Category Archives: Human Rights

Haiti: 4 Years After

Yes Mi Irieites,

Today, 12th January 2014, marks the 4th anniversary since the earthquake struck Haiti, killing more that 250,000 people and leaving over a million still homeless.

So far, out of the $9 billion US, that was promised by the “International Community,” only a small portion has been bestowed to the country, of which a good percentage of that went towards  emergency aid as oppose to reconstruction.   If it was not for the tremendous effort of the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Australia and the many small business’ coming from out of America, that have volunteered their services, Haiti would still be in the quagmire just as the day the catastrophe to place.  So President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe, still have a lot on their plates serving the almost 500 tent camps scattered all over the stricken vicinity.  Please excuse me for any countries that have made major contributions that I have not listed or we are not aware about.  It would be good if you the fans can give me an update on that.

4haiti

As you already know, that we have been supportive of the situation ever since by donating a song we wrote immediately after the incident while recording in Jamaica called, “Hold On [4 Haiti].“  This we’ve awarded as a digital download to raise funds for Partners In Health (PIH) to erect solar panels by S.E.L.F (Solar Electric Light Fund).  We were fortunate enough to perform in Haiti 2 years ago and visit one of the hospitals being supplied, 2 hours north of the capital, Port au Prince.

We thank you for being part of this…

R.I.P. Amiri Baraka: The Optimistic Revolutionary

“I believe you have to be true to people. You have to be writing something that people understand but, at the same time, something that’s profound enough to have meaning past, say, the six o’clock news.” - Amiri Baraka

Here, Mi Irieites, is a short list of his works; check Blues People if you have not already.

Born in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones) gained international stature as a poet, dramatist, essayist, and political activist. He became a leader in the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s. Much of his work considers the political situation of people of color in capitalist America.

R.I.P., brave soul, for speaking when most held their tongues. Our condolences to your loved ones and all who knew you as a friend.  In controversy you still made us think. Most of all, you were an optimistic revolutionary.

At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean there’s a
railroad made of human bones.

Black ivory
Black ivory

from Wise, Why’s, Y’z (Africa Section)

In Memoriam: Faybiene Miranda

Hail Mi Irieites,

The Steel Pulse Family is consumed with sadness to learn of the tragic loss of Faybiene Miranda, the dear wife of our dear brother Cliff ‘Moonie’ Pusey.

mirandamoonie

Few could compare to her. She stood for all that is good – the love of words, education, meaning and yes, the future. She was a true revolutionary – full of love and hope for the next generation.  She was the godmother of my daughter – Shashamane.

Moonie, we can’t begin to imagine what you are feeling, but let us share our heart-felt condolences.

Take a few minutes, Mi Irieietes, to listen:

An Interview: http://www.reggae-vibes.com/concert/fmiranda/fmiranda.htm

Prophecy – her song was banned in Jamaica: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-phUA8P1wuw

UPDATE:

A Poem for My Godmother by Shashamane

You were my godmother
The one God chose for me
You brought kindness
And compassion.

You are my definition
Of perfection
My explanation of
Flawlessness

You will always be
My jewel and treasure,
My universe, My all;
My Godmother!

So inspirational
With little effort
A marvellous poet
A wonderful woman

My Godmother
Good mother
Grandmother
Great and adoptive mother to all

Because of you,
I will now find
New territories of
Self-discovery.

Sandy Hook Elementary Remembered

Mi Irieites,

Once again our prayers go out to the parents, friends and family of those that were brutally murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a year ago yesterday, in Newtown, CT.  We know this is a very touchy and delicate moment for you all as we approach this festive season.

The killing of the innocents continues. Keep Strong and let’s hope mankind can see reason, and that someday politicians put the safety of people ahead of profits for the industries of death and destruction.

Kenya at 50

Yes Mi Irieites,
KenyaflagThis day 12th Dec, 2013 the Diaspora also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Kenya.

Kenya was declared a colony by the British in 1920 but was actually a so-called protectorate since 1895. From the very beginning the British had difficulties occupying this vast country in Africa that had millions of acres of prime fertile land.  As a matter of fact the first commissioner of British East Africa, Arthur Hardringe, stated at one point that “These people must learn submission by bullets.”

