Kif Higgins: August 23, 1957 – May 19, 2012
July 11, 2012
With empire came sugar and with sugar came slaves. Slaves that made the sugar (African) and slaves that brought it to England and processed it (English, Irish, Welsh and Scots). Those that exploited the labour made fortunes and built the city of Liverpool (the irony of Tate Liverpool).
Kif – he never had any other name to us and rarely spoke about his family background – lived and died in this city and was both, proud and horrified by it. Liverpool is a city full of contradiction: It has a long history of racial diversity (Home to Britain’s oldest black community and oldest Chinese community) yet has suffered years of endemic racism, it has desperate poverty contrasted with dreams of sudden wealth (mythically; emigration, pop stardom, footballers), It faces the sea yet the last ships departed many years ago. This dichotomy produces a fierce independent spirit (plus that sarcastic sense of humour everyone goes on about) and it was these contradictions that formed Kif’s attitude: rebelliousness, a righteous insistence on challenging authority and a single minded sense of purpose – all delivered with a characteristically gentle, non judgmental wit.
As well an inspired and imaginative musician, Kif was the mutually appointed cultural officer of bourbonese qualk. He enforced our unspoken and unwritten aesthetic line with vim and an ever-ready cultural critique (often, but not always expressed in humour and gentle derision).
On tour with bourbonese qualk Kif bravely put himself voluntarily on the frontline in apparently ‘civilised’ countries where a black man was at best a novelty at worst despised. He bore this treatment with characteristic good humour and was amazingly, rarely, if ever roused to anger – his preferred route being an unruffled disdain to the multifarious provocations he and we received. Yet when provoked beyond reason, his display of righteous anger reduced many a border guard or petty official to quivering obsequiousness.
He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
A luta continua! Kif.