism era for his firm and outspoken Antifascist stance on social issues such as labor exploitation and racism. Before, after, and during (via mail correspondence) this period Robeson developed a widespread international influence through singing, acting, and speaking in areas such as Spain, the Soviet Union, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Sadly Robeson’s health deteriorated during the 1960s and after his wife’s death in 1965, he stayed out of the public eye.He lived the final years of his life in seclusion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and died there on January 23rd, 1976.
The Manics powerful, beautiful  and respectful tribute is  found over a recording of Robeson's wounded and soulful  baritone. In the song, James Dean Bradfield expresses his (and presumably, his bandmate Nicky Wire’s) admiration for and desire to emulate Robeson’s extraordinary life, It is a lesson for artists everywhere, In a very clever touch is the brief snippet of applause heard at the end of the track is actually a recording of Welsh miners clapping for Robeson when, he had sung their anthem to them through the telephone. Let Robeson Sing  also contains a lyrical premonition, as the band like Paul Robeson  in later months  would also go "to Cuba and meet Castro."
The beauty of the  art and the ballet dancers  in the video accompanying the song gracefully making this song even more powerful. A great song by a great band about a truly great man. Sing it loud, sing it proud.
Robeson's  connection with Wales has never been forgotten, he is fondly remembered because he not only stood up for the injustices that African-Americans faced, but also was able to empathize and connect with other people’s struggles, he funded Jews escaping Nazi Germany, spoke out against the fascists in Spanish Civil War, campaigned against colonialism in African countries and stood with laborers in the United States and proudly with the people of Wales, an internationalist who identified with the most important issues of freedom and social justice of his time, and practiced what he preached. Because of all this and his constant solidarity with the Welsh people he remains forever etched in the nations heart. A powerful rich courageous presence in our collective history.
Here is a link to a petition calling for a statue of Paul Robeson to be installed in the South Wales valleys to ceebrate his love of Wales and the mining communities that "shaped his life"  Like the Manics great song it would be a truly great way of honouring Paul Robeson's rich legacy. After all the words and music of this legendary activist and singer are more relevant than ever in the era of Black Lives Matter.  Paul Robeson recognised the need to fight racism and fascism with solidarity and socialism. This giant man's lifelong struggle serves as an inspiration as we carry on the same fight today.
 
 
Let Robeson Sing - Manic Street Preachers 
 

Where are you now?
Broken up or still around?
The CIA says you're a guilty man
Will we see the likes of you again?
 
Can anyone make a difference anymore?
Can anyone write a protest song?
Pinky lefty revolutionary
Burnt at the stake for
 
A voice so pure, a vision so clear
I've got to learn to live like you
Learn to sing like you
 
Went to Cuba to meet Castro
Never got past sleepy Moscow
A giant man with a heavenly voice
MK Ultra turned you paranoid
 
No passport 'til 1958
McCarthy poisoned through with hate
Liberty lost still buried today
Beneath the lie of the USA
 
Say what you want
Say what you want
 
A voice so pure, a vision so clear
I've got to learn to live like you
Learn to sing like you
 
"Now let the Freedom Train come zooming down the track
Gleaming in the sunlight for white and black
Not stopping at no stations marked coloured nor white
Just stopping in the fields in the broad daylight
 
Stopping in the country in the wide open air
Where there never was a Jim Crow sign nowhere
And no lilly-white committees, politicians of note
Nor poll tax layer through which coloured can't vote
 
And there won't be no kinda colour lines
The Freedom Train will be yours
And mine"
 
A voice so pure, a vision so clear
I've got to learn to live like you
Learn to sing like you
 
Sing it loud, sing it proud
I will be here, I will be found
Sing it loud, sing it proud
I will be here, I will be found
 
 Songwriters: James Bradfield / Nicholas Jones / Sean Moore
 
 FURTHER READING:

Freedomways. Paul Robeson: The Great Forerunner. (New York, 1965).

