Surfing the latest comings and goings on the net, in particular Facebook, I came across a Go Fund Me request for much needed funds, concerning the re-build and upkeep of a north London bookshop
Whist the thought of another GofundMe request, provoked bigger picture, social issues, thus conceptualising the community “necessity” affecting social dynamics up and down the country, what caught my attention, regarding The Ma Maat Centre and its request for funding, was the books, more acutely the very nature of the rare, and endangered narratives still trying to get a word in, edge-ways if necessary.
As described; The Ma Maat Centre is a pioneering independent, African development, based in Tottenham, London, UK. showcasing African determination, contributions, and achievements throughout the world; with an emphasis on African History, Culture, Spirituality, Science and Technology. Just off the Tottenham high Rd, north London, adjacent to a car park crying out for the attention of a council broom, the only visible sigh to a bookshop, being behind a narrow wooden door, was the hastily, now faded, painted “Ma Matt Centre”, was a testament to the rebuild and subsequent upkeep required.
Down a hallway, through another door, your faced with several books, of which a silent reaction will suffice. Thousands of books, in boxes, on shelves, in rooms with boxes still to be unpacked, and categorised, they were books spanning genres and subjects, by an astonishing number of African/Black novelists, historians, essayists, poets, and writers, delving into subject matters, of which vivid imaginations literally starve for.
Pepukayi; pronounced Pep-u-kayi, is the sole owner of the Ma Maat Centre, is in his 70’s, born in Jamaica, he first purchased the centre back in the late seventies, and since then the objective has been geared towards African culture and values, and their relevance established and sustained, to give credence to authentic African identity. Uncle; as Pepukayi quickly became, and I, talked about the difficulties he faced in preserving the narrative of African culture, and teachings, in a digital age, where the thirst for written works is fast becoming an aficionado pursuit, what struck was how unreservedly Pepukayi personified the importance of the Ma Matt centre, not only of its value to the community, but also the undoubted relevance founded on core, cultural and personal African standings.
Discoursing the objective of examining African culture and values, and the relevance of African culture and values to the contemporary society, critically assessed, found to be inimical to the well-being and holistic development of the African community, the significance of this pocket-sized bookstore, barely viable, weighs on a cultural conscience impossible to ignore. Fundamentally, the decaying condition of the centre, spoke to the dwindling importance to the UK black community, the thousands of books, in boxes, destined to be carefully curated on easy access shelves, spoke to the manoeuvring for social footing, and just how little space requires fierce e-commerce ingenuity to obtain, and keep alive the narrative legacy the centre instils.
What’s clear, what the Ma Matt centre, as a service provides, is intrinsic value, culture via literary works providing important social and economic benefits, the understanding being, with improved learning and health, increased tolerance, and opportunities to come together with others, culture enhances our quality of life and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities alike, one of which the Ma Matt centre strives to achieve, not lost on my photography work with the centre, a bookstore worthy of the mustered attention it rightly deserves.
Photos: Jahvin Morgan Photography
Ma Matt GoFundMe link: www.gofundme.com/f/save-the-maa-maat-centre