The prompt today reminds me I want to pay tribute to many people including one of my favourite poets: Muhammad Ali. I am working on a tribute. For now here’s my recreation of his Recipe for Life.
I tried to recreate Muhammad Ali’s recipe for Life
As yet I haven’t mastered it right.
I need more patience. My ingredients are running low.
I put in too much laughter, when it’s more concern I add to grow.
Faith is an acquired taste and can get a little tricky.
I keep a bagful with me, in case I need some quickly.
My friends use little and large between them and I ask for their advice.
I use more alone so as not to offend because I want to do it right.
It’s always there though not running spare as I don’t want to run out –
Noone can argue with love and happiness I freely spread them about.
needs filling up, I’m a few cups short of the recipe.
Concern and kindness are in large supply but my problem is the moderation.
Willingness is somewhere in the back, a few burns is what used up all my patience.
Once it’s perfected, upon reflection,
I can say I learnt from the greatest.
Damon Albarn has been building up the release of his debut solo album Everyday Robots with a series of heavy-hearted song clips.
The piano led song ‘Heavy Seas Of Love’ which features Brian Eno on guest vocals is the latest. The music box melody contrasts with melancholy vocals and overall is a mellow mid-tempo treat.
Other songs include the title track and ‘Lonely Press Play’.
The information accompanying the video for ‘Lonely Press Play’ explains it was “shot by Damon on a tablet and you’ll see scenes from Tokyo, London, Dallas, Utah, Colchester, North Korea, Iceland and Devon.” Albarn has always embraced modern technology with music. With Gorillaz, the visuals were the source of a new live experience.
From what we’ve seen so far from Albarn’s Youtube clips, for his solo project, there seems to be sadness in the social commentary.
The lyrics, visuals and vocals all seem to be grieving for a population that have become disconnected from real life when ironically, we are living in an era where the world is within our touchscreen fingertips.
For the ‘Everyday Robots’ video, Albarn sings “We are everyday robots on our phones” as we watch the process of a human face forming in a digital animation. It’s a thought-provoking concept that reminds us to think what it is, to be human.
The single ‘Heavy Seas of Love’ will be available for download from April 27. The album Everyday Robots follows the next day on April 28.
Damon Albarn is set to perform with his current band, The Heavy Seas, in London before heading to New York to headline the Latitude Festival.
Lapiro De Mbanga, one of West Africa’s biggest names in music who fought against political corruption in Cameroon, died of cancer this month after living in exile in America the past two
In a country with one of the lowest working wages for its people; where homosexuality is illegal and a government which censors musicians and journalists for questioning its dictatorship rule, where does Cameroon’s future lie?
Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who calls for peace in his latest song One Africa, said: “A song can get the message out there quicker than a political speech.” But it is the People’s Democratic Movement Party and Cameroon’s President since 1982, Paul Biya, who has censored musicians, jailed them and according to De Mbanga “tried to kill me twice” for messages in songs.
De Mbanga, who sang and rapped in pidgin – a mixture of English, French and local languages, has over 30 years of hits, which were regularly censored for their political themes. He gained millions of fans from a population frustrated and disenfranchised in their country.
It was 2008’s track Constitution Constipée (Constipated Constitution) that upset the powerful political party most. It criticised President Biya’s proposed constitutional amendment which would remove Cameroon’s two-term presidential limit, to allow Biya to stand for re-election.
Despite being banned by TV and radio, the song became an inspirational anthem among the student demographic who held protests pushing for reform. De Mbanga was blamed for his music influencing riots in which 40 people were killed and after an unfair trial he was jailed for three years.
The Danish-based NGO Freemuse (Freedom of Musical Expression) led an international campaign for De Mbanga’s release. In partnership with human rights activist Deeyah Khan and Grappa records, Freemuse released the album Listen to the Banned (2010) full of censored artists which featured Constitution Constipée. In an interview De Mbanga said: “If Freemuse hadn’t publicised my case worldwide, I’d have been dead long ago”.
Following his release from jail in 2011 De Mbanga produced more anti-Biya songs and in 2012 he received political asylum in the US.
A book De Mbanga began working on last year, The Planned Death of a Freedom Fighter, is set for release this year. Also due in 2014 is a film about the country’s censorship laws from exiled Cameroonian radio journalist Issa Nyaphaga. De Mbanga’s fight to expose corruption and speak up for the rights of the Cameroonian people lives on.
Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers. ~ Sampat Pal Devi
Ordinary people are making a change: Sampat Pal Devi, a mother from Uttar Pradesh, has kicked off a movement for women in India.
In 2006 Devi tried to intervene and stop a man from beating his wife in public. There was no reprimand for him and so she returned to the scene the next day, with five more women – brandishing bamboo sticks. They had come to find the man and teach him a lesson.
Word spread around the village of Devi’s lead and women came to her, eager to join in future quests. The Gulabi Gang was born. The troop is now over 40,000 members strong; wear a uniform, carry sticks and have since sparked similar movements around the country.
It’s a bold battle in a deeply patriarchal culture which is rife with caste divisions, (female) illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages, dowry demands and high rape statistics. The group have even visited police stations to battle with officers who refuse to register complaints of abuse against women.
Devi’s work has unearthed corruption and given a voice to both men and women who are all against abuse. In a system where women aren’t educated, Devi taught herself basic literacy skills as a child and now teaches her group members.
The Gulabi Gang have many missions and one of those is to ensure that people born under the lowest caste have an education, avoid child marriages and earn a decent wage.
