Odimumba Kwamdela

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Odimumba Kwamdela (born J. Ashton Brathwaite) is a Barbadian writer who has published 14 books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and three musically dubbed power-of-the-word (poetry) Compact Disc. He is also known as the "Grassroots Philosopher" and the "Prophet Next Door".


In 1960, while in his early teens, he left his native Barbados for London, England. He eventually enlisted in the British Army and served in the Middle East. After military service, he left London for Ontario, Canada. There he freelanced with Toronto newspapers before becoming founding publisher and editor of Spear,[1] reputed to be the first Black magazine published in Canada. He once said, "I had big dreams of making Spear the Ebony of Canada."[citation needed]

Eventually becoming disappointed with what he saw as the limitation of Spear in a nation with too small a Black population and believing the "controversial" label given to the original edition of his book, Niggers...This is Canada, made him the object of governmental harassment, he exiled himself to New York City. There, around the mid-1970s, he made the decision to discard the name J. Ashton Brathwaite under which he had written and published.

Kwamdela taught in for the New York City Board of Education as a high school teacher of Writing and Graphic Arts, serving for several years in the roughest schools in the world, one for adolescent offenders located in infamous, volatile Rikers Island Jail. He wrote a book detailing this experiences.