The Roving Reader Files
People disappear from history all the time. No written records, no treasured belongings handed down as heirlooms, no-one still around to remember… There are lots of reasons. But one of the most successful film-makers of his era? That’s unusual…
Take a look at this:
Jo Manby has taken a break from reviewing books to find out about self-portrait artist Samuel Fosso.
On a recent city break in Paris, we came across the privately run Galerie Jean Marc Patras. It was a cold February morning in the Marais – an area known for its arts and culture – just down the way from the Picasso Museum. In the windows of the gallery were two imposing works from Samuel Fosso’s Emperor of Africa series. These showed the artist gazing into an indeterminate, glorious distance, his face made up to represent the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, his figure dressed in Mao Zedong’s uniform-styled outfits.
Samuel Fosso Autoportrait, “Emperor of Africa” series 2013
© Samuel Fosso
Courtesy Jean Marc Patras / Paris
The Roving Reader Files
It may not have felt like it at the time, but on 28th March this year we all lost something special. No, I don’t mean our wallets or our smart phones. What we lost was something even more important – a bit of global conscience. What do I mean? It was the day South African veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle Ahmed Kathrada died, aged 86.
Ahmed Kathrada may not be a name you’re very familiar with. Yet even as a youth this man had stood shoulder to shoulder with Nelson Mandela and other great anti-apartheid leaders right from the beginning of the campaign against the consolidating apartheid state in the 1940s. He was also with Mandela throughout his long incarceration.
Ahmed Kathrada in 2016. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Book review: Jimi Hendrix – Soundscapes by Marie-Paule Macdonald (Reaktion Books Ltd: London, 2016)
Review by Jo Manby
Marie-Paule Macdonald’s electrifying study of Jimi Hendrix charts the experiential and musical trajectory through his tragically short life. It also seeks to pin down which elements contributed to his innovative power as the pre-eminent pioneer of electric guitar playing.
By Jo Manby, Project Administrator
Kotha & Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project (BWMP) funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England – Grants for the Arts Award, and the Education Trust, and supported by the Longsight-based Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation Ananna, and Archives+, began in April this year. Right now, we are tying up the evaluation and the final details of the project as the summer progresses, giving us time to reflect on the impact it has had already.
“I have learned to sew and write stories and poems and enjoyed photography.”
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. Kotha and Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project
Picture: Jason Lock
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Picture © Jason Lock Photography
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We decided to work with the Bangladeshi community because 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, the Bangladeshi boy murdered in the playground of a local Manchester school, and in whose memory our Trust and Centre are named. We are also carrying out an HLF project ‘The Legacy of Ahmed’, collecting oral histories. The Kotha & Kantha project has complemented and enhanced the HLF project and the artistic outputs of the women’s work will be showcased at a larger celebration event for this project, and be included in an exhibition in the Community Exhibition space in Central Library.
Book Review: The Black Panthers Speak, Edited by Philip S. Foner, new Foreword by Barbara Ransby (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2014)
(first published by J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia & New York, 1970)
Review by Jo Manby
The Black Panthers Speak is a bibliographic archive of correspondence, news, rules, speeches and poems – the documents that underpinned the fabric of the Black Panther Party’s (BPP) organisation.
The 2014 republishing of The Black Panthers Speak, an essential documentary history of the BPP, is indeed timely. Compiled and edited by Philip S. Foner (1910-1994), this is a new edition with an updated foreword by the writer, historian and political activist Barbara Ransby. When first published in 1970, the volume sought to counter the many misinterpretations that the BPP was subject to.
The Roving Reader Files
Previously we pored over correspondence revealing how Tennyson Makiwane got to the UK in 1959. Bringing an authentic Black South African voice to early UK anti-apartheid proceedings, he was crucial to the success of the Boycott Movement of 1959 to 1960. Tennyson Makiwane was a public figure, appearing before crowds and rallying support for his cause. But what about his sister Daisy?
Like countless individuals before and after (especially women), Daisy Makiwane has all but slipped into the uncharted shadows of history. Although we now know she was a significant player in transmitting the funds for Tennyson to travel to the UK, we have to admit that little survives concerning Daisy herself.
But hold on there! Take a look at this flyer…
Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history – Carter G Woodson
Manchester is gearing up for Black History Month (BHM) in October – take a look at the programme of events happening across the city on the BHMGM website. Out of our own events this year I’m especially excited about The Different Voices of Nina Simone poetry workshop and You Hide Me: African Art in British Museums film screening.
Although BHM has a distinctly cultural flavour, it has always been about education. Back in 1987 Akyaaba Addai-Sebo explained that October had been chosen as the UK’s BHM because in Africa it is traditionally a time of plenty, of reconciliation and of bequeathing wealth and knowledge to the next generation. This coincides nicely with the start of the British school year, when children’s ‘minds are refreshed and revitalised, so they can take in a lot of instruction’. Quite right.
Source: David from Washington, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The education of children was at the heart of the work of Carter G Woodson (1875 – 1950), the so-called ‘Father of Black History’ and founder of Negro History Week, the precursor to today’s US and UK Black History Months.
Hardit Singh Malik was the first Indian and Sikh to become an officer in any of the world’s air forces. David Orman has been researching this fascinating history.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon early in 1918, a delegation from the Indian Government was taken from Manchester’s Midland Hotel, where they had enjoyed luncheon, to the Athletic Ground in Fallowfield, just a short distance away.
There, Manchester Chamber of Commerce presented them with an aeroplane – a Sopwith F1 Camel – to mark ‘Lancashire’s appreciation of the splendid part which India was playing in the war.’
The pilot who would fly the Camel from Manchester was 2nd Lt. Hardit Singh Malik.
Flt Lt Malik in Manchester. Image in the public domain.
So two weeks on from the general election and I know we’re all pretty sick of politics, not to mention politicians, but I couldn’t let this week pass without a quick nod to Mohammed Afzal Khan MEP who was invested as Manchester’s first Asian (and youngest) Lord Mayor 10 years ago.