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Community Magazine Autumn 2009

Issue 6

BLACK HISTORY MONTH EDITION

Black presence over 100 years in the City

Coventry Parks knock out 1966

Sound systems in Coventry since 1950s


Some of today's prominent Black History makers Most you will know, but are there some you have not heard of? Sporting firsts....Among the many “firsts”, we learn about Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer, back in 1886; Albert Johanneson, the first to play in an FA Cup final, in 1965; Viv Anderson, the first to play for England, in 1978; Paul Ince, the first to captain England; Garth Crooks, the first black chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association; and Hope Powell, the first black England manager (albeit of the women’s team). Andrew Jeptha, the son of a Cape Town carpenter, became the first man of colour to win a British boxing championship. He won the welterweight title in England on March 25th 1907. His reign lasted a brief six months and it was to be another 41 years before British boxing rules were relaxed to allow once again a black boxer to challenge for a domestic title. This year athlete Rachel Christie has been crowned the first black Miss England in the competition's history. Her uncle is British Olympic gold medalist Linford Christie, the most decorated British athlete. Rachel Christie, 20, who is on course to appear at the London 2012 Olympics, beat the competition to claim the prestigious prize at the event in central London.

Top left to right: David Lammy MP (First black Briton to study Law at Havard), Baroness Amos, Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Diane Abbot, Baroness Scotland, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Brian Lara, Usain 2 Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Shaun Wallace (first black Mastermind winner in 2004), Dame Justice Dobbs, (first BME High Court Judge), Courtenay Griffiths, Ellery Hanley MBE, voted the greatest British rugby league player of all time, 2007), Lord Bill Morris, Archbishop of York John Sentamu


Welcome to this Black History Month edition. In this edition we have tried to spotlight as many African Caribbean led organisations both past and present as we could remember. We were surprised when we sat down and thought about it just how many organisations there have been. We continue to acknowledge individuals who have made and are making significant contribution to the community and who are doing well in their chosen professions

Thank you to all those who submitted articles for this edition. Special thanks to the advertisers who have helped to make production of this magazine possible. We would like this magazine to be meaningful for you, if there is something you would like us to include please do get in touch. If you wish to discuss circulation, and or advertising, please get in touch. If you would like to contribute an article for future editions, please email me afca.org@btinternet.com or call 024 7622 3020 Advertisers in this edition : Fostering & Adoption Team The Notary Service

Articles included in this edition: 

List of African Caribbean led organisations—past & present

Interviews with: Trish Adudu (page 7) Eric Linton MBE (page 8) Babs Hay (page 9) Mehru Fitter MBE (page 16)

Features on:

Black History month events listings (Pages 10-12)

Winifred Atwell (page 14) Black soldiers in World War I (page 13) The Caribbean before European contact (page 18)

Disclaimer & Copyright The views expressed by magazine contributors, do not necessarily represent the views of ACCOL, Those articles written by third parties are the sole responsibility of the writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written. All trademarks, design rights, copyrights, registered names, mottos, logos, used in this magazine are the property of their respective owners and have been reproduced in this magazine with 3 their permission.


Caribbean led organisations past & present............Caribbean led organisations past & present In this Black History month edition we give a very brief snapshot of some key African Caribbean led organisations in Coventry both existing organisations and those which unfortunately (mainly due to lack of funding) are no longer around, those which are no longer in existence are listed in italics. ACCOL: An umbrella organisation that promotes activities that support community cohesion and tackles racism and discrimination. Provides advice to public and private sector organisations in Coventry about tailoring their services to meet the needs of the African Caribbean Community. Arts for All: Community Arts organisation Arawaks: Football team forerunners of Jah Baddis African Caribbean Centre for Young People (formerly Holyhead Youth Club)

{Vibert Cornwall (aka Ray King) & Chris Christie first & current Managers of Holyhead

The African Caribbean Development Unit, (ACDU) was set up by three departments within Coventry City Council and consisted of Social Services, Leisure Services and Education. The team was as follows: Al Glasford - Education, Austin Grant - Leisure Services, Viva Cummins - Social Services, Judy Seale— was the secretarial/admin support for the team. (Thanks to Judy for supplying information) Barbadian Choir & Community Association: Links with the National Council of Barbadians to support the Barbadian Community. Cariba Womens Group: Support group for Caribbean women Cariba Project: Was a service intended to support black and repeat offenders to re-settle into their communities.