Paul Robeson Cymru Committee. Let Paul Robeson Sing! : a celebration of the life of Paul Robeson and his relationship with Wales. (Bevan Foundation, 2001).

Robeson, Paul. Here I stand: by Paul Robeson. (Boston, 1971, reprint of 1958 ed.)

Thompson, Allan Lord. Paul Robeson: artist and activist, on records, radio and television. (Wellingborough, 2000).

Friday, 10 September 2021

World Suicide Prevention Day : Creating Hope Through Action


 Every year on 10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed which is aimed to provide worldwide commitment and measures to prevent suicides. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), every 40 seconds there is someone who ends his or her life. When calculated, it is almost 8,00,000 individuals per year worldwide who die by suicide which accounts for more than 75 percent of all suicide cases.Today, most of us are aware,  we are currently in the grips of a mental health crisis. An epidemic. killing indiscriminately.
Organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and co-sponsored by the WHO, the observance day was first implemented in 2003.   
The initial goal was to amplify the message that “suicide is preventable.” Over the years, though, World Suicide Prevention Day has grown and evolved its messaging to include themes such as “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected” and “Take a Minute, Change a Life.
Various events and activities will be held today to raise awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. World Suicide Prevention Day gives organizations, government agencies and individuals a chance to promote awareness about suicide, mental illnesses associated with suicide, as well as suicide prevention. Organizations such as the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and World Health Organization (WHO) play a key role in promoting this event.
 We should not  forget that mental illness doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society - from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers. and within the monopoly-capitalist nations, mental-health disorders are the leading cause of life expectancy decline behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the European Union, 27.0 percent of the adult population between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five are said to have experienced mental-health complications.
Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that more than three hundred million people suffer from depression worldwide. And it is important to note that most of the medications currently available  fail to manage symptoms at all.
Coming off the back of an incredibly difficult 18 months, with the pandemic compounding, for many, feelings of isolation, exhaustion, and economic and public health-related anxieties. Increased rates of depression have sparked concern that we will see a further increase in suicide rates, and  it's no surprise that a growing number of people in the UK are coming forward with mental health issues, however there is still a lingering stigma around mental health that prevents people from sharing their experiences.
Shockingly  and utterly saddening nearly 3000 people on average commit suicide daily, according to WHO. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. About one million people die by suicide each year. Suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death which is influenced by psycho-social, cultural and environmental risk factors that can be prevented through worldwide responses that address these main risk factors. There is strong evidence indicating that adequate prevention can reduce suicide rates.
There were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales in 2019, which is 321 more compared to the year before. The suicide rate has remained the same as in 2018 – 11 deaths per 100,000 people, but the rates are still higher than in recent years.Approximately eight hundred thousand individuals commit suicide globally each year. In the UK in 2018, there were 6,507 deaths by suicide (a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people).
Suicide and suicide attempts can have lasting effects on individuals and their social networks and communities. The causes of suicide are many, and it is important to understand the psychological processes that underlie suicidal thoughts, and the factors that can lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair. 
Suicide behaviours are complex, there is no single explanation of why people die by suicide. Social, psychological, and cultural factors can all interact to lead a person to suicidal thoughts or behaviour. For many people, an attempt may occur after a long period of suicidal thoughts or feelings, while in other cases, it may be more impulsive.
 Despite some excellent media guidelines produced by Samaritans and Mind, journalists often still revert to outdated language and stereotypes when reporting suicide. There is a difficult balance between reporting known facts and introducing elements of the story into the public domain which may encourage others to emulate what they have read, as is described in the Werther effect - so called because of the spate of imitational suicides that were said to have taken place after the publication of Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Research carried out across the world over the last five decades shows that when specific methods of suicide are reported – details of types and amounts of pills, for example – it can lead to vulnerable people copying them.
