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DARCUS HOWE: LARGER THAN LIFE By Andre Moses

posted 5 Apr 2017, 05:25 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 Apr 2017, 05:47 ]
Darcus Howe
I was privileged to meet John La Rose and Darcus Howe, two giants of the campaign for respect and recognition for black immigrants and their descendants in Britain, when back in the mid 1980’s I had the opportunity to attend two editions of the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books in London.

The Bookfair was organised jointly by New Beacon Books, Bogle-L'Ouverture Books and Race Today Publications. John la Rose, Jessica Huntley and Darcus Howe were the principals of those three organisations.

John’s and Sarah White’s home at Stroud Green Road was the focal point of the after–the-days-activities lime where in addition to John and Darcus one could meet and interface with the likes of Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka, noted Kenyan activist and writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo as well as our own Earl Lovelace, among other writers and cultural activists from throughout the Third World.

In Brixton, where the Race Today Collective was based, you could meet CLR James or ‘Nello’ as he was called, and hang out with the renowned dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. As a young man in my twenties I treasured those experiences and learnt so much.

Hanging out with Darcus I learned firsthand about the Mangrove Nine, the Black Peoples March and the struggle against racism in Britain and even about QRC in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and a bit about Renegades in that pre-Independence period. I also met pan pioneers Philmore ‘Boots’ Davidson and Sterling Betancourt as well as Russell Henderson and got a firsthand account of the TASPO story, as well as the early years of pan in Britain.

I probably learnt more in those weeks in London than during all my time as an undergraduate student at UWI, because this was a first hand education from people and experiences I had only previously ‘met’ in books.

Darcus I will always remember you, compere, as a fighter, as a thinker and as a charismatic personality who humanised activism and made it a wholesome and enriching experience despite the inherent ugliness it fought against.

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Gerry Kangalee,
5 Apr 2017, 05:25
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