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‘One Summer…’ New Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal launched live on Radio out of Corsica, Cyprus and London

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dl coverRadio brings people together, it always and always will. Haji Mike in Cyprus linked up with Gibsy Rhodes aka Kingdom Signal in the summer of 2014 via Versionist Radio. Gibsy wanted to do a Haji Mike Special so he requested a few tunes. This led to an invite to Haji Mike to join the station, which happened shortly afterwards. Versionist was also known as the ‘Village Radio’ and would later transmute into ‘OuttaMiYard Radio’ where people from different locations around the world switch studios every couple of hours like as one Reggae/Dub Radio Marathon. Radio also brings people together through music and is a vital media for musicians as a platform to showcase their creations. Haji Mike realized this when he started releasing independent music in 1990 via London. ‘The first time I did a radio session for Andy Kershaw I was over the moon. In fact Kershaw was the first person to play ‘Stavroulla’ one of my early releases in Cyprus’ says Haji Mike ‘ and that concept of the live session, where musicians jam on air was crucial for many artists like myself back in the day as a way of getting exposure.’ Fast forward, 27 years and the live radio session is just as important but something fundamental has changed in the meantime. The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to play live on air from any place and any time as long as the technology works. So Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal, follow in the that fine live radio session tradition this month with a couple of special exclusive shows to launch their new release ‘One Summer’ (Power of Love Records) which came out on May 1st. Dates as follows for the sessions and interviews:

LIVE SESSION HM, KS CORSICA OMY RADIO

Weds 10th May 17:00–21:00 UTC+02 (4-8pm, UK – 6-10pm, CY) OuttaMiYardRadio Live Session Episode 1 – Live and direct from Kingdom Signal Studios, Corsica Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal play ‘One Summer…’ in full plus dubplates, selections and tunes galore as the two Kings of The Mediterranean Underground meet for the first time on Air.

Tune in here——> outta-mi-yard-hm-main

Thurs 11th May Live interview with Jahmon Selector (Belgium) on OuttaMiYardRadio 18:00 – 18.30  Tune in here——>    outta-mi-yard-hm-main

Thurs 11th May Live interview with DJ Debbie Golt on The Outerglobe (UK) on Resonance FM 7.40-8.15 pm  Tune in here——>  resonancefm_logo

LIVE SESSION HM, KS CORSICA GBR RADIO

Fri  12th May 5-7pm UK (7-9pm CY) GreekBeat Radio (UK)  Live Session Episode 2 live and direct from Kingdom Signal Studios, Corsica Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal perform ‘One Summer…’ in full plus dubplates and selections. Tune in here ——————>greekbeat

What people have been saying about ‘One Summer…’   

‘Lush New Dub Sound’ – Sarah Fenwick – Cyprus News Report

‘Meditative’ Sista Skanka – OMYRadio

‘Hypnotic’ Dub Thomas – Dubophonic/OMYRadio/RastFM

‘Fabulous!’ Dj Mario Greekbeat Radio

‘A contemplative call to action, earthed in the cosmos, rootical, soaring, essential!’ Debbie Golt Outerglobe/Resonance 104.4FM

‘Many things…an awakening, fresh, exciting, earthy, witty, poetic, summerness, takes you on journeys, bittersweet and ambitious’ Stelios Keryniotis, Astra Radio Cyprus

 

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The New release ‘One Summer…’ is available through  Google ,24/7 ,7 Digital, Amazon MP3, BounDEE, Emusic, iFeel Music, iMusica, iTunes,Juno, MediaNet Mobile Partners: AMI Entertainment & Gracenote – Streaming – Napster/Rhapsody/YouTube Art Tracks and many more….

 

 

 

Also check the video for ‘Stargazing’ by Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal

stargazing

Web Links:

Power of Love Records on Facebook

Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal Bandcamp

Kingdom Signal Soundcloud 

Haji Mike

For more information contact  POLRecords@protonmail.com

 The ‘Haji Mike & Kingdom Signal Live Corsica Sessions’ are supported by

politistikes logo final 0317 - EN - brown  pol logo  outta-mi-yard-hm-main  greekbeat

George Michael and being Cypriot – 12 things you might like to know….

