David Mallows remembers a good friend and colleague
Poet, story-teller, musician and historian Roi Kwabena has died from cancer at the age of 51. Roi was born in Trinidad in 1956 where he was a prominent public figure involved in cultural and political activity. He later served as a Senator and was writer-inresidence at Trinidad Public Library.
In England, where he had lived since 1985, Roi continued his work as a cultural activist. Using a distinctive style of dialogue, drama and rhythm he conducted workshops in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa in various universities and schools, as well as performing with Hugh Masekela, Linton Kwesi Johnson and many others.
He was Poet Laureate of Birmingham in 2001-2002 and was included in a list of history's greatest black achievers that was unveiled last year at Liverpool's International Slavery Museum.
Roi published more than 20 books of poetry and cultural anthropology; he was an expert on indigenous cultures and founded and edited the magazine 'Dialogue'.
His poetry was commissioned by many different groups, including NRDC. He performed his poem about literacy - Re:vision - at the Skills for Life conferences in 2005 and made a number of contributions to NRDC's work. At the recent Voices on the Page awards ceremony, Roi spoke to the winning writers with good humour, passion and generosity of spirit.