For obvious reasons myself and Swiss Bob don’t know each other’s true identities nor are we ever aware of each other’s exact whereabouts. Secret messages whizz around the globe. A sentence is out of place in a BBC World Service broadcast. An odd clue appears in The Times crossword. A blind beggar on a street corner opposite the public market hands a San Domingo municipal bus station locker key to a pale-skinned, blue-eyed stranger. A puzzled boy cyclist, exhausted by the mountain passes, presses a telegram upon a mysterious Englishman (newly arrived in the locale and with a suspiciously thick moustache) at an outhouse beside the abandoned Governor General’s residence at the neglected end of a rice terrace.
A life of alternative media blogging is a life constantly on the move. Sleazy motel rooms. Dockside boarding houses. A disappointed woman in every port. Half-drunk bottles of Hookey sit beside cold steel framed beds in miners’ hostels. Added to which, as regular readers will know, this humble seeker after truth is back in his old uniform thanks to the cost of living and energy crises. The trade winds batter me once more. An unfair headwind and a hostile swell drive me to distant, unwelcoming shores. Solace can be found in the realisation that God exists, that there is no such thing as coincidence, one degree of separation between all is an immutable law of nature and, when a story breaks, you just can’t beat being in the right place at the right time.
If a friend tells you of a hurried departure, I couldn’t possibly comment. If he, or she, reports an open window and footprints in the dew down a fire escape and across the deserted early-hours streets of a small town in the Dominican Republic, I must hold the silence.
Should a taxi driver, during a tall tale of a 3 am dash to an abandoned airfield, repeat a telegram read over an impatient fare’s shoulder, I should make an excuse and leave.
Message from SB STOP This might interest you STOP Puffin PodgyHodge’s African contacts report Ngozi an Igbo Nigerian name STOP Fulani is a group of people STOP They are unrelated to the Igbo STOP This is a made up name ENDS
Perhaps an overhead voice message, in an impossible-to-place accent on an untraceable cell phone, says,
‘It’s like she knows nothing of the history. The Hausa-Fulani carried out pogroms against the Igbo!’
Not to mention the carelessly disposed of ticker tape left half burned in the old Mercedes’s passenger-side footwell.
“+++ As an African + I would be wondering + where she came from + since the headband she is wearing +would only be worn by teenagers + aspiring to be Caribbean+++
Suffice it say the chase for Ngozi Fulani was on and, from the apron of an airfield too close to Haiti and a flight path too close to Cuba, led to the veranda of a pleasant bungalow in a more than respectable subdivision of another Caribbean island.
Tropical birds sing. Opposite sits a slim and handsome lady in late middle age. Her navy blue dress reaches below the knee as she relaxes across a lounger on a marble patio. At times, when she sits on her leg like a teenager, the homemade garment rides lower, almost to her bare feet. At times it rises with her voice as she leans forwards, points and loudly expresses the simple home-spun truisms in which West Indian matriarchs excell.
A great grandmother, a mother of 7 and a grandmother to 19, this is Mildred Headley (nee Miss Lewis) outside her retirement home in Barbados, a bungalow containing all mod cons within off-yellow rendered walls interrupted by immaculately whitewashed doors and slatted windows.
Her skin is as clear and dark as the Caribbean sky above is cloudless and blue as she talks candidly of her family history while toying with a patterned silk handkerchief.
A deeply religious woman, between reminiscences of the island’s Bishops, Headleys and Lewis’s (in a thick but far from impenetrable Barbadian patois), she tells also of the goodness of God and the protection her life has enjoyed from Jesus on the Cross. A twin, Mildred was separated from her mother and sibling at birth and raised by an aunt. Regardless of genes or what the minister may have written in a church register, in this territory your mother is the one who raised you. Family are the ones who love and nurture you. In keeping with the local culture, kin is a mixture of full and half-relatives and complete biological strangers.
Mildred married choir master Gladstone Headley. Their firstborn was a boy they named Merville. A daughter died in early infancy. After moving to England, Mrs Headley brought Sandra into the world and then (as there is some dispute over the dates) sometime in the early to mid-sixties, Marlene and Maxine were born in North London. David followed. Carlton and a final and seventh surviving sibling, whose name this fascinated English correspondent’s ear didn’t catch, completed the family.
The Going Postal investigative team can reveal that it is Mildred’s daughter Marlene Headley who, as the mysterious Ngozi Fulani, hit the headlines on November 30th after Twitter-posting the transcript of a now notorious conversation with Lady Susan Hussey at a Buckingham Palace reception the previous day. In a story that continues to reverberate around the world, Prince William’s godmother was branded a racist after repeatedly asking Marlene where she was from. Subsequently, the wife of the late Marmaduke ‘Dukey’ Hussey, one time top banana at the BBC, resigned from the royal household after over 60 years of service.
