Yes Mi Irieites,
And we have touch down in Nigeria, after 31 and a half years. A great welcome to the Motherland….
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
Hail Mi Irieites,
Today, I bear strong thoughts of my father, Charles Percival Hinds (15.11.1921- 08.11.2003).
Even now I give thanks for his endurance, patience and belief in the band; long before the world had recognised our potential. It was through his eyes that I initially viewed the world and its political history. Though his methods were crude in description, I was able to adapt and interpret from him the energy, that you, our fans, have been able to identify with in our music.
Homage to the original Mr Hinds….
Yes Mi Irieites!
With only one more show to go, Eindhoven, we performed our second to last show in Amsterdam at the Melkweg, last night. And if the truth were known, the crowd was electrifying as ever. Please allow me to rephrase that; the “Nether Lands” has “Never Let us down.”
Incidentally, Al Anderson came backstage with his family. We had no idea he was there or else we would have presented him on stage for old time’s sake. Least we not forget that it was here in Holland that we shared the same stage with Al when he was one of the lead guitar players for Bob Marley and the Wailers, 35 years ago! Fret not, we hope to feature him for a brief moment in our long over due documentary. We hope that your wait will be significant..
On another note, I found time to check the Anne Frank museum here in Amsterdam and although the queue was halfway around the block, it was worth the wait, believe me. At first, I was feeling quite agitated, knowing that the tour bus would be leaving midday, sharp. I am already known for my lateness. But finally, we, (Rande the merchandise guy) and I got in viewed managed to view all; enlightening and forever memorable.
Anne Frank was Special. Her energy during those time will remain with me, forever.
Bless up everyone! Our first time in the Czech Republic. On the streets of Prague and I hope to be getting a treat tomorrow “Czech-ing” out the museums. Talks of viewing Mozart’s original manuscripts as well as a few Picassos. We shall see.
By the way, the show was great. Thanks for the hospitality Lukas, and those from Rastafari Radio…..
Yes Mi Irieites,
It appears that October has been a landmark for many a revolutionary. First it was Hugh Mundell, then Thomas Sankara and now the Right Honorable Maurice Bishop, the second Prime Minister of the island of Grenada.
Bishop became Grenada’s Prime Minister after seizing power from his predecessor Eric Gairy in a coup, while Gairy was out of the country on business (March 1979).
In the course of his administration Bishop had formed several organisations: the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada (P.R.G.G), People’s Revolutionary Army (P.R.A), New Jewel Movement (N.J.M), just to name a few. This development was triggered while studying in the UK. And although he majored in the subjects of Law and Economics, it was during this period that he got heavily influenced into campaigning against racial discrimination in Britain as well as being proactive with the Black Power movement of the USA.
So in the eyes of the Grenadian Population, things were looking positive and bright for Bishop once he took charge, until he aligned himself with Cuba. This initiated an alliance where various projects were to be carried out that he thought would benefit the island. One of the projects involved was the construction of a new international airstrip that was to be located in the southern region of the island. This was a project that was once proposed by the British while the country was still colonised. However, it did not favour well with the US, who, as far as they were concerned, believed that it was a plan to be served as a landing strip to accommodate Russian military aircraft, etc.
As well as US opposition, Maurice was also getting a hard time with those within his own administration who thought that these projects and organisations were a waste of the taxpayer’s money. A proposal for joint leadership was refused by Bishop.
It was in the first week of October 1983, when things grinded to a halt. Bishop, was placed under house arrest by the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard. His incarceration didn’t last very long once the people got news as to what had happened. The protesting got to such a height that he was immediately released. But within two weeks of the protest, Bishop, as well as close family members and a part of his administration, were rounded up once again and taken into custody. They were all placed against a wall outside of where they were confined and got massacred by a firing squad later that day. Finally, an invasion by the US ultimately took place October 25th, stopping all Cuban participation on building the airport strip.
Maurice Bishop will rise up in history as the bravest leader the Caribbean has ever had in recent times. His stance in favour of working class rights, women rights, and education as well as his stance against racism, Apartheid and sex discrimination has already been noted by those of us who are conscious and concerned in the affairs of the diaspora.
Come to think of it these ideals are a carbon copy of Thomas Sankara’s blueprint policies to elevate all of Africa. Unfortunately, we are living in times where all great revolutionary thinkers get cut down in their prime by their peers, especially peers that are suppose to be working with you side by side, each day. The airport was built and was named Point Salines International Airport but was renamed in honour of the New Jewel Movement leader, “Maurice Bishop,” in 2009.
Here’s a an excerpt from a speech on fascism by Maurice Bishop:
“… the extremely undemocratic, repressive and corrupt nature of the puppet Regimes carefully trained and promoted from among local professionals and bureaucrats by Imperialism to maintain their presence on the backs of our people, is a very consistent Caribbean condition.”
And with only four months to go for Grenada’s 40th anniversary of Independence, here is Steel Pulse’s tribute to the “Real Spice” of Grenada.
Maurice Bishop, Ya Big!!
Incidentally, this is also the 30th anniversary since the Pulse embarked on our first Caribbean tour.
PS - a Happy Birthday to another icon and revolutionary: Peter Tosh!
UPDATE: It is with great sadness that we have to pass on the news of the loss our good friend J.R. Tenorio today September 4, 2013.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of his friends and family. We were honored take time out to pay a special tribute to one of, if not our most devoted fans this past weekend after our show in New Mexico.
Here are some thoughts from some of the Steel Pulse Family on his passing:
“For 17 years, it’s been my great fortune to be a part of an incredible musical legacy: Steel Pulse. From my earliest days with the band, back in 1996, I have had the honor of meeting some of their truly devoted fans and many of them have become dear friends, regardless of how often we kept in touch. None of them touched me, and my family, more than JR Tenorio. He was the most loving, caring and giving soul one could ever hope to meet.” Rich N.