So from time to time there were revolts and insurrections, but the most memorable ones were that of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), better known as the Mau Mau, lead by Dedan Kimathi Waciuri.  This resistance group was seen as terrorists by the acting government.  And like our Jamaican National hero, Paul Bogle, Dedan was finally caught and hanged and placed in an unmarked grave in 1957.  Today he is revered as Kenya’s national hero.

The struggle continued with Jomo Kenyatta who took up the mantle to liberate Kenya.  In 1953, Kenyatta, better known as “The Burning Spear,” from whom the reggae legend Winston Rodney, took his name, was sentenced to 7 years in prison accused of being the leader of the Mau Mau.  This trial, where he was accused along with 5 others called the “Kapenguria Six” created a lot of media interest at that time.  Kenyatta was released in 1959 and went on to be the first Prime Minister and President Kenya in 1963.

May I say thanks to the efforts of the Kenyan people, in particular those from the Kikuyu tribe, Dedan Kimathi and the original Burning Spear himself, who we recognise as the “Founding Father of Kenya” to make all this possible.

“Radical to the bone”…….. Born Fe Rebel.

Love Over Hate: The Life and Struggle of Nelson Mandela

Hail Mi Irieites,

The sad day has finally come where President Zuma had to make the announcement that South Africa’s biggest icon and one of the world’s most prolific activists towards Justice and Racial Equality, Nelson Mandela, has passed away.  Now all nations across the entire planet are in mourning.

In this modern day era of ours Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whose life dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century, had ideals that will forever stand the test of time.  Because as long as the world continues to have struggling and disenfranchised masses throughout, there will always be room for this energy of “survival and freedom” that this man perpetuated.

As most of us know, life was no easy road for our hero, who finally gave into death after a long battle from a lung infection.  It was only five months ago that Steel Pulse was commemorating his efforts for reaching age 95.  In terms of cricket, that’s what one would call an excellent innings.

Mandela was born on July 18th 1918, in a Xhosa village called Mvezo, in South Africa.  As a child and also coming from a lineage of royalty, Nelson herded cattle for his family, a chore that was not uncommon in those days where humility built one’s character.  By the mid 40s he gained a Batchelor of Arts degree and went on to pursue a career in politics and law.  It was towards the end of that decade where South Africa’s colonial past took a drastic change (1948).  In 1964 he was imprisoned for life by the South African ruling powers of the day for the crusade he embarked upon against “Apartheid”… an ideal that was running similar, if not parallel to the laws of segregation that was quite effective in the southern regions of the USA at that time.

A good portion of his life sentence was served on Robben Island.  But it was the efforts of so many around the world spearheaded by his wife Winnie Mandela that brought Nelson’s “hidden away” incarceration to centre stage.  With the sanctions from many countries and boycotts by many celebrities’ worldwide as well as general public rallies and outcry, Mandela was finally “Let Out” after spending 10,053 days (ten thousand and fifty-three), from Victor Verster Prison on February 11th 1990.  [Incidentally, Mike Tyson was “Knocked Out” on that same day also… ]

Within three years of his release, the one time integral member of the ANC and “convicted terrorist” was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1993).  By 1994 he became the First Black President of South Africa until 1999.  His works, efforts and influences had him receiving more than 250 honours during his lifetime.  This included a US Presidential Medal of Freedom (at least three current US Senators voted to keep him behind bars only four years before his parole, in1986).  Mandela went on to serve his country in so many ways of which one in particular was the launching of his company called “46664”; a number in reference to the number that he wore on his prison uniform whereas ‘466’ was his actual number and ‘64’ stood for the year he started his jail term.  This number is now a symbol of all the things that Mr. Mandela represented that encompassed the challenging fight against HIV/AIDS.

In 2005, Mandela retired from public service to make more of a presence with his family.   Then there was the untimely death of one of his grand daughters that unfortunately continued to make him absent from the limelight at a moment when South Africa were the host to the epic event, better known as the World Cup, a few years ago.  This was the first time the World Cup was ever featured on the continent.

Mandela will continue to be remembered in films plays and novels that depict his character in the most profound way.  But let us not forget the endeavors of all the “soldiers” before and during his lifetime that made notable indentations and contributions with their lives to stop the menace known as racism.  Stevie Biko, Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela; just to name a few.

Finally, we – Steel Pulse – are deeply saddened by all of this because for the first time after so many desperate attempts over the years, we are scheduled to be in South Africa for a few shows early 2014.   There goes another individual of the highest stature that we have never had the pleasure to cross paths with.

