Monday, 21 November 2011

Solidarity and justice for Stephen

Doreen speaks at the Shake! Preview, Feb 2011
'I can't tell you what art does or how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last."*    (writer and activist John Berger)

On 16th November 2011, the re-trial finally opened against two men accused of taking part in a racially motivated fatal stabbing of Stephen Lawrence 18 years ago at a bus stop in Eltham, London. 

Doreen Lawrence, family, and supporters have campaigned long and hard for this moment, not only fighting on multiple fronts to take on the system, but also bringing creativity and hope through the work of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. The demand for justice for Stephen has been a central issue for Shake! and everyone at Shake! offers our solidarity with them in this intense and urgent process of re-trial.

Shake! sees what happened to Stephen that day as symptomatic of a deep psychosis at the heart of Britain that must still be confronted and countered daily. Equally symptomatic is that the police investigation was negligent to the point of racism. This was

Friday, 11 November 2011

More on Britain on Trial

See an interesting review by a participant in Britain on Trial - Gloria Dawson - on the Platform blog.

And here is some feedback from Shake! young poets Rotimi Skyers & Selina Nwulu:

What did you get out of the whole thing? What was the most interesting aspect for you??
Nathaniel reads

ROTIMI: There was a lot more of a connection between two generations. Normally we get preached at and hear what they are saying, but we don't normally listen to what they went through. My parents grew up in that generation but it's not like I really listen to them and I didn't realise we have more in common than i thought, especially when we saw visual images - the films - that hooked me. 

The whole asylum seeking thing - I didn't realise it was that bad. In school they don't speak about them in a good way and I didn't see it a major issue or how it relates to racism, but today it helped reinforce the fact that racism is an international issue which needs to be put on trial.
SELINA: To see the journey an idea takes from the Britain on Trial poem to the event was really cool, Hearing different perspectives on topics that I didn't previously know about  was really interesting. The mini-lectures were the most interesting for me. I liked all of them but I really really liked the third one on displacement. All the speakers complimented each other complemented really really well.

What did you learn that was important for you? Or surprised you?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Zodwa Nyoni - A Letter for Mama Oluwale

One of the most successful aspects of Britain On Trial was the coming together and sharing of experiences between active, articulate, dedicated young people from two different parts of the UK and from two different artistic organisations - Leeds Young Authors and Shake!.

Zodwa Nyoni, a Leeds Young Authors alumni (Leeds Superheroes of Slam winner 2011 & Voices of A New Generation winning poet coach 2011 just the latest of her long list of acolades...) was a part of the 15 minute speed-lecture on "Racism, Young People and the Police" and followed poetry from Shake!'s Rotimi and Selina - who opened proceedings with Britain on Trial and her response to Stephen Lawrence's murder, Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Zodwa provided the perfect closing contribution to this opening speed-lecture by bringing the topic back home to Leeds with a dedication to David Oluwale - a Nigerian killed in police custody back in 1969 and still, over 40 years later, the only case ever of criminal convictions for officers involved in a police-related death since records began in 1970.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Esther puts BRITAIN ON TRIAL for Libyan War Crimes

AFRIKA SPEAKS with Sister Ekua
Weds 8-10pm
We were incredibly fortunate to have Esther Stanford-Xosei feature on our Britain On Trial programme and the Verdict she delivered to bring together all the issues of the day was a powerful, fitting and marvellous close to the event. Audio up on the blog soon...

As ever, Esther continues her amazing campaigning and activism for global justice and her show tonight picks up the Britain on Trial theme concentrating on Britain's war crimes in Libya.

You can listen to her show Afrika Speaks on Voice of Africa radio tonight and every Wednesday from 8pm-10pm.

Full details below:


The barbaric summary lynching of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on October 20, 2011 and the circumstances leading up to it raises some serious questions about who should be held to account for the war crimes and other violations of international law committed by the Western-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) rebels and NATO forces.