Young people in particular are more influenced by what they see and hear in the media than other age groups and are more susceptible to what is often referred to as suicide contagion.
We should not describe a suicide as ‘easy’, ‘painless’, ‘quick’ or ‘effective’, and we should remember to look at the long-term consequences of suicide attempts, not forgetting the significant life-long pain for those left behind when someone does take their own life.
It is also important to bear in mind that reports of celebrity deaths carry greater risk of encouraging others to take their own lives, due to the increased likelihood of over-identification by vulnerable people. A recent study, which examined news reports covering the suicide of US actor Robin Williams, identified a 10% increase in people taking their own lives in the months following his death. This emphasises the responsibility that we all have when it comes to talking about suicide. 
We often read speculation about the cause of suicide, linking a death to a previous event such as the loss of a job, the break-up of a relationship or bullying. It is impossible to say with any certainty why someone takes their own life and is often the culmination of a complex set of factors. As Samaritans state: ‘there is no simple explanation for why someone chooses to die by suicide, and it is rarely due to one particular factor.'
But  often thoughts can be overwhelming and prevent you from feeling anything else. Sharing or expressing these feelings can be helpful and talking to a trained provisional can save a life. The theme to this years World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ to stress the importance of collective action to address this issue. A positive message that motivates people to come out of problems and cooperate with this complicated issue,  after all hope is like oxygen for our mental health. It is the vital ingredient in supporting people to hold on. and is a timely a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention. Through action, you can make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.
Suicides can also  have a ripple effect on an individual’s family, friends, colleagues and communities. It is, however, preventable and several steps can be taken to help those who are vulnerable. To raise awareness,
Let us today think of people suffering untold mental anguish leading them to take this step. and the relatives and friends  who are bereaved  their lives often left in tatters. The  mind is a very delicate place, It's good to talk or to be listened to.
We should not be so scared of suicide that we can't talk about it. Suicide is a devastating and gut-wrenching tragedy that ends a life and shatters countless others. But we also know that we can all help prevent such deaths, as individuals and as a society. We are not powerless. Far better to say something that feels awkward than to stay silent, whether you're worried about another person or needing help yourself. Sometimes we need to talk about suicide.
I will  add that I personally feel that the alleviation of mental distress is only possible in a society without exploitation and oppression. All members of society are affected by the inhumane nature of capitalism, and for many who suffer  it is the consequence of  concrete inequalities and hardships  that are a direct product of our economic system . As the basis on which society’s superstructural formation is erected, capitalism is a major determinant of poor mental health leading to discontent and alienation. As the Marxist professor of social work and social policy Iain Ferguson has argued, 
“it is the economic and political system under which we live—capitalism—which is responsible for the enormously high levels of mental-health problems which we see in the world today.
But, slowly and determinedly, the fight is being to end this  led most explicitly by the most oppressed and exploited. So lets keep fighting and  spreading awareness, and be kind to the people that are around  us, but for fucks sake don't just tell anyone to simply cheer up. Don’t pass judgment  just be present. Understand that we all experience mental health differently, and that’s OK. Try your best to release compassion, empathy and care, and please seek medical advice if needed, and If you are worried someone is suicidal, it is okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps - because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel, and shows that they are not a burden.
We  can all make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – whether our child, a parent, a friend, a colleague or a neighbour. We can also play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.While mental health professionals have education, tools, and resources to support individuals struggling with their mental health, we can all play a critical role in suicide prevention. Having an open, authentic conversation about mental health with loved ones is a great first step. Remember that the quality of our health is linked to our connection with others. Preventing suicide is a group effortOverall we are stronger together.Let’s all make a habit of checking on each other. Check on your strong friends today. Check on your struggling friends. Don’t be fooled by smiles or tough exteriors. Pain can manifest itself in many ways and have many different faces.  Check on yourself too. If you are struggling, please know that there are resources available. And, know that there is no shame in needing help. The world needs you to stay. The world needs us to help each other find our way back to being okay. If you are  currently struggling, remember your not alone. Much love.
 
