Karl Lokko – Cruel to be Kind

Karl’s latest poem is called ‘Cruel to be kind’ and is taken from the collection, ‘The Butterfly Effect’.  The poem is a cry for every ‘villains’ innocence! “We are ALL innocent because at our core the intentions of human beings are good, deception is the real ‘devil’, man is not. We live a life according to our conditioning.”  Click here for my earlier post concerning Karl’s work, along with further information.

Karl Lokko – Urine Village

Karl Lokko – Urine Village

I first met Karl almost eight years ago in Brixton, London. He is quite an imposing person given I stand 6ft, and he still towers over me like a giant from Han Christian Anderson fairy tale. As with many Black kids growing up within our inner cities, Karl had tough choices to make and dangerous lessons to learn. The first day we cast eyes on one another I was in my local government uniform and tie he was wearing a bulletproof vest. He talked rapidly about the life he was leading, the inspirational pastor who was helping him to rebuild his life, his dreams, his aspiration. He was young, but already time was catching up with him. Over the years he stumbled but resisted a return to the life he once led. Today Karl is a husband, poet, activist, influencer, and incredible human being who I am proud to call a friend. This is Karl’s first release of his poetry online. If you want to know more about Karl then click here.

Wobbly Paving Stones

Journey on the grinding tube station escalator. Through the gates, people skipping to avoid  contact, excited conversations, raised voices, smiles, arguments and hugs all exchanged in the theatre that is the ticket hall. Up the steps, two at a time,  the heat from the warm sun pierces through the mass of bodies. I reach the summit and surface in Brixton. The street preachers are still wasting their time, the kaleidoscope of scents, some pleasant, some not so.  Traffic fumes, spices, flower seller, the trader selling incense sticks whose smoke dances from the sticks and drifts into the bustling street. Then vanishes. The white hipster with his carefully trimmed beard and the elderly Caribbean lady seem to have little common ground.  They pass as if divided by continents.

A gentle tap on my back and I turn. An ex-work acquaintance announces her presence. “What are you doing in Brixton stranger?” she asks abruptly. “Enjoying myself and how are you? I reply. There is a pause. “Strange how the familiar seems different when you have an opportunity to look at it from another perspective,” I add. “Things change John, but nothing changes” she presents her dichotomy with a sense of frustration. She looks tired, slightly pale. “It never ends, dealing with angry people, managing decline, not having the resources, long working hours, the habitual restructure, the cycle turns and turns and turns. “ I have little energy reserves, to be brutally honest, to give much sympathy. She reads my eyes. An uncomfortable realisation that I am no longer part of that world and the conversation loses its purpose. A few more stumbled words, a look of resignation, she smiles says goodbye and vanishes into the crowd for another meeting. The trouble I find is that when things relentlessly keep on moving people tend to lose sight of the simple things. The building blocks, which create the foundations for life, community. At this point, I sense a small movement beneath my feet. I look down and realise I am standing on a wobbly paving stone. The ground is moving, but there are no cracks as yet.

Paul Reid: Director of the Black Cultural Archives, Brixton

Paul Reid is the first Director of Black Cultural Archives, which is located in the centre of Brixton, London and founded in 1981. The Black Cultural Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain.  They opened the UK’s first dedicated Black heritage centre in Brixton, London in July 2014.  The Centre has  an unparalleled archive collection offering insight into the history of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. Paul Reid is the Director of the organisation and heritage centre.

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