Pearl Connor-Mogotsi

Artist, actor, literary agent and talent hunter Pearl Connor-Mogotsi, who helped establish the British Negro Workshop, has died in Johannesburg, aged 81.

Born in Trinidad in 1924, the ninth of 12 children born to Diego Martin and his wife Georgina, the young Pearl inherited her parents’ love of music, although her strict Anglophile headmaster father, who was of mixed Portuguese and African origin, advised her to close the windows of their home when the melodies of passing minstrels reached her ears.

Alive to the times, Pearl joined the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Movement in the forties. After meeting future husband Edric Connor, star of the film Cry, the Beloved Country, the couple moved to London.

Their home became a hub of the Afro-Caribbean culture about to explode on staid post Second World War Britain.

In 1965, Pearl helped establish the Commonwealth Office-backed Negro Theatre Workshop. The following year, black British artists were acclaimed at the first World Festival of Black and African Arts in Senegal and many had Pearl Connor as their agent.

Edric died in 1968 and three years later she married Joe Mogotsi, leader of South Africa’s famous group The Manhattan Brothers.

Together, they travelled the world and despite recent health problems, Pearl retained her energy almost until the end. She died on February 11 and is survived by Joe and her two children Geraldline and Peter from her first marriage.

Trevor Grundy