I was deeply shocked to read of Roi’s death at 51 from cancer. He has been a friend for over 20 years. I first met Roi when I was chair of All Faiths For One Race (AFFOR) in Lozells in the mid eighties. Roi wanted help in publishing materials, one on African Caribbean history, which we did, and a more controversial one on recognising botanical species. I still have the document.
Although Roi had some recognition as Birmingham’s Poet Laureate it didn’t make him rich, and he found working for departments of the City Council hard work. Not an unfamiliar feeling.
Birmingham has a number of local celebrities – Vanley Burke, Pogus Caesar amongst them, who get grudging recognition here in Birmingham compared with elsewhere.
I think it was just last year that Roi gave an illustrated lecture at the Library Theatre. It did raise controversy with some material which I felt detracted from what he was about and knew from personal experience. He spent time in Nubia which in history was the precursor of Egypt (Kemet). When w elost track of him in Birmingham we found out hat he had been acting as a senator in Trinidad. One of the things Roi always did at the beginning of any sessions he led was to pour a libation (of water) onto the ground. He was deeply attached to his African roots and was able to get us to share that feeling.
Actually you did a lot for Birmingham and education in the City and it should be very grateful. Thank you Roi.
Roi Kwanbena’s websites are linked to this site