Tag Archives: Numbi

Time To Write: Making Room, Moving Body

First thing in the morning. In bed or at my desk. After just leaving the dream state. Before the distractions of the day interrupt fresh-brained consciousness. Before turning on the internet, mobile phone, email, “social” media. Before turning on the news… Over the years this has proved my peak productive writing time. Attempting to implement this regimen for at least one day a week I have organised a dedicated writing space, negotiated home-life, juggled paid commitments into afternoon and evening slots – and learnt to thrive on a relative lack of income. At my most prolific, being able to blast out a couple of thousand words a day.

This deliberate, calculated routine is now interrupted: we have kids. Full nights of slumber in our household are thankfully now the norm (following many months of some colic/reflux/still-as-yet-undiagnosed sleep-depriving annoyance) but early morning wake ups, school/nursery drop-offs/pick-ups, and other such parental duties and distractions remain. These are of course necessary, usually a joy, and often provide a poignant reminder of life priorities. But still, I do yearn and hunger for that writing time and head space. A militant restructuring of my days has thus been necessary and I have had to become much more discriminating in accepting commissions and in saying no to opportunities outside of my immediate focus.

I began the year, then, with a needed investment in my creative practice on the Numbi artists retreat in The Gambia. This proved the richly fulfilling and rejuvenating experience I had hoped: an opportunity to collaborate with other artists from the diaspora and on the continent, and to connect with heritage, global family, the land, and people. This valuable connecting, thinking and writing time was also supplemented by workshops and lectures in Kemetic Yoga with master instructor Yirser Ra Hotep bringing original research into the Afrikan and Ancient Egyptian origins of yoga. This proved revelatory in many ways and on many chakra/spiritual levels.

A fourteen-hour road trip to Senegal squashed in the back of a minibus provided further opportunity for meditation and Zen focus, but such trials were always placed into sharp relief when talking with Senegambians about their everyday struggle. Continue reading

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves:

Black people are systematically destroyed by the media and the marketers

as well as by police bullets.

Black voices are destroyed by well-meaning White voices

We do know… it’s Christmas
We know what time it is
We have known the time, calculated the time
lived in rhythm with the moon cycle and seasons for millennia

We are best placed to speak on “Black issues”
We are also well placed to speak on issues other than “Black issues”

For as we know
as we have been forced to learn,
forced to abandon our languages, adopt and adapt new ones:
the oppressed will always know more about their oppressor
than the oppressor can ever know about them.

So we do not let Black faces on stage fool us
into believing power structures have fundamentally changed

Black faces in the boardroom
Black faces in the White House
In ‘liberal’ newspapers
Fronting TV shows…
Black faces in uniform.

And if the White Supremacist structure of the White House
the boardroom, the entertainment industry, the news media,
remains intact
how far can Black Words within these platforms make a difference?

Can we use the master’s tools to knock down and build new houses?

Can Black words in well-meaning well-read media platforms


surrounded by ads for corporations that continue to profit from our deaths…?


Royal Celebration of Contemporary Poetry

… and Afrobeat, Soul Train and Afro-Disco…

I have accepted my invitation.


Royal invite

The King:


The King of Afrobeat

The King (of Afrobeat) will be in conversation with fellow Numbi resident artist Elmi Ali – check Elmi’s review of An Autobiography of the Master Drummer of Afrobeat here.

The night will also featuring Shake! stars:  Onysha D Collins & Annie Rockson fresh from wowing the Free Word crowd at the #Shake2013 #PowerPropagandaPerceptions showcase.

And in a busy day for Shake! poets Annie & Onysha will also be joined by Lucas (of ‘Messy Python’ fame) for a poetry slot with Platform as part of the Live Art Development Agency event I HATE AMERICA! (I Love America).


If Carlsberg did book launches…

I was a bit giddy last night and attempted a rather ill-thought out advertising analogy to express my gratitude to the Numbi family for being included as part of their book launch line-up.

