Ilka Hilton-Clarke


Dr. Roi Kwabena

23 July 1956 — 9 January 2008

roi kwabenaDr. Roi Ankhkara Kwabena (23 July 1956 — 9 January 2008) was a Trinidadian cultural anthropologist, who worked with all age ranges in EuropeAfricaLatin-America and the Caribbean for over 30 years. He died in England, where he had relocated.

Kwabena was born in Port of SpainTrinidad, where he was educated. At the age of 14, he published his first poem, "Why Black Power", which he also performed at a Black Power rally. His first collection, Lament of the Soul, appeared three years later, and marked the beginning of a prolific body of work over the following three decades, including other poetry collections, journals, essays, children’s stories and the thesis Marijuana (1981). At the same time, he founded the publishing co-operative Afroets Press, and Bembe Productions,[3] a cultural collective whose objective was the propagation of creative expression from the Caribbean and its diaspora.

In commemoration of UN’s International Literacy Year 1990 he was "Writer In Residence" at Trinidad's Public Library. In the mid-1990s he served as a Senator in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. He then made Birmingham, England, his permanent base and was appointed its sixth Poet Laureate for 2001-02. As a cultural ambassador he hosted numerous readings by writers and actively promoted literature development internationally as well as himself lecturing and performing at many schools, universities, cultural and social venues.

Dr Kwabena was renowned for using critical analysis to examine the historical roots of racism and to assess the direct relevance this has on present society. He also championed wide ranging issues such as functional and cultural literacy, therapeutic harvesting of memories by elders and young people (including cross generational dialogue), Community Cohesion, Social Inclusion, Cultural Diversity, redefining the heritages of indigenous peoples, plus confidence building for convicted prisoners, excluded and traumatized students, refugees, etc.

In 2007, Roi Kwabena was included among activists, artists, campaigners, sport and media personalities on a wall celebrating efforts of The World's Black Achievers: Past and Present at the Liverpool-basedInternational Slavery Museum.

Kwabena died on 9 January 2008, one day after being diagnosed with lung cancer at a hospital in London - prior to this, doctors had been treating him for pneumonia. His funeral took place in London on 26 January 2008 and he was cremated two days later. His ashes were flown to Trinidad.


by Roi Kwabena

© copyright Roi Kwabena take your responsibility seriously....

; hang with expediency

hang this legislation for its impropriety

hang the legacy of slavery an' indentureship

hang high the ruling parasitic oligarchy

hang until dead the injustice of being

incarcerated for two decades awaiting execution...

hang the plan to abolish the privy council

hang (sic) the plan to empower the sterile

legal vultures of these plantation  economies....

hang the archaic state of prisons,

be it  trinidad, jamaica or grenada

hang quickly the temptation to ignore

amnesty international...

hang the truth up high that the issue

is not only the death penalty but  human rights...

accept the reality that the causes of crime

must  be addressed

for the homeless, poverty-stricken, naked an' hungry

cannot be overlooked...

hang the inability to protect the fishing industry...

execute immediately the notion of nationals

(whether trini or guyanese)

have the right to pollute the orinoco delta

with their drug an' gun runnin' activity,,,

hang until dead this system of neo-colonialism take your responsibility seriously....

then we can begin to discuss



by Roi Kwabena

©copyright Roi Kwabena


i wish i was an obeah man
better than papa niza or even shadow

to light a big mauve candle and throw light on

evils throughout the 'global village'

i wish i was a  obeah man to write the wrongs
but not for a noble prize, only  to feed

the hungry children an' poor people...

i wish i was a obeah man to enable sight through the lies
an' chase away the flies of broken promises

i wish i was a obeah man
to decide an end to austerity measures

establish a 'real' world order

destroying racism..and political debauchery

i wish i was a obeah man

an' run foreign conglomerates

who exact profits

in a new wave of deception....

i wish i was a obeah man
to obliterate nepotism

while at the same time licking up drug barons

who pose as legitimate merchants

i wish i was an obeah man
to manifest and distribute spirit blows

as deals are secretly made

to devour the wealth of our people...

i wish i was an obeah man
to  manifest de

over due national theatre

i wish i was an obeah man
and stabilize the T&T dollar

...depose the plantocracy

to empower the landless...

i wish i was an obeah man
an' stop police brutality

i wish i was an obeah man
an wok some true- true obeah

but it is difficult to be
an obeah practitioner

when even the patrons are fakes

while the deserving are chased

away by bureaucracy....

as some very important people
seek me out

in the dead of night.....