Amon Saba Saakana was born in Trinidad, attended secondary school there and migrated to the UK at aged 16, and lived for four years in the USA (1970–1974). He studied playwriting at Mountview Theatre School, 1966–1967, has a Diploma of Higher Education in Caribbean Studies from the University of East London (1982), an MA in Caribbean literature from the same university (1988) and studied towards his doctoral degree at the School of Oriental & African Studies and Goldsmiths College, University of London where he obtained his Ph.D. in Drama & Cultural Studies (1995). He received a certificate (distinction) and diploma (merit) in Egyptian Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, Birkbeck College, University College London (1996–1998). Dr Saakana’s research interests are in African world music, African civilisations, Comparative African World literature and culture, Caribbean social history, music, art and literature, and race & media in the UK.
Saakana worked as a journalist from 1969–1981 publishing features and reviews on music, drama, books, culture in Time Out, The New Statesman, New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Sounds, Black Echoes, Westindian World, Caribbean Times, Race Today, Africa, The New African, and was the founding editor of Frontline journal for five years, among many other publications (UK) and Essence, The Amsterdam News, Crawdaddy, The Metropolitan Review, Rock, The Black American, The Washington Post (Book World), Black World, Black Theatre (New Lafayette Theatre) (USA), Presénce Africaine, UNESCO Courier (France), Newsday, The Express, The Guardian (Trinidad), Bendel Times (Nigeria).
He is the author of the first study on Jamaican popular music: Jah Music: The Evolution of the Jamaican Popular Song (1980), The Colonial Legacy in Caribbean Literature (1987), Colonialism & the Destruction of the Mind: Psychosocial issues of Race, Religion, & Sexuality in the novels of Roy Heath (1997), editor of and contributor to The African Origin of the Major World Religions (1992), and has contributed to several anthologies, and author of three books of poetry: Sun Song (1973), Tones & Colours (1985) and God in the Song of Birds (2016). His poetry was also anthologised in A Festac Anthology, from the second African & Black Festival held in Nigeria, 1977. He has contributed academic essays to several anthologies including: Decolonising Knowledge for Africa’s Renewal, ed., Vuyisile Msila, General History of Africa Vol. IX (UNESCO 2017 forthcoming), and Global Reggae (2012); The Heritage Series of Black Poetry, 1962–1975 (2008); The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, vol 3 (2008), The Oxford Companion to Black British History (2007), Music, Writing and Cultural Unity of the Caribbean (2005), and The Last Post: Music after Modernism (1993).
He has been a guest lecturer at universities in the UK and USA: University of Warwick, University of Keele, Goldsmiths College (University of London), The Institute of Education, Edgehill Teacher Training College, University of Hull, Leicester University, University of Exeter, University of Essex, Richmond Further Education College, Reading University (UK); City College of New York, Manhattan Community College, Marymount College, Smiths College, Staten Island Community College, Temple University, Wellesley College, University of Pennsylvania (USA).
Dr Saakana worked as a part-time lecturer for the University of North London, and College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts, Trinidad & Tobago, now devoting his time to research, writing and publishing. Dr Saakana also works in media: directed/produced, Ida’s Daughter: The World of Eintou Pearl Springer (2010, 74 mins). Director/Producer, Texturing the Word: 40 Years of Caribbean Writing in Britain (55 mins), featuring George Lamming, Edward Brathwaite, Roy Heath, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grace Nichols, Marc Matthews (1985). Researcher, Panorama (BBC TV), We Didn’t Ask To Be Born Here (1983). Co-producer, BBC World Service, an hour long documentary on Bob Marley and Rastafari (1982). Co-writer, Jamaican popular music, ITV, London, presented by Janet Street-Porter (1976).
His latest book is the non-fiction Djehuty/Hermes, Foundational Philosopher in the Italian Renaissance (2019), a book which deals with the social histories of Kmt and Greece compared, locating the origins of egalitarian and moral philosophy, and the role of Djehuty (Thoth/Hermes), netjer of wisdom and writing, as central influence for the birth of the Italian Renaissance. This is the first of three books on the Kemetology.
Saakana wrote the central essay in the November 2014 catalogue on Makemba Kunle’s retrospective held at the National Museum & Art Gallery, Trinidad. He is currently working on two new books: The Song Philosophy of Bob Marley: Folk Wisdom & the Human Process of Knowing, and Makemba Kunle Art & Concealment: Spirituality, Community & Memory.
Specialised academic Work iN the Following areas:
1. Comparative Literature (Caribbean, African American, African).
2. Drama Studies (Caribbean, African American).
3. Kemetology (Ancient Egypt; Art, Literature, Pottery, Philosophy).
4. Caribbean Social & Cultural History.
5. The Black Presence in the UK.
6. Music History & Criticism (Jamaican, Trinidadian, West African, African American).
7. Cultural Studies (Caribbean, African American, African).
8. Art History (Trinidad & Tobago, Britain, Africa).