INDEPENDENCE unSEEN Peek™ – REIGN FALL is Exhibit 26. within The Gleaner Archive Collection.
The Gleaner Archive Collection is a photographic body of work and touring exhibition which AFRICA: Seen & Heard curated and first presented to the British public in 2012.
The photograph captures a group of Brownies and Girl Guides huddled beneath a solitary umbrella awaiting the arrival of HRH Princess Margaret at Kingston’s Montpelier railway station during her visit to Jamaica to celebrate the nation’s Independence in 1962.
As well as being exhibited during an institutional tour including Hampstead Town Hall, The Hackney Picturehouse and Brixton Library, this image along with another GRAND ENTRANCE (Exhibit 31.) representing Jamaican Independence were submitted to The Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule on behalf of The Jamaica Gleaner via the AFRICA: Seen & Heard Diaspora Platform.
The Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meetings (CHOGM) are presently under way in London and the national news agenda is discussing several arresting and provocative issues surrounding the intergovernmental organisation of which the majority of member states are former territories of the British Empire.
Yesterday, Jamaican premier Andrew Holness raised the issue of the hostile treatment received by the Windrush generation of British citizens who were legal migrants to Britain with Prime Minister Theresa May. She had initially refused a meeting
May gave a personal apology to 12 Caribbean leaders for the threat of deportation and denial of free NHS healthcare to people of Caribbean descent who arrived as children after the Second World War.
It is important that we remember and respect the fact that the Windrush generation came to the United Kingdom at the invitation of the British government to rebuild their war ravaged nation.
It is not known how many of them have been deported back to the Caribbean or who have died or become terminally ill from denial of their right to NHS treatment.
2012 was a truly memorable year for A:S&H for many reasons and throughout each of its four seasons.
It was the year I launched AFRICA: Seen & Heard, an innovative, dynamic and novel brand operating within the international creative and cultural industries with a Core Mission to:
“Provide a positive platform that promotes the acknowledgment, celebration, dissemination and elevation of the diverse creative and cultural wealth inherent to Africa and her global Diaspora; c.14% of the world’s population.”
A highlight of 2012 that creatively, commercially and culturally empowered this ethos was my brand development and exhibition curation of The Gleaner Archive Collection.
As well as bringing unseen gems of Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean heritage and history into the view of the British public, the images selected and a multi-platform presentation perfectly synergised with the festive zeitgeist of the London Olympics 2012, HRM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence and Diamond Anniversary of Olympic Gold Medal victory in 1952.
It was a sparkling schedule…
The Gleaner, Jamaica’s foremost newspaper was founded in 1834 by brothers Jacob and Joshua deCordova.
Since inception the publication has played a major role in the lives of Jamaican citizens giving all echelons of Jamaica’s society reliable daily news, sustainable employment and progressive community support.
In 2012, The Voice, Britain’s Favourite Black Newspaper and an informative community institution in the United Kingdom since 1982 was a subsidiary of The Gleaner Company.
In May 2012, I was consulted to innovate Business Development opportunities for the Client and immediately realised the value of the photographic archive as a core cultural and commercial asset.
I successfully identified and strategised a Fine Art opportunity to fuse economic and creative business goals and in under two months curated, produced and launched the exhibition of The Gleaner Archive Collection.
When I had my initial vision for AFRICA: Seen & Heard I could not help but see and feel the potency and requirement of a cultural interconnectedness between the continent of Africa with her wide and varied global Diaspora.
This became a cornerstone of my Mission Statement.
My creation of the Diaspora Platform was to provide a programming pedestal that ensured acknowledgment and elevation of the diverse heritages and distinct cultures of Africa as a continent, her integral nations and wider global Diaspora.
A particular nation or cause could be engaged in or empowered by a bespoke creative, commercial or philanthropic project that allowed institutional collaborations that guaranteed adding value to and raising awareness of the country’s culture or the humanitarian cause using combined expertise, know how and wide global networks.
Jamaica was the ideal candidate to take this inaugural opportunity for a number of reasons: 2012 was the year in which the nation commemorated 50 years of Independence from the United Kingdom and celebrated 60 years of Jamaica’s first Olympic gold victories.
I believe that:
“If Africa is the heart of the Diaspora, Jamaica surely is its pulse…”
Jamaica enjoys a distinguished status within the African Diaspora and plays a pivotal role on the world stage, shaping global popular culture via its natural beauty and energy, unrivalled domestic goods and services and the transformative mediums of art, music, sport and social politics.
Pan-Africanism is within my DNA: I am Yoruba via Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Brazil, my ancestry bridges the old world and the New by blood and birth.