If  you need to talk:- 

Samaritans – offers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week support service

116 123

Shout 85258 This is a free, confidential 24/7 text messaging service provided to anyone who is struggling to cope. The service was launched in May 2019 and since then it has had more than 750,000 conversations with people who are depressed, suicidal, anxious or stressed. 

 The contact information is in its name: text Shout to 85258.

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) As well as supporting those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, this charity also helps those bereaved by suicide. Its helpline is available 365 days of the year 5pm-midnight.

The contact information is in its name: text Shout to 85258.

Papyrus Many young suicides are preventable and Papyrus believes that talking about suicide can help end the stigma around it. The charity provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with suicidal thoughts and anyone who is concerned about a young person going through this.

The charity also stands with the LGBTQIA+ community and its support service HOPELINEUK is available for everyone and is accessible 24/7.

If you need to talk to anyone from Papyrus, call this number: 0800 068 4141.

MindOutThis charity is dedicated to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community going through a mental health crisis. It runs a Suicide Prevention Project and is accessible to anyone in the community who is struggling to cope.

You can contact MindOut on this number: 01273 234839

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)As well as supporting those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, this charity also helps those bereaved by suicide. Its helpline is available 365 days of the year 5pm-midnight.

You can contact the helpline number by calling: 0800 585858


Thursday, 9 September 2021

Geronimo Test Negative


31st August 2021 is a day I will never forget. The day Geronimo the Alpaca was murdered by  government officials from DEFRA after a much disputed claim that he has bovine tuberculosis.
The scenes of this poor bewildered animal being led away by a group of Brutish clowns will haunt me for the rest of my days on this planet. So thank you DEFRA for making my life that much sadder. What a fine example you are for young children NOT.
They saw a government organisation take away a family pet that was always kept separate from other animals with no compassion whatsoever. What I saw that day was reminiscent of a satanic ritual but more demonic.
British government veterinarians on Tuesday killed  Geronimo, whose sentence of death for carrying bovine tuberculosis made international headlines and pitted animal activists against the state.  
The scene was witnessed by animal activists and journalists who had camped out at the farm in Wickwar, 175 kilometers (110 miles) west of London, pledging to stop the killing.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the animal had been euthanised, 
The controversial camelid was sentenced to death after twice testing positive for bovine .
His owner, Helen Macdonald, argued the tests had produced false positives and fought for a third test.
Macdonald, a veterinary nurse,  said the alpaca was negative when he was bought in from New Zealand and she had spent thousands of pounds in a failed court battle to save the animal. 
Several veterinarians backed her case, but earlier this month a High Court  judge rejected Macdonald's request for a temporary injunction to stop the killing and reopen the case
Bovine TB can devastate cattle herds and hurt farm revenues.
The Unite Kingdom has been culling animals, chiefly badgers, to stop its spread for a decade, but the practice remains contentious.
Initial results have now revealed that  Geronimo the alpaca did NOT have Bovine TB. People pleaded for one final test but the Government bloody went on ahead and dragged Geronimo to his death. Despite this Defra contemptibly dissemble & try to say we won't know for 5 months; by then  aided by a corrupt dishonest government they will find a way to  either cover up or fix it to show  that Geronimo did have TB, even though he didn't.
Utterly disgraceful. I support any attempt in those who choose to take legal action against the Government  and the calls for Secretary of State George Eustice to immediately resign. Supporters of Geronimo's owner Helen Macdonald are already disgusted and rightfully angry about how the animal was taken away from his farm and the suggestion that he did not have TB is only adding to their anger. Hoping 5 months from  now  that the public will forget by then, shows how deluded they are, there is not a chance in fucking hell that the people will let this drop.
Surrounded by supporters outside Defra's Westminster offices Helen Macdonald said "Geronimo was a blessing in my life. He touched the world. He was loved and precious to very many people and he lives on.
" I miss him. But I will do him the honour of fighting for him and making sure his legacy lives on for all animals. "
There are no boundaries with DEFRA. they have no limits. They will run roughshod over your land and take your animals without a care. They cannot and must not be allowed to continue. With their extraordinary degree of  arrogance they think they are beyond accountability. Heads must roll and prosecutions must be put into place. A bit of a departure from the manic street preachers original but if you tolerate this your pet will be next.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

In Birth And After Death They Are In Chains.