Carlsberg don’t do book launches – they manufacture an insipid alcoholic beverage. If they did do book launches they’d probably be some tired hackneyed macho-wank fantasy for a revisionist colonialist Maangamizi denier (don’t read: David Starkey, Niall Ferguson, Marr…) dressed up in corporate gimmericky and celebrity fare.

My clumsy analogy was meant to infer that Numbi is the opposite of this. Numbi do do book launches and last night was a beautiful warm gathering of friendly family faces I was honoured to be a part of and to share with, to connect with artists, poets, photographers, bibliophiles, activists and to enjoy the words, artwork and thoughts of other writers from the Numbi/Scarf stable blended together with the deep dope beats of DJ Tillah Willah, and the trademark generosity and heart-felt Numbi love on a shoe-string budget. A special brew!

Thanks for having me.

NUMBI Ad-liberation book launch

I have a sneak preview launch of my very first, very own, full, complete, published poetry collection tomorrow together with those beautiful folks at Numbi Arts. Booking link here.

Recently published authors from the Numbi family Funmi Adewole (Sea Salt in the City) and Christelle Kedi (Beautifying the Body: In Ancient Africa and Today) will be in attendance reading from their new books together with Numbi poet-in-residence Dorothea Smartt reading from her forthcoming chapbook Reader, I Married Him & Other Queers Goings On.

The latest edition of Scarf magazine will also be unveiled with readings on the night from contributors including Dean Atta and associate editor Elmi Ali.

+ Kadija Sesay (George) will also be stopping by via the Peepal Tree Press/Sable Litmag/Inscribe/Scarf/Numbi family connection to support and read from her new collection Irki.


Tragic Ditty

the pressure to post…


I wrote this poem last night
after being deeply affected by the tragic news
that other poets/writers/commentators
had penned poems/writing/comments about tragic news
before I had penned a poem/writing/comment about this tragic news



Afropolitan Dandy…

Mos Def: “All of it is a political expression… The cultural paradigms that are aggressively promoted to young Black people and young poor people are extremely narrow.”

Following on from NUMBI: Afropolitan Dandies at the weekend this article contains further views on the idea of the “Black Dandy” and centres around an infamous Nivea ad which was also featured in last week’s slide show presentation “African Fashion – Once Sacred Now Desecrated” by Merira Kwesi, organised by Leeds Per Ankh.

Some fascinating conversations around fashion as a way of communication and symbolic significance for Afrikan peoples, as well as conversations around connecting peoples, movements, and affecting change coming out of these two events…


Late last week Nivea set the Internets atwitter with an ad showing a black man, with a shaved head holding a mask with an afro and facial hair à la Cornel West. The image was emblazoned with the tagline: Re-civilize yourself. A study in contrast, the white version of the ad had the message: Sin City Isn’t an Excuse to Look Like Hell. Other Nivea ads also show other white men – some with facial hair with clean edges, some without – with the simple slogan: Look Like You Give a Damn. Why does Nivea think that the slow crawl towards civilization for a black man requires shedding an afro and facial hair?

The problem, as many bloggers have pointed out, is that the ad relies on the trope of the savage black man, an idea as old as the nation that has only changed rather than disappeared over time…

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Numbi: a night of Afropolitan Funk

Next up Numbi Niceness >>>

If you’ve been to some of our events you’ll have noticed that we do have a tendency to throw in a bit of African music at the most unexpected of times. Perhaps a bit of Fela Kuti inbetween some Techno, a sprinkle of Sofrito in the middle of a disco set and even some Franco getting muddled up with the funk….well, now Rhythm Section gets to flex the afrobeats to a fuller extent.

Bradley Zero will be  resident DJ at the new monthly arts and music night at Richmix. From the Horn of Africa to the centre of shoreditch, this is one not to be missed. Expect some off centre global beats.

for concessions email info@wearerhythmsection.com

Other performers includeDorothea Smartt, a poetess-extraordinaire of Bajan descent. We also have Sai Murai, a funkadelic genius whose cadences have a soulful flow. Then there are Elmi Ali and Sam Elmi, two Somali wunderkinds…

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