Plaque for Islington arts centre which starred in Bob Marley video

13:36 29 March 2011

The Keskidee Centre pictured in 1975

The Keskidee Centre pictured in 1975


A CULTURAL centre which starred in a Bob Marley music video featuring a seven-year-old Naomi Campbell will be honoured with a plaque to mark its 40th anniversary next week.

Keskidee children's performance

The pioneering Keskidee Centre in Gifford Street, Islington, was Britain’s first arts and cultural centre for the black community.

Founded in 1971 by Guyanese-born Oscar Abrams and his fellow trustees, the Keskidee took its name from a singing Caribbean bird.

In 1978, Bob Marley chose the centre as the setting for his Is this love? video, which starred a young Naomi Campbell.

Next Thursday, Islington Council will unveil a green plaque to mark its 40th birthday and its huge contribution to society.

Keskidee remembrance flyer

Councillor Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “The Keskidee Centre made an important contribution to London’s cultural development during the 70s and 80s and it’s another great example of Islington’s rich history.

“Islington Council’s green plaque will be a permanent reminder of the impact that the Keskidee made and is a wonderful way to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

“I’m hoping that some of the people originally involved in the centre will come along to celebrate the plaque unveiling.”

The Keskidee became known for its thriving theatre productions, which attracted black and white audiences and included tours of Europe, the US and New Zealand.

Diminishing funding and growing debts led to the demise of the Keskidee as an arts and cultural centre and it closed in the early 1980s.

Islington Council’s green plaque will be unveiled by David Lammy MP at 2pm on the side of the former centre, which is now occupied by the Christ Apostolic Church.

As part of a Radio 4 programme on the Keskidee Centre first broadcast in 2009, Linton Kwesi Johnson described his memories of the centre:

“The Keskidee Centre was unique. As a young person growing up and becoming politically and culturally conscious, it was fantastic. There was nowhere else that you could find that kind of ambience to nurture creativity.”

Listeners will have another opportunity to hear the full programme when it’s repeated on April 7 at 11.30pm on Radio 4.


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