I enjoyed sharing The History of the Yoruba first published in 1921 by The Reverend Samuel Johnson on my first trip to Jamaica in 2004, it circulated the tough Kingston neighbourhood I visited and was returned respectfully thumbed with many saying they recognised themselves and aspects of their Jamaican attitude, inclinations and customs.
Second helpings of my palm nut stew were said to have tasted like a memory never experienced…
I returned to London with a copy of The Story of the Jamaican People by Philip Sherlock and Hazel Bennett, the first general history of Jamaica written in generations.
It is an evocative book that greatly pronounces the “original homeland of the African-Jamaican.”
I hope that the 40 images I chose from thousands within The Gleaner archive offer a fresh interpretation and deeper perspective on the evolution and development of Jamaica since her Independence from Great Britain in 1952.
“My goal was to showcase the social, political and cultural contexts which illustrate the nation’s unique vitality, industry and exceptional talent in a manner that both educated and excited the audience.
Within each image I see the first sentence in a Jamaican cultural essay and a worthy addition to many chapters of the definitive history of the global African diaspora which has yet to be written. ”
Placing Jamaica as the first nation on the AFRICA: Seen & Heard DIASPORA Platform with a focus on its rich cultural heritage and potent and globally popular musical culture during the Twentieth Century sparked an instinctive juxtaposition and creative synergy parallel with the United States of America and its own legendary performers.
As I appraised arresting images from The Gleaner photographic archive of musical artists and their stellar performances and uncovered a few gems belonging to The Voice, many of them reminded me of the captivating work of the acclaimed Jazz photographer and Hasselblad Master David Redfern.
David was inspired by my vision to holistically connect the diverse musical genres of the global African diaspora cultures of Jamaica and the USA within a photographic context and lent a selection of his most potent works to the gala opening of the exhibition which I realigned to harness Olympic momentum and entitled GOLD MEDALS & PLATINUM DISCS.
PRIVATE & PUBLIC VIEWS
An exhibition comprised of the 40 (+1) photographs I curated to form the foundation of The Gleaner Archive Collection was launched on Saturday 14th July 2012.
The 50 x 40 cm works mounted with black edging, a signature AFRICA: Seen & Heard presentation hallmark were unveiled in juxtaposition with a number of iconic David Redfern exhibits during the debut private view.
A select audience of cultural attachés from a number of UK embassies, London art lovers, discerning international collectors and respected global artists all gathered at Hampstead Town Hall for an exhibition within the Atrium.
Guests also enjoyed a gala reception featuring potent Yoruba diaspora drumming by Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua and irresistibly innovative canapés and cocktails inspired by obscure African diasporic regions, myth, historic eras and personalities.
I enjoyed developing our unique culinary offerings that offered a taste of the African diaspora and put the names of long forgotten ancestors on the tips of the guests’ taste buds:
Sally Lightfoot Shots, a riff on the Bloody Mary cocktail featuring angostura bitters, oyster sauce and sweet crab meat with an okra garnish evoked the memory of the Caribbean dancer who so enamoured a generation of sailors, a crab indigenous to the Galapagos Islands immortalises her dancing movement.
Yellow Dwarf, a velveteen concoction of corn schnapps, sweetcorn puree and voodoo lily was an homage to the Sun, Alpha Centauri A and the astro-cosmology within indigenous African religions.
Each Le Gris Gris, a vivid fuschia fashioning of gin, arbutus and apple juices and lemonade became a magical sensation of colour and form: the charm-like garnish of a whole arbutus fruit certainly captured the spirit of Haitian and Louisianan ritual folkways and those who drank it.
A:S&H Canapés encompassed diverse culinary and cultural motifs influenced by the cuisines of differing diaspora cultures such as Sirloin, Steamed Banana and Pepper Leaf Empanadas, Ackee and Smoked Salmon Croustades and Untouchable Chicken Brochettes inspired by African descent populations in Colombia, Jamaica and the Indian subcontinent.
A highlight of the evening was a charity auction executed by Christie’s, which I may blog about in due course…
After the exclusive launch, the exhibition then moved to the Hackney Picturehouse programmed as a main focal point to the venue’s Olympics 2012 and JA50 festivities – the exhibits meandered through public areas of the multi-storey building in carefully curated thematic capsule collections for a one month period.
17 exhibits were later shown by AFRICA: Seen & Heard within the Brixton Library to allow the local community the pleasure and contemplation of the potent works.
The exhibition has since been shown in other regions of the UK and in 2018 and beyond we will be identifying and programming opportunities for the works to be shown in appropriate artistic contexts and cultural institutions.
ART FOR ALL
The 41 photographic exhibits A:S&H curated to become The Gleaner Archive Collection can be purchased as 50 x 40 cm Fine Art prints and are also available mounted and framed to exhibition standard.
Each photograph is limited to an Edition of Fifty prints originally released to commemorate JA50.
