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'What's the play?' With Anthony 'Play' Douglas

HAPPY GHANAIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY: Play and Capital Xtra's king of Afrobeats DJ Abrantee

CHANGE STARTS with us.

With an unelected Prime Minister and a US president who has the world more paranoid than ever, it feels like we are doomed. With many of us yearning for change maybe we are looking in the wrong places for a liberator, maybe they've been here all along.

Growing up in south London was full of many trials and tribulations. Often the main task was to merely stay alive.

Over the years you would hear of the exploits of many notorious names. One of those names was Quincey Thwaites, a young man from Brixton who had built quite the reputation for himself, who thought 20+ years later he would be the person to stand up for the community.

From the age of 12 Thwaites experienced life on the streets and in care homes, which eventually led to him spending 16 years of his life in some of the most notorious young offenders and adult prisons up and down the country. His last prison sentence was a decade, during that time he reflected on his past and how his actions had affected his community.

He started doing various gang initiative courses and excelled in education, studying how gangs affected his community. It gave him an insight into what was wrong and how he could affect it in the right way at that time.

BRIXTON'S FINEST: From left - Anthony 'Play' Douglas and Quincey Thwaites @Qozomedici

Upon release Thwaites settled in Manchester, as he was banned from London and took the time to find himself. He recorded his first mixtape entitled Str8 out the Pen and started going to Manchester Universities and sharing his story. People were astounded by what he had been through and it helped them gain a deep understanding of the life of a young person involved in crime.

On coming back to London he noticed a big change in his community as gentrification was ripping the heart out of the Brixton that he had known. Everything was about business with no second thought for the community and families that were living in the 'New Brixton'.

Armed with new knowledge and his talents he decided to do something about it, as he knew full well the repercussions of making people feels like their community has abandoned them. Thwaites decided he would make a community-based drama series and get everyone involved - young, old, female, male, disabled, black, white, Asian, famous and not and turned his whole community into actors. 50 episodes have been made since 2014 and the rest is history.

Real Life TV UK now produces documentaries, interviews, local youth music videos, films, podcasts, chat shows and of course the Real Life series.

Thwaites also created the Youtube channel Real Life TV UK, which is home to three series of Real Life, the urban drama series which is based in Brixton.

Real Life is about three rappers trying to get off the streets and shows how difficult that can be. The main character Qozo is torn between helping his friends out on the streets, pursuing his love of music and following in his families tradition of being in control of a diamond mine in Sierra Leone. The story takes us from the streets of Brixton to the beaches of Jamaica and Africa.

Thwaites is currently in the process of getting more youth involved and giving them a chance as he believes this is pivotal in the youth avoiding crime and points to his own experience of 'never being given a chance'.

Today, Quincey Thwaites (also known as Qozo Medici) is an aspiring musician, director, screenwriter, producer, mentor and motivational speaker who now plans to help build back the community that he feels he helped destroy.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

SPREADING THE LOVE: From left - Abigail and Antoinette of the Loving Hands Children Network

As part of my feature on International Women's Day I met up with two dynamic business women from south London, who are championing social action and change in the UK and Jamaica.

Antoinette Page and Abigail Thompson, co-founders of Loving Hands Children's Network support children and young people who have disabilities, or are currently disengaged from society.

They've recently returned from Jamaica having launched the Jamaican arm of their Feeding our Future campaign, which currently provides healthy breakfast choices for children in two primary schools in Kingston with the intention of rolling this out across all the parishes in Jamaica. This campaign aims to improve class attendance and participation from the students by giving them a warm meal to start the day.

Antoinette explained that it's a great opportunity for food distribution companies or sponsors that would like to give back to Jamaica in a meaningful way. She added that seeing a child's learning capability increase due to this initiative is so rewarding.

In the UK, Loving Hands Children's Network is part of a working group who are committed to the slogan #BeBoldForChange on matters such as black mental health awareness, services and issues from early childhood. The team confirms that they will focus on action based solutions which includes a community campaign and lobbying for change in policy on areas that are negatively impacting on black mental health and well-being across all social sectors in the UK.

This is a topic that will resonate with a lot of people and there is a wealth of resources and information available here.

DJ ABRANTEE

I asked my good friend DJ Abrantee to break down the significance of Ghana Independence Day which was celebrated this week. He was going in so I told him to write it for himself. He said some interesting things, in fact, I learned a thing or two:

"Being Ghanaian is an honour for me. On the 6th March 1957 Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African nation to become independent of European colonisation. My country is rich in beauty and culture and has come a long way in 60 years.

"With new President Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana is definitely open for business.

"This Saturday 11 March we'll be celebrating Ghanaian Independence at The Coronet with over 2,000 people, it's going to be a night to remember, we Ghanaians are doing it big! Our 60 years of Independence are definitely a cause for celebration. From eating traditional dishes like Kenke and Fufu, dressing in Kente clothing and of course dancing the Azonto, we will be having fun from morning till night!

"Ghana's growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it a regional power in west Africa, so it's only right that us Ghanaians ensure this week is special.

"Here's wishing all the Ghanaians around the world and friends of Ghana a happy Independence and see you all Saturday 11 March at The Coronet".

You can follow Anthony ‘Play’ Douglas on:

Twitter: @MrPlay


Facebook and Snapchat: MrPlayVip


Instagram: @MrPlay

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