Linton Kwesi Johnson – All Wi Doin is Defendin – Lyrics that illustrate the passion on the streets in the Brixton riots

This post also received many hundreds of hits. It is a piece of political poetry expressed in reggae by the great Linton.

Linton Kwesi Johnson – All Wi Doin is Defendin – Lyrics that illustrate the passion on the streets in the Brixton riots

brixton brixton2

In the 1980s, at the height of the Thatcher years of depression and oppression, the black community in London was suffering more than most. There was widespread unemployment not helped by the institutional racism of the day. The crime rates went through the roof.

At that time there were racist National Front and British Movement thugs on the streets who would attack blacks. The police were considered the enemy. They would hound and arrest black youths on Sus charges (Stop and Search) and were considered racist. It was felt that the police were stopping blacks without cause and treating them without respect. The black community felt threatened and under attack from all sides. There was anger.

There was a terrible fire at a party in New Cross in which killed thirteen black teenagers (another committing suicide later) and which was thought by the black community to be a racist arson attack.

The community was simmering with fury. Passions were high. None of it was helped by the Press who portrayed the situation from the establishment view and did not seem to consider the black community perspective. The flames were being fanned.

The spark was lit through a possible misunderstanding. A youth was stabbed and police went to his aid. The rumour was that the police were killing him or allowing him to die. It set a riot in motion.

Linton Kwesi Johnson was our foremost black poet. He put his poems to reggae music and represented the black voice. He intoned his dramatic words in his rich melliferous voice using patois. The results were stunning. Through his music he became the spokesman for the black community. He logged the emotions and perspective of the besieged people of Brixton.

All We Doin is Defendin
war… war…
mi seh lissen
oppressin man
hear what I say if yu can
wi have
a grevious blow fi blow

wi will fite yu in di street wid we han
wi have a plan
soh lissen man
get ready fi tek some blows

doze days
of di truncheon
an doze nites
of melancholy locked in a cell
doze hours of torture touchin hell
doze blows dat caused my heart to swell
were well
and are now
at an end

all wi doin
is defendin
soh get yu ready
fi war… war…
freedom is a very firm thing
all oppression
can do is bring
passion to di eights of eruption
an songs of fire wi will sing

no… no…
noh run
yu did soun yu siren
an is war now
war… war…

di Special Patrol
will fall
like a wall force doun
or a toun turn to dus
even dow dem think dem bold
wi know dem cold like ice wid fear
an wi is fire!
choose yu weapon dem
all wi need is bakkles an bricks an sticks
wi hav fist
wi fav feet
wi carry dandamite in wi teeth

sen fi di riot squad
cause wi runin wild
wi bittah like bile
blood will guide
their way
an I say
all wi doin
is defendin
soh set yu ready
fi war… war…
freedom is avery fine thing

Full Song Lyrics:

6 thoughts on “Linton Kwesi Johnson – All Wi Doin is Defendin – Lyrics that illustrate the passion on the streets in the Brixton riots

  1. Opher, you may need to adjust your explanation of this. You have made several misguided statements.

    For a start, the racist National Front and British Movements had been assembled during Labour’s tenancy in the late 1960’s. They grew throughout the 1970’s, most of which was again under Labour tenancy.
    Thatcher’s Conservatives did not come into power until May 1979.
    In 1980, the House of Commons’ Sub-Committee on Race Relations and Immigration began hearings into the law. In the case of the race riots, the alleged abusive use of the sus law was believed to be a contributory factor to those events. The sus law was repealed on 27 August 1981, on the advice of the 1979 Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure, when the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 received Royal Assent.

    So, what that tells you Opher in black and white is that the Labour government did nothing to get rid of sus, and it was under the Conservative government that it was removed and that they had started the process very quickly following coming into power.

    New Cross.
    There were more than one hundred people invited to this party at the home of this sixteen year old. Apparently there were complaints from neighbours about the excessive noise much earlier the previous evening. There would be because they had brought a sound system and DJ into the house pumping out decibels way above acceptable party level.
    At the start of the original investigation, police believed it was a racist attack – that a firebomb was thrown through a downstairs window. The first officers on the scene said as much to people who had escaped from the house. But after studying scientific evidence, they concluded the fire had started inside the house – either by accident or on purpose. Officers came up with the theory that a fight had broken out between a group of boys at the party – and that the boys involved held the key to their inquiry.
    Subsequent forensic investigation found that the fire had started in an armchair inside the front-room of the property at 5:40am on Sunday morning and police ruled out the theory that a fight had taken place.
    Apparently a white Austin Princess was seen driving away from the fire. Which might have been the dealer not wishing to get caught with a load on him. Or just people getting out of there fast.

    Too many kids out of it, long past their bedtime, near dawn, packed into a small council house. Cheap ultra combustible fabrics and furnishings, probably throughout the property which went up like a torch.

    We have since learned that the black community are more than capable of arson attacks.

    In January 2008 David Cameron, at the time Leader of the Conservative Party, announced that he would, if elected, seek to return similar powers to the police. Under Conservative proposals, police sergeants would be able to authorise the use of stop and search of pedestrians and vehicles in a specific area for up to six hours—or 48 hours if permission is granted by a senior officer.
    Gordon Brown, Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister at that time, announced, in response that he would seek to remove the lengthy forms that are currently required for ‘stop and searches’.
    It would appear that Labour are still just as keen on this law if not more so.

    If this was your most popular post in 2018, did nobody else bring your bad information to your attention? That’s quite worrying isn’t it?
    Anyway, they’ll now know better from now on.

    1. Incredible – you are now in some mental way linking fascism with Labour. These racist bastards are right-wing nationalistic fascists.
      Of course – there was no racism. New Cross was started by the blacks and the holocaust was the fault of the Jews, pigs are flying and I can smell the shit.

      1. You don’t understand anything do you?
        They started during Labour’s tenet – I did not say they were connected TO Labour! Duh!
        The forensic examination speaks for itself. Or are you going to say they lied?
        It was a black people’s party for black people in a black household Opher. There weren’t any skinheads British movement or whatever you want to call them near the thing. Somebody dropped a cigarette or something down a chair and that cheap highly inflammable shit went up in flames in seconds.

        Leave the Jews out of it. We know already what you extreme left-wing people think about Jews.

        I gave you a summary of the formal report findings. Go check them for yourself and get your head out your arse – again. That’s a very bad habit that Opher.

      2. What are you talking about? Your head’s still full of the original knee-jerk reaction crap printed in the Daily Mirror.
        Read the official forensic and Police reports that were published into the public domain.
        Educate yourself and stop writing badly misinformed nonsense.
        You are a highly irresponsible individual and your bullshit is tantamount to Hate Speech, which is a criminal act.

  2. Oh really – which bit do you consider hate speech? I would have thought there’s only one of us pouring out the hate here – and it sure ain’t me.

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