"i'm an anomaly, I never wanna be a wannabe
an oddity, never commodity,
system could never collar me in their economy or colony
maintain my sovereignty, pursue equality with no apology, I hope you follow me..."
ANDRE JAHNOI - Weeping and wailing
My middle name, Jahnoi, is an Amharic term of veneration best translated as ‘Majesty’; it was given to I at birth, and I always endeavour to live up to that sentiment and embody the Afrikan royalty that is my heritage. I am a child of the diaspora, born in Liverpool to an English mother and Jamaican father who emigrated from the island to Britain in the 1990s.
Having wholeheartedly embraced my Jamaican roots since I was young, my first explorations into my Afrikan identity came in my early teens and were inspired by the afro-centric messages of the Rastafari reaching my increasingly awakening mind via the revolutionary voices of artists such as Peter Tosh, Sizzla and Buju. I also began to read important works by authors such as Garvey, Rodney and Eric Williams in order to support and expand upon those sentiments espoused by the roots reggae artists. I developed a keen interest in economics of development, poverty and the imperial and neo-imperial systems which have determined the modern disparities between different peoples. I thus decided to study economics at Oxford University, but unfortunately found the course unwilling to accommodate thought and inquiry divergent from the dominant imperialist neo-classical theories. However, during my time in Oxford, particularly that spent with the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, I was fortunate to organise and create alongside myriad exceptional revolutionary minds from a diverse array of backgrounds and thus my mind was opened up to a higher level of intellectual, intersectional decolonial thinking. My reading during this period exposed me to the opinions of the likes of Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde and Kwame Nkrumah, and their words still shape my outlook today.
My politics, studies and art are all directed towards the fall of the imperial structures of white supremacist domination and I strive for the decolonisation of mind, body and land the world over. Like my art, I am unapologetic in my Afrikan-ness and always ensure that I orient my steps such that Afrikan and Caribbean culture is celebrated in as many ways as possible. I describe myself as a Pan-Afrikan, and my goal is equal rights, justice and unity for all Afrikan people at home and abroad; I strive to help in any way that I can to achieve these goals. I believe that the revolution will be bottom up, and that to bring about a change in the people, one must engage their mind and heart simultaneously; I reason that art is the perfect vehicle for this.
In all aspects of life my focus is the transmission of knowledge, love and positive vibes and ever since I was young I have always found the greatest joy in the process of creation. I have been writing and recording lyrics since the age of fifteen (previously using the moniker A. Maluka) and have been painting frequently since about the same time. However, in the case of many of my current creative pursuits - particularly my cooking and clothes - necessity was the mother of invention. In the north of England, I am severely limited in my access to the kind of products satisfying my own personal aesthetic, cultural and ethical preferences. So, firmly believing in the principles of self-sufficiency advocated by Garvey and reflected in the Swahili concept Kujichagulia, when faced with such problems my solution has always been to learn to do myself that which I require. The value that can be placed on something made by one’s own mind and two hands is almost unquantifiable, but often it is the actual process of creation which yields the greatest reward.
I hope that via these many creative and academic pursuits I will be able to support a healthy, peaceful livity whilst making a positive change in the world and affecting a betterment of the lives of oppressed peoples the world over. I know that there is much work ahead, but I have a mind brimming with visions and the motivation to bring them forth, so I forward!