Yolanda Williams, accepts an award on behalf of Barbadian Association at Barack Obama Inaugural event held at the West Indian Centre

Capacity Builders Project: A project that came about as a result of African Caribbean organisations getting together to obtain funding. Provided training, and other capacity building support to African & Caribbean organisations. Coventry Black Experience: Organiser and Co-ordinator of Black History month events WINA (West Indian National Association): Forerunner of the West Indian Association Coventry Black Boys Can: Assisting young black men to achieve academic and personal success. Descendants of Africa: Used to meet and practise Rasta chanting, African Dancing, and studied black history. Went on to organise some well attended events, baked and sold bulla cakes and ital vegetable patties to raise funds. Chalwa: Was a family oriented community organisation Fresh Enterprise Association Ltd: Organisers of the annual Caribbean Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2010. Frontline AV: Produces movies, drama, documentaries, animation for broadcasting and training for both corporate and community clients, works extensively with young people. Jah Baddis: Organised annual football and netball tournaments African Caribbean Business Association: Supported African and Caribbean small businesses Peggies Park Day Centre: Catered for the needs of people with learning disabilities as well as older people 4


Caribbean led organisations past & present......Caribbean led organisations past & present.. Tuesday Club: Provides day care and social activities to meet the dietary, physical, social, religious and cultural needs of mainly African and African Caribbean elders. Tamarind Centre (formerly Coventry Black Mental Health Association): Provides support to people in the community with mental health problems. New Testament Church: New Testament Church of God offers many ministries for people of all ages and walks of life who are looking to strengthen their relationship with Christ. The Church aims to be both a welcoming place and an inspiring source of hope, progress and opportunity. Church of God of Prophecy: The Church of God of Prophecy is a part of a worldwide organisation that operates in one hundred and twenty three countries. The Church is committed to the whole person through the delivery of social activities that promote their social and spiritual wellbeing Osaba Women's Centre: for over 25 years Osaba played a key role in empowering black women. Enriched Life Centre: (former Osaba Women's Centre) Aspires to build a multipurpose facility which is flexible in the use of space to the extent that their is a balance between the delivery of necessary Community services and being a self sustaining centre. Vine Street Centre: Former community building based in Hillfields Multi Service Enterprise: Travel agent and information service Glasshouse Productions: Offered music industry training, entertainment agency, recording studio, Democracy Record Label, recording studio. West Indian Wanderers Cricket: (see page 17) West Indian Centre: Community centre which provides social, recreational and educational facilities for the African Caribbean and wider community.

Coventry Evening Telegraph 22 May 1982

West Indian Centre Domino Team: Highly successful domino team who rarely lose a match! The team provide the opportunity for social interaction between members and people from clubs in other parts of the country. Keep the West Indian tradition of playing dominos alive. Unity: Was a family oriented community organisation St Vincent & the Grenadines Association (see next page) Zion Youth Project: Reaches out to young people using sports and drama to engage them. Lula G Project: was a supplementary school for African Caribbean children, also did outreach work in schools. If you were involved in an organisation that has not been mentioned, please get in touch and tell us about it. 5


SVGA—St Vincent & The Grenadines Association (Coventry) The Vincentian Association was first formed in 1972 by Mr Paul Pitt, and lasted for a couple of years and then folded. Around 1979, at the time when there was a volcanic eruption in St Vincent, Vibert Cornwall decided to revive the association, with the aim of raising money to go towards the disaster relief fund. The Association really became active in the ‘80s & ‘90s when they started having dances and other activities. Money raised from dances, and funding from charitable trusts, enables the group to provide the following:     

Social evenings for members, Dissemination of information about St Vincent & the Grenadines, Financial support for individuals in St Vincent & The Grenadines, particularly children who are gifted, A church service is held each year to commemorate independence (27 October 1979), They also offer support to families when someone passes away.

The Association were given the privilege of looking after four Caribbean Prime Ministers (St Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, & St Vincent & The Grenadines), when they visited the banana ripening plant at Walsgrave Triangle. The Prime Minister of St Vincent & The Grenadines also attended one of the Association’s events which was held at the West Indian Centre. The Association is an unincorporated community organisation Officers:

Vibert Cornwall, Chair Paul Clarke—Secretary Syreta Clarke—Vice Chair Malcolm Hoyte—Treasurer Vanessa Mercury— Assistant Treasurer Dannette Matthews—Youth Officer

Local Jobs Team will be in the lounge bar at The West Indian Community Centre, Spon St., Coventry every other Friday commencing 18th September from 1 to 3pm With details of full & part time jobs in and around Coventry For more details of this and times & dates of other venues throughout the City call Local Jobs on 024 76 81 81 66

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Trish Adudu TV & Radio Presenter. Formats Creator. Winner of an RTS Award: Best Sports Documentary (Fighting Back, the Michael Watson Story, BBC2) Trish started out her media career in TV as a Sports Producer on Granstand and Match of the Day; then got a taste for presenting and did a bit of presenting for the venomous Janet Street Porter on BBC's Reportage series. She then returned to sport - presenting the sports news for Channel Five for six years. She the decided to branch out a bit and went into Entertainment, presenting on daytime shows like ITV's Loose Women and Inside Out.

