Musiyiwa, Ambrose

Musiyiwa, Ambrose

Ambrose Musiyiwa

1 June 2023Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa talks to community activist Cecil Gatzmore about the politics of reggae

In 2018, following an application from the Jamaican government, UNESCO recognised reggae music as an ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’ that contributes to ‘international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity’.

In the same statement, UNESCO described reggae music as ‘at once cerebral, socio- political, sensual and spiritual’ and observed that the genre serves ‘as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God’ and…

2 April 2023Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa interviews independent publisher Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts says she started Arachne Press, just over 10 years ago, out of a fit of rage with her then publisher: ‘I’d worked out on the back of a fag packet how much she owed me and it was about three grand. And it clearly was never gonna come. So I withdrew my books from her and said: “You may not continue publishing them.’’

Since then, she has published more than 50 books, mainly short stories, poetry, a few YA (young adult) novels and a photographic portrait book.


1 February 2023Comment

The language we use to talk about migrants matters, says Ambrose Musiyiwa 

Time and time again, history has shown us that the language politicians and the media use when talking about vulnerable groups can have dangerous consequences, says Julia Tinsley-Kent, policy manager at the Migrants’ Rights Network.

An example she gives is home secretary Suella Braverman’s description of ‘an invasion’ for the people who are making dangerous journeys, in rubber dinghies and small boats, across the Channel, in an effort to reach Britain so that they can claim asylum.…

1 December 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa talks to social psychologist Jo Biglin about visualising the UK's invisible borders

‘In everyday life it’s very easy to see the borders at the edge of a nation. It literally says: “UK Border Force”. But when somebody is not going into Piccadilly Gardens [in central Manchester] because they’ve been told: “You shouldn’t go in there because you have an Afro [Afro-textured hair] and people will assume you are a drug dealer,” that’s something difficult to visualise. Photography allows us to see that. It allows us to visualise often invisible borders.’

That’s Jo Biglin, a…

1 October 2022Comment

It's time to legalise cannabis argues Ambrose Musiyiwa

‘We should have really serious discussions about how we legalise drugs in a way that is safer and more consumer-friendly, on the one hand, but also provide safeguards for people that want to use drugs and to minimize the harm,’ says Dr Jamie Banks, a Wellcome Trust early career fellow at the University of Leicester.

Such a move would be in line with the trend currently taking place around the world that is seeing a growing number of countries move towards the legalisation, regulation…

1 August 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa speaks to Korrine Sky about the plight of African students who were studying in Ukraine

‘There was a hierarchy of “Ukrainians first, Indians next and Africans last” in who was allowed to leave the war zone’, says Korrine Sky, a Zimbabwean British citizen who was a second-year medical student in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, when the war broke out.

Getting out of Ukraine was extremely difficult for African students, but, according to Sky, it was the easy part compared to the challenge that followed: ensuring they can continue with and finish their studies.

Sky, who…

1 June 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa talks poetry and children's books with storyteller Sandra A Agard

When I was growing up,’ says poet and storyteller, Sandra A Agard, ‘there was hardly any Black Literature. I mean, one of the first diverse books I ever read was Little Black Sambo. It was a horrible book. But it was the only book available in my school and public library with a Black main character. I hated the story. I hated the images. I even hated the paper it was written on, it had this awful smell; but it was the only book around at that time’

Agard herself started…

1 April 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa exposes the racism directed at Africans and other people of colour trying to flee Ukraine

‘There’s a segregation that’s happening at the borders,’ Tokunbo Koiki* told ITV News on 27 February. The Nigerian Londoner added: ‘White Ukrainians have been allowed in[to neighbouring countries] with open arms, and blankets. This is the anti-blackness that is global. So even within a war, even within being under siege, we still have racism.’

Among the millions who have been fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February have been international students from Africa,…

1 February 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa takes a look at a recent compilation from Jesuit Refugee Services

To give a flavour of some of the work in Home is a feeling not a place, Laila Sumpton reads me ‘What is peace?’ by Enirayetan, one of the workshop participants who is also featured in the book. Sumpton says: ‘I can’t ever do this justice, because the lady who wrote it sings halfway through. She bursts into song. It was just fantastic to see someone performing and really, like, almost preaching it with a lot of power.’

Enirayetan’s bursting-into-song happened during one of…

1 December 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa interviews the author of a ground-breaking oral history

'I Was Content and Not Content': The Story of Linda Lord and the Closing of Penobscot Poultry (Southern Illinois University Press, 2000) explores the impact of industrial decline in the US through oral history.

Central to the story is Linda Lord, a veteran of Penobscot Poultry, a factory in Belfast, Maine, who was one of the 400 people who lost their jobs when the plant closed in 1998. Lord worked at the plant for more than 20 years and lost the sight of one eye on the job.…

1 October 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa meets the poet Catherine Okoronkwo

Recently, I interviewed the poet Catherine Okoronkwo, who is the advisor on racial justice to the bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, helping to deliver on commitments made following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol.

Okoronkwo, who was born to Nigerian parents and grew up in the Middle East, is currently vicar of All Saints and St Barnabas in Swindon.

Okoronkwo sees her father, who passed away recently, as one of…

1 August 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa reflects on the power of festivals

With some of my friends, for the past eight Decembers, I have been co-organising the week-long Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. We believe that festivals and the arts have an important role to play in creating, maintaining and defending a culture of human rights.

Through its seven days of poetry, music, performances, film, art, talks and discussion, the festival creates a forum for engaging with human rights issues at home and abroad.

With the support of local…

20 July 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa reflects on the continuing journeys of 2015 poetry collection

Large parts of 2015 were dominated by images of people packed into wooden fishing boats and rubber dinghies trying to get to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.

There were images of people, including unaccompanied children, making impossible journeys on foot.

There were images of people climbing over razor wire in Europe, and police forces in different countries using batons and teargas against people at the border.

Months before the image of Alan Kurdi’s body on a…

1 June 2018Feature

A ForcesWatch interview with poet and campaigner Ambrose Musiyiwa

A soldier gives a machine gun demonstration to a child in Leicester city centre. PHOTO: Ambrose Musiyiwa/Civic Leicester

ForcesWatch: Hi Ambrose! Thank you for putting on such a fantastic event in Leicester at the end of last year as part of the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, ‘This is Belonging: Challenging militarism at home and abroad’. We had a lively and informed discussion, and it was great to be able to take part. Could you tell us a bit about how…