Article in Eastern Daily Press

“I was lucky enough to hear Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones the other week at the Norfolk Network’s 6th birthday party – and I am still suffering from an insatiable craving for his special ‘Black Farmer’ sausages!

“Wilfred claims to be the UK’s only black farmer and has marketed his brand of meat products accordingly; adorned with a likeness of him in a rather large hat. He is a powerhouse of optimism and cheekiness that belies his humble background. Wilfred came to Birmingham from Jamaica in the 50’s and like many others suffered poverty and disadvantage – but unlike so many – he dared to dream and now he is living proof that dreams can come true.

“Not only that, but he has used the one thing he could not change; being black – and made it work for him in a remarkable way. As a result of Wilfred’s pioneering spirit he achieved his dream; to own a farm – but perhaps more importantly he has facilitated his working life. “Work and love”, are happiness encapsulated; according to Sigmund Freud – and for once I agree with him.

“Whether you describe what you do as ‘work’, a job or a career, it is so much more than just a vehicle for earning money. Ideally it also offers a sense of self-value, interest; challenge and community. Yet, a lot of us are guilty of the other definition of ‘career’ and let ourselves progress in an uncontrollable fashion throughout our working life; never having any particular goal and not particularly enjoying what we are doing.

“You may argue that circumstances are such that you just need to get food on the table and if that it the case then so bit it – but if you follow Wilfred’s example, no disadvantage, be it race or gender or otherwise, is a good reason for failing to following your dreams.

“I thought when the Equality and Human Rights Commission formed in 2007 and lumped together the three old commissions for equal opportunities, racial equality and disability rights that they were curious bedfellows. The grouping suggested to me that the likelihood of my being discriminated against – simply because I was a woman was higher than I had thought. The blustering around the governments renewed efforts to bring a woman’s pay in line with her equivalent male colleague merely bore this out.

“It is demonstrable fact that women have spear headed and helped reshape major workplace trends that have transformed organisations. Take for instance the old chestnut of work life balance – up until very recently it was considered to be a problem for women only – when women came to work they brought the necessity of flexible working – organisations had to rethink their rigid one-size fits all career routes. Career path customisation is now de rigueur.

“Let us turn to religion. As I have already highlighted the thorny issues of sex, colour and disability there seems no reason to leave it out. Wilfred made the point that the old fossils in your organisation (and we all have them) who refuse to embrace change, will ultimately become relics. Relics of course have historically carried a religious significance and if you think about it, our daily activities at work are merely an extension of what we have been taught to believe is right.

“My belief is that the time is ripe to wholeheartedly embrace femaleness, just as Wilfred has defiantly embraced blackness. Rather than attempt to be a ‘token’ female, I will set myself apart by the mere fact that I am a woman. I may stop short of being photographed in a big hat, but I am going to welcome in the zeitgeist. 611

Mary-Jane’s new website is You can email her at


~ by theblackfarmer on June 19, 2009.

One Response to “Article in Eastern Daily Press”

  1. Keep up the good work!

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