Could you name a British black intellectual, now Stuart Hall has gone?

February 15, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Guardian newspaper published the article below on 15/02/2014

As a pioneer of cultural studies and coiner of the term “Thatcherism”,Prof Stuart Hall, who died this week, was in the truest sense a public intellectual. He was also something else: probably the only black British intellectual who most people could readily name.

A bit of prompting might produce mention of Paul Gilroy of King’s College, author of The Empire Strikes Back and Black Atlantic, who has recently returned to Britain after several years in America’s more fertile ebony towers. But how many other black British thinkers have a public profile? Read the rest of this entry →

Jamaican Cultural Theorist Stuart Hall Dies, Aged 82

February 10, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

Stuart Hall. Photo: The Voice (http://bit.ly/MEM5wE)

Stuart Hall. Photo: The Voice (http://bit.ly/MEM5wE)

JAMAICAN CULTURAL theorist Stuart Hall has died aged 82, according to reports.

Hall, who grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, studied at Oxford and emerged as one of Britain’s leading sociologists.

Last autumn, Hall was brought to the big screen, in The Stuart Hall Project, a documentary and labour of love from acclaimed director John Akomfrah, for whom the academic is a personal hero.

Akomfrah said: “Stuart Hall was one of the few people of colour we saw on television who wasn’t crooning, dancing, or running…he was a kind of rock star for us [black teenage bookworms], a pop icon with brains whose very iconic presence on this most public of platforms – television – suggested all manner of ‘impossible possibilities’.” Read the rest of this entry →

Obituary: Richard (Dick) Hart, 1917-2013

January 5, 2014 in Blog

Richard Hart (right) receiving a gift from Audrey Smith of the PNP Women's Movement, while Everton Pryce looks on during the celebration of his 75th birthday in 1992. (Credits: The Gleaner)

Richard Hart (right) receiving a gift from Audrey Smith of the PNP Women’s Movement, while Everton Pryce looks on during the celebration of his 75th birthday in 1992. (Credits: The Gleaner)

We mourn Richard Hart who joined the Ancestors after a long life of struggle for workers’ and peasants’ rights and against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Dick as he was popularly known, was a founder member and Honorary President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity. An avowed Marxist and socialist lawyer, Dick Hart acted as legal consultant to Maurice Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government in Grenada, becoming its Attorney General in 1982 until the demise of the Revolution and the subsequent US invasion of that island in October 1983.

Dick Hart’s life-long work started when he was not yet into his twenties. His political activism which both drew upon and informed his theorizing, his praxis in other words, and especially his writings on slavery, capitalism and colonialism places him in the same league as CLR James, Eric Williams and Walter Rodney (to name but a few).

What is common to the work of all those giants is the position of enslaved Africans on a spectrum that runs from the Middle Passage itself, to the plantations, to the reconfigured plantations under neo-colonialism, to the betrayal of workers’ and peasants’ struggles by successive neo-colonial governments that have been wagged by the tail and the nose simultaneously by former colonialists and imperialists whose shoes too many have been massively eager to fill. All those ‘giants’, irrespective of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, forged their politics against the backcloth of the work of the Rt Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the movement in the Caribbean towards Pan-Africanism to which it gave rise.

Dick Hart’s death comes at a time when the debate about reparations for the enslavement of Africans and their use as chattels to create the wealth upon which most of Western Europe was built is gaining pace.

WATCH: Gus John, Richard Hart & the campaign for the release of the Grenada 17

A report in the Jamaica Observer 12 December 2013 notes that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Reparations Commission, chaired by historian Professor Sir Hillary Beckles, said that ‘its first report that speaks to reparatory justice for the region will be ready for submission to next February’s Heads of Government meeting. Sir Hillary Beckles said following consultations with British attorneys from Leigh Day, which he described as an internationally respected law firm that specialises in cases of this nature, the commission agreed that Caricom member states should request reparatory dialogue with past slave-owning European states — Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark in a move to formulate a new development agenda for the Caribbean’. Read the rest of this entry →

Redeeming the Heirs of Apartheid?

December 23, 2013 in Blog

Credits: Print screen from The Guardian's website (http://bit.ly/1jzNTGi)

Credits: Print screen from The Guardian’s website (http://bit.ly/1jzNTGi)

She has been dubbed Mandela’s rock’.

So began a report by David Smith in The Observer on 15 December 2013 of an interview he did with Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s ‘closest aide’.

Staying with the prevailing theme of the world wide coverage of the death of Mandela, i.e., as the all forgiving, revenge and bitterness eschewing, conciliating father of the nation, the report focused on the rise of la Grange, a young Afrikaner, from the presidential typing pool to becoming Mandela’s ‘right-hand woman and, in effect, his white granddaughter’. Read the rest of this entry →

Mandela! Mandela!

December 11, 2013 in Blog

The people of South Africa honoured the Father of their reclaimed nation on a world stage yesterday. In doing so, they honoured themselves, their suffering, their struggle of resistance against apartheid and their determination to realise Mandela’s dream. Many, I am sure, would have preferred to sing and dance and celebrate the colossus they and the world have lost, rather than listening to speeches, except perhaps that of Barack Obama.

His was the only speech (see below) that received an attentive hearing and that explored the meaning for the world and its leaders of what Mandela stood for and lived by, the only speech to challenge the assembled world leaders to live Mandela’s values and show evidence of following his example.

Jacob Zuma not only failed to inspire, he was booed repeatedly by his own people in front of the people of the world and their leaders.  Those waiting to hear what he would do with Madiba’s vision for South Africa and for a better world and how that helped to shape his own vision and direction of travel waited in vain. Read the rest of this entry →