Wednesday, 12 September 2012


A few days ago when I broke the death news to Jazz musician, Claude Deppa, after the initial shock, the charismatic Claude remarked : "He was too fast for London. No wonder he moved to Brazil.  Alan was ahead of his time."

There are two types of human beings.
 Those whose goals are achieved in their country of origin; and ones whose dreams are fulfilled in foreign lands.  Like Mohammed Farah who moved from Somalia and is now a celebrated athlete in the UK; or the Jewish thinker and author, Karl Marx who fled  Germany in the 19th century and died in London. Remmy Ongala left Congo in 1978 and brought prestige to Tanzanian music, died and was buried in Dar es Salaam two years ago.
Living in a huge, cosmopolitan city like London makes you meet such individuals.    300 languages are spoken here. In such a maze of cultures and nationalities, I met Alan Hayman, a South African community enthusiast and musician in 1991.

Alan Hayman (first right, seated on his beloved Congas) in his hey days with Sambatucada band. One can see how  Alan enjoyed working and collaborating with others...Pic courtsey of Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva.

 Back then I was living in Rio de Janeiro and had reviewed an international film festival for a London magazine. While visiting the country my agent (who was based in London) said she had got a call from this African guy.

On the phone, Alan was polite and had a strong South African accent. I was used to South African English because many freedom fighters were exiled in Tanzania due to Apartheid.
I greeted Mr Hayman in Zulu.
This was on the phone; but when we met I was shocked. Alan Hayman was not only white, he was Jewish; his English had that strong accent that we associated with Afrikaners. I didn't know much about him nor his background. Reflect on this.
As musical director (left with guitar) of  Space Theatre, Cape Town, Alan Hayman would have been really brave to work  with black people in 1977 at the height of  sinister Apartheid policies. Pic courtsey Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva.

 When I was growing up, a Tanzanian passport clearly stated that you could travel to all countries except Israel and South Africa. In my generation, white South Africans were part of racism; the enemy. So imagine my trepidation and nervousness meeting a white South African. Alan Hayman had a moustache, walked briskly and spoke softly.  I had never shook hands with a white South African before.
The man was like an angel. Fact is Alan Hayman had sprinted away from apartheid back in the late 1970’s. He hated it. He loved working with black people and taking the side of the anti racists from when he was very young. Yes he was different.  He moved here and settled with Virginia ; and they had a son, Joshua in 1982.
As Musical Director (Alan plays percussion left) forCommon Stock Theatre, in 1983...

So a decade or so later, here I am...  November 1991, London was cold; I was shivering; I was welcomed to his pad at Finsbury Park  - and now re married to a Brazilian lawyer called Vera Lucia. They were extremely welcoming and their house was always filled with guests from every corner of the globe – I recall meeting the excellent multi-instrumentalist musician, Ife Tolentino,  in his flat in Hackney, 1993.
Vera (third left) with  Alan and other family members...pic courtsey of Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva

 It was Vera who sent me an email saying Alan Hayman had died in Rio de Janeiro after a brief illness. When I phoned she could not speak properly, her cousin said she had to take calming pills. A few days later Vera wrote me an email: “I never heard Alan complaining about anyone; he hated prejudice, police, dentists, politicians, aggression against animals and nature, traffic jams and bad music.He was a musician, musical director, producer, actor, carpenter, English teacher and environmentalist.”
That's right.
 In 1983 Alan Hayman was one of the  co-founders of  The London School of Samba  with respected Brazilian  percussionist Bosco De Oliveira (pictured below, first right, performing together). It is said it was actually his idea. He was also one of the main organisers of the third European Samba Encontro, in London (1989) which featured the famous Mocidade School
From left Bosco De Oliveira, Bill Lucas, Alan Hayman (on Samba tambourine) and Dawson (Cuica) performing in 1989.
Then he would form the Academicos de Medueira which first paraded in London’s Notting hill Carnival of 1992. Around this time my involvement in the said Carnival as a "passista" was thanks to the invitation and encouragement of Alan Hayman.
Isaac Tagoe, the Ghanaian master percussionist who worked with Alan Hayman  in the Jazira fusion band in 1981. Pic courtesy of Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva. 

The South African was a disciplined researcher who assisted many to get connected to African, European and Latin American music and culture. One of his most memorable qualities was his genuine passion to help find knowledge.

 He would give detailed references, lend books, record music and in age of selfishness (and money grabbing) get to great lengths to type and write things, making sure you got the right information. I used to tease him that he should be a professor at some college.
Versatility: Alan plays flute (second left) at Grand Union, London. Pic courtesy Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva...
Having lived in London for over 12 years, Alan Hayman moved to Brasil where he helped find Pax, an organisation assisting to  fight poverty, HIV, precocious pregnancy, misery of street children and preservation of the natural landscape. He also taught English.
Final years : working with PAX on the outskirts of Rio De Janeiro... passionate about bringing a difference in communities and people's lives. Pic courtesy of Vera Lucia Pereira da Silva.

The last time Alan Hayman visited London he played in my album and we did a couple of gigs, we also celebrated with other friends the coming of the Millennium in 2000. But his spirit was always in Brazil where he returned and died on 5th September and is, subsequently, buried. He is survived with a son, Joshua( a street magician) and grand daughter, Mary Luz.
Quite unassuming, uncomfortable with praise, he had a great sense of humour.  I recall one of his dry  jokes: “Two places we cannot refuse to go. Toilet and death. When they call, you have to go.”
May God rest his soul in peace.

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