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Before you start reading the blog…click on image below to hear The George Michael Street Mix on Mixcloud as you read…words and music go hand in hand…Also bare in mind this blog is a work in progress, just like the campaign to have a street named after George in Cyprus, so changes, adaptations will be made regularly…..

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Every one who is a Cypriot in the UK will have had or have claim to have had a link to the late George Michael in some way of another. Most of these ‘links’ are caught somewhere between adoring fandom and lameness. Just rewind to the early 80’s and how many Cypriot teenage girls screamed and scrambled their way to the front of Wham gigs – plus how many young guys copied the peroxide hair style with the flick. On the mundane there are always people wanting to sell a story to a popular rag like The Sun proclaiming something rather dull about George or his dad. Like, ‘I lived and worked in North London and so did his dad’ – what a ridiculous link to make – millions of people lived there, doesn’t mean much really.  It is the price of fame, everybody knows you but hardly any one really does.

My only link, aside from the great tunes he made as a solo artist (not really a big Wham fan) was a chance encounter with his father Jack a couple of years ago in a friend’s tea house in Cockfosters. He was a such a humble man and we chatted for about an hour. I didn’t blog about it at the time or post photos all over cyber space, nor will I now, out of respect for the family’s privacy in a time of mourning.

What has always fascinated me about George is his Cypriot link and what he meant to a whole generation of people of  Cypriot origin as a role model. He kind of set the sound for singers to follow but what many sound a-likes never realised was he had the soul to be himself. How many people xeroxed that voice or tried to at least – often Greek wedding singers or youth just wanting a pop career as an easy way to become rich. But none of that success and fame came easy.

What George Michael reflected more than anything is that pattern of migration, and achievement through hard work.  Coming from a Cypriot father from the small  village of Patriki in Karpasia and working class English mother who was a dancer, George literally leapt in terms of social mobility over 2 generations. That is in some ways the dominant British Cypriot work ethic, emigrate, work hard, and move on. It makes a lot of sense. Even in one generation our fathers and mothers came from villages with no electricity in the 50’s and 60’s, often working from the age of 14 to a radically different life in the UK say 30 years later doing everything for the future of the next generation. So here are a few things/thoughts/insights on George Michael and being Cypriot:

  1. George would say often say in interviews ‘the only Greek thing about me is my hairy chest’ and that was so easy to misconstrue. But he would also follow it up with what he got from his father, that determination to work hard and succeed, and that he considered himself a 2nd generation son of an immigrant. That word ‘immigrant’ has become almost a dirty word nowadays, but George always used it proudly. Watch video here on MEGA TV Greece around 5.31. So he was proud of his roots, his parents, and where he came from. This theme is also explored in one of his songs ‘Round Here’ where he talks about his upbringing and how his dad ‘ got here on the gravy train’

2. George Michael’s first interview in Cyprus was with John Vickers in 1984, in his Wham days, for CyBC 2 Radio, the state broadcaster. John is a rare kind of journalist in Cyprus and he will admit it himself, interviewing George Michael  topless was an honour!!!

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3. Charity and George Michael go hand in hand. He was one of those people who did not like to broadcast his name all over everything but the people who knew, the people who benefitted from his charitable donations always held him in high esteem. He was the main benefactor for The UK Thalassemeia Society, which has been in existence for more than 30 years and has amassed a wealth of experience on Thalassaemia, that most dreaded of ancient  Cypriot diseases. I can recall performing with DJ Peter Lewis and Soul Singer Irini at The Community Centre in Wood Green for this charity in the early 90’s and  the leather jacket George wore on the worldwide ‘Faith’ tour was auctioned for many thousands of pounds. And to any ‘doubters’, the picture below gives clear evidence of George’s philanthropy towards the community. Thanks to my twitter friend Dino, the youth pictured bottom front right, who was there to witness this at Haringey Civic Centre in the 1980’s.

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4.Urban legend has it that George Michael has a house Cyprus. There is some confusion on this however. While a photo does exist online (Google it and see) it’s not clearly stated by the architect  who designed the property if it’s George Michael the famous singer’s house  – which is misleading. Also consider there are probably thousands of people called George Michael (and I know at least 5 of them) and this one is clearly not accurate. Whatever the case George came to Cyprus but pop stars, in such a small place, always move in silence.

