Sledge, the soul of Notting Hill

Gladstone Alexander Robinson, known locally as Sledge, has been described as the first Rasta man of Notting Hill and a new book, written by his daughter Marcia Gigi Robinson (pic above), looks at his life and his legacy. Brilliantly written, using his own dialect to really give his character depth, the book is the result of two years talking to her father and recording his words, before he passed on in 2008. It’s quite hard to understand at first, but if you go with it, a bit like Shakespeare, you will begin to forget it is not straight English.

It gives you a fantastic insight into 50s and 60s Notting Hill. “It’s about one of the first migrants from Jamaica who arrived in the UK in 1958,” explains Robinson. “He grew up with some of the first founders of the Rastafarian faith. Most of his life he lived in Notting Hill, in Ladbroke Grove. The book is really a conversation between daughter and father. Old people, they have lived the most amazing lives and we can’t replicate the things they have done.”

Sledge was one of the founders of London’s first Ethiopian Rastafarian Church in Denbeigh Road and the book describes how in 1948 Emperor Haile Selassie presented land to Rastas, called Shashamane. It has been described as Ethiopia’s Amish country and was for past slaves who wanted to come back and have some land in Africa. Throughout the book there are references to the Rastafarian faith and reflects the traditions of culture and music and the changing face of Notting Hill during Sledge’s life. Robinson is keen to preserve the community and history she writes about and feels others should too: “We can’t just let older people walk by. We need [their stories] to inspire our future generations.”

Robinson is organising a great launch day a The Tabernacle on 23rd July, planning a mini circus, children’s performance, an orchestra, dancers and is looking for local sponsors from shops and local businesses.

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