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A solid run from Lisa

GIRL POWER: Jasmine with Lisa (hugging youngster) and ‘Team Maffia

I RECENTLY headed down to Clapham Common to see my girl Lisa Maffia run the 5k Race For Life fundraising event.

The event began in 1994 in Battersea Park and since then, millions of women have taken part in the charity event that raises funds and awareness for Cancer Research UK.

Lisa’s mother was sadly diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and since then, Lisa has been generating positive energy around her mum and trying to make a difference. She put together Team Maffia to run with her and the group included one of her best mates, former Mis-Teeq member Su-Elise.

We arrived early to film the event with the London 360 TV crew and found 4,500 women in pink t-shirts warming up in front of a stage where an aerobics instructor was doing her thing. Each runner had a square card pinned to their backs with their personal dedication to the person they were running for.

Many were running to remember parents and family members that they’d lost to cancer, while others were running for people in their lives that are dealing with cancer presently. It was emotional and heart breaking to read them all.

Lisa told me just before the race began: “I’m feeling very emotional that these girls turned up for me. My mum was diagnosed with cancer in April and I asked the girls to all come and take part with me and they have and it’s going to be a great day.

“I’ve been training for about two weeks. I just want to get it done I want to make my mum proud.”

Lisa and Su-Elise weren’t the only music artists running. Also in attendance were the hip-hop collective Cookie Crew AKA MC Remedee (real name Debbie Pryce) and Susie Q (born Susan Banfield). They told me: “We’re running the race for my cousin Paula and for DJ Swing, and for everyone we know who’s suffering.”

We caught up with Lisa as she sprinted past the finish line. “I think [this race] has given my mum hope, as it is a hard thing to go through. I’ve never seen her in such a vulnerable situation. I know this race gives her a new hope and I think it does for everyone who has either lost somebody to cancer, or is helping someone dealing with it now.”

The runners that day raised £600,000 for Cancer Research UK – an amazing feat! I salute all of you dealing with this. May your unity and courage give you strength to take each day as it comes, come what may.

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MUCH TO LEARN FROM ONE LOVE


ONE LOVE: Jas and Etana

NEXT, IT was off to Wembley Arena for the One Love Peace Festival. Inside, the arena was full, the vibe was great, flags were being waved and whistles being blown.

The acts who included John Holt, Aswad, Horace Andy, Etana, Trevor Hartley, Sandra Cross, Gyptian, Busta Rhymes, Sean Paul and Shaggy, were onstage from early afternoon until 11pm, and there was a real positive energy and no bad vibes anywhere – just like a summery all-day event should be!

Still, I question whether the event – which aimed to drive home the importance of peace, at a time when gun and knife crimes are all too common on UK streets – will actually make a difference for those young people that are caught up in gang culture. Surely, most of the crowd were in attendance because they already have a positive outlook on life? The ones that are still wasting their lives with street nonsense probably weren’t even at the event.

Even so, the show’s message was positive with the artists taking part all uniting to drive home the message of peace.

Some acts that were due to perform – namely Ky-mani Marley, Third World and Bashy – didn’t show, so many complained about that. Also many young audience members were there to see UK acts like Donaeo and Skepta, but when the show started to overrun, the organisers cut Skepta’s set short and cut Donaeo’s set altogether!

If any lessons were learnt from this show, its that an outdoor arena with two stages would be beneficial, so band set up times could be swift and save the audience from having to wait ages for the next act to begin.
Still, overall, it was a brilliantly put together show for reggae-lovers in the UK.

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FELA! FALLS A BIT FLAT


SEXY: a scene from Fela!

I WAS invited by Sadler’s Wells theatre to go and see the amazing production Fela!; the story of Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti.

During the show, the audience was encouraged (well, forced) to participate throughout with plenty of dancing, but it was all well-received.

I thought it was a great show but would’ve liked more of Fela’s real story. In short, the show could’ve done with more about him fighting the brutality of the African regime and less booty shaking.

With Fela Kuti lauded by many of my American friends and looked upon as a hero, I was a bit disappointed to not learn more about why this is.

* Jasmine Dotiwala is a TV producer, director and broadcast journalist. Email her at jasmine@hiphop.com

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