5.Yusuf Islam frequents Cyprus often as well and when George Michael passed away he tweeted: ‘So sad to hear my Cypriot brother @GeorgeMichael has passed away.Will miss him & pray God will have mercy on him. Condolences to his family’

6.On Twitter George would often sign himself off as ‘The Singing Greek’ and his nickname was also ‘Yog’ short for Giorgos. Its possible some one cottoned  onto the ‘Singing Greek’ tag by creating a twitter account, making things a bit confusing. In the end George Michael got the  name officially removed.

7.Club Tropicana, despite urban myth was not filmed as a video clip in Limassol Cyprus, it was made in Ibiza. However many people have used the name in Cyprus for their clubs and even my nephew had a chippy in Liverpool with the name in bright blue silver neon lights. “Its pure class” he declared at the chippy’s opening 🙂

8.George Michael, like many of us who had to endure, went to Greek school as a kid in northwest London. Greek school was an additional educational chore, often on a Saturday morning. To some it was  a pain, a routine where they learnt nothing and to others it was key to learning the Greek language. I would have preferred Saturday morning pictures.

9. A very reliable source, Costas Yennaris (who through marriage has a link)  stated on Facebook recently that George Michael also did the vragga-dagga thing as a youth with  traditional dances and the vraka – the national traditional male attire of Cyprus back in the day. Going through the same things, I am sure our paths may have even crossed on a dancefloor in a church hall off Turnpike Lane…at some stage or other.

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10. GM The Original Vrakaman was also a theme  explored in The Cyprus Weekly in 1996 when George first started donning a goatee in public. They published a headshot pic of the the both of us side by side saying GM was looking more and more like HM and we were one and the same person!  Far fetched for sure  and I am not in the same league but as the original Cypriot goatee-ist it did make me feel very humbled at the time.

11. George was a star for all people, ethnicities, races and creeds. He appeals and is just as important to Greek Cypriots as he is to Turkish Cypriots, and Armenians, Latins and Maronites. He is what Cyprus could have been, tolerant, daring and forward thinking and that was always clearly manifested through his music.

12. May be this  is not so important to some but  I will throw it in for some clarification. Still trying to figure out what side of North London George Michael was in terms of football, blue or red. It would be devastating if he was a Gooner – it hit me hard when I found out the late Bob Marley supported Arsenal a couple of years ago – but news so far from trawling the net seems to indicate GM was with Man United. Also possible growing up in Hertfordshire he could have even been Watford.

Last but by no means least…a couple of days ago we started a petition to have a street named after George Michael in Cyprus. Its going really well with over 1,743 people signing so far. Considering he is the most famous person worldwide with a Cyprus link, we see this as imperative out of respect for a person who gave so much to so many people. And it would be good if there were many streets named after George Michael worldwide…So please sign the petition here…..

