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Kokumo Noxid The Dub Poet

Kokumo is a cultural anthropologist and dub-griot, who uses his skill as a dub-poet and singer songwriter to captivate. Check out some of his works here.

REVOLUTION OF THE MIND

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On the 26th of November 2016, the world woke up to the sad news of the passing of the father of international `Nationalism`, the Dada of the most successful revolution of the 21st century, against white imperialism and oppression.

Fidel Castro along with Che Guevara and other comrades, not only gave the people of Cuba a new hope, but gave the world new ways of thinking and the notion that our oppressors weren’t invincible.

This gave rise to the idea of a system called, `Socialism`, or `Democratic-Socialism’, as it was called in other parts of the Caribbean. This system quickly spread to Latin America and to the continent of Afrika. Appealing to all the Afrikan countries still under the grip of western imperialism, with a desire for freedom.

In 1959 a coup d’état led by Castro and Che Guevara, successfully removed the US-backed tyrant Fulgencia Batista Zaldívar, who held power from 1952-1959.

Batista was a puppet for America and Cuba was the play-ground for the rich and famous, which includes corrupt politicians, mafias and basically those with the money and power to play openly.

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HONORED SLAVES

They say that we are a reflection of our past, but does today’s reality reflects an Afrikan past built on the great achievements of those gone before us?

The interruption caused by Arabs and Europeans, which resulted in the upheaval and enslavement of Afrikans, meant that some things might have gotten lost in translation, during the trans-Atlantic journey and colonialism in the West.

It is evident that some of the essence of what it meant to be Afrikan were compromised. These includes cultural heritage, education, and in some cases an entire Afrikan-centred consciousness. This signaled the beginning of a process of embracing an alien culture, as European influences and dominance invades the Afrikan psyche.

According to the Jamaican Rastafarian poet and philosopher Mutabaruka ,”Slavery is not African history. Slavery interrupted African history.”

After enduring over 400 years of enslavement and colonization, it is clear that Afrikans living in the Western Hemisphere have adapted a colonial mentality, which effectively meant taking on and maintaining a subservient role. It has become customary to put everything white at the highest level of their conscious self. Whether or not it is a conscious decision, for the sake of functioning within the realms of white privilege, it is bound to have some damaging effects, and overtime dilutes the sense of Afrikaness.

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SELFIE CULTURE – Has Narcissism Been Disguised As Beauty?

We live in a very visual society, where everything is visibly accessible. This visibility is made possible through the use of modern devices, such as camera phones and the access to social media.

This latest trend of visuality is called, “a selfie”. According to Wikipedia, a selfie is a self-portrait photograph typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a “selfie stick”.

Selfies has become part of popular culture and the rising trend of the ‘look at me now’ mentality. It is the objectification of beauty, mainly by the younger generation. Well, that’s what one may have thought, but selfies are not exclusive to age, gender nor colour. It is simply a state of madness indulged in by almost every fabric of society.

Labelling such behaviour as a form of narcissism is nothing short of a true definition of this selfie culture. Based on the psychoanalytical theory, ‘a narcissism is self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder’.

Photography and self portraits are nothing new and remains a reputable form of artistic expression. It is also a valuable process in recording, documenting and preserving historical memories.

Therefore, this is not a crusade on this new form of expression, as it will no doubt earn its place and some day become as important as all the other forms, which exist.

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Kokumo Noxid and the Legacy of the Griots

The griots of West Africa have been referred to as historians, storytellers, ambassadors, and entertainers. During the period of the transatlantic slave trade, their influence also spread in the “New World”. Snatched away from their family and homeland, isolated from their language and religion, they had no possible recourse to written testimony. Their knowledge and experience was passed on to subsequent generations via oral tradition and have thus survived down to the present day. They made use of all the means of expression available to them at the time, such as music, poetry, dance, and performance. Their legacy is a testimony of their own history and that of their people. This still lives on today on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, which has played a proud role in the long struggle for freedom and independence. The tradition of the African poets, the griots, has also survived in the form of dub poets such as Oku Onuora, Mutabaruka and Yasus Afari. Many of these modern-day griots travelled around the world as ambassadors in order to revive and pass on the oral traditions and historic reading of their ancestors. In the United Kingdom, to which many Jamaican immigrants of African origin migrated during the 1960’s in particular, their influence rapidly expanded during the second half of the twentieth century.

 

The Birmingham-based singer-songwriter and dub poet Kokumo Noxid brings together all the essential characteristics of a modern-day griot. His work reflects the life and the historical, cultural and social experiences of black people all over the world. It is a plea for justice and humanity, a cry for liberty and peace. In the spirit of the griots, Kokumo teaches that all future events have a relation to the past. Born in Jamaica, he is part of the second generation of dub poets. In the same way as the griots of West Africa, Kokumo uses music, poetry and performance as a means of expression. Over the course of the years, he has worked in many different genres, with numerous other artists, such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Linton ‘Kwesi’ Johnson, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze und Yasus Afari. His 2007 debut album “Writing’s on the Wall” is considered one of the best dub poetry albums of the past decade. In August this year, he published his book “Dub Truth”, a collection of poems written on his travels through America. “It’s based on observations, which encapsulates the juxtaposition of my reality…manifesting both thoughts and actions, to make sense of my reality,” he says. “It embodies I own truth, constructing and de-constructing perception based on ‘others’.”

Kokumo is a Yoruba name meaning, ‘this one will not die’. Just as the spirit and tradition of the griots will outlast all time.

In the following interview Kokumo gives some insight into his way of thinking.

 

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Busker's Paradise

© David Lloyd Henry © David Lloyd Henry
 
Music is like a current, it is never static. Always moving and changing in both pace and creativity. In this ever changing environment, musicians have had to adapt to those changes, which often involves taking on odd jobs, for some, it’s busking on the high streets in order to keep their craft alive.

Birmingham City is the epitome of diversity in the United Kingdom. It is unlike any other cities, with its laid back attitude and steady pace. This could possibly be attributed to its industrial past. There’s an eclectic mix of cultures; all competing for the same space to be heard, be it the hecklingshouts from an Eastern European selling from a market stall in the infamous Bull Ring market of Birmingham, or just the constant chatter of different languages spoken. Among this cultural melting pot there’s also the artistic expressions brought along by the immigrant population.

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Was This an Hypocritical Gesture?

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It has been almost thirty years since the death of reggae superstar Peter Tosh, who was shot and killed at his home, in Barbican, along with radio personality Free-I Dixon and Doc Brown. Finally, a museum has been established in his honour. Yet, most finds it ironic that it took the effort of a private citizen to bestowed such honours. Why didn’t it come from the government of Jamaica?

The event was marred with dignitaries from government, government opposition, the entertainment industry and the private sector, these includes the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Babsy Grange, and Downsound Records executive Josef Bogdanovich, among others.

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