LEICESTERSHIRE-BASED AUTHOR FREEDOM ZAMPALADUS SITS DOWN WITH PUKAAR MAGAZINE’S IMOGEN HARRY TO TALK ABOUT THE CULTURE CLASHES HE EXPERIENCED GROWING UP IN ANTIGUA
Freedom Zampaladus has faced extremely challenging obstacles throughout his life and it is within ‘Hood 2 Horses’ that he expresses the culture clashes he experienced. His daughter Azeezah follows briskly in his footsteps with ‘Guess What?’
An equestrian expert, father, husband, author, public speaker, and community activist; Freedom’s life has been a bit of a rollercoaster but his passion for helping others and his love for horses motivated him to tackle each bump put on his road.
Freedom’s first book and autobiography ‘Hood 2 Horses’ starts when he was aged 14, moving from his home in Leicester to Wadadli, Antigua with this family. The book challenges the reader to step into a young boys life, one that is filled with constant culture clashes, forever changing circumstances, and chillingly uncomfortable situations that are masked by the beauty and tranquillity of the boy’s much loved animal, the horse.
When asked what inspired him to tell his tale Freedom said, “I have always wanted to tell my story and I believe that mine is quite unique; when you take the horses away from the story and read about my life over in the Caribbean you can establish that my life was extremely hard. I wanted the book to inspire young people, so that people can understand that no matter how hard it is there is always a way out, and to make the best out of any situation.”
Freedom’s work has gone beyond his literary and he has been a committed community activist and public speaker since he became involved in community projects at the age of 22. Projects that he has been involved in are, Emancipation Day UK (celebrating the emancipation of slavery), Urban Equestrian, We Ride Too Academy, and Neetz Ride Too which are all equestrian inspired projects giving young people guidance into education and careers. Since 2006 Freedom has been running business courses within the community that has focused on providing young people with greater entry to employment by developing individual life skills through working with horses but unfortunately the programmes have been put on hold since the recession but Freedom hopes for them to be back up and running soon. “My ambition is to have an equestrian centre, city based, which can reach out to an urban audience to encourage more people of our society to get involved with horses whilst educating them,” he said.
A quote stayed with me from within the book that I believe encapsulates the raw vitality of Freedom’s life, ‘As dramatic, abusive and challenging as my life was between the ages of 14 and 19, there isn’t one thing I regret.’
Freedom and his wife Virginia Amani Berkeley have built a ‘beautiful family’ with his step-children Atlanta Moore and Morgane-Renee Berkeley, and their daughter Azeezah and twin boys O’shae and Che’ Zampaladus.
The little literary gem ‘Guess What?’ is written with the help of her father by daughter Azeezah, an inspirational eight-year-old girl that is surprisingly shy but beautifully inquisitive. This Leicester born girl has stepped into the record books, as she became the second youngest author in the United Kingdom upon publication. Did your mouth just hit the floor when I said she was eight? – Yes mine did too, and your jaw will remain open when you read this little girl’s comically witty and so very warm-hearted book of tales. Her book is written like a diary as such, as she documents significant days within her life that she enriches with the help of her father. The simplicity of her book and relativity makes it an extremely easy read and of perfect audience to the young school reader.
Having produced her catch phrase ‘Guess What?’ Azeezah hopes to continue her writing and is looking at her next possible publication as Freedom is currently in the process of constructing his sequel ‘Hood 2 Horses LE2’.
Since the launch of her book in October Azeezah has been reading her book to pupils at schools including Highfields primary, and Sparkenhoe primary of which is the primary that Freedom attended. The pair hopes to be visiting more schools within Leicestershire to inspire and encourage more young writers.
Freedom and Azeezah share a beautiful father and daughter relationship that is full of purity, Azeezah mentioned that it was her ‘daddy’ that gave her the inspiration to pick up her laptop (oh how times have changed) and begin typing. ” I saw daddy writing a book and so I asked him if I could write a book and he said yes. I picked up my laptop and began typing, we went on holiday and I wrote about that as my first story because I can remember it being really horrible (she laughs).” In November at the AAA Awards, in memory of Antoin Akpom the young victim of knife crime in Leicester, Azeezah was commended for her book and Freedom for his and community work.
Speaking from experience, Freedom offers some emotive advice for those aspiring to write, “Embrace your fear, one of the key things that held me back from writing my book was this but by listening to another person’s story and taking on board all of their advice I said to myself I can do this. You need to embrace your fear and pick up a blank piece of paper and just write…or a computer (they both laugh) everybody has a story to tell, so tell yours.”
“I hope that my book allows people to understand that the equestrian world is open, that there is a cultural haven within the industry and that people should embrace it.”
We have both ‘Guess What?’ and ‘Hood 2 Horses’ up for grabs to the lucky winner who answers the following question correctly.
Which primary school did Freedom attend?
- A) Highfields primary
- B) Sparkenhoe primary
- C) Mayflower primary
Send your answer along with your name and contact number to: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Freedom & Azeezah Competition” as the subject. Closing date 14th March 2015.