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.”
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 >>
A great “Big Up” to Willie Nelson, who turns 80 years old today and still is in better shape than his guitar. Willie, wherever you are right now, you have a heck of a lot to be proud of..
Being born during the years of the Dust Bowl, you have certainly made a change to the lives of the croppers. May your years continue to be prosperous and your heart be as concerned as ever. ‘Cause there is one thing that we Steel Pulse, the farmers and YOU all have in common, and that is: “THE ROOTS” yah!
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!!
Just a “big up” to our good friend Donnie Edwards who turned 40 today, April 6th. Donnie, who has had a long standing Career with the Kansas City Chiefs, along with his wife Cathy and our “home boy” Frank, always whenever they can, make a tremendous effort to come and see us in the most obscure of places. Only three years ago, they came to Australia from Cali USA and went the distance with all our tour dates in that region.
Many happy returns Donnie. But please bear in mind that the body and bones will take on a whole different meaning from now on than when you were 39.
This is of special interest. Today, April 4th 2013, marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are a few excerpts from his last speech, given the day before he was killed in Memphis, Tennessee [full speech >>
Recently, in the United Nations General Assembly, we sang a song in honor of Dr. King. We all still have much to learn. Here are just a few select quotes that stand out as beacons in a world of injustice:
“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ‘This is not just.’”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
“I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.”
Here’s a video of the proceedings at the United Nations on March 22nd. Steel Pulse joined the various guests as part of the Commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. On the video, we come on at the 1:16:31 mark, for about 18 minutes, and then for the finale - at 2:07:44 – where we join Marcus Miller and the rest of the celebrants to perform Bob Marley‘s Get Up, Stand Up.
Steel Pulse was truly honored to be a part of this special occasion. Here’s an interview I did with UN Radio.
We just lost one of the great voices in the world of literature. Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian writer and statesman, passed away in Boston at the age of 82. I never got to meet him, which is a regret, but my biggest regret is that he did not win the Nobel Prize, as he so richly deserved.
Of Achebe, here is what Nelson Mandela says: “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe in whose company the prison walls fell.”
Achebe shows us how an artist finds their own voice, as he found his own power in the stories that he told. He was and will remain a Father of African literature and a voice against injustice and cultural violence. If you haven’t read his most famous book – Things Fall Apart - you owe it yourself to do so. It’s going to be sold out any minute, so check the library.
This week the United Nations is honoring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. On the 22nd, Steel Pulse will be performing as part of this tribute in the General Assembly Hall, United Nations, New York. UN Foundation Girl Up Champion Monique Coleman will host the event featuring performers from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States:
Cameroon National Ballet
UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcus Miller
Speakers at the concert include:
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations and Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee
Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
This year is particularly important, with many key anniversaries in the fight against slavery – including 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti; 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope; and 170 years ago, the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed. Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.
2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared that, on 1 January 1863, all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.
The Door of No Return (lyrics) from African Holocaust was perhaps our best tribute to the tragic legacy of slavery:
For those who are unaware, slavery continues in this time.
Here are some links to overstand what’s happening, and how you can get involved: