AFRIKA AND DISAPORA WRITERS APPRECIATION EVENINGS (AMBA)
Celebrating the richness and diversity of Afrikan heritage writers past and contemporary throughout the diaspora, through the reading of their work and audience participatory discussion on its impact.
AFRIKAN HERITAGE WRITERS GROUP (AMBA)
The Afrikan Heritage Writers Group meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month. It was started in 2008, meeting in Homerton Library east London, before moving to its current home in the Dalston CLR James Library a few years later. It might well be the longest running such group in London. The group is a flagship project of the House of AMAU and the longest running one.
This mutual support group welcomes novelists, short-story writers, playwrights, poets and other creative writers. It is a development forum where participants can try out new material and share ideas in a friendly and informal atmosphere, giving and receiving helpful feedback. There is a mentor mentee arrangement that enables the more seasoned writers to pass their experiences the others.
Meet the AFRIKAN HERITAGE WRITERS MEMBERS
Baden Prince (Jnr) is a dynamic poet, performer and storyteller who has been a part of London’s thriving Live Literature and Spoken Word scene for more than a decade. Between 2003 and 2010 he was organiser, promoter and host of “Speakeasy,” one of the most popular and highly regarded poetry events in London. His own performance credits are myriad, and he was Writer-in-Residence with the London Borough of Havering’s Library Service in 2003/4 and again in 2007/8. As a writer and performer Baden engages reader and audience with a style that is warm, self-assured and displays an entertaining blend of insight and humour. He has appeared as a poet and storyteller at many prestigious events and venues, including; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Cambridge Festival and Rich Mix, Bethan Green.
Baden also has a considerable pedigree as a Creative Writing Tutor and Workshop Facilitator. His own work has been featured in various literary publications, notably “Rising” magazine and “The Rose and Thorn” e-zine. He is the author of “The Shadow Dancer,” a poetry pamphlet published by the Tall Lighthouse (sic) press.
Bridget Badoe McQuick
Bridget, also known as Lady Esi, is a writer who enjoys collecting and telling stories through various mediums including oral history, performance art and photography.
Her work has been published in two anthologies “Identities Unite” and “This is (my) Freedom”; and combining her love of poetry, drama and dance, she has written two musical theatre plays called “Reminisce” and “A Yaa Story Knows”. Bridget also regularly contributes to museum exhibitions and performs at events, festivals and carnivals within the UK and internationally using various art forms. Since joining the African Heritage Writers Group in 2014 she has facilitated workshops, performed at and co-hosts the group’s regular showcase events. Bridget was a contributor to ‘100 Years Unheard’ and is part of the AMBA publishing team.
Wearing lots of hats, she combines her skills, interest and passions to invest in the community through working on projects and events in various community and public sector organisations. Some of the current projects that she is involved in, includes being the current President of Tottenham Speakers Toastmasters Club, she delivers a monthly poetry workshop to residents in assisted living facilities & is the host of the monthly storytelling event Rebirth of the Griot. You can also hear Bridget as Lady Esi on a weekly radio talk show called “The More Knowledge Show”. She has developed a reputation as an excellent event host and compere.
Diana Phillips is a retired teacher and aspiring author who, for many years, has worked with children and young people. Her drama and storytelling performances have enthralled and inspired many throughout her career. She has written and performed stories, poems and plays, mainly in school settings – for general assemblies and events such as: National Poetry Day, Black History Month, Children’s Book Week and International Women’s Day. Diana is currently writing her first novel which spans the lives of four generations of women. It charts their individual journeys from
1950s rural Jamaica to modern day Britain; and explores how the experiences of one generation inform and influence the behaviours and attitudes of the next. She joined the AHW in 2018, contributing to the anthology 100 Years Unheard – WW1 that year and performing work from that publication and several pieces of her other work many times since then.
