Category Archives: Human Rights

Aime Fernand David Cesaire: 100 Anniversaire

One more thing Mi Irieites,

afdcToday, June 26th 2013 is a special tribute to Aime Fernand David Cesaire, the Martinican poet, author, historian, politician and activist, who was born exactly 100 years ago, (26th June 1913 – 17th April 2008).

Aime Cesaire, who was also a teacher and strong influence on fellow native Frantz Fanon, was and still is Martinique’s pride and joy.

He has been noted to be the primary force that challenged the French authorities for Martinique to gain its cultural identity as black Africans subjected to colonialism.  At one point in the 1940′s Cesaire, like many others back in the day, aligned himself with the principles of Communist Russia, but later retracted these beliefs.

Some of his best written works have been “Discourse of Colonialism,” (1950), that denounced colonial racism, “Toussaint L’Ouverture,” (1960) a book based on the life of the Haitian Revolutionary Leader and “The Tempest,” an adaptation of the Shakespearean play, geared for a black audience (1968).

In 2001 Cesaire retired from his active duties.  He had held many positions including the Mayor of the capital, Fort De France as well as the President of the Regional Council of Martinique.

One of his last controversial stances was the snubbing of the President to be, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2007.  Apparently, the French government was looking about imposing in the schools and textbooks, the ideology of ‘French colonialism’ being a “positive role.”    The Martinicans  protested intensely.  After a series of heart problems, Cesaire died on 17th April 2008 and was given an honorary State funeral.  Sarkozy, now President of France, attended but made no comment.

The national airport in the town of Lamentin has been renamed after this fearless individual.

Thank you Aime Cesaire, one of the greats of the Francophone Black Diaspora, for sustaining Martinique’s  heritage.  In other words, “You Big!!”

Medgar Evers: 50 Years After

Yes Mi Irieites,

Medgar_Evers

This is a tribute to one of the most legendary activists of all time, N.A.A.C.P. leader, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated this day June 12th, 1963.  This marks the 50th anniversary of his death.

Medgar was born in Decatur, Mississippi July 2nd 1925, (the same year as Malcolm X).  He became very active in the civil rights movement after being rejected from enrolling in the University of Mississippi, back in 1954.  The South had a fortress of opposition that limited and confined Afro Americans in regards to schooling, housing, work, public facilities and places of entertainment.  It was only a mere eight years previous to this assassination that Emmett Till got murdered.  So the state of Mississippi was already recognized as a bastion of racism.

Medgar was determined to be vocal and confrontational about this situation in so many ways.  As he had put it, “Jim Crow Laws Must Go,” which was the slogan that was written on the t-shirt he was wearing the day he died.

Many historical events were taking place throughout the year of 1963.  For example, the day before the shooting, Governor George Wallace of Alabama and also a (then) staunch advocate of segregation, made a desperate attempt to bar students, Vivian Malone and James Hood from a local auditorium; a place exclusive to whites.  Special officers of the law eventually intervened and overturned this.  President Kennedy also made a speech on national TV that day in support of the Civil Rights Movement.

The period leading up to Medgar Evers’ death was full of threats and reprisals.  This included a Molotov cocktail thrown into the parking area of his home and an attempt to run him over while he was leaving an N.A.A.C.P meeting, in Jackson.

Statue_of_Medgar_EversDuring my childhood, back in the UK, Evers’ name was not as predominant as Dr Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X.  It was during my adulthood that I realised the impact that this individual had on the Civil Rights Movement in the US at that time.  After analysing the events and his story I can honestly say, this individual takes the prize.   His environment was isolated and he was not one to be crowded with bodyguards.  Therefore he must have known within himself that the stance he was taking against society would cut his life short.

I continue my “Big Ups” to all the muzos’ that supported his cause during those tumultuous years:  Bob Dylan (Only a Pawn in their Game), Nina Simone (Mississippi Goddamn) and Phil Ochs (Too Many Martyrs), to name a few.

And a maximum respect to Myrlie Evers-Williams, his widow, who I saw for the first time, making a speech at the Obama Inauguration.  Previous to that Mrs. Evers-Williams was invited to christen a ship in honor of her “late” husband in 2011.  A statue of Medgar now stands erected outside a library in Jackson, MI.

Medgar, I don’t know why I use the word “late,” because as far as we are concerned, your “Greatness” came right on time.

Farewell, Sister Ayanna Ade

adehouston

Here’s a special tribute to my dearest friend and activist, Sister Ayanna Ade, whose memorial was held earlier this afternoon, at the SHAPE Community Center in Houston, Texas.

Although we had not met as often as we had in the past, Ayanna held a special place in my heart.  She was an honorable individual, serving the community as an activist and organizer. Until recently she was actively engaged in the movement to abolish the death penalty in Texas.

I will treasure the memories, Sister.

A word out to Samora; I know mom is happy right now for your moment of liberation and she will be counting on you to continue her positive influence and legacy. Peace Brother.  Hope to meet you again, soon….

D

An #Africa50 Mystery Cleared Up

Hail Mi Irieites,

Like I said, I would be back in regards to the AU’s 50th Anniversary celebration.  But first, I must confess that I have been bugging out for a long time to give you the names on this photograph of all the heads of State that attended the OAU, May 25th 1963.  Come to find out that this actual pic was taken some four years later in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.  This was the Eastern Central African Leaders Summit.  So that explains why Kwame Nkrumah, “Father of Africa” was not present and why Jomo Kenyatta, the original “Burning Spear” was present, because Kenya was yet to attain its independence, not until some 7 months later.  You can’t image how I have been racking my brain over this shot.  It just wasn’t stacking up…. now we know.

leaders

The photograph actual consists of 13 as opposed to 12 people.  So correct me if I am wrong, but reading from left to right, leaving out the man whose shoulder’s in the frame, Back Row:

1.    CHAD- Francois Tombalbaya
2.    UGANDA- Milton Obote
3.    TANZANIA- Julius Nyerere
4.    ZAMBIA- Kenneth Kuanda
5.    SOMALIA- Mohammed Ibrahim Egal
6.    ?