Back in 1960s London, the Headleys thrived. Living in a ‘massive’ house in Kilburn, Marlene attended South Kilburn High School. After completing her education, the young Miss Headley became a dance teacher and founded Emashi African Arts & Entertainment. In 1997 she was pictured laughing alongside a serious-looking Princes Charles at a Prince’s Trust African drumming event. Between 2000 and 2018 she was a speech and drama teacher at various London schools. From 2010-2013, the future Ngozi Fulani was a marriage registrar for Hackney Council and since 2013 has been an independent marriage registrar. From 2015 to the present day, Marlene is also employed as an independent domestic violence adviser at the Sistah Space ‘charity’ that she co-founded with a Ms Rosanna Lewis. Marlene’s qualifications include a PGCE from the Central School of Speech and Drama and a degree in African Studies from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
En route, Marlene married, had four children (three girls and a boy, now a grandmother to three) and through her interest in Africa began using Ngozi as a first name. The confusing combination of names, as if a Mohammed Bin Bernstein or a Pádraig Mason-Boyne, comes through marriage. Although unwed when she had her two oldest children, Marlene gave them their father’s family name of Fulani. After marriage, she took that name too as did her other two children. However, it was to emerge that that wasn’t her husband’s real name. Rather, he was a Cholmondeley, having called himself Fulani to Africanise and, given that tribe’s reputation, perhaps glamorise an invented background.
God makes them and pairs them.
As we shall see, Marlene’s children use the surnames Headley, Headley-Fulani and Fulani interchangeably. In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, Marlene, who by this point had been widowed, stated that a local murder alongside ‘rife’ domestic abuse within the African and Caribbean community led to her starting Sistah Space with Rosanna Lewis.
That 2014 murder was of local woman Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter. 45-year-old Mrs Forde was beaten to death with a machete, hammer and screwdriver by her ex-partner Roland McKoy. McKoy also slit baby Jahzara’s throat in a brutal attack witnessed by Mrs Forde’s grown-up daughter Carrise.
As for the funding of their new ‘charity’, an early version of the Sistah Space website contained a link to Virgin Money Giving – a now-defunct donations website similar to the likes of gofundme. However, Sistah Space was not a registered charity then and, controversially, their donations passed through ‘another charity’s’ account. The old website also contained an online shop selling, amongst other things, £30 survivor dolls.
These dolls were provided by a company called The Dark Space which, again, was not a charity but pledged to pass 50% of the sale price of each doll to Sistah Space. The Dark Space is the trading name of Maxine Claye, sister of Marlene. Maxine also has a donations page, at JustGiving, in which she states, “I makes rag dolls to raise money for Survivors of domestic violence and abuse, I also work to pay rent, bills, etc. I am struggling.” Through another donation account at gofundme, Mrs Claye requests £280 ‘to take a domestic violence victim on a day trip.’
Puffins with an exceptionally strong stomach can see Marline, Maxine and local MP Dianne Abbott pictured here.
Maxine is not the only other member of the family connected with the charity. In March this year in a BBC website feature, Marlene is named as Ngozi Fulani while pictured beside ‘Djanomi Headley of Sistah Space’ with readers being left unaware that the two are mother and daughter. Djanomi is also known as Djan Fulani and Djan Headley-Fulani. Since the Lady Hussey scandal broke, Djan has been interviewed by mainstream media captioned as an ‘executive’ with Sistah Space.
Ms Headley-Fulani has yet another name – Miss El Dorado. As well as identifying as Barbadian and British, Djanomi also defines as Trinidadian and took part in the 2015 Miss Trinidad and Tobago beauty pageant held at their high commission in London. Despite winning the Miss Elegance, Miss Web Queen and Miss Photogenic awards, the future charity executive finished second overall in the competition, perhaps on account of a rather wooden dance routine that can be seen below.
For the award ceremony, mother Marlene forwent her traditional African roots and appeared in the photos in a killer little black dress.
A graduate of the University of Hertfordshire, Djanomi won the Best Business Growth gong at the university’s prestigious Flare Awards through her project Mosaiqe Ltd which, according to the guff, is “a brilliantly designed handcrafted wooden watch manufacturer and for every watch bought 5 trees are planted”.
Puffins will be unsurprised to learn that Mosaiqe watches were available from the old Sistah Space online shop. In actuality, the business was her brother’s. Kas Headley, also known as Kassai Antonio Fulani, began the concern as a manufacturer of wearing apparel and accessories. Self-describing as a banker, Kas incorporated the company in 2011. It was struck off the company register a decade later. A final set of accounts, dated 2018, show Mosaiqe dormant with zero employees and carrying a six-figure debt.
Djanomi and Kassai are not the only talented members of the family. Sister Adwa Headley is a singer-songwriter and performs under the stage name Stushie. The Leyton Sixth Form College old girl specialises in reggae and dancehall. Through her social media, Adwa promotes a hairdressers in London’s trendy Shoreditch, a 2-3 minute walk from Dalston Kingsland. A trim is all yours for a mere £25.