 

In Palestine since the Nakba, a land is imprisoned

Harsh collective punishment, military aggression inflicted,

A deluge of misfortune  pouring down, sowing misery. 

Rights of humanity violated, darkness daily altering feeling,

A  26  year old mother is fighting for the right to give birth 

Without being shackled  and confined in a jail cell.,

162 parents are fighting for the right to bury their children 

Whose bodies are held hostage by the Israeli military,

In birth and after death they are in chains

As the world sits back and watches silently,

And the oppressor steals from them, the beauty of life

Tries to steal victims will with endless persecution 

Homes bulldozed, bombs dropped with no mercy, 

But in the depth of profound misery and hurt

Will not gain the subservience of proud people,

Who continue to take a stand against  cruel  system

For there is no other choice, when answering freedoms call,

Resisting the urge to cower, with unbroken pride rise

In time of struggle release sumud,, to soften  pain,

I will not forget, offer my voice as solidarity

While my heartbeat becomes part of  them. 

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Bertrand Russell's Advice for Future Generations


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, mathematician, essayist, and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. In addition to being one of the founding fathers of analytical philosophy, he was best known for his campaign against war, nuclear bombs and racial discrimination.
From the beginning to the end of his active life, Russell engaged himself with the great issues of his day. pacifism. right for women, civil liberty. trial marriage, new methods of education, the nuclear peril and war and peace, for he was at bottom a moralist and a humanist.
In the following rare 1959 interview from BBC’s 1959 Face to Face interview, Russell articulates in just under two minutes one of the most important and admirable aspirations we could hope to live up to, both individually and as a society. Russell is asked to pass along advice to a later generation. In just under two minutes he articulates  with calm wisdom  two things: one intellectual and one moral that still resonates today and cuts with clarity through our noisy world.

 Interviewer:"'Suppose Lord Russell that this film were to be looked at by our descendants, like a dead sea scroll in a thousand years time. What would you think it’s worth telling that generation about the life you’ve lived and the lessons you’ve learned from it?'"

Russell:"I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral. The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this: When you are studying any matter or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts.
The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple. I should say love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. And if we are to live together and not die together, we should learn the kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet. "

 To summarize: Our decisions must be made on truth; not wishful thinking, and we need to learn to be tolerant of people whom we disagree with or we will end up destroying one another. It’s simple advice, and bloody easier said than done, but it bears repeating. 
We must not give up on truth and tolerance. Because, as Russell mentions, they are “absolutely vital” to society. Adhering to this advice is not a passive process.
 We must be critical of the messages we see on a daily basis, and resist the spread of messages that contain inaccuracies.
Here's two earlier  messages from him :- 


 

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Legendary Reggae icon Lee "Scratch" Perry, the Mighty Upsetter has died