Don’t stop dreaming and look at Obama as proof that we can achieve anything What are you hopes & aspirations for the community? That we work more together What would you say to those who are not Involved in or maybe thinking about becoming involved in working/volunteering in a community organisation? Try it! It’s so rewarding

Trish was born in Bristol, but attended Barr’s Hill School. What is your greatest achievement to date? Becoming a mother to my handsome boys! Who influenced/inspired you to achieve what you have? My late father, Patrick Adudu, a strict but loving Nigerian who taught that education is the key to getting a better life. He was right, and it did. How easy/difficult have you found it to reach your goal? Have you reached your goal? Very difficult, it is true—being Black makes things more difficult to achieve. I did achieve my goal to be Britain’s first Black terrestrial sports presenter. Next is to create a best selling TV format. What have been your main challenges & obstacles? How have you overcome them? Main challenges? Changing people’s perceptions and having to overcome them by showing what we can do if given the chance. What keeps you going? My boys and my wonderful partner Ezi!! Plus the amazing and enduring support of my larger than life mum Francis! What advice would you give to others?

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Eric Linton MBE

Coventry’s first, and to date only, black point of view we will not get anywhere. Caribbean Councillor talks about why he feels ‘black’ people should become more involved “Leaders from the community need to be in politics. encouraging young people to get involved in politics. “It is no use saying we don’t want to be involved, we need to play our role. The party “Politics is not as simple as it sounds, if you is irrelevant. join a party no one will move aside for you, Being in politics gives you the opportunity to see the way in which you can change local issues. You have the opportunity to talk to people about how you see the way things are moving and going from a black perspective. The Council need to be talking to black people more and getting our perspectives. “We need to develop good relationships between the council and the community. The West Indian Centre has always had a fairly good relationship with the Council and to a certain extent the West Indian Centre and ACCOL have worked closely with the council and police and have been able to influence what’s happened, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The council should be seeking out people to be representatives, they have a responsibility to reflect the make-up of the city”. Eric feels strongly that the city council in the past has not done enough to enhance and give confidence to the Community that they are serious enough to want to do this. Over the years he has seen that progress has been made, but “it has been slow, just tinkering around the edges, there is still a long way to go, talking will not do, we need positive action. “We are living in a changing world and until the city changes to accept this from a global

despite all the talk of equal opportunity. You have to put your mind to it and fight all the way with the community behind you, not only the black community but the white community also”. Eric feels that Governments could do more to encourage and nurture more black Politicians. Did you enjoy being a Councillor? “Yes, at times however simplistic I felt that I was able to change or influence what was happening. As chair of the licensing committee at times I was able to see issues from a different perspective to my colleagues, whilst also understanding issues from their point of view as well. “It is hard work, but well worth doing and I would encourage colleagues if they are serious and want to make a difference to get involved”. When did you first become involved in politics? “I have been involved in politics since 1955. I first joined a trade union and was actively involved. Soon after I became a card holding member of a political party and took part in ward activities. I remained an active member until I retired”.

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Babs Hay

Head of Diversity, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire Born in Coventry, Babs comes from a family that is well known in Coventry for being involved in the Community. Which school did you go to? The less said about my school days the better…suffice to say those days are (happily) gone! I am what I am in spite of them, not because of them. What is your greatest achievement to date?

My achievements is a subjective matter, but if you want to know what/who I am most proud of; my daughter, Amira-Dee. She is a true blessing from the Most High, who I love to bits. Who influenced/inspired you to achieve what you have?

Life has been my inspiration and a worthy adversary, but it has been my ‘ignorance’ and ‘arrogance’ that has enabled me to progress. The more you tell me I can’t do/be/have something, the harder I will try to prove that premise to be wrong. Not to prove anything to you but for myself. No-one is better than me, but that does not mean that I am any better than you!

have total control of is how you react to life. Not necessarily at that instance but when you’ve absorbed what has happened, reasoned with yourself, then try and respond to events with dignity, understanding and compassion. No, I haven’t reached my goal, goals are a focal point; it’s the journey I take to get there that’s important.

potential. What are you hopes & aspirations for the community?

Overcoming people’s assumptions about me has been the most difficult. It seems that no matter how I present myself, others only see and hear what they want to see and hear. Many people find me challenging because I’m no shrinking violet. I’ve overcome this by simply learning to love and appreciate myself, flaws included. Those that really know me know that I am a fair, straightforward and sensitive individual.

That we try and regain some of our old values. It appears the more we liberate ourselves from racism the more self centred and thoughtless we’ve become. The more we achieve as a community the less community orientated we are. The more we do for our children the more frightening some of the outcomes are, for them. When our parents and grandparents came here, very few people would help them so they helped and supported each other, by giving somewhere to stay, or helping find a job or taking them to the blues/dance to make new friends. I hope that we begin to recognise that we only achieved what we have because of those values. As a community I want for us to aspire to have integrity in all we do and not to live down to other people’s expectations.

What keeps you going?

What would you say to those

What have been your main challenges & obstacles? How have you overcome them?

