Mark returned from sea in 1990, armed with a command of language acquired from six hours per night of reading and writing on the ship. He took up a job in marketing and went to college to study business and finance. His high grades got him into University and despite the lack of formal education whilst in the so-called “care of the local authority”, Mark graduated with honours in 1996, returning to read for an MSc. in 2000.

However, Mark’s life was to take another dramatic turn before entering University. His unending quest for “the truth” which had guided him to Gil, was now leading him further back to those who had influenced his very mentor. In 1986 Mark had had a chance encounter with “Jalal”, leader of the 60’s band “The Last Poets” after a gig in Liverpool. He told Jalal that he had worked with Gil and Jalal said “Stay with the righteous and you shall surely prosper”.

Another chance meeting with Jalal happened in 1988 at the Town and Country venue in London where the Wailers (Bob Marley’s band) were playing. Mark asked him, “How will I know who the righteous are?” And Jalal replied” They won’t be surrounded by the un-righteous”. Mark had taken the advice of both Gil and Jalal and was now trying to retrace history in order to comprehend the injustices of racism, power and politics.

He was inspired by works like Gil’s “The Revolution Will Not be Televised”, “Cane”, “B-Movie” and “We Beg Your Pardon America”. Also the Last Poet’s, “When the Revolution Comes”, “The Mean Machine”, “Beyonder” and the “Hustlers Convention”.

The poetic works of Langston Hughes, Paul Roberson and Maya Angelou and the literary works of Bell Hooks, Rosa Guy and Zora Neil Hurston to name but a few, gave him a sense of how he came to be a black man in England, via Afro-Caribbean slavery. However, it was to be the works of Alex Hailey that would mark a turning point for Mark. After reading “Roots”, his curiosity turned to rage and when followed up with the “autobiography of Malcolm X” suddenly it all made sense, racism, slavery - the lot.

Having read the autobiography of Malcolm X whilst on holiday in the Christmas of 1991, upon his return to the UK, he again met up with Jalal of the Last Poets, who after much questioning and providing comprehensible answers to all the outstanding mysteries of “life the universe and everything” (to coin a Douglas Adam’s phrase) Jalal introduced Mark to the faith of Islam.

Mark passed through University as a fledgling Muslim and wishing to put something back into those who had helped him in life, he introduced no fewer than 50 people to Islam in the first 10 years of his conversion. Three of these were members of Gil’s band. Still feeling that he had unfinished business with the State who had so harmed him whilst in their care, Mark, - now named Malik Al Nasir - took legal action to sue the government for negligence. After much sacrifice and with the help of Allah, the government capitulated after 10 years of litigation and settled on the day of trial, before Judge Moreland at the High Court. He also received a public apology from the Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

This book is the first project that Malik has undertaken since then and is a tribute to Gil Scott Heron and Jalal and the late Suliman El Hadi of The Last Poets, for their selfless pursuit of truth and their unwavering stance for justice in the face of adversity but moreover for their compassion and spiritual guidance for someone like Mark, who was after all, just an “Ordinary Guy”.



Jalal of "The Last Poets" on Hajj with Malik Al Nasir (aka Mark T. Watson).
Malik Al Nasir at The Kaba in Mecca.


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