Since 2009, Griot Chinyere has been the Artistic director of Shanti-Chi, established as a grass roots organisation listening to and embedded in the community. The aim to: inspire visions with the oral traditions of storytelling; create divine village style spaces in nature; acknowledge & celebrate ancient practices that enable community health & well-being. In 2010, the Griot co-founded with Mena Okugbeni, the Nne Agwu 4-day annual family camp festival, a space to nurture our ancient & traditional family values. The Griot travels across the globe developing the griot process through telling, writing and delivering creative work, based on the oral traditions. She has written and produced 21 plays, 9 original folktales & has devised numerous performances with young people & intergenerational community groups worldwide. Applying a number of story conjuring techniques, inherited from her mystical Igbo lineage of oracles, dibias, djelis, chiefs, healers, conjurers, educators, leaders & theatre practitioners, she achieves impressive results. The Griot hosts a range of events throughout the year. By blending her skills & wonderful sense of playfulness, a liberating, respectful & authentic expression materialises. The Griot engages & educates with well-designed, high-energy, effective performances & innovative bespoke workshops. The Griot has worked within well-established educational, creative, social & judicial services creating safe nurturing spaces for participants to develop their full potential – www.shanti-chi.com
Initially trained as a fashion print designer in the textile industries, Janet soon diversified into greetings card illustration and related activity in search of her true artistic vocation. Increasingly she began to use her ever-developing creativity to enthuse and motivate both vulnerable adults and children with special educational needs alike; obtaining tremendous pleasure in engendering confidence in her students and charges. She continues to use her talents in her poetry and her prose, as fountains from which she and others draw strength. Typically, her writing confronts everyday challenging societal issues in a deeply poignant and sensitive way – often simultaneously both serious and humorous. Janet believes that in joining the Afrikan Heritage Writers family, she is now well placed to push herself to ever greater heights to the benefit of herself and the reader. Her frequently material draws heavily from her experience an Afrikan Heritage woman, a daughter, partner and particularly as a mother; all of these aspects of her existence and more and reflected in her work in a very individualist way.
Elewisa Mwhamadu Kuusi
Elegise Mwhamadu Kuusi is a short story writer, spoken word artist, playwright and actor. He joined African Heritage Writers Group in 2014, and since has performed in numerous showcases. He also contributed several pieces to their anthology ‘100 Years Unheard’. While his works do not adhere to any particular genre, he does like to tell stories and messages that would not normally be told. This is reflected in his stage play ‘Love Hurts’ which he wrote and performed in (2016 & 2017). Furthermore, he has performed in Cuban Redd’s ‘Cruisin’ with Cuban Redd’ (2016), Paula David’s ‘Losing Sight of Home’ (2014), and numerous shows with Theatre Royal Stratford East since and other fringe theatres
Ngoma ‘Silver’ Bishop
Ngoma ‘Silver’ Bishop is the founder and Managing Director of the House of AMAU and the creator, facilitator and a member of the AHW. Ngoma came to London from Barbados in 1963 at the age of eight. He began writing creatively in his late teens; initially poems and songs then short stories; progressing to social commentary and blogs based mostly on his perspectives, experiences and observations as a social activist, creative arts advocate and civil rights campaigner.
To date, his published material includes several poems in ‘Black I am – an Anthology of Poetry and Prose’; and as joint collaborator with Jamaican dialect poet OmaRa (aka Frederick Williams) as one half of ‘The I-Storians’, authors of the 2010 poetry and prose anthology ‘the Whole Story’ . His first novel. 2010 also saw the publication of his first novel, ‘Spread Your Wings and Fly’ (2010).
A passionate father, grand-father and lover of all things to do with nature, Silver can often be heard on community radio, found on stage reading and performing his varied body of work generally and expressing his thoughts on just about everything on social media.
Ngoma is the Lead Member of the AMBA Publishing Team responsible for the production of ‘100Years Unheard’. He frequently promotes and host events on behalf of the House of AMAU and other organizations and groups, as well as facilitating writers’ workshops from time to time
A fifty something Londoner of Grenadian heritage, Pam Williams is a former fashion magazine journalist and freelance stylist who is now a teacher.
She joined the Afrikan Heritage Writers group in 2014 “to reveal a secret love affair with creative writing”. She has since performed her work, often under the stage name Susie Dread, at venues including Arcola Theatre, Rio Cinema, Millfield Theatre, the Attic at Hackney Picturehouse and a host of London libraries. One of Pam’s poems was long listed for Peepal Tree Press anthology ‘Filigree’ and her short story ‘Soul Talking’ (which was Highly Commended) was published in Spread the Word’s ‘City of Stories’ anthology in 2017.
Pam has three novels and a short story told through poetry, awaiting publication and says: “My dream is to touch people with my writing – in the way that I was inspired by the black female authors whose work I’ve collected since my teens.”