Arguably the most influential force in Jamaican music, legendary Reggae icon Lee "Scratch" Perry, the Mighty Upsetter has died.The eccentric artiste/producer died in the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea Western Jamaica after battling illness on Sunday morning. He was 85.The Grammy awardee who is regarded as one of the most important creative, artistic and musical figures of the second half of the 1900s, is revered across Europe, where he was constantly booked for tours.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed his passing.
My deep condolences to the family, friends, and fans of legendary record producer and singer, Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as “Lee Scratch” Perry,” Holness wrote in one Tweet this morning. “Undoubtedly, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity. May his soul Rest In Peace.
Perry was born Rainford Hugh Perry in March 20, 1936 in Kendal, Hanover. He grew up in the countryside of the island, the third of four children. After a tough and very poor childhood, he started working as a tractor driver, helping to build the first road in Negril, emerging in response to the rise of tourism in the mid-1950s. Perry later said this was the formative sonic impetus of his life. “I was working with rock and hearing the sonic vibrations. I’m sure that’s where everything comes from,” Perry explains on the 2008 documentary The Upsetter. “I learnt everything from stone.” In 1961, he left for Kingston, the heart of the country’s music scene.
In 1962, Jamaica declared independence from UK, and a sense of new freedom pervaded the island. At that point, ska was the native sound, booming with mobile sound systems. Perry worked at all the local studios,initially as a handy man, before working his way up to producing and writing tracks. At Clement Coxsone Dodd's sound system, a sometimes turbulent relationship with Dodd developed, he found himself performing a variety of important tasks at Dodd's Studio One hit factory, going on to record nearly 30 songs for the label. Disagreements between the pair due to personality and financial conflicts, a recurring theme throughout Perry's career, led him to leave the studio and seek new musical outlets. He soon found a new home at Joe Gibbs's Wirl records.
Working with Joe Gibbs, Perry continued his recording career, but once again, financial problems caused conflict. Perry broke ranks with Gibbs and formed his own label, Upsetter, in 1968. His first single "People Funny Boy", which was an insult directed at Gibbs, sold very well. It is notable for its innovative use of a sample (a crying baby) as well as a fast, chugging beat that would soon become identifiable as "reggae" (the new sound did not really have a name at this time). From 1968 until 1972 he worked with his studio band The Upsetters.
The Black arc studio owner made his name in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s known for his innovative production techniques as well as his eccentric character. he produced  more than 1000 cutting-edge recordings by revolutionary artistes during his career. From 1968 until 1972, Perry worked with his studio band, the Upsetters. The band backed Bob Marley on a full-time basis, especially with his 1969 groundbreaking works Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution albums as well as the Small AxeDuppy Conqueror, Jah Live, Punky Reggae Party, and Rastaman Live Up singles. 
Marley and Perry’s collaborations also addressed the socio-political experience of contemporary Jamaican life,something innovative at the time. Marcus Garvey’s rhetoric in particular had a huge impact on Jamaica during Perry’s life. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was founded in 1914 in his native Jamaica and established in Harlem in 1916, where he had moved from Kingston. Reflecting a desire to unite and lift the African diaspora “New World,” Garvey glorified African civilization and Black superiority, and even began practical projects for repatriation to the continent. Although a controversial figure who believed in Black separatism and had even collaborated with the KKK, Garvey still had a huge image. He looked to Black Christian churches that saw Ethiopia as the biblical center of the world; Ethiopia in turn embraced this allegorical image of spiritual fulfillment, “Zion.” Garvey had reportedly said, “Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black King; he shall be the Redeemer.” Haile Selassie was crowned as King of Ethiopia in 1930, seen by many in Jamaica as a living god whose bloodline was supposed to link to King Solomon. Rastafarianism was born. Perry was a true believer, and was among the crowds that greeted Selassie on his visit to Jamaica in 1966. Many of his lyrics and references draw from his religious beliefs.
He was among the first Jamaican producer to use the studio as an instrument, and he pioneered the reggae instrumental form known as dub.Dub was not just a new kind of sound or genre,it was an entirely new methodology. As Erik Davis has written, “dub is not only a musical style, but also an artistic discourse, in the aesthetic act of making dub—a type of remixing that emphasizes the phatic effects of sonic space.” 
