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The Way It Is - Emdad Rahman

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

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EMDAD RAHMAN puts the world right with Kazi Shazanur Rahman
You must have heard of Shazanur Rahman. He is the trainee solicitor, who in 2003 was plunged straight into work on a high-profile death row case. Shaz, as he is popularly known, became an overnight sensation and was flung into the middle of a media frenzy after he played a significant part in proving the innocence of a death row prisoner, just 35 hours before he was due to be executed.
The prisoner Abu Ali, had been on death row since 1975. The date for his execution had been set when Shazanur arrived in the USA from Birmingham, UK to work for the distinguished law firm Stites and Harbison.
Abu Ali broke down in tears after hearing of his acquittal 27 years after leaving the world of the free. Ali paid tribute to Shazanur in an interview broadcast to millions around the world.
"When I left for my stint at the firm I knew I would be doing much more than photocopying and ordering pizzas”, he muses. “This was possibly the greatest opportunity of my life and no way was I going to give less than 110%.
When I first arrived at the impressive offices of Stites and Harbison I was genuinely overawed. My boss had not picked me up from the airport and I wondered how my colleagues would take to me.”
Thankfully Shazanur was as he preferred “thrown into the deep end.” The first thing he took note of was the incredible pressure fellow staff were under. “I was privileged to work with some brilliant minds and skilled figures and this was invaluable” he said.
Before he knew it Shazanur was thrown headfirst into the Abu Ali case and he was given immediate access to the firm’s resources as well as all that he needed to win the case.
“A life was at stake. I was undergoing the most incredible array of emotions I have ever felt” he said. “The adrenalin rush and the churn of my stomach left me in no doubt that the destiny of a human life rested in my hands.
“I found myself working till the early hours of the morning, right until you could hear the birds welcoming the dawn of the new day. Work was like studying for an exam. The more you understood, the more you wanted to know. I felt fortunate to have been selected to be a part of the team at Stites from the start. My brief was to go through the prosecution's case, looking for contradictions."
The astonishing events of the days to follow would not have seemed out of place in a John Grisham blockbuster.

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EMDAD RAHMAN puts the world right with Kazi Shazanur Rahman

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If there is one girl consistently flying the flag for South Asian women in the music industry then it has to be the Deshi singing sensation Shahin Badar.
During the onset of her career the songstress with the powerful smoochy voice and award winning megastar penned and vocalised a headline track, which went on to sell nearly 10 million copies, hit the No.1 spot in 21 countries and entered the Guinness Book Of Records as the fastest selling album in the world.
With her unique blend of powerful Indo-Arabic vocal resonance in music and it’s multiple genres, Shahin is without doubt one of the most accomplished and outstanding South Asian female front runners of innovative musical collaborations.
She has worked with AR Rahman, Joi and Indian Ropeman. History was made when her intones were recorded and featured on the headline track to the phenomenal double platinum selling album, The Fat Of The Land by the Prodigy which hit the No.1 spot in 21 countries including the USA and earned the group a Grammy Nomination. Aki Nawaz from Nation Records initially recommended her to the management of The Prodigy, who were interested in using her voice. Although the track arose controversy upon its release, it has been used by strong women characters such as Charlie's Angels and Lara Croft. Since then Shahin has built up a strong reputation in the mainstream and through her 'chanting' she has gone on to feature in several commercials and films, including Scary Movie 2 and the recent Charlie’s Angels movie Full Throttle.

Few Asian female vocalists have been recognised by the mainstream music industry in the west, but Shahin is an exception. The award-winning soloist from East London, who was brought up in Kuwait during her formative years, has dedicated years of her life to training and using her voice in pursuit of musical excellence.

 

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Not an ‘ordinary’ guy anymore

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By EMDAD RAHMAN

Liverpool has long been the home of writers and poets and a melting pot of cultures, due to its status as a major international seaport.

After performing navy service during the war Reginald Wilcox, a merchant seaman, born in 1918 in a sugar cane plantation in Berbice, Demerara, British Guyana settled in Liverpool. Reginald was nicknamed “Slow Train” as he’d walked 250 miles from London to Liverpool, seeking work. His children were born and bred Liverpudlians.

Mark T Watson the 3rd of four children had a difficult childhood. Life in general took a drastic turn for Mark when his father suffered a tragic stroke and became a quadriplegic. He was nine at the time and was one of four siblings raised by his mother Sonia. A white woman raising four black kids during the 70’s was very much a taboo subject and inevitably in 1975 Mark was taken into local authority care.
He emerged semiliterate at the age of 18 and with no formal qualifications. His experiences whilst in care were the catalysts for a remarkable sequence of events which instigated within him a desire to challenge the system at all levels and compelled him to travel the globe in search of the truth.
“Ordinary Guy” is Mark’s tale written in the form of poetry and explanatory prose and compiled as his first book, published by Liverpool based publishing house Fore-Word Press Ltd. It charts the extraordinary life of this Liverpool man who gets neglected by his social workers and beaten up in the care system in the 1970’s and leaves care barely able to read and write and with a great sense of injustice hanging over his head. Roger Phillips from BBC Radio Merseyside said “As a white man living in Liverpool, I felt privileged to read these powerful poems, which give some insight into the emotions and history of the black people of this city. These aren’t poems about ‘daffodils’ they’re about human beings and their lives. Mark is no ‘ordinary guy’ but he gives voice to all the ordinary lives of black people in this city.”

The BBC describes “Ordinary Guy” as “a poetic snapshot, charting the travels of Watson, an adventurous kid who gets taken into care in Liverpool in the ‘70’s and after years of neglect and abuse by the system, decides to fight back”.

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The spirit of a genius, the vision of Fazlur Rahman Khan

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EMDAD RAHMAN talks to Yasmin Sabina Khan upon completion of a study into her revered father’s career

The legendary Dr Fazlur Rahman Khan, the structural engineer responsible for Chicago's John Hancock Center and Sears Tower, pioneered structural systems for high-rise design that broadened the palette of building forms and expressions available to design professionals today.
Through detailed examination of his projects at SOM, his daughter Yasmin Sabina Khan has recently authored a study into his life.
When her esteemed father died in March 1982, Yasmin was a senior in college studying structural engineering. Her father had not pushed her into engineering; in fact, he never even suggested it as her initial inclination had been to teach mathematics, and he had supported this ambition.
Once Yasmin started her course work at the University of Michigan, she found herself drawn to engineering:
“I was initially interested in mechanical drafting (this was in the days when the craft of hand drafting was an integral part of design). Though my drafting skills were limited, I proved to have some talent for other aspects of design” she said.
“My father was pleased with my studies, and I came to depend upon his advice regarding my coursework just as I relied on him in so many other ways.
“During this time I got a sense of his remarkable talent for explaining structural principles, and I was inspired by his sincere enthusiasm for the field.

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