If reasoning with abusers and corrupt officials doesn’t work, it is Sampat Pal Devi’s style to then shame them publicly and beat them.
Sampat – Keep on fighting – we are all with you!
To donate funds to the Gulabi Gang, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details Full Name, Contact Address, Phone Number and Email Address.
Last year a documentary celebrated their journey: IMDB Gulabi Gang (2012) but you can listen to Devi’s words and see the amazing woman in action in many news reports on Youtube. This is one of my favourites:
A change in UK law announced this week will allow foster children to stay with their carers until they’re 21.
Over forty charities successfully pushed the government for the amendment to the current system, which forces foster children into independence around 16 or 17 years of age. Once left to cope on their own, care leavers can become isolated.
Some local councils have the funds for children to stay in foster care until they are 18. Now the Department for Education is imposing a legal duty on all councils to provide financial support for foster families who wish to stay together longer.
The government has pledged £40m over the next three years to fund the plan and the act will be introduced into the House of Lords at the third reading of the Children and Families Bill next year.
The news comes in time for Christmas, a special day on which most care-leavers spend alone.
The Topé Project , set up last year to give care leavers a happy Christmas, was named in memory of Topé, a 23-year-old care leaver who sadly took his own life. Last year, the charity gave over 70 young people an amazing Christmas time – meeting each other, playing games, eating, getting presents, sharing pain and promoting positivity.
There is a massive need for this event, just check out the response to their work on their Just Giving pagewhere you can of course donate for this year’s Christmas day for care leavers.
Tope’s friend, Jerome Harvey Agyei, told Ruth Stivey in an article for the Guardian last year:
As well as our pioneering and fun Christmas Day event – which aims to bring together care leavers, create positive memories and inspire them – we want Topé’s legacy to be promoting more emotional support for children in care and care leavers.
It was reported last year by the Young Minds charity that 60% of care leavers have mental health problems and suicide rates for care-leavers are almost five times higher than for their peers.
The concerns for those in care
The news of the proposed £40m budget over the next three years has fuelled a lot of questions.
Will councils have to make cuts from other vital services to fulfill their new legal duty and will the new law apply to foster children in England or the entire United Kingdom?
Surely, all children should be treated equally, which is why these questions must be addressed.
Plus there are concerns about supporting children in residential homes as well as foster care under this amendment.
Children’s charities have always asserted it is a moral obligation that the children of the state, who are taken away out of bad environments, should flourish in their substitute situation.
These children need more than a place of shelter. They need emotional security, even when they leave their foster home. It can be deemed unethical for carers to keep in touch with the children they fostered.
This is why the change in the law is important. Most parents don’t throw their children out when they turn 16, they nurture them until they are secure enough for independence.
Nor do they cut ties once their children leave home. If foster parents can keep in touch with children they cared for, it would mean care leavers have the emotional building blocks of a family to return to and a place to call home.
If you come across the name Imani Hekima on YouTube, Spotify or SoundCloud, don’t just hover by.
Imani is an interesting lyricist and writes memorable material; mix this with his rhythmic grooves and a sweet-like-chocolate voice and he pulls you in straight away. He plays drums, bass and guitar and draws upon these skills as a writer/arranger. He has described his diverse sound as a mixture of some of Stevie Wonder’s older stuff with a reggae influence, soulful and socially conscious. It’s definitely progressive with the themes he sings on.
Imani’s first musical outing was back in the 80s with the Bradford ska/reggae band Spectre, with his two eldest brothers and school friends. Spectre supported Aswad, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Augustus Pablo and Junior Delgado on tour, before splitting in the early 90s.
He then did session work as a pianist and pursued an educational route, getting a BA honours degree in music. In the Noughties, Imani embarked upon a solo career, gigging and recording intermittently and in the past couple of years has released the singles “Shame”, “The Robots’ Rebellion” and “Just Beneath The Skin”.
In his debut album Imanifesto (2012); you can hear a lot of mixed influences from ska and reggae to Brit soul and Indian throughout.
Not surprisingly, Imani has a vast collection of records and CDs. He studies the artists he admires or anyone who is a master of the arts and he collects books on music, spirituality and metaphysics. He is definitely a soul singer; there’s a distinction in his tenor and falsetto voice, maybe because he uses it as a vehicle for social comment. Although according to him, that’s something he learnt from reggae:
“The reggae genre taught me about myself and about my history that I wouldn’t have learnt at school, so it’s all tied up with my self-development,” he said.
“Creatively I’d say I don’t want to promote sex and violence. I don’t swear in my music. There are no “N” words. And I suppose I don’t want to get personal with anybody. I might write about my personal experiences but I don’t want to channel anger. I don’t want to sing angry songs because music is something that I do to really quell whatever emotional feelings that I may have.”
He has toured with the album, released two videos and just before his album dropped, he was interviewed by club and radio DJ Mark Devlin as part of the Good Vibrations podcast series (which has featured Dead Prez, David Icke and Nesha formerly of 1xtra). Mark’s interest is the conspiracy angle of Imanifesto (microchips and terrorism are two of the subjects sung about) and where Imani will go next with his music.
Alongside his career as a singer-songwriter, Imani is an accomplished pianist. He has studied classical piano, is self taught as a jazz pianist and, reflecting his diversity, has developed a unique niche in performing renditions of Bollywood classic songs. His work as a Bollywood player was impressive enough to earn him a support slot to Raghav in 2009, and he plays at many weddings/events in the British south Asian community.