My daughter, my love of life who are not involved or maybe and what the future potentially thinking about becoming involved in working/ has to offer. What advice would you give to others?

volunteering in a community organisation? You are either

part of the problem or part of Your past is your own unique the solution there’s no middle history lesson, to teach you ground. Everyone can do something whether it’s being a life’s essential skills, to give committee member, teaching you knowledge and understanding. However, don’t dwell your children values and integrity or turning up for on things that you cannot community events, the change but squeeze every smallest of contributions is essence of learning from it. Always welcome. You don’t Don’t waste your energy have to sign your life away, actively ‘hating’, it only do/give what ever you are able destroys your soul and stops to do/give. We should always you from being the best that be grateful for all contribuyou can be. You are the How easy/difficult have you found it to reach your goal? mistress/master of your own tions and not look to blame Have you reached your goal? destiny and take responsibility others when things are not I’ve experienced many for your choices and actions. right if we cannot show how wonderful, and some traumatic The future is all there is, so we have tried to make a things, but I have tried to learn give thanks every morning you difference. from all my experiences even wake up and draw breath the worst. Everything happens because you have yet another Where will we see you in 109 for a reason, the one thing you opportunity to fulfil your years time? OLD! VERY OLD!


Coventry celebrates Black History Month Cllr Tim Sawdon, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Libraries, said, "Black History Month has been celebrated across the UK every October for over 30 years, each year growing from strength to strength. Black History Month is a time when we highlight and celebrate the achievements of the black community here in Coventry, with a full programme of events for the whole community to take part in. Whatever your interest, there's sure to be something for you here. Displays and book promotions celebrating Black History and Culture will be on offer in all city libraries throughout October. Drop in to your local library to choose some books and have a browse." Pick up a full events programme from your local library or any city council reception - available towards the end of September. Saturday 3 October Storytime, Hillfields Library, 2.00pm - 3.00pm For 4 - 12 year olds. Come along and enjoy stories and take part in some hair braiding. All under 8's must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Saturdays 3, 10, 24 and 31 October Storytimes, Foleshill Library, 2.00 - 3.00pm For 4 - 12 year olds. All under 8's must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Tuesdays 6, 13, 20 and 27 October Rhymetimes, Foleshill Library, 1.30 - 2.30pm For under 4s and their parents. Come along and enjoy singing some rhymes. Tuesday 6 October Special Rhymetime for National Bookstart Day Foleshill Library, 1.30pm For under 4s and their parents. Come along and enjoy singing some rhymes. Refreshments available. Youth event, Foleshill Community Library, 5.00pm Come and join a chill-out evening, and take part in a Weakest Link style quiz - prizes to be won! Hot chocolate available for everyone. Thursday 8 October National Poetry Day Simon Pitt will be entertaining local school children with his performance poetry throughout the day. There will be a public performance for families at Central Library from 5.00 till 6.00 pm. Tel: 024 7683 2314 Book Club, Foleshill Library, 10.30 - 11.30am Come along and discuss books by black authors. An informal and friendly chat about books. Refreshments available.

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Thursday 15 October Roots Poetry, Foleshill Library, 6.00pm Come along and recite a poem from around the world to celebrate Black History Month. Refreshments available. Saturday 17 October Youth event, 11.30am Trace the History of Popular Black Music including R&B, HipHop, Soul, Reggae, Rap and Drum&Bass. Come along and use laptops, listen to different listening posts and produce a radio Podcast. Saturday 24 October Special Storytime at Foleshill Library 2.00pm - 3.00pm. For 4 - 12 year olds. Come along and enjoy stories and take part in some hair braiding. All under 8's must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Monday 26 October Storytelling Lenny Alsop visits Coventry libraries to help us celebrate black History Month with crosscultural storytelling sessions for 5 to 10 year olds Willenhall Library 1.00 - 2.00pm—Tel: 024 7678 6991 Jubilee Crescent Library 3.00 - 4.00pm — Tel: 024 7678 6981 Tuesday 27 October Storytime, Hillfields Community Library, 10.30 - 11.30am For 4 - 12 year olds. Come along and enjoy stories and crafts about African animals. All under 8s must be accompanied by a responsible adult. 27 and 30 October Caribbean Family History - Trace your family tree Central Library, 5.00 – 7.00pm Two FREE workshops to help you trace your family history in the Caribbean and back to Africa. Tel: 024 7683 2314 29 October Caribbean Family History - Trace your family tree Hillfields Library, 10.00am - 12 noon - Tel: 024 7678 6980 Older People’s week Cllr Heather Johnson, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said, “Coventry City Council is privileged to support International Older People’s Week. We are celebrating this week with many activities and events throughout the city for older people and their families. The week is a celebration of people coming together to share activities through the generations. We want to improve the quality of life, health and well-being of older people, by increasing activities for them and getting them more involved in the community. It highlights the contribution that older people make to the city and the opportunity to celebrate their lives with their families and friends.” As the highlight of the Week, on Monday 5 October, Coventry's Older People's Partnership is hosting an Older People's summit at The Belgrade Theatre, with a retrospective look at the work of the Partnership with an eye towards the future, for some 140 invited guests. The recent Green Paper on Social Care and Personalisation (looking at the individual's needs) will provide the foundation for discussions, with information stalls in the foyer, from 10.30am – 3.00pm. Look out for the colourful programme leaflet available from local libraries and city council 11 reception points in the run up to this event.


