[Marxism] Linton Kwesi Johnson

Anna Fierling anna_fierling at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 29 09:33:04 MST 2006


it woz in april nineteen eight wan
doun inna di ghetto af Brixtan
dat di babylan dem cauz such a frickshan
dat it bring about a great insohreckshan
an it spread all owevah di naeshan
it woz truly an histarical occayshan   That song, “Di Great Insohreckshan,” tells the story of the Brixton race riots of 1981, when working-class Black and Asian immigrants teamed up with punks living economically and politically marginal lives to fight against the high rates of unemployment and rampant police brutality. Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poems describing the riots—and the decades of oppression that led to them—are striking. Johnson (known as LKJ to his fans) has to be spoken to be felt and, for some, just to be understood.
   
  Born in 1952 in the small, poor rural town of Chapelton, Jamaica, in the country’s pre-independence days, LKJ moved to England with his mother in 1963, along with many other Caribbeans from the Commonwealth seeking a better life. But at every turn, most of those Afro-Caribbeans—as well as their children and grandchildren—found that the Britain of opportunity and equality existed only in their dreams. Ghetto housing, poverty, and police and intra-ethnic violence marred and marked their lives. LKJ wrote about these people, eventually, setting many of his poems to a backdrop of reggae music in a form he called “dub poetry,” a term he coined. (A later generation of political British singers also known as dub poets has included Mutabaruka, Oku Onuora, and Macka B.)
   
  LKJ had a fire for political and race analysis from an early age. At university, he studied sociology; he later joined the Black Panther Movement—a British organization distinct from the American Black Panther Party—and worked with a number of British black radical political and musical collectives....
   
  full: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2943/


Anna Fierling
Otto-Suhr-Institut
FU-Berlin

"Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden."
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