Black rights hero may quit Britain
Paul George on the financial dilemma facing Simon de Banya
Sunday 01 March 1998
Simon de Banya recently lined up what reads like an "A-list" of black British celebrities to support the fight to save the life of a 10-year- old boy with leukaemia. However, he does not earn a penny for his efforts and is now making plans to move to the USA.
Banya has pulled in such stars as singers Eternal and Scary Spice, footballer Ian Wright and newsreader Trevor McDonald to draw attention to the plight of Daniel de-Gale. Like most anti-racist activists, he works for the campaign on a voluntary basis and can only make ends meet by depending on friends and relatives.
Banya, who is 37 and lives in south London, says: "I am fully committed to campaigning work, but I cannot survive on thin air alone. In America there is a lot more money around for fighting anti-racist struggles and, as I see that sort of activity as my future, I am seriously contemplating moving out there."
De Banya has also helped to mastermind the media strategy of the Stephen Lawrence family and the search for the killers of Ronald Hinkson, a 32- year-old black man stabbed to death last year in a north London wine bar.
If he was a publicist in the private sector, De Banya could earn more than pounds 30,000 a year. Instead, he devotes his time to campaigns on behalf of black families who would otherwise struggle to get their voices heard.
De Banya is one of a handful of people to successfully push the causes of black families such as Daniel's in what many see as a traditionally unsympathetic mainstream media.
Most of these campaigners, says De Banya, have a lot to contend with. "Campaigners can sometimes lose their jobs if an employer is unsympathetic to what they're doing," he says. "Also, most people behind struggles become targets for intimidation by far-right groups, who start sending them hate mail and making nuisance calls."
However, he says, the majority of campaigners remain undeterred, because they realise that the role they play is so important for other black people.
"It's vital for black families to get the chance to have a dialogue with the population at large through the mass media," he says. "Until now we have often been ghetto-ised."
De Banya first met Daniel's mother, Beverley, at an awards ceremony in July last year, when she asked him to help her with the campaign to find black bone marrow donors.
At the time, just 1,500 black people were registered as donors with Ms De-Gale's organisation, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. Now there are 3,500, with another 6,000 recently applying for information packs. Ms De-Galesays the involvement of De Banya has given her hope. "For there to be a successful transplant, the bone marrow has to come from a black person. And before Simon got involved, we were finding it very difficult to get the message across to the black community."
n For more information on the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, or about how to donate money to other campaigns, call 0181-769 1495.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...