If you would like to add a piece of Jamaica’s social, political or cultural history to your art collection or exhibit within your future institutional programming contact AFRICA: Seen & Heard to order or discuss your requirement.
Many of the nations within the African Diaspora which is universally defined as “the global population of people of African descent living outside of the African continent” are within the Commonwealth of Nations and include countries within the Caribbean and South America.
In 2012 when The Gleaner Archive Collection was created and first presented as a photographic exhibition, Jamaica was celebrating 50 years of Independence and HRM Queen Elizabeth II her Diamond Jubilee.
The Jubilee Time Capsule of memorable events over 22,000 days of the Queen’s service as Head of the Commonwealth was compiled as a commemorative gift by the Royal Commonwealth Society.
Along with the Centre for Black and African Arts & Civilisation (CBAAC) I assisted the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) to secure a variety of time capsule entries from Nigerian students from a number of educational institutions across Nigeria from primary to graduate education levels.
The RCS had previously failed to effectively engage Nigeria in its youth and education projects and appreciated A:S&H’s success in doing so.
It was a great honour to be invited to represent CBAAC and Nigeria at that year’s Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, particularly as the annual theme was “Connecting Cultures” something that is a cornerstone of all A:S&H does both commercially and philanthropically.
Working together to contribute to this historic Commonwealth project with our Nigerian collaborative institution CBAAC, a parastatal of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism empowered their mission to “protect, preserve and project” an enhanced understanding and appreciation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage, as it is tasked to do with all Black and African peoples.
AFRICA: Seen & Heard’s submissions on behalf of The Jamaica Gleaner are now part of The Royal Commonwealth Society’s permanent online archive that enables people around the world to learn more about life within the Commonwealth in an engaging and evocative way.
The current “WINDRUSH FIASCO” affecting Commonwealth citizens who have resided in Britain since the invitation of the British government after the Second World War – most notably the first group who arrived on board the MV Empire Windrush on June 22nd 1948 raises many questions about the status quo and future agenda of the “family of nations”.
Around 50,000 from the Windrush generation who never formalised their British residency status are at risk of deportation if they no longer possess the documentation to prove their right to remain in the United Kingdom.
It is shocking that the children of the generation of medical workers who came at Britain’s request to build the NHS from scratch are now being denied treatment for life-threatening illnesses.
Albert Thompson, 63 whose parents left Jamaica to settle in London during the 1960s, joined them as a teenager months after 1st January 1973. Commonwealth-born Britons continuously resident in the UK prior to this date have been granted leave to remain.
Thompson has lived here for 44 years and contributed to society through labour productivity and taxation. He is unable to receive the radiotherapy treatment required to treat his prostate cancer as he cannot provide officials with sufficient documentation to prove his continuous residence in the UK since his teens.
Many British citizens of Commonwealth heritage are currently being denied free NHS treatment which their taxes have contributed to. Many have lost their employment, pensions and homes and some have been detained like criminals awaiting deportation. Others have been deported.
Of the crisis currently facing the British government and Commonwealth leaders, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and Opposition says:
“This is a shameful episode and the responsibility for it lies firmly at the prime minister’s door, .. Her pandering to bogus immigration targets led to a hostile environment for people who were contributing to our country.”
On Monday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that a new Home Office team would be created to ensure that long-term UK residents who were born in the Commonwealth will no longer be classified as illegal immigrants.
I do hope that justice is served for all caught in the cross hairs of this current state of affairs and that we can all learn from the status quo to ensure that the economic and social power inherent to the Commonwealth can optimally develop all nation states equitably to mutual benefit and reciprocity in the new world order to come after Britain leaves the European Union.
The Commonwealth as a block comprises 52 countries spanning all of the world’s six continents and has a population of c.2.419 billion.
This huge market with access to almost one third of the world population posts a combined nominal GDP of $10.45 trillion; 14% of Global GDP and $14.623 trillion in Purchasing Power Parity (2014).
The opportunities for increased trade and investment between Britain and the Commonwealth after BREXIT and between Commonwealth nations throughout Africa and her global diaspora are varied, enriching and can be undertaken via truly equitable, universally beneficial frameworks, strategies and operations.
The connection of our cultures is old, deep and surely in need of realignment and revitalisation – Culture, both shared and unique will be the ultimate diplomat on the journey forward and A:S&H is geared to continue our part in the discourse that builds common ground to elevate our true wealth as individuals, institutions and nations.
© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and africaseenheard.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and africaseenheard.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
SEE The Gleaner Archive Collection presented by AFRICA: Seen & Heard within The Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule: http://www.jubileetimecapsule.org/search/GLEANER
HEAR the Commonwealth deportation stories of constituents of Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton and shadow secretary of state for international development:
UNDERSTAND “What is the Windrush generation and are they safe in the UK?”