The Honours System, ‘who gives a…’.
Jonzi D doesn’t. Kirsty and I were fortunate enough to watch him rehearse his new play ‘The Letter’ in a studio in Sadler’s Wells.
Eager to dissect the electric performance, we get him mic’d up and ask him to breifly talk into the microphone. He raps. About us. We know this interview is going to be unconventionally brilliant.
Once we managed to wean him out of character our interview begins. Despite expressing some uncertainty in his ability to fluently communicate his opinions, Jonzi was powerfully articulate and almost annoyingly convincing.
His energy was infectious. Watching him get fired up with each question was similar to watching him perform but this time he wasn’t in character, he was being himself and his honesty was so endearing.
Being given exclusive access to his show which takes place at Sadlers Wells from Monday 9th – Wednesday 11th December, and seeing the work in progress was an invaluable experience. The piece gives you access into Jonzi’s mind and the inner turmoil he was struggling with when deciding how to break the news to family and friends. Whats fascinating is that Jonzi told us there was no doubt in his mind about rejecting the honours but the very process of telling people was what troubled him the most. Even now, with his rejection out in the open, he still feels uncomfortable defending his views to the public. But why should he have to? Put simply in his own words, ‘Who gives a s***?’.
Well, we do. And we are so glad we did because he has given us so much more to question in our feature about the lack of women and ethnic minorities on the Honours List.
Jonzi’s response to the lack of nominations for minorities focused on a disconnection to the process as a whole. In his opinion this is due to the connotations with the British Empire. If this is true of all ethnic minorities then the issue far surpasses nominations and awards and rules out our theories around a lack of knowledge about the nomination process. This issue becomes an exploration of isolation in Britain and alienation felt by ethnic minorities generally.
But it doesn’t answer the lack of nominations for women and other minorities. So what does this mean for mobilising groups to nominate their own? Well, Jonzi thinks people don’t value the Honours System so nominations within minorities will be few and far between.
For Jonzi, the Government has a moral obligation to apologise for imperialism first and then change the name of the Honours System to remove the word ‘Empire’. Only once this has happened will he reconsider his position. Until then, he says stuff the Honours List and all it represents.