To the family of Madiba, our sincere sympathies as we pay our respect and tribute to such a legend and “Father of the Nation.”  (July 18th 1918 – Dec 5th 2013); a man that will make so many cry, yet was unable to cry himself due to having his tear ducts removed while imprisoned.

Hail Madiba – the true Sun of Africa.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Give Thanks and Praises

Hail Mi Irieites,

While the US are “giving thanks” with Thanksgiving, where everyone is gathering from all over the country to be with their loved ones, we must not forget those who are without – without family, friends, food or even a home.  May you also continue to pay homage to the original ancestors…

Peace and Love, continually!!!

In the meantime, because of the positive response towards H.I.M Hail Selassie I and his attendance at the funeral of JFK, we would like to mention a few key points of fact in regards to the mode of thinking JFK might have had prior to that time.

H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie 1st stayed at the White House during his short visit to Washington DC, before going on to New York. The dates are highly significant. It is more than likely that H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie 1st encouraged the young American President to heed the message of his forthcoming speech at the United Nations, about universal human rights, and the danger of perpetual war. Kennedy knew very well that in the United States, the richest country in the world, there were “first and second class citizens,” and a “philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior.”

On October 2, 1963, President John F. Kennedy met with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, who had just returned from Vietnam. That evening, the White House announced that it would begin withdrawing ‘military advisors’ from Vietnam.

On October 3, Emperor Haile Selassie 1st left Washington D.C. for New York City.

On October 4, 1963, the Emperor delivered his ‘War’ speech to the assembly conference, speaking in the ancient Ethiopian language of Amharic.

On October 5, 1963, JFK announced his formal decision to withdraw from Vietnam, beginning with a withdrawal of 1,000 of the 16,000 ‘military advisors’. Historians disagree about JFK’s true intentions about Vietnam. Yet the historical record shows that he first announced the decision to end the conflict while Emperor Haile Sellassie 1st was present in the White House. His Majesty and the American president were sending the world a sign of solidarity.

Six weeks later on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas.

Remembering JFK

kennedy

Yes Mi Irieites,

We are only less than 3 hours away to commemorate one of the world’s most notorious events;  the tragic assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America.

I was 7 years old when this incident took place and I remember it clearly as if it was only yesterday.   As a matter of fact, every now and again I try to compare any other atrocity that surpasses or even came close to the impact this incident had on the world.  To reiterate my point, with no disrespect, not even Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon, the 9/11 Twin Towers, the death of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley or even John Lennon came close to how devastated and shocked the world was at that time.

To many from the black diaspora Kennedy was recognised as a symbol of hope and the first real step towards racial equality and liberation, despite the missiles crisis of Cuba and the Cold War with the USSR.  Even Jamaicans residing all the way in England were shook up on hearing the news.

As the repeated images are now all deeply etched in our minds over and over again for the past 50 years, we have been led to believe that it was one lone crazed gunman; a far cry from the story Oliver Stone unfolded in his 1991 released film.

So does the Kennedy curse continue?  So many incidents have happened since his death, the murder of his brother Bobby (1968), the car crash of Ted Kennedy in Mass (1969), and much more recently, the tragic death of John-John Junior (1999).   Yet the memories of what happened 50 years overshadows them all.

One thing for sure, the world will be keeping this incident alive for the next 50 years and beyond.

And to our elderly fans out there… send some info on where you were and what you are doing at the time when this news happened.  It would be interesting to know how well your memory serves you.

The Courage of Ruby Bridges

Hail Mi Irieites,The-problem-we-all-live-with-norman-rockwell

From Wikipedia:

In spring of 1960, Ruby Bridges was one of 6 black children in New Orleans to pass the test that determined whether or not the black children would go to the all white school. She went to a school by herself while the other 5 children went somewhere else. Six students were chosen; however, two students decided to stay at their old school, and three were transferred to Mcdonough. Ruby was the only one assigned to William Frantz. Her father was initially reluctant, but her mother felt strongly that the move was needed not only to give her own daughter a better education, but to “take this step forward … for all African-American children.” Her mother finally convinced her father to let her go to the school.

US_Marshals_with_Young_Ruby_Bridges_on_School_Steps

The story of Ruby Bridges reminds us all to never take anything for granted. And today, in a time when voting rights are once again being threatened, let us think about her courage and her parents’ willingness to stand up for the good of all.

After all these years, we still have a long way to go.

Raspect.