Princess Ziah Gayle
Princess Ziah uses her writing as a tool to self-heal. Slightly traumatised after the sudden migration from the Caribbean to England in 1989, Ziah kept her inner child alive using storytelling, games, songs and dramatizations, to express her inner imagination and inspiration. With a few poems published in “Addis Standard” (an Ethiopian publication 2012-2013,) In 2017, Princess Ziah started performing her poetry and became a resident poet at the Return of the Griot event in 2019. She develops her writing currently within the African Heritage Writers Group where she gains richly as she endeavours to learn her own true voice
Sola Story uses storytelling to support education, inspire self-esteem and to facilitate understanding in corporate and organisational settings. As founder and director of creative facilitation company: Narrative Mindfulness Ltd he has inspired educators, NGO workers, teachers and facilitators to develop insight through the experiential application of stories in relation to their practice. He has
also inspired children, young people and adults in Africa, the US and UK through his Awakening Creative Genius Programme, facilitating their development of self-belief, emotional intelligence and creative confidence through the power of arts blended with storytelling.
Sola published his book Nyinka’s Daughter in 2016
Yvonne has been an active citizen for over thirty-five years, representative local communities school parent governor, on the management committee of her local tenants and resident’s association, and with a host of other bodies. All this whilst working as a civil servant. For most of that time she has been mother and subsequently grandmother. Since semi-retirement, she has developed a broad range of new interests. Firstly, sourcing and selling natural skin products (made from her own recipes and suing organic and Fairtrade raw materials), then making and selling bread and cakes whilst managing to do a weekly stint as radio presenter. At last she deciding to
unleash her latent creativity to the world, a creative writer. Her first effort was deemed good enough to be included in the Afrikan Heritage Writers Anthology; 100 Years Unheard – WW1 and the Afrikan Diaspora Woman. Yvonne is now a fully-fledged member of the AHW.
AFRIKAN HERITAGE WRITERS GROUP ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Abraham Gibson is a performance poet, workshop facilitator, playwright and stage director, and is author of the well-received book of poetry’ Violently Tender’. He has been a poet in residence at the London’s Transport museum and similar positions learning institutions and performed at a long list
of theaters and arts venues throughout London and beyond. As well as being a particularly gifted poet, Abe is an inspirational orator and his languid and unique delivery is much admired whether live or on the radio. Abe works with all sections of several communities but is perhaps most at home delivering his warm and therapeutic words of joy to senior citizens and those of restricted mobility. His poetry performances are uniquely sensitive, intimate and theatrical. Abraham reaches his audience by conveying powerful stories by enacting multi-dimensional characters who remain vulnerable, familiar and yet humorous. Abraham’s undertaking is to bring language and expression to those who are disenfranchised by the mainstream, people who are either comfortable or uncomfortable with the power of the literary world.
Yvonne Williams has had a love for poetry since her school days. Whilst studying English and Drama at Middlesex Polytechnic she started to dabble with her own creativity and has written sporadically ever since. Inspired by life, she is now developing her creative writing skills, with a focus on children’s poems and stories as well as writing short stories and novels.
Yvonne has a strong music background having studied Community Music at Goldsmiths College, London and worked as a piano teacher. She aims to eventually achieve an MA in Music Therapy but for now is using her musical talents to develop some of her work into potent performance pieces. Of her involvement with the group she says: “I’ve always had a voice but it was mute and stage struck. Afrikan Heritage Writers has given me my mojo back!”
Darell J Philip (BA) has been passionate about writing since childhood and comes from a family of writers (his mother is a poet; his uncle is an author and his cousin is a journalist). He was a semi- finalist in a BBC Young Journalist Competition and winner of The Mirror’s Young Sports Reporter of the Week Award in 1997.Darell has also been listed in the New Nation and Caribbean Times ‘Who’s Who of Black Achievers’ in 1999. He graduated from the University of East London in 2003 with a BA Honours degree in English Literature and Media Studies, receiving his certificate from poet Benjamin Zephaniah and inspirational East Ender, Jack Petchey.
An associate member of the Afrikan Heritage Writers Group since 2013, Darell has an interest in poetry but specializes in Journalism. He has had articles published in The Guardian, The Mirror, New Nation, Novara Media, Hackney Today and Hackney Gazette. His two submissions (‘Who has Made Man’s Mouth?’ and ‘Who do you say that I am?’) to the Adventist Radio London Inspirational Writing Competition in 2018 were both shortlisted and broadcast in 2019. As well as working as a primary school teaching assistant in East London, Darell is a PR and Communications Assistant in his local SDA church, and a regular contributor to The Voice – the only national black African-Caribbean newspaper in the United Kingdom.
Darell blogs at: darellphilip.wordpress.com