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“Empowerment to me is about gaining power for yourself that is either given to you by others or by finding it for yourself. Usually to become empowered, people need to have allowed it to happen, to have promoted it in some way. They need to have room to be- come empowered. It is easier for some people to become empowered by virtue of their birth; likewise, many people are disempowerd or disenfranchised purely because of whom they are.

Andy Hickson talks to theatre director and playwright Amani Naphtali, writer and director of the hit musical ‘Ragamuffin’. I have known Amani for many years. To many, he is an impos- ing black dreadlocked man, highly political, dangerous even, always standing tall and proud. He has stacked up a range of hit theatre productions in Brit- ain and abroad. Look under his skin and we see a man who has struggled for his art and for his people and who, after many years, has found a peace for himself and the world around him. It has never been an easy ride for Amani who has got to where he is through sheer guts and determination, rising above adversity, having a strong will and a belief in his own talents.

Amani has a lot to say about Here’s an example:

When it comes to our history, black people are disenfranchised in a world seen through a white his- torical lens. When you see docu- mentaries made about history, the Egyptians were portrayed as being Mediterranean or sometimes even white with blond hair and blue eyes (played by Richard Burton). These were presented as facts. The documentary makers refused to acknowledge that the Egyptians were black. Only now, belatedly, more radical documentaries may show some of the physical char- acteristics of black people. That to me is not an accident, it is done on purpose. When they put some- thing over an image, even when the image is contradicting what is being said in the documentary, that image is meant to permeate through people’s psyche. There- fore, what people go away with, in this case, is feeling that Egyptians

are not African people.”

He is passionate in his belief: “A denial of black history has per- petuated for years and years and years, meanwhile black children are struggling in school trying to find things that they are proud of. Their culture is not told to them, even those parts of their culture that are part of the British culture; The Nubian culture or Kushite culture is not discussed at all. No one tells us that Dr. Charles R. Drew discovered blood plasma, no one tells us that the traffic light, the first hair press, or electricity were invented by black people. Its not part of the dominant culture so no tells us these things. That is, I believe, disempowering people. At school in Britain we learn about fundamental things like St George’s Day – it is England’s national day. We are not taught though that St George was Turkish and that he is the patron saint of Ethiopia. St George was know as Giorgi in Russia. When we say, ‘St George’, it almost becomes a nationalistic symbol that is held up by the right wing. If I ask right wing people whether they like Turkish people, they usually say “no”. Therefore, the contradictions are vast. A little bit more information will em- power generations and will help them become part of society and play their full and positive role in society. Information is crucial, in- formation that helps people know about themselves, who they are, their culture and that they have a place in the world. Black history is

totally denied in this country. It’s

not even shown, its a month in the calendar (October), if that! This is a token. A lot more could be done to empower young people to help Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36
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