We celebrated world music and cultures of Cork, on the International Day of the African Child. The aim was to bring people together on this very important day of commemorating the horrible events in Soweto of 1976. We wanted to honour this day by bringing different communities and cultures together and to celebrate the beauty of togetherness.
People came, listened, learned and enjoyed. And everyone went home with the happy feeling that we did something special in Cork that day.
What has become clear to me is that to bring people together, you have to do it without mentioning too much of your purpose. The difference between a ‘solidarity concert’ and a ‘celebration of world music’ is that the first will attract people who want to be part of a solidarity effort, the second will attract people who want to listen to music and maybe never heard or thought about a solidarity movement or about any of the causes the first one fights for.
We worked together with Cork City Partnership, SHEP, CESCA, Youth Work Ireland, the Cope Foundation and the Travellers Visibility Group. Everyone did their own part of the work. I was responsible for organising the musical event, Norbert Nkengurutse was the event manager.
As we are now also working together with the City of Sanctuary Movement in Cork, it was especially important to us to involve asylum seekers and people from minority backgrounds in the event. And did we find the talent there!
The Burundian Drummers are a group of drummers from around the country. One came down from Dublin, two from Tralee, one took the bus from Millstreet, and one resides in Cork. Four of the five drummers are seeking asylum.
Then there was the amazing Ethiojazz duo, Harmony, who reside in the direct provision centre in Killarney.
We had a Ukranian and a Burundian singing gorgeous songs, playing guitars from the ‘Guitars for People in Direct Provision’ project and accompanied by their American tutor.
The stewards on the ground, the photographer and the chefs for the artists were all people staying in the local direct provision centre who were happy to volunteer their time to make this event unforgettable.
Our MC was the amazing Salim Nze, originally from Tanzania, the event manager was the gorgeous Joanna Dukipatti, originally from India, the sound-engineer is Mark Mulvihill from Ireland.
All in all, the crew and the artists of the musical event came from Burundi, India, Tanzania, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Burma, Pakistan, Cameroon, Congo, Belgium and Ireland and England, together making up the new community of Cork.
We had amazing Indian dancing performed by the UCC Indian Alumni and students who brought us a colourful show of Indian dances, the Fantastic Rappers guided by GMC, from Youth Work Ireland, and an ad-hoc dancer from Cameroon.
Other events on during the event was a cultural exchange corner, where members of the travellers’ community shared stories about their culture. A Moroccan and a Lebanese woman also exchanged stories around an object from their culture that they had brought. There was a kids corner, where Clowns without Borders entertained and Dowtcha Puppet makers did a puppet making workshop with the little ones. And of course, there was the face painting.
The day was wonderful, and we all went home happy, or to some extent, due to a very unfortunate incident at Sheila’s Hostel, where our main act, the Burundian Drummers, was not allowed to stay because they could not produce a passport ( which as asylum seekers, they don’t have). But more about that in another post.
We decided to do it again, be it on a smaller scale, but strategically in a much better place.
On August the 5th, we are organising a world music afternoon with Barbeque and raffle in the pub, just across the road from the Kinsale Road Direct Provision centre. It will be an afternoon filled with music, brought by residents of direct provision centres, hailing from Russia, Ukraine, Burundi and Ethiopia, and a traditional Irish band. One of the residents, a Venezuelan man, will also exhibit his artwork during the event. We are hoping to raise some funds for our guitar project and also to fund a Back to School project for street children in Bujumbura.
The neighbours, who have often never spoken to any of the residents, will have a chance to meet, greet and admire their talents. We have informed them already and they are very enthusiastic about it all.
The best way to get people’s attention is by doing something they will look at, listen to, or sit down and read. We may just have found a way to make them listen.