Remembering Sivanandan

Ambalavaner Sivanandan (see picture below), who was a leading voice on race relations in UK and beyond for over 40 years, passed on earlier this year on January 3rd.  As Director of the Institute of Race Relations, he re-named their journal to “Race and Class” and was the editor for many years.  Gary Younge, Guardian editor-at-large,  described him as “a tireless and eloquent voice explaining the connections between race, class, imperialism and colonialism.”

To read the full obituary written by Younge, click here

For more about the work of the Institute of Race Relations, please see here

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Another excellent piece written by Gary Younge entitled “End all Immigration Controls – they’re a sign we value money more than people” can be read here.  The final paragraph, very much in the spirit of Sivanandan, follows:

Nation states are a relatively new concept; migration is as old as humanity. Borders seek to regulate and restrict that basic human custom for the distinct purpose of excluding some and privileging others. They discriminate between all people with the express intention of then being able to discriminate against some people. They do not simply set boundaries for countries, but are metaphors for the boundaries of how we might think about other human beings. Immigrants are not the problem. Borders are.

For more of Gary Younge’s writing please see here



“I think it is incumbent on all human beings to oppose injustice in every form.”

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In this post, we celebrate the life of a great South African musician and hero, Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, known to many as Bra Hugh, who passed on this year on January 23rd.  He would have been 79 this week on April 4th.  Bra Hugh was not only a musical legend but a social inclusion hero.

“My biggest obsession is to show Africans and the world who the people of Africa really are”

Bra Hugh certainly lived this out in his music, he produced over 40 albums during a career that lasted over 60 years.  If you don’t know his music, we recommend you go to you tube and discover his legendary sounds… here are a few recommendations:

 Stimela (the Coal train) a classic song that tells the real story of the coal mines in South Africa…

Bring him back Home – an anti-apartheid anthem…

Change – a political song calling on leaders who have over-stayed to step down…

Here also is his famous Homecoming Concert, after returning to South Africa in 1991 after 30 years in exile, where he had spent time in many countries in West and Central Africa, as well as USA and Botswana.  This was known as the Sekunjalo (“This is it”) concert.

So much was written about Bra Hugh when he passed on..

There is an excellent one from Robin Denselow writing in the Guardian here

Another great tribute from Charles Onyango-Obbo in the East African can be read here

For those who love Quotes, please have a look at some of Masakela’s great ones here

Masakela also started a Heritage Foundation which has the Mission “To unearth, preserve and promote Africa’s heritage and culture through arts and education and to restore Africa’s identity and share it with the world.”  More can be found out about the Foundation here

Please do also visit the official Hugh Masakela site here for more about his life and work.

Rest in Peace Bra Hugh… you are missed by many millions and your legacy will go on and on, as you continue to inspire future generations.

Quote for the week – Margaret Ogola

“Unless we recognise that each individual is irrepeatable and valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights. This includes the right to be born, as all of us have enjoyed. True justice should be for each human being, visible and invisible, young and old, disabled and able, to enjoy fully their right to life. The accidental attributes that we acquire such as colour, sex intelligence, economic circumstances, physical or mental disability should not be used as an excuse to deprive a person of life.”

Taken from a speech made in Beijing in 1995 called “On the Dignity of the African Woman”, which can be viewed here.  Margaret Ogola has inspired many readers in Kenya and beyond with her novels, which often give a particular focus to the status of women in society.  She died of cancer in 2011, you can read more about her in this newspaper article here and a warm, powerful tribute here which also discusses issues of Gender and Sexuality in depth.

January Quotes

Courtesy of New African magazine (January 2018 edition), here are some beautiful quotes to inspire you – each of the people has a link to their Wikipedia page if you want to know more about them:

“Don’t under-estimate the power of people.  Our weakness is that we do not know how powerful we are – and we are not using the power we have as citizens.  Go out there and organise, organise, organise.  Mobilise, mobilise, mobilise.  We’ll get there.”  (Graca Machel, Mozambique)

“Men must stand shoulder to shoulder with women.  Men have a responsibility to speak out in their communities for the women they love.”  (Dr. Denis Mukwege, DR Congo)

“Leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve and the people falling in love with you.” (Joyce Banda, Malawi)

“It’s high time that leaders got off their high horse and mingle with the masses, feel the scorching sun and the heat of the matter.  Only then will the passion be ignited.” (Yemi Alade, Nigeria)

“You are never too young to lead, and you should doubt your capacity to triumph where others have not.” (Kofi Annan, Ghana)

Dancing at the Party…

Two great articles here, the first on Inclusion by Elizabeth Shaw, including the great quote “diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance”…. although we could take it further and say “it’s also about leading the dance”… click here for the piece.

The second is called The Problem with photo-journalism and Africa: Why African photographers don’t get to tell African photo stories in the Western media.  Please check this revealing piece here

Finally, here’s a nice quote on inclusion from Manish Jain

“In the conventional sense, diversity is often achieved by simply bringing people of different backgrounds and cultures together. Yes, this is diversity, but without inclusion, diversity lacks deeper purpose and meaning. To ensure that individuals are truly included, it is important to understand the backgrounds, cultures, and worldviews of all individuals in an organization.”

Inspiration from Salif Keita

Happiness isn’t for tomorrow

It’s not hypothetical

It starts here and now

Down with violence, egoism

And despair, stop pessimism

Let’s pick ourselves up

Nature has given us

Extraordinary things

It’s not over yet, nothing’s decided

Let’s take advantage of the wonders

Of this continent at last

Intelligently in our own way

At our own rhythm

Like responsible men and women proud

Of their inheritance

Let’s build the country of our children

And stop taking pity on ourselves

Africa is also the joy of livings

Optimism, beauty, elegance

Grace, poetry, softness, the sun

And nature

Let’s be happy to be its sons and daughters

And fight to build our happiness

From Salif Keita, a wonderful and inspirational singer from Mali.  Please check out his music on you tube here