RiP Yog, Αναπαύσου εν ειρήνη you will always be remembered…

O Axabaros – The Ignoramus – The One Who Did Not Know…

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Axabaros (pronounced ‘Ahabaros’) is such an interesting vernacular word. It’s one you hear more or less every day in conversations throughout the island of Cyprus. It could mean many things to many different people such as ignoramus, uncaring, insensitive. It’s  the person we all know in the world who works on this lazy kind of auto-pilot, makes a coffee does not wash the cup, leaves his/her dirty laundry at different parts in the house for someone else to pick up and clean, and/or flings their empty drinks can and crisp packet out the window on the highway without a care in the world. There are many of these people, in the plural we call them ‘axabarous’. My sociologist friend, Christina Loizou, who I consulted on the meaning of the word also pointed  the word “Habari” in Turkish (the root of the word) means “news” or “inform”, so in this case putting the ‘a’ before the word means a “total lack of information, or unaware”. So for instance what does the lazy man who throws his dirty laundry round the house say when his partner says she is sick of him doing it – ‘did I do that? I didn’t know!’ . This word also has a special relationship with Dimitris Christofias, the ex-President who on a number of occasions claims not to have known or been aware of what was happening with/at Mari or the economy. In fact, Christina also pointed out to me that Christofias used the the phrase ‘I did not know’ 19 times during the Mari hearing, including a very lame reference to not even knowing where Mari was. This kind of ‘axabarthkion’ (the systematic habit of consistently not knowing) stuck with Christofias afterwards, and many people, who disagreed with the ex-President’s handling of the Mari disaster,  in daily conversations started to use the epithet to describe him as ‘axabaros’.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when the former President of Cyprus announced recently that he was filing a libel suit against TV news anchor person, Yiannis Kareklas and the station he is employed by, CyBC, the state broadcaster. The story runs like this…Some months ago, then Presidential candidate, now President, Nicos Anastasiades, was on Kareklas TV show and he described the former President Christofias as ‘axabaros’. He did it in a vernacular way, reflecting/exploiting the populist wave of thought against his political opponent. Anastasiades appeared to be uncomfortable using the term. It was one of those rewind moments when politicians are on TV as in did he just say that!!!  Any way a short time after, Anastasiades, a legal personage by profession decided to retract the statement, perhaps wary that Christofias might sue him. Then Kareklas, in the same program,  used the term to describe Christofias through a journalistic trick implying people say ‘Christofias is Axabaros’. In journalism I guess Kareklas was just seizing the opportunity and playing devil’s advocate.

Time passed, many people, myself included, just got on with their lives and thought nothing of it, mainly because Christofias has been called a variety of far worse things by different people, but more of that later. And suddenly the former President, being well known political nobility decides to sue CyBC, an organization which is verging on bankruptcy on many levels. He also decides to sue Kareklas, for up to 500,000 Euros. Now the last part is strange because the way I see it Kareklas was not actually saying he thought the ex-President is an ignoramus, he was just reflecting what had been said earlier. Don’t get me wrong here, I am neither a fan of Anastasiades nor Kareklas, nor a consenting disciple of Christofias, but it does all seem a bit trivial if not peculiar, that a former President decides to sue on such feeble grounds. And Christofias had as we said before, admitted in his own words that he was not informed, therefore, in doing this he was ‘a-xabaros’. May be he will sue me for saying that as well?

In these times of severe austerity, hardship and pain, when people have little hope for the future, this kind of court case reflects how pusillanimous many of our politicians actually are. They can in fact call you as a simple citizen of the Republic of Cyprus anything from ‘axabaros’ to ‘traitor’  and you, as a simple citizen cannot do a thing about it because they have immunity. The same applies to any wrong decisions they make, and they have all made many in our recent history, without exception.

Additionally, as I said before Dimitris Christofias has been called far worse things by many people and at no time in the past did he ever pursue legal action. This is the same man who sat in front of bereaving families of victims of the Mari disaster in a televised exchange with said people holding placards up in court, for all the cameras and people to see which basically said he was the person, through is wrongly calculated decisions,  who ‘murdered’ their relatives. Did Christofias pursue legal action then? This is also the same person who made history, as President in his first term, by not standing for re-election. The only reason for this was his diminished popularity, largely because of Mari, his mishandling of economic issues, and complete failure to solve the Cyprus issue. Go to any coffee shop right now in Cyprus and record few conversations. You will hear much worse epithets and characterizations about politicians.

Last but one, someone once called me an ‘idiot’ in a newspaper. Had they used their journalistic brains and said in their opinion my music is ‘idiotic’ I would have thought their interpretation was idiotic but as everyone is entitled to an opinion fair enough. But being called an idiot, just for being who I am, just for existing, breathing,  made me take them to court for libel. The case was never mentioned on TV, radio and I think the only newspaper to cover it was ‘The Cyprus Mail’. I won the case a couple of years later with what I consider to be a paltry sum of just over 4,000 euros in damages plus legal expenses. The irony is had I been The President of Cyprus, another two zeros would have been on the settlement fee. Libel law in Cyprus sucks basically if you are not a famous politician.

Finally, Dimitris Christofias would do us all a favour by dropping this petty, ridiculous and bizarre court case. Far worse things have been said of him and his counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades. In times when people cannot afford to buy bread and milk, a former President should rise to the occasion, shrug it off and be content with some gardening or reading history books.

