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24 September 2014

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Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall aka Ras Jabulani

Northampton in the 1970s was home to one of the country’s first Black self-help centres and the biggest sound systems in the area. Trevor Hall was, in part, behind both. Here he tells us his story.

Trevor Hall

Date of Birth: 1957
Ethnic Origin: Black Caribbean
Religion: Rastafarian

In the early 80s Trevor moved to Swaziland as a volunteer to work with youths.
He set up the Manzini Youth Centre and later gained funding from UNESCO for a national youth centre.

He also spent time in Mozambique. In 1985 he was living in Soweto, South Africa and working on a programme building cultural activities among the youth. He also helped to produce and edit some of Bishop Tutu’s speeches and was eventually banned from the country.

He then moved to Botswana from 1986 to 1987. He mostly worked with music and started a cultural society at the University of Botswana.

When he left the country he was invited to do some fundraising shows in Zimbabwe in 1987, where he decided to settle.

"So I started playing the sound system when I was about 13, but just, you know, used to put small amplifiers together, get speakers. And my uncle at that time, Conchele, he used to have a record company, Third World Records in London.  He used to have a sound system in Tottenham.  He decided to sell me part of the sound system so I came back with a nice set which now became the talk of the town; we were now the number one sound system."

Trevor Hall, now known as Ras Jabulani, was born in Gloucester in 1957. His parents came to Britain from Jamaica in the 1950s. He moved to Northampton at the age of three. When he left school Trevor went on to do an apprenticeship as a carpenter. In his mid-teens he began to become more aware of his Black heritage and decided to act on it.

In 1975 Trevor, along with friends, formed the Matta Fancanta Youth Movement (MFM). Matta Fancanta means ‘come guide yourself’ and the mission of the group was to ‘guard yourself against self-destruction’ as Trevor explains: "This is what we were seeing happening amongst ourselves as youths in that time. The whole purpose of MFM was to create a base so that ones can meet, share, learn and go out and be a man, be a woman, you know?"

"A Black man without knowledge and understanding of his own history is like a tree without roots."
Trevor Hall

But MFM was having problems in getting somewhere to use as a base, so the members decided to take matters into their own hands: “We decided to plan and squat and take over a building and this is where MFM then got into the old Salvation Army Citadel there, in the corner of Sheep Street there.  And that’s where MFM, the movement within the building started.

"We managed to also help other emerging organisations. Black organisations from around the country, Wellingborough, Leicester, Derby, Coventry, London.  Because again with our interaction as youths with the sound system, us in the bands we used to be bringing all these other communities together at times.  All of us were sharing the same problems basically, you see.  So it was the way of, you know, helping these, because we were actually the first Black self-help centre right in the country.  MFM, we started that, we started the whole ball rolling."

To find out what happened to MFM and Trevor, listen to the whole interview by clicking on the links in the top-right corner of this page. You can add your comments on this story by using the form at the bottom of the page.

last updated: 06/02/06
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Tshatipamba M
It was good news for me to hear oncemore about Ras Trevor Hall. I only remember you with Tosh, Carlos Dje Dje in Swaziland 1983, keep it up Jabu.

marcia foster
it's great to see after all these years you kept up with the movement, i was only 15 or 16 at the time before i left for the usa. BUT NEVER DID I FORGET ANYONE AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT TOUCHED MY LIFE. MFM former member 1976-78

Understanding and tolerance is a great weapon in the fight against ignorance, as a white man I cannot hope guess as to the prejudice that other ethnic groups may face, but I can guess.

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