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African Queen to whom family, community and culture mean much,From birth so many across the world your benevolence has touched.A stoic role model for black women but sterling example for all,When inequality raised its head in its many forms, Chief, you stood tall.

Guyanese-born wife of Beresford Edwards, aka Nana Bonsu, and mother of four sons, Mama Edwards, tireless community and civil rights campaigner across decades, second to none.The ‘Pardner’ savings club was instrumental in your early years in Britain combating financial strife,It paid for your passage from the Caribbean to join your husband and start a new life.

In 1961 you established yourself in the terraced houses of the Moss Side community of old,And began the fight for equality in the “Mother Country’s” debilitating weather of ice and cold.The rag ‘n bone man, black and white TV, coal fires with smoking chimneys and thick obscuring fog,And offensive signs born of hate and ignorance in windows saying: “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs.”

With family for cricket you travelled on coaches linking England’s West Indian community centres,Rallies, demonstrations and marches against injustice, a vital role with other pioneering black mentors.For the racism of the narrow-minded and unaware in every aspect of our lives was rife,In Enoch Powell’s dark political era of “Rivers of Blood”, it was difficult being a supportive mother and wife.

With music, Caribbean food, drink and jovial camaraderie, community support kept many sane,The ‘Sub Parties’ provided stability, reassurance and allowed trampled self esteem to be regained.At the forefront of the formation of WIOCC, Carmoor Road, your precious time the only price,Providing education and leisure activities as well as housing, employment and legal advice.

Who can forget the terrifying race riots of 1981, the fires, broken glass and looting,When ‘SUS’ laws of Stop and Search gave police power though no guns then and no shootings.The role you played in Abasindi Co-operative in treating the wounded regardless of colour,Just quietly showing the authorities who truly had compassion and real enduring power.

With Kwanzaa celebrations, proudly you upheld the justice of Pan Africanism and the power of unity,Activists, business support, cultural and family advice services, enduring glue of the black community.

Today we salute you, Chief Mama Elouise Edwards MBE, pioneer and true community champion.

© Deanne Heron 01 06 2017

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