While working as the warden at the West Indian Centre, Nana demonstrated a range of skills to initiate and carry out many projects and activities. His capacity to represent people on various issues and achieve success was unparalleled.
He took his role very seriously and in the process was seen as a controversial figure. Nevertheless he stayed true to his principles of justice and fair play, working to give stability and confidence to the black community in Manchester and across the UK.
Nana was a defender and mediator for black young people. He supported many young people and parents who needed representation with various issues and with various state institutions. Increasingly he would be called to visit police stations, magistrates courts, probations services and schools to provide support and advice, often to people whom he did not know before. For some, Nana had to get legal advice and make representations to professional bodies to assist him.
He also represented a number of race discrimination cases on behalf of the Commission for Racial Equality, some of which resulted in the individuals receiving financial compensation.
Easter and summer projects
He worked tirelessly in promoting Easter and summer schemes for black children during their school breaks. These were very popular and one summer saw 150 children attending daily (1989 WIOCC annual Report). He developed these schemes to provide an opportunity for children to use their leisure time positively and constructively at the Centre and through trips which he organized.
It must be recorded that many of these schemes were carried on even when the financial support was not adequate but this did not prevent their delivery and the quality. Many parents spoke admirably of his efforts and respected him for developing these schemes in a sustainable way, knowing well all the challenges that were involved. Nana rarely remained down even through very difficult circumstances. He always got up again and pursued the mission to be accomplished.
Nana used an enormous portion of his time ensuring that black history was given the appropriate treatment in schools and universities. He repeatedly answered requests to lecture on the social and political life of black people in Britain. He believed these were great opportunities to set the record straight and give an accurate historical account.
Schools visits and students placements
He left no stone unturned to support educational placements for students who had been excluded from school. He acted as an educational advisor for many schools in Manchester where black students attended. He would be invited by many schools to discuss various aspects of community work and education with teachers and heads of schools, with a view to making better use of resources and through this work, he influenced the attitudes of many teachers in their work with black students.
Black children in care
Nana worked with many parents and the Social Services to encourage black parents to adopt black children. He had a good knowledge of how to advise parents in preparation for these responsibilities. He represented many parents at hearings with educational authorities and social services who were pursuing opportunities to adopt black children. He showed great empathy and was very mindful of the number of black children in care.
Representing the black community in the Caribbean
When the economic organisation, Caribbean Community (Caricom) heads of government established the West Indian Commission in 1989 to develop a plan of action for Caribbean people into the 21st century and sought to include those in the Diaspora, Nana represented his own views and the Caribbean collective without fear.
He represented the WIOCC before the commissioners at the Barbados High Commission, where he presented a paper putting forward the views of the black community in Manchester and England. He was concerned about how the region would address the issue of reparations for Caribbean people after 500 years of the enslavement of millions of African people in the regions.
Nana used all his energies and skills to spearhead the development of Culture Week in Manchester. For about 10 years he ensured that the best parade and exhibition of black people’s history and culture was presented. This included hundreds of performances by local, national and sometimes international artists.
His work in getting a range of African arts and cultural activities under one roof in Manchester began in 1973 and became a cultural institution of the Carmoor Road Centre.
WIOCC Youth Training Scheme
This organisation worked in partnership with The Youth Training Scheme, Manchester City Council’s skill based programme to deliver training for young people in motor mechanics and electronic repair courses. Several trainees went on to develop their own businesses. Some of these continue to operate today. This scheme ran for several years before it was closed in 1997/98.
Reforms in the Manchester Local Education Authorities
Nana campaigned for changes in education policy that would reflect and guarantee provision for African Caribbean students under Section 11 of the Local Government Act, 1966. This helped to provide adequate funding for the educational needs of black students in main stream schools.
Formal Community School
As a strong believer in the benefits of education, Nana sought to assist individuals who for various reasons did not get secondary education qualifications, to enable them to go on to college or to university. Hence, he was instrumental in supporting the development of the Nia College of Education at the Centre in 1999. He was very keen on creating opportunities for people to access college and university education, especially working class students from the local black community. It was one of his lifelong ambitions to see the black people in Manchester owning and operating their own black led educational institution. He had started discussions with Manchester College of Technology to form a partnership for this development. Whilst keen interest was been expressed by the college it did not get off the ground due to the untimely passing of Nana.
Youth Club Services with MCC
The West Indian Centre under his direction also saw the development of a Youth Club in partnership with the Manchester City Council Youth Services. This operated at the centre for over 25 years until 2011 when the Council made major operational changes to their Youth Services programmes.
Mother and Toddler Group.
This group ran for five days per week. It was established as a provision for parents and toddlers, which would enable parents to meet and children to play. It also operated to assist parents to collectively plan suitable child care programmes. Nana spent an enormous amount of time during the middle of the late 1980’s struggling with the Social Services department for the continued support and operation of this programme, before the Service eventually closed it down. The reason given was that the building was unsuitable.
Full Employment Project
This project was one of Nana’s initiatives in the 1980’s. It was set up to address unemployment in the community. It was supported by a number of private sector companies which were able to use their resources to create working partnerships with local and central government, the Manpower Service Commission, Charitable Trusts and a number of local community organizations.
Race Unit at Manchester City Council
Nana’s contribution dealing with race relations issues included employment, immigration and deportation. He had to draw on a range of external personnel with specific skills to represents many people who came to the West Indian Centre for his advice.
He gave sterling service to the WIOCC as a paid worker, as a volunteer and also remained active in the Guyana Association and the Pan African Congress Movement until he died in 2003.