What’s on at the Belgrade The Belgrade Theatre is once again running the Critical Mass writing programme in conjunctions with the Drum in Birmingham and the Royal Court Theatre in London. We are looking for a new set of undiscovered writers from the BME communities to take part, so if you are 18+, have a talent for writing, and would love to see your work brought to life then this programme is for you! To get involved in this programme you have to submit a short PLAY or short piece of writing such as a short story or poem into us at: Belgrade Theatre Belgrade Square Coventry CV1 1GS Submissions must be in by 30th November so get writing! Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th October Rehearsed reading of extracts from 4 plays:  Leon Phillips - Decisions  Robert Lewis Owen Jones – Child Support,  Mathew E Cottrell – Too Hard Ears  Yinka Rickford- Anguin - Present A full workshop production of Lola Johnson’s - Monster Fit for a King Friday and Saturday Evening – Rehearsed reading of:  Hanz MacDonald - Monte di Verita A full production of Lola Johnson’s - Monster Fit for a King The new black showcase is the opportunity to see the results of an 11 week script writing course for first time writers from Black and Ethic Communities as we present a workshop production of one of those plays alongside script in hand performances of extracts from 5 more. From a mysterious beast terrorizing a Nigerian village to the Arab Israeli conflict played out in a pizza delivery shop in Coventry be the first to hear these exciting new voices from the playwright’s of the future. Performed by a company of professional actors and members of the Belgrade Community & Education Company.

UNITY IS STRENGTH Roots—Lovers Rock—Reggae Commemorating West Indian Culture Friday 30th October 2009 The Jolly Beggars Club, Spon End (Next to Suzy Q’ Pool Hall)

Sound off 9.30pm—3.30am Featuring music & live performances, food on sale 12


Lest we forget—Black Soldiers in the First World War Despite the overwhelming level of support for the war effort from the British West Indies, the War Office was initially hostile and reluctant to accept black West Indians to fight in the First World War. Despite this early unease, by the end of the war 15,601 West Indians had been recruited. 10,000 of whom came from Jamaica. They saw service in Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, East Africa, India, France, Italy, Belgium and England as members of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR). Of these, 185 soldiers were killed or died due to wounds received, a further 697 soldiers were wounded and 1071 died of sickness. The high level of illness has been attributed to the conditions of wartime service, with a poor and irregular diet, unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, poor medical care, climatic conditions and the high incidence of contagious diseases. The Regiment was awarded 5 Distinguished Service Overseas (DSOs), 9 Military Cross (MCs), 2 Member of British Empire (MBEs), 8 Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCMs), 37 Military Medals (MMs) and 49 Mentions in Dispatches.

brought in. They soon began to taunt and insult the BWIR soldiers. As relations deteriorated fighting broke out between the two groups. After the war, the battalions who were serving in France and Egypt were moved to Taranto, Italy, to join their comrades already there. Again they were used as "labour" battalions. On the 6th December 1918 members of the 9th Battalion attacked their officers due to their poor treatment. More incidents of insubordination followed as the troops refused to carry out duties that were assigned to them.

On 17th December 1918, about 60 sergeants formed the "Caribbean League" and one of their demands was that "the black man should have The fact that the British War Office was freedom to govern himself". The league was bereluctant to accept Black Soldiers can be shown trayed to Officers and it was disbanded early in in the deployment of the British West Indian 1919. Some soldiers were accused of mutiny and Regiment. The War Office determined that Black received sentences of between 3 and 5 years in colonial troops would not fight against prison. One man was sentenced to 20 years and Europeans; consequently most members of BWIR another was executed by firing squad. The functioned in non-combat positions, as labour authorities then made the decision to disarm the battalions when stationed in Europe. Two soldiers and disband the BWIR as soon as battalions of the BWIR were however involved in possible. fighting the Turkish Army in Palestine and Jordan where they sustained many casualties and Many black servicemen decided to settle in honours). Members of the BWIR also experienced Britain but as white seamen and soldiers were discrimination in housing, promotion, treatment demobilised and the competition for jobs in demobilisation and even pay. intensified, so too did the level of race and class antagonism, especially in London and the port Wounded BWIR soldiers were not spared cities. The more serious aspect of this was the prejudice and discrimination. In the autumn of numerous riots which erupted and the assaults 1918 about 50 members of the BWIR were being on blacks in the United Kingdom. treated at Belmont Road Military Auxiliary Because of the large-scale onslaughts on blacks, Hospital, Liverpool. All had been seriously and in an attempt to appease the British public, injured and had suffered wounds which had the government decided to repatriate as many resulted in foot or leg amputations. Relations blacks as they could and by the middle of between black and white soldiers were good at September 1919, about 600 had been first until some South African causalities were repatriated. 13