His nickname came from his debut recording in the early 1960s, “The Chicken Scratch”.The Kendal, Hanover native also pioneered beat-making strategies including recording garden implements for beats.  He would also bury microphones under trees to get different sounds and blow ganja smoke over tapes and even run the tapes backwards.
It was the following year that Perry got his second nickname. In “I am the Upsetter,” Perry sings, “I am the avenger, you’ll never get away from me / I am the Upsetter.” His vengeful lyrics are a fascinating contrast to an almost upbeat melody. Perry was making a statement, however, as someone revolutionary and radical, not afraid to upset perceptions and transform experience. On the back of the song's massive popularity, he set up a label and group called The Upsetters. In 1970, Bob Marley joined the label's record shop on Charles Street and began to collaborate with the producer. They had known each other since the early days at Studio One; the singer had minor success with The Wailers, but that was waning. Together, they invented a new sound that would transform Marley’s career. Marley had moved in with Perry while they recorded the singles “Soul Rebel” (1970), “Duppy Conqueror” (1971) and “Sun is Shining” (1971)—arguably Marley’s best works. The sound was spacious, layered, and fresh. As Perry later recalled, “I was playing the part of the prophet, and Bob was playing the part of the king to establish the music.” The magical combination fell apart but nonetheless, it did introduce Marley and reggae itself to an international audience.
Marley and Perry’s collaborations also addressed the socio-political experience of contemporary Jamaican life—something innovative at the time. Marcus Garvey’s rhetoric in particular had a huge impact on Jamaica during Perry’s life. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was founded in 1914 in his native Jamaica and established in Harlem in 1916, where he had moved from Kingston. Reflecting a desire to unite and lift the African diaspora “New World,” Garvey glorified African civilization and Black superiority, and even began practical projects for repatriation to the continent. Although a controversial figure who believed in Black separatism and had even collaborated with the KKK, Garvey still had a huge image. He looked to Black Christian churches that saw Ethiopia as the biblical center of the world; Ethiopia in turn embraced this allegorical image of spiritual fulfillment, “Zion.” Garvey had reportedly said, “Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black King; he shall be the Redeemer.” Haile Selassie was crowned as King of Ethiopia in 1930, seen by many in Jamaica as a living god whose bloodline was supposed to link to King Solomon. Rastafarianism was born. Perry was a true believer, and was among the crowds that greeted Selassie on his visit to Jamaica in 1966. Many of his lyrics and references draw from his religious beliefs.
Dub was not just a new kind of sound or genre, it was an entirely new methodology. As Erik Davis has written, “dub is not only a musical style, but also an artistic discourse, in the aesthetic act of making dub—a type of remixing that emphasizes the phatic effects of sonic space.” The studio became an instrument. Perry pioneered the use of phasers and drum machines, patching together sound with scratches, feedback, and distortion. The tracks were layered with echo, reverb, guitars, and samples, with voices hovering in space above the backing tracks. The multiple layers of rhythm echoed the polyrhytmic approach of West African religious drumming. Perry’s work fused ideas around identity, history, and religion, reflecting the complexities of the Afrodiasporic experience.
In 1973, Perry built a studio in his back yard, The Black Ark, to have more control over his productions and continued to produce notable musicians such as Bob Marley & the Wailers, Junior Byles, The Heptones, and Max Romeo. With his own studio at his disposal, Perry's productions became more lavish, as the energetic producer was able to spend as much time as he wanted on the music he produced. It is important to note that virtually everything Perry recorded in The Black Ark was done using rather basic recording equipment; through sonic sleight-of-hand, Perry made it sound completely unique. Perry remained behind the mixing desk for many years, producing songs and albums that stand out as a high point in reggae history.
