Arif Ali: A true community hero


It seemed as though the swanky Park Lane Hilton Hotel was taken over by Arif Ali supporters last week. More than a thousand friends and family gathered for a gala dinner to celebrate his company - Hansib Publishing - 40th anniversary .

Indeed for 40 years Ali’s publications have captured the heart-beat of African, Caribbean and Asian life here in the UK.

In 1971 the young Guyana-born entrepreneur and campaigner launched his first publication  - the West Indian Digest, a thoughtful and often radical magazine that featured stories from ‘back home’ and what news of was happening here.

Other successful publications were to follow, the Caribbean Times, the African Times and the Asian Times. And being the activist by instinct meant that Ali’s energies were always rooted in the community.

He became a big supporter of the Notting Hill Carnival and when in 1987 the four Black MPs were elected they paid particular tribute to him and how he had promoted them.

When Operation Black Vote was launched in 1996 it was Arif Ali from who invited us to his then premises in Finsbury Park  to talk about, and promote our voter registration campaign.

“Young man”, he said, “sit down and listen. You don’t know anything, but I can sense you’re a good man, so I’m going to give you all the help I can”.

And he did. Furthermore, he has been supportive ever since. To demonstrate his commitment to the community a couple of years ago he handed over to Lee Jasper and 1990 Trust the complete archive of all his publications. The library is a chronicle of Black Britain through the eyes of a good man.

Happy Birthday Hansib and congratulations Arif Ali.

Picture Rod Leon.