Try a little devil’s advocate

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Imagine standing in front of the mirror and seeing yourself as an illusionary opposite. While many of us may find comfort in this special optical trick in the world of politics, parties, leaders and movements no one would ever dare be so different. It’s a question I have thought about lately, seeing as most of our hacks – print, radio and TV and wack chat show hosts seem to be lacking the very basic skill known as playing devil’s advocate. Everyone is either without the President and demanding his immediate resignation over the mishandled Mari explosion disaster or with him blindly to the point of no return.

It’s a very similar atmosphere to the extremely polarized scenario of the referenda in 2004 when apparently everyone was either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. A 12% and 13% minority of voters from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities did not vote either as they chose to abstain. Furthermore we had the ‘No’ meaning ‘Yes’ of AKEL and the ‘Yes’ but most of our voters voted ‘No’ of DiSY. Most people then did not actually vote for the same reasons, and likewise today, even though everyone is trying their utmost to sway public opinion – whatever that dodgy term means against or in favour of President Christofias, what is also real is the fact that some of us are not being influenced by all the pseudo hard talk of the media, politicians, facebook groups for or against, protestors or admirers.

I heard reportage just last week by a renowned BBC journalist who will be unnamed, on a radio station in English, again unnamed. The journo insisted ‘thousands of people are outside the Presidential Palace each night, from all the political parties, demanding President Christofias resigns’. I am not sure what Palatio was being referred to as on the very same night I drove past there. I would estimate there were about 200 people. I did not stop to ask their views but they were clearly antagonistic, demanding the immediate resignation of Christofias because as their banners insisted he was a ‘Murderer’. No one should deny the right of citizens to protest, and if we ever reach that point in Cyprus, there will be no turning back. But where were the thousands reported by the reputable journalist I wondered, and did they all come from every single party in Cyprus. This takes me to the opposite camp. AKEL supporters who often confuse their ideology for a football game. Out of curiosity I asked to join a facebook group supporting President Christofias. I must admit to doing this solely for research purposes, not for snooping on any one but just trying to understand the logic of how people in this camp were thinking – much in the same way, after having heard the reportage mentioned earlier, for driving past the Presidential Palace on that night last week, to see for myself what the journalist had said. Equally ‘patriotic’ along ideological lines the facebook Group was riddled with all kinds of conspiracy theories on how the President was being treated by the media and opposition. I lasted a day I think and exited, feeling disappointed.

Now on both these sites, at both these locations, virtual and real, I felt the same sense of not agreeing with things and wanting in some way to be different, independent minded and open for critical kinds of thinking. That to me is what is missing, a sense of trying to heal the wounds through a more open-ended and open minded discussion. As Cypriots we always insist on what divides us but seldom look to ways to overcome these divisions. The media are not exempt from this. They seldom make any attempt at objectivity; they merely reflect divisions and rarely look at the bigger picture and the possibilities that could arise from being more critical in a constructive sense. There are media outlets who have wanted Christofias to step down from the minute he was elected and there are others who worship the ground he walks on. There are people who live in a very interesting but false world of everyone who is a comrade agrees with us and others, The Archbishop being a classic example who are so happy that there has been no progress whatsoever – according to him at least – in the talks over a solution between Christofias and Eroglou. In fact his 8% Beautitude from Paphos would be very delighted if Christofias resigned because the talks would be completely terminated and yes, the next President, speaking hypothetically now of course, would presumably go back on all that has been agreed, and move to a more irredentist stance. This would match quiet well again very surrealistically with the partitionist stance espoused by Turkish PM Erdogan recently in occupied northern Cyprus when he stood on what looked like a bus with mic in hand. Muting the sound, I did get the impression, just by reading his body language that he was trying desperately to sell water melons.
So the rest of us, albeit may be a minority, who don’t want to be herded here and there by any one, who do not want to be threatened or treated like lemmings by the politicians, media, religious leaders and yes the plethora of fickle minded facebook groups, we are just sick and tired of all of it, like most people are in the world frankly. The recession, the wars, the environment, the intransigence, the fanaticism, and the way in which so much suffering is inflicted, so much pain, so much grief, so many mistakes and no one has the courage to admit it was their fault. Too many lawyers, right about now, and never enough justice!
So a message to the media…Next time you have all the political vagabonds – I mean that with the utmost respect and acerbic wit – pitted against each other over any issue, Mari, The Cyprus Problem, Christofias seeing it through or standing down, try a little bit of critical thinking, a touch of devil’s advocate. Say to the government spokesman, let’s just reverse things a little here, if you was in opposition and DiSY was in power, with Anastasiades as President, and a disaster equivalent to Mari happened, what would you be demanding from the President? To the Opposition, again reverse the tables. If you were President would you have resigned on 11-7-11?

