Cherishing the memories

This is such sad news. But I prepared myself for it and am now cherishing the memories of such a wonderfully amazing human being.

We talked a lot in the time we worked on Mixed Britannia. We talked about him, you, him and you. His plans for his future with you. His love for you. Like you I feel blessed to have met Jay Mukoro.

I lost my mother unexpectedly last year. Jay was such a comfort firstly because he had had to deal with the loss of a parent as well. Secondly because of his calming influence that helped me. Funnily enough I was working with a director recently who Jay was also supportive to.

I believe in death not being the end so I continue to speak to the departed through prayer.

God bless you and the rest of Jay’s family.

Janey

The Spirit of ‘Friar Tuck’

He has outsoared the shadow of our night
Envy and calumny and hate and pain
And that unrest which men miscall delight
Can touch him not and torture not again…

P.B. Shelly, Adonais

Jay Mukuro and I were part of a group of very close friends in our late twenties who came together in south London in the mid-90s. As part of our bonding ritual, we adopted the names of various characters in western literature and were notorious for our bohemian approach to black identity. We five became ‘the tribe’; myself, John Sisay, Ekow Esuman, Gary Williams and Jay Mukuro.

In our tribe, Jay was every bit as merry and as kindly as the gentle Friar Tuck. Our hang-outs were Goldsmiths college in New Cross Gate – where two of us graduated – and in Brockley and Forest Hill where three of us lived. We lived for music. Of the five of us, Jay was the least extroverted, but not when he was doing one of his slick impressions of James Brown. We were avid collectors of rare vinyl and Jay was known for his fondness for funk and Afro-beat.

Curiously, the same global forces that had brought us together in the UK repatriated us to our respective origins in Britain’s former colonies: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Ghana, and Ethiopia. I am writing this from Ethiopia, where I recently discovered on-line that John Sisay is CEO of a large mining concern in Freetown.

Apart from finding John on Google and the distressing news of Jay’s departure, I haven’t the faintest idea of what became of the others, but what I do know is that Jay was very close to his late mother and bore her passing away in great grief. I can still hear his mother’s incessant calling in her thick Nigerian accent: J-A-Y! It would seem her persistence paid off – for now he holds her hand in heaven – bound to her in blessed eternity.

Kofi Ababio
August 2014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
englishforethiopia@gmail.com

A black man in Arundel

My husband and I met Jay for the first time just days before he was to marry Olivia. It was a perfect English summer’s day in the historic town of Arundel.

As enjoyable as the festive atmosphere was, what I enjoyed most was our serious discussions about, among other things, race: A man came up to us, so excited he might as well have been jumping up licking our faces and wagging his tail because… there was a black man in Arundel! He asked to take a photo of us representing ‘Multicultural Arundel’. We acquiesced rather dazedly and then instantly regretted it – because a heartbeat-of-a-thought later, we considered the fact that unfortunately Arundel is not in the slightest multicultural. Jay was utterly unfazed which I felt was not just because this was sadly familiar to him but because of his gracious spirit.

What we remember of Jay was a warm, funny, open, intellectually stimulating man and he was the perfect life partner for Olivia. We didn’t know Jay well but because of the impact he made on us that day, and the few other times we saw him thereafter, we miss him. I felt I had so much to learn from him.

Penny Montford and Amjad Rihan

The lovely smiley man

When Frankell and I first met Jay in a group dinner we talked about him as “The lovely smiley man”. Whenever I think of him the image that instantly comes to mind is Jay’s beaming smile. Jay consistently brought this smile, his graciousness, openess and warmth to a gathering.

Also a dab hand at mixing tracks, DJ Jay gave a great party for little, big and kool kids alike. I will always remember him at New Year’s Eve DJing with Paul while little Soli and Sophie had disco fever on the dance floor. My last but endearing memory of Jay is at Liv and Jay’s wedding party dancing with him with his mask on making crazy funky moves.

Thank you Jay for being a beam of light in our lives.

Georgina Tan

The Salad King

The first time we met Jay was when he came along to our “Welcome Mike to London” BBQ in Streatham in 2009. We can remember him chatting away to everyone confidently and his big beaming friendly smile. After he left people were commenting on how nice he was and even from that point we felt proud to call him our friend. He had brought a salad along and for some reason we can remember clearly him leaving his salad bowl behind. This became pertinent as during the many happy DVD club dinners to follow Jay became somewhat known as the “Salad King”. He’d always create the most innovative salads bursting with flavour which far outshone our standard lettuce and tomato ensemble. To us this seemed to be Jay though, in everything he did he put passion and creativity – always striving for the best. We later too left our salad bowl at Jay and Liv’s place one evening – secretly hoping it would be returned one day filled with one of Jay’s flavoursome salads.

Another thing we always admired about Jay was how he was constantly expanding his mind with knowledge and our minds along with it as he enthusiastically shared his facts/stories with us. He was someone we respected deeply and spoke of in such high regard. We miss his beaming smile and infectious laugh that seemed to fill the room whenever he entered.

Louise Tite

Richer for mixing cultures

The first time I met Jay, it was in my hall of residence’s kitchen when we were both students at Goldsmiths College. I lived above Iceland in New Cross Gate and my housemate Will was in the same radio course as Jay. He had brought him over for lunch.

I remember he introduced himself saying that although he was born in England, his parents were from Nigeria and he related with black culture from around the world and he felt richer for that.

He also commented on the fact that London is famous for mixing races and cultures but in fact those communities were living side by side and not actually mixing. It was 11 years ago and I was new to London, I have come to agree with him. Apart for a few exceptions, his example for instance, communities seem to stick to their own.

At some point, it transpired that he loved movies, I think he was talking about an obscure festival that sounded really interesting. He even got the flyer out. I said I loved movies too and we agreed to go to the cinema one day. We swapped numbers, we stayed friends.

Adrienne Doyard

A great person to come to for advice

Jay has always been a great person to come to for advice. He cared, he was generous and he always had something to say that made things clearer and more constructive.

He is the reason why I have a career in TV and I always carry with me the bits of wisdom he gave me along the way.

He said things like: “If you want to work in TV, you need to know what TV you like and do your best to work on those programmes.”

It may sound silly but in a world that can be daunting, it gave me a thread to follow. Now when someone tells me they want to work in this field, I always make sure I share with them Jay’s advice.

Once I was moaning because someone I knew had moved up quicker than I had and I was feeling rubbish, he retorted: “Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind. It is good to take both with a pinch of salt.” (I am using quotation marks here but I am completely paraphrasing, I hope you don’t mind.)

Finally, last time I was in touch with him, he said he wasn’t sure anyone deserves anything but we all need luck and good fortune although it would be nice if it was spread a bit more evenly.

Although he said this about deserving things, he was one of the most conscientious people I know, giving his best to achieve his and others’ happiness.

Personally I find enraging that he ran out of luck so abruptly but his precious advices will always stay with me and I am grateful for that. I hope they can be helpful to others too.

Adrienne Doyard
London, 14th September 2014