ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
these are artworks that “depict rebellions of African people
in the diaspora.” Clearly, this artist is sensitive to the history
of the African diaspora and highly skilled
Toussaint L’Ouverture at Bedourete 2004
Fourth World Art
Rebellions of African People in the Diaspora
By Kimathi Donkor
We have here images of four paintings by the British artist, Kimathi Donkor. (See his email to me below.) I was immediately impressed by these paintings when I opened the files. They are oils on canvas on linen and are of considerable size, 135 cm x 152 cm or larger. My first comment on seeing them was, This is Fourth World Art. Or to put it in the Kimathi Donkor, these are artworks that “depict rebellions of African people in the diaspora.” Clearly, this artist is sensitive to the history of the African diaspora and highly skilled. We see an aspect of white authorities that is not usually represented by the status quo media or the more romanticized self-congratulatory art usually found in the great museums representing the Empire Builders.
In this scene, the setting is the Isle of Hispaniola in the late 19th century during what some called the Haitian Revolution, that is, African peoples introducing democracy to the Western World which is being fiercely resisted by military forces. Historically, these forces included the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte as well as those of the British Empire.
In this particular scene, soldier are murdering or about to murder women and children, that is, the most vulnerable.
This painting is part of the exhibition, ‘Fall/Uprising’.
As explained by the artist, “the 1985 conflict was sparked by the shooting and paralysis of one grandmother of Jamaican origin (Mrs Cherry Groce) by a police officer, followed a week later by the fatal heart attack of another lady (Mrs Cynthia Jarrett) after being pushed over by another police officer.” (See below Kimathi Donkor more detailed description of the event below.)
The black youth represented here reminds us of the Paris Rebellion of 2005.
As we all know Britain used to be a colonial empire. Many of their former subjects are now British citizens. Though the colonial relationship has been eliminated, racism has not been eliminated. Their former black subjects are still dealt with less than as full citizens.
Of course, these images of the British bobby is not one that we are used to in America. We do not usually think of the British police in terms of the police brutality that is so familiar to us who are black citizens of the United States.
The artist provides a different face.
Here we have an attractive romantic image of the Haitian revolutionary and French general, Toussaint L’Ouverture.
What is interesting here is that Toussaint is in the background and that one of the black peasants is in the foreground, looking out to the viewer with a broad smile of pleasure. These are Haiti’s revolutionary youth
A Final Note: These naturalistic paintings are excellent in their execution and are readily accessible to those who are not usually artistic inclined. They will be exceptionally inspirational to Fourth World youth. I recommend strongly that an audience of Kimathi Donkor’s “rebellions of African people” read Amin Sharif’s Dark Child of the Fourth World
. In addition, a visit to
Kimathi’s web site, www.kimathidonkor.net
Kimathi Donkor, painter, was born and educated in Britain, has family roots in Jamaica and England as well as among the Akan people of Ghana and Poland’s Jews.
He attained his bachelors degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London, where he also gained a post-graduate art teaching qualification.
After showing work alongside the likes of Donald Rodney, Chila Burman, Keith Piper and Pitika Ntuli, and then a year teaching art, Kimathi withdrew from exhibiting.
He spent several years working in publishing and as a human-rights campaigner.
He has also travelled in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.
In 2003 he was invited to exhibit the painting ‘Charles and Sanite Belair’, in the group show ‘The Jamaican Influence’, thereby relaunching his exhibiting career.
In November 2004 Kimathi held his first major solo exhibition when London gallery owner Bettie Morton invited him to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Haiti’s independence in a show of monumental history paintings entitled ‘Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804’. The exhibition is now on tour.
In 2005 he returned to the Bettie Morton Gallery to show a further series of large oil paintings under the title ‘Fall/Uprising’. These works explore the history of London’s urban uprisings of 1985.
Kimathi is married and lives in London.
Dear Rudolph,Over the past three years I have created and exhibited 2 series of large scale oil-paintings both of which depict rebellions of African people in the diaspora.The latest, ‘Fall/Uprising’ marked the 20th anniversary of the civil conflict between residents of the Brixton and Tottenham districts of London, and the Metropolitan police in the autumn of 1985, and was shown in November and December of 2005.To give you a brief background, the 1985 conflict was sparked by the shooting and paralysis of one grandmother of Jamaican origin (Mrs Cherry Groce) by a police officer, followed a week later by the fatal heart attack of another lady (Mrs Cynthia Jarrett) after being pushed over by another police officer.Both incidents occurred during raids on the women’s homes in pursuit of their absent, adult sons. Popular protests were met with confrontational policing which led to three days of fighting, millions of pounds worth of damage, the death of one policeman and one journalist as well of hundreds of injuries and arrests.The aftermath of the civil conflict included changes to police firearms procedures (removing guns from hundreds of officers), and one of the biggest successful appeals in British legal history when the three men convicted of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock (during the conflict) were found not guilty – after spending six years in prison.The paintings in ‘Fall/Uprising’ mirror many of those events, and was well received, except by the Metropolitan police, who attempted to close down the exhibition. However, they failed and several thousand pounds worth of paintings were bought by members of the ‘British-African’ public.The other exhibition was ‘Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804′, also first shown at the Bettie Morton Gallery, in Brixton, London in 2004. This series of largescale works was originally a celebration of the bicentenary of the Haitian revolution, and thus needs little explanation.’Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804’, was also well received and has subsequently been toured to Nottingham, England in 2005.I am writing to ask if you might feature the paintings on one of your Arts and Literature page, as your visitors might find them interesting. I have taken the liberty of attaching four of the images in this e-mail. If you were minded to include them with just minimal comment, then you may – however, I would welcome any review type comments, or indeed any suggestions as to how you might like to show the pictures.Both series in full, and other details can be viewed at my web site, www.kimathidonkor.net, to which I would also be grateful if you would create a link. Naturally, you would need to mention, not only my authorship, but that the images are copyrighted.
Yours sincerely,Kimathi Donkor
Toussaint L’Ouverture at Bedourete 2004, oil on linen, 136 x 183cm
Bacchus & Ariadne 2004, oil on linen, 132 x 152
Madonna Metropolitan 2005, oil on linen, 152 x 152cm
Coldharbour Lane 1985 2005, oil on canvas, 152 x 152cm
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Dear Rudy, Thanks for your very positive and swift response to my e-mail, as well as for letting me know about Amin Sharif’s fascinating concept of the Fourth World. Do keep up the good work with ‘ChickenBones’, I have visited it many times and find it to be a very necessary and welcome intervention on the web – I wonder whether you are familiar with www.ligali.org which offers a service for UK surfers which has some parallels with your own provision for US surfers. Yours sincerely, Kimathi
posted 19 February 2006
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Fourth World Essays
Other Fourth World Essays
(Waldron H. Giles)
Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out (Dennis Leroy Moore)
Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)
Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist (M.P. Parameswaran)
The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)
Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)
Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market M.P. Parameswaran)
The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World M.P. Parameswaran)
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#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
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#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
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#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
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#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.
“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 19 February 2012