London People – its been a long time…

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It has been a long time since I played a gig in London. Over 15 years in fact. Since then I moved to Cyprus, finished a PhD, married Marina, the love of my life, and from that bond we have two lovely kids. Finishing the PhD also led me into teaching, which in more ways than one, fulfills me 100%. Music during all this time has never been on the back burner. It remains a serious passion for me. I’ve made a few albums, toured various parts of the world, attended conferences, shared music with people all over and stay engaged with music, despite how it’s changed.

When I started out making music as a solo act in 1990 people made these things called 12″ vinyls. Then CD’s took over and then Mp3’s which have redefined how people share music. As a result of all these changes I guess it would have been wise and easy to say, well thats it, I have done what I have done. But there is more to music for me than just releasing songs for people to buy or download for free.

The main thing that keeps me motivated is the live situation. No matter what happens to how we buy or get the music for free, there will always be the need, the fulfillment in audiences to see, hear and feel music as a live performance. And musicians themselves, will always get that equal buzz factor, doing it in front of audiences, and making a communicative connection – no matter the content, style or sounds. Some people will do it for fame, some for love, and some for peace, but at the end of the day, many of these people will feel that need to carry on and perform.

So while many people, not just in London, may feel Haji Mike hasn’t done nothing since ‘Vraggaman’ I would like to say that I have done many things, in many countries around the world. Why people are still so fascinated by one song is a bit baffling to me. I never expected ‘Vraggaman’ to be what it became, as I have never thought about ‘the lets write a hit formula’.

More than anything, ‘Vraggaman’ and ‘Stavroulla’ before it were done for the fun of it and for the simple right to be able to make something different – something very London, very Cypriot and yet still had a reggae vibe to it, that Jamaican link.
The tunes were done with my late producer friend and mentor, Zacharias ‘Sugar’ Hajishacalli, who sadly passed away in 2007 and while many people equate me with these tunes, I am just half of the reason, Sugar played just as much a role as me in their making. And believe me we did have a lot of fun in the studio making them. But that was only the beginning, which took me from London to Cyprus and back 12 times alone in 1992-93 to do gigs.

As an artist in London I always felt most of the community media, such as LGR and Parikiaki, never really understood me. And since I left I guess they have never bothered to find out if I am still alive or dead. I know that sounds very cynical but it is how I feel. One reason why I left London in fact was that narrow-mindedness which stifles and suffocates creativity and expression. It was surprisingly enough easier for me to be played and respected in Cyprus. For example when I moved over here, Radio Proto offered me two radio shows, I also had a regular column in The Cyprus Mail newspaper, plus was one of a first generation of TV show presenters on SIGMA TV. In doing all these media it became very clear to me that I was far more welcome in Cyprus than London media wise.
And despite all of these achievements in Cyprus, not once have these outlets ever mentioned any of this, let alone approached me for any kind of interview.

Eventually, as much as I liked working in the Cyprus media on a freelance basis I dropped out of TV to focus on my teaching and music. I also much prefer radio and writing blogs these days, and doing music which is dub poetry based with my producer friend Dub Caravan

There have been some very notable exceptions to these community based media exclusionary rules in Britain. Trehantiri Music in Green Lanes Haringey was the first place that ever played my songs to an unsuspecting public, and I will always raise an ‘E-Iva’ glass of wine to The Pattalis Family. Radio wise Mediterranean Mix on Inspiration FM probably has more of my releases than I do. And John Kaponi once hailed that Haji Mike was about to conquer the USA. It was a great headline but that was never my intention 🙂