Front Row, from Left to right:
7.    RWANDA- Gregoire Kayibanda
8.    CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC-Jean V Bokassa
9.    ETHIOPIA- H.I.M Emperor Haile Sellassie I
10.    KENYA- Jomo Kenyatta
11.    SUDAN- Ismail Al-Azhari
12.    CONGO- Joseph Desire Mobutu.

To all our fans out there please let me know who is the missing leader (6) in the dark glasses and who’s the leader with only his left shoulder, visible.  Also if it is possible for anyone to search and find the images of the original line up outside the OAU in Addis Ababa, in 1963.

One more thing, we would like to let our Ethiopian fans know that Steel Pulse made a desperate attempt to be part of this glorious event.  However, there was a lot of crossed wires and indecision that made it impossible for us to make our flights on time to do our performance.  Please don’t see this as us failing you.  We are trying our utmost to be there for you before the year’s out.  It will be our first time to the “Promise Land.” We are looking forward to seeing y’all.

Bless!

50 Years of African Unity

Yes Mi Irieites,

Print

This great day has finally arrived.  This great day has finally come upon us.  This great day has been witnessed by the whole world, especially us of the African Diaspora.  This great day is May 25th 2013, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of Africa Unity, which is known today as the AU.

Leaders

Our story, not history is in the makings where all of Africa will sit together as we did 50 years ago (attended by 32 African heads of State), to take a serious and critical view of the current and future position of the Mother Land.

All the best for the event that is hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, the place of the organisation’s origin.  Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma spearheads this.  Congratulations to you, too, Dr.

There’s more to follow but in the meantime “Enjoy the Celebration.” Rastafari Live.

Malcolm-X: X-Resurrection with Macka B

Bless up this special day, Malcolm X, we’ll never forget you:

 X-RESURRECTION by Steel Pulse
[Malcolm X]
Born in Omaha Nebraska
May 19 Year 25
Was the son of a Garvey teacher
We will keep his name alive
Youthful years were full of adventure
Drifted to a life of crime
In jail he learned to be our leader
Thank God he was released on time

Spoke out against Jim Crows injustice
And never turned the other cheek
There’s no room for non violent protest
Yes these words were what he preached
Taught us bout Pan Africanism
To put my people back on their feet
Take whats ours robbed by the system
He said by any means

Let Malcom live through us
Black liberation is a must

They have tried to rid his name
From history books and magazines
They even tried to criticize
His greatness and philosophy
Against all kinds of exploitation
For all of us he bore the pain
We won’t let him be forgotten
No he did not die in vain

Put away the misconception
That he came to teach us hate
So Wake up from your sleep and slumber
Wake up before its too late
We need to resurrect that spirit
A lease of life the people need
To fight resistance from the system
He said by any means

Live Malcom live through us
Black liberation is a must

By any means by any means
By any means necessary

461px-Malcolm-x

Raspect: Thanks to Malcolm X, we keep on growing, keep on learning.

National Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade (France)

Yes Mi Irieites,
Victor_Schoelcher

May 10th is also the National Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade in France.  This has been commemorated for the 7th year now, this year.

As a matter of fact, although slavery was abolished by the French in 1794 when it became a republic, the effect did not come into reality until some 54 years later, in 1848.  This came about after a series of uprisings throughout the colonies, especially in Guadeloupe.  One of the main characters was Victor Schoelcher, a French abolitionist writer and the main spokesman for an abolitionist group from Paris.  He formed an abolition society in 1834, working for the abolition of slavery on the Caribbean islands.   His program to continue publishing articles against such atrocities started in 1833 ’til 1847.

I and I are aware.

19 Years Ago: Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)

Exactly four years and two months after his release from Victor Verster prison, May 10th 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black African democratically elected President of South Africa.  This was the beginning of a “Government of National Unity.”

This eventful day was attended by over 4,000 guests and was witnessed across the world by at least a billion viewers.

These were trying times.  I never thought I would live to see the demolition of the Berlin Wall or the first Black president of the USA or even the release of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.   So this one is for the non-believers; “Faith DOES move mountains.”

Mr. Mandela, now 94, stay strong!!

In Memory of Cedric Brooks

cedric

Yes Mi Irieites,

I’m sad to announce that Cedric Brooks, of the legendary Skatalites band, passed away last Friday, 3rd May 2013.  He was 70 years of age.  Before he joined the Skatalites, Brooks was renowned for his work with Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and the Light of Saba. He began his music career in the late 1960s as a studio musician, playing on Burning Spear’s “Door Peep.”

Our condolences to the only surviving band member, Lester Sterling and also Cedric’s sisters and seven children.

More information on the brilliant Cedric Brooks here >>

Richie Havens: Rise in Eternal Glory!

Hail Mi Irieites -

As you know by now, Richie Havens passed away yesterday on Earth Day.

I had the good fortune to see him live for the first time at a club in Birmingham called Barbarellas. I must have been about 19 years old at the time.

Years later, Steel Pulse went on to be on an opening billing with him in D.C., in the early 80s. To this day I have yet to see anyone strum the acoustic guitar with the energy he had. Richie, you will never be forgotten!!

More about Richie here >>