Puffins interested in politics will be keen to hear that Marlene is involved with the extreme hard left of the Labour Party. On her personal YouTube channel, as well as filming her mother talking of the family history, Mrs Headley takes a front row in House of Commons meetings with Dianne Abbott, is involved in Operation Black Vote and took part in Dianne Abbott For London Mayor events chaired by the disgraced former Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.
Her skill with the mobile phone and penchant for filming in exotic places leads this reporter to suspect that Lady Hussey was recorded on a concealed phone while Mrs Headley was on a fishing trip for comments that could be labelled as racist at last week’s fateful Buckingham Palace event. Ticking both the commercial, ‘charitable’ and political boxes, Marlene, who has tweeted her support of the Sussex’s, may have found the temptation irresistible.
Although founded as if a charity in November 2015, Sistah Space didn’t finally register with the Charity Commission until 2018 and at that point had to begin filing accounts. Interestingly, in the first set of accounts, up to March 2019, one of the three trustees is Maxine Claye and the accounts are signed off by Rosanna Lewis as an ‘independent examiner’ despite Miss Lewis co-founding and being a ‘volunteer’ in the organisation.
Although having operated for nearly 5 years, the new charity’s revenue from donations, funding sites and online shop sales had only reached £14,000 per annum. Their first financial statement also referred to previous years, with only £6,500 being donated in 2017, falling to £2,708 in 2018, but with the difference more than made up by contracts and commissions. Remember, during this period donations to Sistah Space were held by ‘another charity’.
The accounts are worded as follows, “Total income increased by nearly 50% from £9,462 in 2017 to £14,708 in 2018. The increase is mainly due to training commissions and a 30% increase in grant income received during the year.” At the time the charity’s assets consisted solely of £425 of cash in hand and held at the bank.
Moving to accounts ending 31st March 2020, they state, “Income for 2020 has increased significantly from £14,708 last year to £50,728. Total funds at the end of the year were £4,777.” Judging by the signatures, at this point a Ms Sonia Waterman was both a trustee and treasurer.
March 2021’s accounts were filed more than 3 months late and revealed financial irregularities. Besides announcing a collaboration with the Black Liberation Movement UK, trustees told of difficulties with the ‘accounts officer’ and the need to develop ‘a new way of working to ensure we were current with financial regulations and reporting’. Donations being laundered elsewhere were explained away as,
“Sistah Space had a Virgin Just Giving account that was held for us by another charity as we did not have charity status at the time we joined. The Go Fund Me account closed this financial year and we received the balance of donations.”
There followed an ‘emergency financial management meeting.’ A previous finance officer was off for a lengthy period and was unable to confirm when he would return. His replacement ‘was overwhelmed by the sudden increase in our accounts and unfamiliar with procedures for charities and income over a specified amount’. Help was at hand. ‘We have now engaged an independent accounting firm’. Optimistically the trustees concluded, ‘Any issues are a thing of the past.’
One of the first actions the independent accountants took was to rewrite earlier years’ figures. 2019’s income was allocated to the previous financial period, with the 2020 income figure now being 500% higher than originally declared (at £231,119). Donations were now disclosed as a whopping £104,729. Maxine Claye also disappears from the list of trustees and Rosanna Lewis no longer ‘independently examines’.
Ngozi Fulani signs off the accounts on behalf of the trustees and is forced to concede that the charity’s “accounting records were not kept in accordance with section 130 of the Charities Act” and that “the accounts do not accord with the accounting records.”
The trustees note that since the new accountants were appointed there has been an ‘unusually high volume of donations’ with the figures for 2021 showing a total income of £357,000 with donations and fundraising at £263,000.
Since the Buckingham Palace story broke, social media had been awash with allegations of where donated money was going during the period it was ‘handled by another charity’. While the bed wetters in mainstream media remain silent, members of the public claim to have made complaints to the police and Charity Commission. Allegations include monies spent on holidays and personal expenses. As well as trips to Barbados, the family YouTube channel shows trips to Africa and Stushie singing in Jamaica.
Whether anything comes of the complaints remains to be seen. With the race and victim cards, black privilege, a hypersensitivity to race and Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq-style pro-bono barristers and media relations wallahs waiting in the wings, one suspects the Headley-Fulanis may weather the storm. Added to which, they can now pay themselves big salaries from an apparently legitimate, growing and high-profile charity.
The Lady Hussey controversy has certainly been good for business. On one of their many giving accounts, between the 18th and 29th November there were only 10 donations but since the story broke on November 30th there have been too many to count.
However, another cloud appears on the horizon. Although the Charity Commission website is adamant that Sistah Space had no trading subsidiaries, in March of this year Sister Space (Brand) Ltd was incorporated at Companies House. Given that the nature of its declared business is retail sale of watches and jewellery in specialised stores, retail sale via mail order houses or via internet, and hairdressing and other beauty treatment, it appears to put into one vehicle all of the Headley-Felani family’s various commercial interests.
Tellingly, the sole director at the moment is a certain Mr Olayemi Oladapo, a 32 year old Nigerian national resident in Nigeria and contactable via in this convenience address near Covent Garden.
If George ran a charity…
© Always Worth Saying 2022