There are also many people in the mainstream British Media who have always been supportive, from the legendary and late John Peel Andy Kershaw and FRoots Magazine to more contemporary radio presenters such as DeeJay Ritu and Dotun Adebayo

I also had the pleasure and honour to work with many people in the world from far and wide. For example:
Lia Vissi , plus Sonic Crime and my good friend’s Mike Minas and Mike Cherry; Standout Selector, my brother from another mother in San Francisco, the classic Greek Rappers Imiskoubria and reggae pioneer Ranking Johnny from THC Records in Greece who recently released my first 7″ vinyl single; my long time production bredren, Tony Muttley Matthew in Londinium; and how could I not mention Don V Louie, Sugar’s brother, who taught me so much about myself vocally; last but by no means least my poet brother from across the barbed wire in Cyprus, Zeki Ali

And I know I have left many people out due to my memory failing me, no offence, its all there on my web page

So I am very much looking forward to playing in London on 31st October and there will be more gigs soon as well. I will also be in Liverpool on December 2nd at Parr Street Studios. And my home town of Nicosia, on 13th November with The Roots Crew Sound System

As you can see from all this, it’s a busy life, at times hectic but I enjoy every moment to the fullest. So for all the people who have supported the works over the decades, I give thanks and praises. For all those who do not, its nothing personal from me, I just wanted to set the record straight. You can continue as ever, misrepresenting Cypriots in the ways you feel best. I will just keep on movin, as the song once said from Soul II Soul…And before I sign off, one very final mention and thanks goes out to Andrew Hubbard Badger for organising The One Cyprus Concert in London on 31st October. It is a real honour to perform along side Neşe Yaşın
People like Andrew keep hope alive in Cyprus, even in these most difficult and pessimistic of times. And if you can;t make the gig, it will be up there as an online stream, live and direct as it happens. Check out ONECYPRUS.

One Love

Haji Mike

Let Them Know!

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For many decades I have observed the pseudoscience and insensitiveness of boxing one’s own shadow. What is he talking about today many may wonder? The sun is shining, its Sunday and children are already out there, kicking a ball down the village lane. Twelve year olds in fact who in five or six years time will be out there on some guard post, in some army camp, wasting the most precious months of their lives. As the very wise Chief Seattle once said “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

It’s shameful to think that today’s children have inherited exactly the same problem as us. In fact, things in more ways than one are much worse in 2010 as far as the rubric-cube-like Cyprus problem is concerned. In this myriad of possibilities, misinterpretations and deliberate distortions, it’s as clear as the fresh Sunday morning air that many politicians have a lot invested in a non-solution. I know, it does sound ironic, after all not one of them would dare say in public, loud and clear for all of us to hear, “I DO NOT WANT A SOLUTION”.

Instead they chose a different more cowardly method. Let it be known at this point that I like most people have my political preferences but I am not in the business of being in parties and following leaders passively. No matter who is in power or in opposition I will always engage in active and constructive criticism. So when various politicians who generally show a rejectionist stance jump up and down and protest when any President tries to take one millimeter forward to a solution they always bring back that image of some one boxing their own shadow.

It is so futile, so pointless. Take the two most contentious issues, property rights and security, of the Cyprus Problem. Whatever is proposed in the negotiations, behind closed doors is so far from any kind of resolution despite decades of talk and dishing out pointless diplomatic triple chat. In many ways it is completely irresponsible to make u-turns and walk away from the negotiating table. It’s also futile because Turkey, the power who has clearly violated property rights and security matters in Cyprus knows every single move, every single detail just by watching daily Greek Cypriot news bulletins or reading newspaper articles online.

Perhaps another aspect worth considering, aside from the futility of rejectionism, is a secondary more disturbing dimension, namely political capital. It sounds good in some people’s minds, even courageous, to walk away and stick to a position that asks for the maximum every time. Not 1 settler in some people’s minds should be allowed to stay in Cyprus and while it sounds great to our ears, making this maximalist demand when negotiations are happening seems so far-fetched that is obvious certain politicians are only saying this to exploit people’s sensitivities.

