We met Reaz through his brother in arms Manish who is one of our resident DJs at Tracks. Naturally we got carried away waxing lyrical ‘bout music, but turns out Reaz is also a poet and writer who during lockdown self-published an autobiographical love letter ‘Diary of a Muslim Nobody’ – a collection of conscientiously compiled commentary, societal reflections, deeper introspections, parental poetry and family frustrations…
In his words:
“I have always been very aware of the power of language and the potential of its impact upon our own selves as individuals, our relationships and interactions and indeed our perceptions. Perhaps the intrinsic relationship between our language and humankind may be best understood when we consider letters, by themselves, important in their own entity and when placed together becoming even more powerful as words - giving them substance and meaning.
In this instance, human beings may be aligned to letters – each important in our own right – and when we recognise our own value, we are then able to understand this in context to our relationship to one another. In that moment, we are able to have the most profound and positive impact in our own lives and in the lives of others around us.”
As Forest Gate and the surrounding east end environ is an ever-changing landscape, Reaz represents a real reflection of the culturally rich and diverse Newham neighbourhood that we don't want to lose sight of. Here’s how his Manor Park roots laid the foundations:
“Having grown up across the boroughs that make up London’s ‘east end’, I’ve witnessed many points of seminal change in its history. As an early 80’s Manor Park boy, the working class was protesting against the Thatcherite government on the TV and as a young man I witnessed the demonstrations in support of the now legendary ‘Newham 7’ and for the very first time witnessed the power of protest.
As the son of first generation Bangladeshi immigrants, I grew up with stories from my parents and their friends - traditionally referred to as ‘uncles and aunties’ out of respect of their ‘elders status’. They themselves had been part of the funding of the independence movement of the then west Pakistan and in the east end what is now referred to as the ‘Bengali Squatters Movement’, to challenge the British Governments prejudice position against the Bangladeshi communities in denying them access to public recourse.
It was from this same tight-knit community the now cult ‘Joi Bangla Soundsystem’ was formed (later signed by Peter Gabriel’s World Music Label) and artists such as The State of Bengal and Deeder original MC of the legendary Asian Dub Foundation (championed by Primal Scream) & many seminal artists of what became known as ‘the Asian underground’ in the early 90’s music scene.
I often refer to the character of the east end as having derived from a realness of raw energy born out of struggle which in itself lays the foundations for a creativity that could not happen in the more affluent and polished ‘posh areas’. If areas are reflective of the people that reside within them, then the development and change the east end has witnessed is a remarkable testament to the enduring nature of the richness of its community.
My book ‘Diary of a Muslim Nobody’ whilst semi-autobiographical and global in its social commentary, is undeniably a product of my east end roots.”
So support your local author and cop a copy of Diary of a Muslim Nobody for an enlightening and enriching read!
You can buy a copy of Diary of a Muslim Nobody here and for further updates follow Reaz on Instagram @diaryofamuslimnobody