Winifred Atwell Winifred Atwell was born 1914 in the town of Tunapuna in Trinidad & Tobago. Her family owned a pharmacy and she was expected to join the business. She was however an excellent pianist and dreamt of a career in music. Winifred left Trinidad in the early 1940s and travelled to the United States to study with Alexander Borovsky. In 1946 she moved to London, where she had gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music. She became the first female pianist to be awarded the Academy's highest grading for musicianship. To support her studies, she played rags at London clubs and theatres where she initially earned only a few pounds a week. By the mid-fifties, this had shot up to over £5000 per day. By 1952, her popularity had spread internationally. Her hands were insured with Lloyds of London for a quarter of a million pounds (the policy stipulating that she was never to wash dishes). She signed a record contract with Decca, and her sales were soon 30,000 discs a week. She was by far the biggest selling pianist of her time. She is the only holder of two gold and two silver discs for piano music in Britain, and was the first black artist in the UK to sell a million records. Millions of copies of her sheet music were sold, and she went on to record her best-known hits, such as Let's Have a Party, "Flirtation Waltz", Poor People of Paris (which reached number one in the charts in 1956), Her stage persona was of a gentle, warm and dignified woman who came alive at the piano. Her dazzling smile and charisma could light up a concert stage. She was the first of the post-war "personality pianists", attired in dazzling clothes and playing directly to the audience with winks, grins and invitations to sing along. Though not a jazz pianist in the strictest sense, since she did not improvise, she is nevertheless regarded as one of the world's finest popular pianists, with a technique that featured a left hand maintaining remarkable bass lines while the right produced a delightful lyricism. Her piano style was widely imitated by other keyboard players such as Russ Conway. She herself believed that her finest work was her late-sixties albums, "Chartbusters", a tour-de-force of piano pops, and the exquisite album of standards variously released as self-titled or under the name "The Plush Piano of Winifred Atwell". Winifred Atwell's peak was the second half of the

1950s, during which her concerts drew standing room only crowds in Europe and Australasia. She played three Royal Variety Performances and appeared in every capital city in Europe, and played for over twenty million people. At a private party for Queen Elizabeth II, she was called back for an encore by the monarch herself, who requested "Roll Out the Barrel". She became a firm television favourite. She had her own series in Britain (1956-57) and on Australian television in 1960-1961. Her brilliant career earned her a fortune, and would have extended further to the U.S. but for issues of race. Her breakthrough appearance was to have been on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, but on arrival in America she was confronted with problems of selling the show in the south with a British-sounding black woman. The appearance was never recorded. In 1955 Winifred Atwell arrived in Australia and was greeted as an international celebrity. Her tour broke box office records on the Tivoli circuit, bringing in £600,000 in box office receipts. She was paid $5,000 a week (the equivalent of around £25000 today), making her the highest paid star from a Commonwealth country to visit Australia up to that time. She toured Australia many times and took on Australian guitarist Jimmy Doyle as her musical director in the 1960s. Her enormous popularity in Australia led to her settling in Sydney in the 1970s. Sydney served as a base for her worldwide performance commitments. Enjoying the deep affection of the public, she was nevertheless keenly aware of prejudice and injustice, and was outspoken about racism in Australia. She always donated her services in a charity concert on Sundays, the proceeds going to orphanages and needy children. She spoke out against the third world conditions endured by Australian Aborigines, which made headlines during an outback tour of the country in 1962. Dismissing racism as a factor in her own life, she said she felt she was "spoiled very much by the public." While a dynamic stage personality, she was, in person, shy, retiring and well read and, unlike many in the frenetic world of professional show business, keenly interested in and remarkably informed about issues and current events. Voracious in her reading habits and a devotee of Crosswords Winifred Atwell often returned to her native Trinidad, and on one occasion she bought a house in Saint Augustine. 14


