The Person Behind The Artist: Mohammad Hamza @Hanz_revo

UK based Visu­al artists Mohammad Hamza , cre­at­or of “Inti­fada Street”, talks to I Am HIp-Hop magazine about polit­ic­al art.


Q. Hello Mohammad, tell us some­thing about your back­ground?

Who am I? I’m a product of 36 years on this earth and as Tupac once said, “this is my report”. I nev­er con­sidered myself a cit­izen of any nation though I am born and bread in Eng­land. A glob­al cit­izen would be the best descrip­tion of how I see myself. I am third gen­er­a­tion here born to par­ents of Pakistani ori­gin from a city in Pun­jab called Gujarkhan. My grand­father was my hero he came to these shores in the late 50’s. He as an immig­rant suffered much mis­treat­ment but man­aged to find work in the tex­tile mills of Brad­ford, the city in which I reside. His life was deeply inspir­a­tional to me and I truly believe his struggles inspired my revolu­tion­ary spir­it.

Q. What inspired you to become an artist?

Inspir­a­tion is found in far out places as well as near. I always had an artist­ic expres­sion in me that needed to be explored if not for any­thing else but to main­tain my own san­ity. It just happened that I always was socially and polit­ic­ally aware from a young age. The only dif­fer­ence now is I can vent my pos­i­tion on so many issues through my art rather than the frus­tra­tion of banging my head on a wall. It’s import­ant we engage with oth­ers and artist­ic expos­ure allows one to do that. It’s a way of com­mu­nic­at­ing a thou­sand words with one piece. My first love always has been the unspoken word but as time developed I real­ised the visu­al expres­sion of art allows one to reach an audi­ence far easi­er. So a couple years ago I put my efforts into a pro­ject “Inti­fada Street” to open this con­ver­sa­tion. Inti­fada means “upris­ing” and since I have always been a rebel but one with a cause it made per­fect sense to go with that name.

Q.  Why is polit­ical art so import­ant to you?

It’s import­ant to me as it allows one to reach so many, plus it  pays rel­ev­ance to a debate without viol­ence. I don’t claim to be a paci­fist because I respect the rights of all people to res­ist oppres­sion but I don’t have to be viol­ently dis­agree­able when I have oth­er means. That said there is a rich tra­di­tion of “revolu­tion­ary art” as I like to call it. The advant­age is end­less because to me it opens debate, and if my art serves that pur­pose then it can only be a good thing.

Q.  You write poetry, can you tell us about that form of expres­sion?

Poetry is my first love. To engage with the meta­phys­ics is amaz­ing and that spir­itual uni­ver­sal approach is what con­nects us all, I feel. The poets that inspired me are stretched in the four corners of the world. In most cases these people were dis­sid­ents in their time. They spoke truth to power when it was far easi­er to serve it than to make a stance against its vices. Yet these great revolu­tion­ar­ies lost much but remained stead­fast in their obser­va­tions and cri­ti­cisms of the rul­ing elit­ists. To me that is the most com­mend­able thing we can do in our life, so in that same tra­di­tion I have been inspired and hope to ful­fill the same pur­pose. What people take from it or don’t is not my con­cern that’s their undeni­able right. All I know is I got to do some­thing. I can­not sit in silence while the mass of the people suf­fer, home and abroad. It is in my DNA I sup­pose to res­ist oppres­sion wherever it raises its ugly head. The dif­fer­ence between some oth­ers and me is I take that respons­ib­il­ity very ser­i­ously. Here’s a piece I wrote a few years back, I hope it allows you to bet­ter under­stand my thought pro­cess.

Q. What are your future plans?

It’s hard to say. The future is the great unknown I have no assur­ance of any­thing good com­ing of my life. Mainly because I feel guilt, I feel the need to pun­ish myself for not doing enough. I hope for my art to be used in a pos­it­ive way, to raise aware­ness as a min­imum how­ever more import­antly to me is to get people to act upon what they already know and that is life without dig­nity, justice and free­dom. How can we aim­lessly watch the misery of oth­ers and do noth­ing?! It is not ok to do so and until we take it per­son­ally, things will remain the same. I want my life to count, to amount to some­thing. To love that which I can nev­er lose.

Viva la Revolu­tion

These blood stained clothes…

These blood stained clothes?! 
They a res­ult of being hor­rific­ally exposed, 
my broth­er has been shot dead
, A bul­let from the oppress­ors gun
 went straight into his head. 
In my des­per­a­tion I pulled him to the side 
In the hope he’d be saved
 and some­how sur­vive 
but there is no chance of that 
he’s anoth­er vic­tim of a con­tinu­ing crime

I reach. Home put my hand to the door
, my hand is trem­bling with the thought
, my moth­er she loves us both
 but she had told me that we should go
. She said: “You were born FREE,
 Every ounce of You is to serve your peeps”
but how can I tell her that he’s not com­ing back?
 The ulti­mate price paid for know­ing that
 she raced to the front of the house,
 see­ing me alone she already knew he had gone.

I didn’t know what to expect 
I didn’t have the heart in me to see into her eyes
 with my head bowed I cried, 
she pulled me to her and held me close
. I muttered out the words of someone who knows loss
”I‑I-I’m sorry I couldn’t pro­tect him umi!”
After a moment the silence broke
, she uttered the words, a woman of strength spoke
 “The Lord gave me two sons, if I had any more they’d serve the same pur­pose– 
I know he’s gone but my love for him will nev­er dimin­ish, 
he’s with those that die, but don’t die, 
he will live long after you and I have passed-by.” 

I know of a heart when it gets broken 
but this moment I will nev­er grow to for­get
, It’s like my heart was removed from my chest.
 My little ‘ broth­er the one i’d swore always to pro­tect
 without him I feel so lost
. That night I cried myself to sleep
, the pain eman­cip­ated sets you free
. What else can they do to me? 
The next day I woke up
, I hoped it could be all undone.
 I wish it was for me the sol­dier had aimed his gun

, I looked up into the cloud­less blue sky, 
the sun at it’s highest point is so bright. 
I felt so over­come on the events of last night
 but tonight I will protest yet again, 
My broth­ers death is a mar­tyr­dom
Thou­sands with us will also join
We will bring the dev­il and his agents down
From the throne they sit on
Life indeed car­ries on 
The world revolves around and stops for no one
So in that very same way
Our revolu­tion is here today
And come tomor­row, it will still stay…

(Mem­oirs of a Revolu­tion­ary – Hamza )

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By Aimee Val­in­ski 

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