“Our hearts and prayers to the entire family. LIFE… The journey continues.” Sidney Mills
Please share your thoughts and prayers with the family of J.R. and the whole Steel Pulse Family.
Please take the time to watch the video of our visit last weekend and feel free to share the link and comment! Bless!
NOTE: We also would like to thank our fans for all your support at such short notice. We know we can always count on you!
Hail Mi Irieites,
As we complete all the tour dates issued in the USA, we take time out to pay a special tribute to one of our most devoted fans; J.R., who lies gravely ill at home on a reservation in Santa Ana, New Mexico.
Performing at the “Roots Reggae Festival’s” debut event located in the Albuquerque region, without the presence of J.R., left a void that we desperately had to fill by going to his house immediately after the show.
Our entire performance was livicated to JR. We love you Bro! We love you…
Hail Mi Irieites,
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born this day in 1887. Here’s a short clip from our upcoming documentary that’s relevant today:
Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, including the Nation of Islam. In fact, some Rastas even view Garvey as a prophet. The intent of the movement was for those of African ancestry to “redeem” Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World entitled “African Fundamentalism”, where he wrote: “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… to let us hold together under all climes and in every country.”
Although Garvey promoted Pan Africanism and the Back to Africa movement, one point does need clarification. It was Reverend James Morris Web, a clergyman from Chicago and an associate of Garvey who said “look to Africa where a Black king shall be crowned he shall be the redeemer.” This prediction of H.I.M. Haile Selassie’s ascent to the throne of Ethiopia is often wrongfully attributed to Marcus Garvey.
In 1965, during a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King laid a wreath at Garvey’s shrine. It was MLK who said that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”
Two other interesting historical points:
Malcolm X‘s parents, Earl and Louise Little, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal. Earl was the president of the UNIA division in Omaha, Nebraska and sold the Negro World newspaper, for which Louise covered UNIA activities.
Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Nkrumah also named the national soccer team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the center of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star.
The UNIA red, black, and green flag has also been adopted as the universal Black Liberation Flag.
Garvey’s message of unity lives on:
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
“Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.”
“There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.”
“I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free.”
“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”
“Intelligence rules the world, ignorance carries the burden.”
“If you haven’t confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.”
“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”
As Marcus Say: “Rally Round the Flag!” Check the opening song at 2:09 >>
Yes Mi Irieites,
Today, August 8th, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of The Great Train Robbery, featuring Ronald Arthur Biggs, who was part of a gang of 15 members that carried out this notorious act. What a birthday treat. The event took place on Biggs’ 34th birthday.
But it wasn’t long before all of the train robbers, except for four, were caught. Ronald, found guilty, was sentenced to a whopping 30 years in prison. What a difference today, people are serving a far less time nowadays for committing the most horrendous of crimes.
However, a bit of luck came Ron’s way when he managed to escape jumping through the top of a removal van while it was “temporarily stationed” outside Wandsworth prison, July 1965. This led to him becoming infamous: Ron went on to became a fugitive for 36 years. Thanks to the early Hollywood craze of plastic surgery as well as falsified passports, and the generosity of the Brazillian government, he was able to evade the British government for quite a long time.
Towards the end of his fugitive years, around 1997, we, Steel Pulse, had bumped into Ronald Biggs on a few occasions in Rio de Janeiro. At that time he was delighted to meet some of his “home grown” boys, but at the same time showing expressions of being in a bit of a dilemma. It was at a moment in his life when his Brazilian son, Mike, was becoming of age (21). This meant that Biggs would no longer, under Brazilian rules, be qualified as legal guardian to his son. This also meant that the UK had the powers to extradite him to complete his 30 year sentence.
The following year we had shows in Brazil and bumped into Biggs again who was celebrating telling us that the Brazillian government “dissed” the UK’s return order and gave him the right to live as a free man in Brazil. I must admit, everyone around was celebrating with him…. the Pulse, too. Mike had a smile as wide a Cheshire cat.
What we also knew was that Ron was homesick and had longed to return to the UK. There have been other times too, for example when he had learnt of his eldest son’s death in a car accident, in Australia. Ron was so distraught that he wanted to turn himself in. Ultimately, he returned a sick man, with his Brazilian son, Mike, back to England. His sentence was continued but only for a third of the time specified. After a series of pleas from both him and his son due to his ill heath, Ron was released on “compassionate grounds.”
Happy Birthday, Ron…. 84 years old today! We wish we were there to celebrate with you. And Mike, if you manage to see this, please give us a link. It would be good to catch up on old times!!
Ficar Forte, Meu Irmao… Vai Com Deus.
Stay Strong, My Brother… Go with Jah.
Hail Mi Irieites,
….Still on our European festival tour and loving it!!
Here’s an image from Port De Saint Nazaire, Les Escales, at the of the “Festival des Musiques du Monde” (The Music of the World Festival).
It beats me why after 22 years of being active, this has been the first time that Steel Pulse has ever performed here. It was a wonderful and honourable experience. Behind me is a monument that was made in memory of the slaves that were transported from Africa. The ships had docked here and the slaves were generally transported to Nante, a nearby major city. We give maximum respect to the efforts of advocates such as Victor Schoelcher, who went to drastic measures to put an end to the slave trade.
Saint Nazaire, was also a important entity during World War II, for the making of ships and any other types of water vessels.
And to the children of Saint Nazaire: keep strong and continue to grab education. It would be good to start a communication network between you that can interlink with the UK and other nearby countries to spread more harmony and positivity around the world. Thank you for your presence.
Oh, and a Happy Birthday to Ed, our tour manger, President Obama and my good good brethren, Jah B….