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excellence, attracting visits from near and far. One of the most devastating moments in my working life was the receipt of a telephone call, informing me of the complete destruction of the entire library holdings of Foleshill Library through arson. I felt it was the end of the world for me as our largest multicultural collection, Born in Mombasa, Kenya, Mehru lists being including rare items, was sited there. Surprise, awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday surprise!!! I received more calls this time round Honours List for excellence in the provision of than I did when I was awarded my MBE. People library and information services to a culturally diverse society and a very complimentary report commiserated with me. This touching gesture, along with the support of my line manager, from Best Value Inspectors as the highlights of lifted me from the valley of despair that I had her career. sunk into. Who influenced/inspired you to achieve what What are you hopes & aspirations for the you have? community? I think it would be very difficult to single out just one person. I owe a lot to my parents who 2009, the year of the inauguration of Barack instilled in me some excellent values which have Obama as the President of USA, is a historic year stood me in good stead. The teachers and the for the whole world. It’s a clear signal to one head teachers of the two schools I had the good and all that nothing is beyond the realms of fortune to attend and the exemplary head human endeavour. Coventry has a rich tapestry teachers I worked under whilst teaching in of communities. I have seen excellent work done Kenya were highly influential in shaping my by ACCOL, CBE, the West Indian Centre, Black work ethics. Working for a customer-focused Boys Can, and many more organisations and service like Coventry Libraries and Information individuals. I would like them to succeed beyond Services, I could not help but be inspired by a their wildest dreams. I have a dream ... in which quote by Mahatma Gandhi, who famously said, “ I see diverse communities working side by side “A customer is the most important visitor on our to further the transformation of Coventry into a premises, he is not dependent on us. He is not thriving city, where equality, respect for one an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of another, harmony and prosperity reign supreme. it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is When posterity writes the history of the city, part of it. We are not doing him a favour by readers will salute the achievements of all serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving communities that have made Coventry their us an opportunity to do so.” home. Mehru Fitter MBE, is well known in the community, even if you don’t know her name, you will have seen her around at various events. We managed to persuade a reluctant, modest Mehru to tell us a little about herself.

What have been your main challenges & obstacles? How have you overcome them? I was the first professional to be appointed to manage a new area of librarianship. Every few years the arrival of a new community meant the introduction of new provision. Overnight you had to become knowledgeable – you had to learn quickly about the culture of new communities, areas of settlement, their leisure preferences. Also considerable research had to be undertaken to identify a specialist supplier. In one instance, the nearest supplier was located in Denmark. Learning was by trial and error. How did I cope? With the help of my wonderful and hardworking team, I forged strong links and partnerships with diverse communities. An avid learner, I learnt at a brisk pace, visited libraries in different regions incognito and imported good practice from outside. Outreach work became an important feature of my work. No opportunity for promotion, however short the notice was, was ever missed. Our hard work and perseverance paid dividends and before long we established a reputation as a centre of

What would you say to those who are not involved or maybe thinking about becoming involved in working/volunteering in a community organisation? Volunteering is a highly satisfying and rewarding experience for people of all ages. For those who have not yet started paid employment, voluntary work can be a fitting introduction to the world of work. It will be a useful selling point in your CV or job application. There is no shortage of volunteering opportunities. Whether you are looking for something commensurate with your skills or want to fill your gap year, you will not be disappointed. You will even benefit from training opportunities. As a volunteer with Positive Images Multicultural Festival, FolesHillfields Vision Project and Coventry Multi-Faith Forum, I have attended training sessions on outputs and outcomes, funding applications, event organisation, dealing with the media and these have stood me 16 in good stead.


West Indian Wanderers Cricket Club The West Indian Wanderers Cricket team started in the early 60’s and has had many popular and well known players, but here I have a conversation with perhaps one of the lesser known pioneers of the team, Joseph Walters. I asked Joe to tell me about his memories of the early days of West Indian Wanderers. “Most of the guys that started the team back in 1963 have sadly disappeared. We started playing on Foleshill Park, but soon got told by the council that it was too dangerous because the park was too small, which was true because the ball would often go into the road! They suggested that we move to the Memorial Park. We were then joined by some other guys who suggested forming a club. Initially we had around 50 members. I can’t remember who the first Captain was but Nigel Williams was the first Secretary and George Rodriques was President, other members that I can remember included Reggie Williams, Beris McClune, Ossie Graham, Ossie Holt, Keith Bent and Vincent Lee. I began to get a bit disappointed with the way the club was being run, we used to have fundraising dances at the Locarno, but then they started putting on beauty contests and giving away money. After a while I decided to give it up and passed my cricket gear to my son. Noel Pickin used to take my son to and from the matches. If you have a story you would like to tell about the early days of the Cricket team, please let us know Club cards & cover photograph courtesy of T Mercury

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The Caribbean before European contact The oldest evidence of humans in the Caribbean is in northern Trinidad at Banwari Trace where 7,000-year-old remains have been found. The earliest archaeological evidence of human settlement in Hispaniola dates to about 3600 BCE, but the reliability of these finds is questioned. Consistent dates of 3100 BCE appear in Cuba. The earliest dates in the Lesser Antilles are from 2000 BCE in Antigua. A lack of pre-ceramic sites in the Windward Islands and differences in technology suggest that these Archaic settlers may have Central American origins. At the time of the European discovery of most of the islands of the Caribbean, three major Amerindian indigenous peoples lived on the islands: the Taíno in the Greater Antilles, The Bahamas and the Leeward Islands; the Island Caribs and Galibi in the Windward Islands; and the Ciboney in western Cuba. The Taínos are subdivided into Classic Taínos, who occupied Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Western Taínos, who occupied Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamian archipelago, and the Eastern Taínos, who occupied the Leeward Islands. Trinidad was inhabited by both Carib speaking and Arawak-speaking groups.