From the start, Perry saw the Ark as a religious space. “I see myself rebuilding the temple of King Solomon,” he said. It was named after the Ark of the Covenant carried by the tribes of Israel to Canaan, the promised land of Rastafarianism. The studio was covered in art and graffiti, a portrait of Haile Selassie above the entrance. Dreadlocks moved in to the space en masse, and vast quantities of white rum and ganja were consumed; more than hedonism, however, the focus was on peace, love, and a positive shift. The mid-1970s was a period of economic distress, gang violence, and social upheaval for Jamaica: cocaine encouraged by South American cartels was flooding the country; Americans in their “war on drugs” were arming the opposition; there was a high level of police corruption. Perry was not afraid to address this in the music he was making, like “War Inna Babylon” and “Chase the Devil” by Max Romeo and Junior Murvin’s iconic “Police and Thieves.
By 1978, stress and unwanted outside influences began to take their toll: both Perry and The Black Ark quickly fell into a state of disrepair. Eventually, the studio burned to the ground. Perry has constantly insisted that he burned the Black Ark himself in a fit of rage, but it has also been said that fire could have been an accident due to faulty wiring.
 After the demise of the Black Ark in the early 1980s, Perry spent time in England and the United States, performing live and making records with a variety of collaborators. It was not until the late 1980s, when he began working with British producers Adrian Sherwood and Neil Fraser (who is better known as Mad Professor), that Perry's career began to get back on solid ground again. Perry also has attributed the recent resurgence of his creative muse to his deciding to quit drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. Perry stated in an interview that he wanted to see if "it was the smoke making the music or Lee Perry making the music. I found out it was me and that I don't need to smoke."
The Grammy awardee who is regarded as one of the most important creative, artistic and musical figures of the second half of the 1900s, is revered across Europe, where he was constantly booked for tours.
He won a Reggae Grammy award in 2002 for the album, Jamaican E.T.
 and was nominated on four other occasions; in 2014 for Back on the ControlsRevelation in 2010; Repentance in 2008 and The End Of An American Dream in 2007.He was also the recipient of a Jamaican national honour, the Order of Distinction at the rank of Officer.
Regarded with awe throughout the music world, Lee “Scratch” Perry holds status as one of the most enduring and original reggae producers and artists of all time. One of reggae’s undisputed pioneers, Lee “the Upsetter” Perry  worked with almost everyone from the Heptones to the Skatalites, Junior Murvin, the Congos, Max Romeo, the Clash the Beastie Boys and the Orb.
In December 2019, he released his Heavy Rain album, a 12-track compilation that debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums Charts. The compilation was his first number one album in his 60-year career, and also made him a record-holder as the oldest artist to top the charts. 
 In his later years, Perry resided in Switzerland with his wife Mireille and their two children. He had four other children.
In December 2020,  however the Upsetter had announced that he would be returning to Jamaica to, among other things,to establish an off the grid community,to enable him to get away from what he described as “this Babylon Madness” in Switzerland, where he lived for several years. He made his return to the island in January 2021 and revealed that he needed Jamaica’s sunshine, that Switzerland was now “too cold” and that the “energy was not right”.
Speaking with The Guardian in 2016, for a piece celebrating his 80th birthday, Perry reflected on the power of music, stating: ‘Music is magic. If you have good music you have good magic. If you have good magic you will be followed by good people. Then they can be blessed by the one God.’ 
Speaking in rhythmic, rhyming nonsense, dressed like a traveling magician-slash-holy man, he could easily come across as the proverbial madman. He is, however, arguably the most important music producer and innovator Jamaica ever produced. It is not hyperbole to say that without Perry, there would not have been Bob Marley, hip hop, or electronic music as we know it today. By accident or intention, he changed the face of modern sound. 
Always one to follow the beat of his own drummers, a huge influence on my musical tastes. the eccentric genius Perry continued to break new ground with the hardest rebel Rasta tunes and the most unpredictable instrumental dubs. Such sad news,but this visionary's magical music which I thank him for,  lives on, and will continue to transform lives. 
May the Mighty Upsetter's' soul fly high and Rest In Peace You can hear some of  his  timeless classic productions and vocal tracks below.
 
Lee Scratch Perry - Disco Devil

 

Lee Scratch Perry
-Roast Fish and Cornbread 



Lee Scratch  Perry - I am a Madman
 
 
Lee Scratch Perry - I am a Psychiatrist


Max Romeo - War Inna Babylon


Max Romeo - Chase the devil

Junior Murvin - Police and Thieves

The Heptones - Sufferers Time



Max Romeo-  One Step Forward

The Clash - Pressure Drop

Lee Scratch Perry and Mad Professor -  Mad Man Dubwise


Lee Scratch Perry - Scary Politicians