It was refreshing to meet Martin when I did in early 1983, I had come down from Manchester to look for work in London and there were several people that I needed to see. He was then working for the Hackney Ethnic Minority Business Project where he had written a small booklet that blazed the trail of Black Business Development in Britain. The title was ‘Why So Few Blacks in Business’. He had also assisted the UK Caribbean Chamber of Commerce in their representation to the House of Commons on their Committee exploring business amongst West Indians in Britain.
I had read the lucid business case that Martin provided whilst writing my own dissertation on “Particular Problems facing Black Controlled Businesses in Britain with some proposals for the solution” His piece was one of the few references in my dissertation since most of the literature was from the other side of the Atlantic. I set up Equinox Consulting with others and did some work around Hackney and this was before he left to run the Kensington and Chelsea Business Project. We corresponded and held several discussions and when I had the opportunity, I invited him a couple of times to assist in research projects that I was working on. As usual, he was very thorough with the work and produced quality work above what I could afford to pay.
We never really lost touch but there were occasions when I could not reach him because he had travelled or was recuperating from an illness of sorts. I made efforts and was finally able to visit him at home in his ‘den’ so to speak with books strewn all over the place. The flight up the stairs to the flat was daunting which meant that I could not visit as many times as I wanted. When I heard that he had been admitted to UCH, I set out to visit most Sundays till he relocated to Fulham where I also visited several times till the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then we spoke on the phone till I could no longer reach him.
Martin liked an argument on any subject and though he was soft-spoken he never let this dissuade him from presenting his position; we talked on most subjects relating to the black community and there was a streak in him that made him a champion of human rights often devoting his time and resources to help fight injustices. Though he lived in Britain for a very long time, he was still very old school in the African sense and that resonated with me, so I always treated him like an elder brother which he was.For someone who was so much a man of books, I would have loved to have read his memoirs and what led him to the path of blazing a trail in the provision of management and other support for black businesses. Sadly, he leaves us with all that knowledge, and we are poorer for it.
Martin was a scholar and a management consultant who helped in the community.
Martin Rest well in the bosom of the Lord your maker
20th February 2021