The colonial era Soon after the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas, both Portuguese and Spanish ships began claiming territories in Central and South America. These colonies brought in gold, and other European powers, most specifically England, the Netherlands, and France, hoped to establish profitable colonies

of their own. Colonial rivalries made the Caribbean a cockpit for European wars for centuries. The Spanish, who went seeking wealth, enslaved the native population and rapidly drove them to near-extinction. To supplement the Amerindian labour, the Spanish imported African slaves. Although Spain claimed the entire Caribbean, they settled only in the larger islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad. Other European powers established a presence in the Caribbean: British colonisation of Bermuda began in 1612.

British West Indian colonisation began with St. Kitts in 1623 and Barbados in 1627. The former was used as a base for British colonisation of neighbouring Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla and Tortola; the latter used as a base for colonisation of the Windward Islands and the wider Caribbean area.

French colonisation also began on St. Kitts, with the British and the French splitting the island amongst themselves in 1625. It was used as a base to colonise the much larger Guadeloupe (1635) and Martinique (1635), but was lost completely to Britain in 1713.

 The English admiral William Penn seized Jamaica in 1655, and it remained under British rule for over 300 years.

seventeenth century. Caribbean Independence dates Antigua and Barbuda 1 November 1981 (from UK) Bahamas, The 10 July 1973 (from UK) Barbados 30 November 1966 (from UK) Belize 21 September 1981 (from UK) Dominica 3 November 1978 (from UK) Grenada 7 February 1974 (from UK) Guyana 26 May 1966 (from UK) Haiti 1 January 1804 (from France) Jamaica 6 August 1962 (from UK) Saint Kitts and Nevis 19 September 1983 (from UK) Saint Lucia 22 February 1979 (from UK) St Vincent & the Grenadines 27 October 1979 (from UK) Suriname 25 November 1975 (from The Netherlands)

 The Dutch took over Saba, Saint Martin, Saint Eustatius, Trinidad and Tobago Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, 31 August 1962 (from Tobago, St. Croix, Tortola, UK) Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Anguilla and for a short time Puerto Rico, together called the Dutch West Indies, in the

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Stop the Government Making Flights to the Caribbean Unaffordable ABTA is calling on people to write to their MPs and sign an online No. 10 e-petition to stop the Government drastically increasing taxes on long haul flights later this year. This will have a dramatic effect on the cost of flying to the Caribbean potentially putting visiting friends and family out of reach when people are already feeling the pinch financially. Currently if you fly economy to the Caribbean you pay the Government £40 for the privilege. From 1 November 2009 this goes up to £50 and from 1 November 2010 to £75, the flying poll tax being called Air Passenger Duty [APD]. This means a family of four going over to visit friends and relatives will pay £200 in tax this year and a whopping £300 in 2011. If you have paid for a little extra legroom in premium economy you will pay double these amounts. Earlier this year the Dutch Government ditched a similar tax on the grounds that the damage it caused their economy vastly outweighed the money going into Government coffers.

Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro & Serbia, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. For travel on or after 1 November 2009 Four geographical bands will come into effect based on the distance from London to the capital city of the country concerned (with the exception of the Russian Federation which is split east and west of the Urals):

0–2,000 miles from London 2,001–4,000 miles from London 4,001–6,000 miles from London over 6,000 miles from London

Band A Band B Band C Band D

The Reduced and Standard rates will continue The British Government is now backtracking on claims to apply. Rates of duty for 2009-10 and that APD is a green tax as already the £2 billion raised 2010-11 are as follows: each year is much greater than the cost of environmental damage caused by flying. UK airlines Band Reduced Rate Standard Rate will be joining the European Union’s Emission Trading 20092009Scheme in 2012 a much fairer and more efficient way 2010-11 2010-11 10 10 of addressing environmental concerns.

Band A

£11

£12

£22

£24

Mark Tanzer ABTA CEO said “These APD increases will Band B £45 £60 £90 £120 have a terrible impact on the cost of flying to see £100 £150 family and other loved ones both going to and coming Band C £50 £75 from the Caribbean. They will also discourage tourists Band D £55 £85 £110 £170 from visiting the islands with potentially devastating effects on local economies at an already difficult Full details, including the tables specifying economic time”. which countries and territories fall into each of the new APD bands, can be found at APD was introduced in 1994 and has seen www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2008/pbrn20.pdf. several increases since. Rates are as follows: For travel before 1 November 2009 Reduced Rates (economy seats) £10 for European destinations* £40 for all other destinations Standard Rates (premium seats, including business class only airlines) £20 for European destinations* £80 for all other destinations *EU Member States, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia-

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Autumn 2009 edition  

Autumn edition of Coventry African Caribbean Community Magazine

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