It is also so easy for various fringe factions to declare through graffiti on walls and empty winded slogans at predictable rallies that Christofias is, in their small-minded words “a traitor” and “an informer”. Some people do this hiding behind such vague notions of democracy and freedom of expression. One wonders whether opposition voices under the previous late President Papadopoulos, ever had the same amount of air time or coverage in the media. Did any one for example, ever see journalist and historian, Makarios Droushiotis on TV?

So when rejectionist politicians fan the flames even more its clear that the intention is to get re-elected, and with an increased majority. The posters, I never know who funds them, are appearing again. The consequences of ‘YES’ and the benefits of ‘NO’. How much more loaded a question and slogan is that. And we have not even reached a stage of possible referendum. How messed up is that???

I apologize for my pessimism, we are far from reaching a solution, and every one, including the UN knows that. There are many reasons for this. Primarily the fakery of Turkish diplomacy is the root cause. How can any one claim to want a solution by the end of the year and yet the flag on the hill is still there, by day and lit up by night, the size of 3 football pitches. At the same time I blame the rejectionists for never wanting to make one step in the right direction. For their lack of vision for a common future, where all Cypriots will be treated as equals, under one state, where human rights are respected to the utmost.

If you believe the children of the future deserve better than to inherit the Cyprus Problem, then actually do something about it. If you do not, then at least tell them the truth from now, so they can make alternative plans. Where is the future for any one in a divided island? Unless of course you want to become tomorrow’s rejectionist politician, peddling myths, exploiting people’s anxieties and remaining resolutely conservative to the bone.

When in Rome…do as the Cypriots

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Parking, politicians and the impartial implementation of policy – 3 P’s that come to mind in the place where I live. Nothing personal against any one or party in particular – whether in power/government or out-of-power/opposition. Assuming this is correct, then no political force in Cyprus is powerless. The point is, no matter who is in power, no matter what the government chooses to call itself ideologically and who or where they ally themselves to, the essence of The Banana Republic remains the same.

Before any one jumps on a sanctimonious high horse on the 50 years of Cyprus Independence, this blog has nothing to do with that. I celebrated just like every one else, minus of course the military paraphernalia, which no matter what the excuses, will always remind me of a cold war era.

My concern is more personal. Now every one who has ever dealt with state officials in Cyprus, those worker ants who get paid triple money for working half the hours the rest of us do, will have a story to tell. I will not go into too much detail as there are way too many stories to tell from the time I returned to Cyprus for good in 1994. What interests me is the spirit of The Banana Republic, the etymology of the term and how state employees, not all of them, but some of them, live by the dictum ‘when in Rome, do as the Cypriots’.

Now I am sure such an outspoken concept will get me on more stop lists from state and even private broadcasters, resonating throughout the diasporic network of people and places that dare not utter a word of critique against Republique Bananez, but that’s how it goes, it’s the price of being outspoken, and free minded blogger in cyberspace.

The essence is this. The whole concept of the Banana Republic goes back to Glafcos Clerides, who was bold enough to state it but did not, due to all the Bananoits he had surrounded himself with, and could not do anything about it.

No matter who is in power the surrounding ambiance and corruption of some state employees lives on. In my life in Cyprus I have been asked the most ridiculous things by a plethora of state employees, such as:

‘Please bring your primary school reports’ to prove my identity during military service.
‘I am sorry sir, you will have to go back and bring your first passport’ to prove my clapped out old Citroen car was mine – I had to make 14 visits to the said office.

And more ridiculous than anything I ever experienced, I have also been asked to produce receipts for money I have not spent to reclaim a smaller sum of money that I did spend. Work that one out.

So I could have played along with this and lived by the dictum of when in ‘Rome do as the Cypriots’, which seems to be what every one else does, accepting the corruption and mediocrity. But I chose not to as that would make me just as bad as the rest.

Finally, I am not an ageing anarchist who never votes in elections and none of this has to do with who is President and who is not. It’s just a series of observations, from a variety of lived experiences that have made me question the existence of a huge state mechanism, which truth be told, keeps expanding every time there is an election.

So raise your glasses of zivana ladies and gents to the spirit and practice of The Republic Bananezik…Long may we all resist the temptations of getting a state employment position….E – iva!!!

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