Friday, 31 August 2007

African Youths visit UK

You know what?
They came.
Brought by the British Council.
Youths on a study tour.
I met them at Ramsay Hall, University of London, Thursday 23rd August, 2007.
British Council has always been at the forefront of education across the world. While still a young reporter in the 1970’s I used to benefit a lot reading global newspapers, borrowing rare- to- find film documentaries and even audio cassettes from the British Council Library in Dar Es Salaam. BC has always been an invaluable source of information, free of charge, clean, decent, accessible.

You know what?
You hardly see this angle living in the UK, however, it is those overseas, those studying (and struggling) who benefit. Historically, this world wide knowledge house was began in 1934 to propagate British values in a neutral sense. Just to give you an idea. You find BC in 233 cities and towns through 109 countries. It was awarded the Communications and Humanity Prize in 2005.
So they came.
They visited London.

I received a phone call from the African Community Partnerships (in New Cross, South London) to entertain with live music and poetry. Usual expectations. Prepare a few songs pluck in my guitar, get my Djembe drumming ready. A gig to entertain young people between 16 to 24. I had a repertoire of World Music songs plus rap tunes which I would drum along with fellow musician Gwang, of Kitoto Band. But….
You know what?
I was in for a shock
It has become a worry.
Young people in hanging trousers, panties and bums peeping out; hoods, moods and attitudes. To entertain them is an uphill task, I am always doing it in schools and prisons. I have witnessed teachers being called the four letter word. I have seen teachers in tears. I have heard teachers wishing they had more powers…
My audience this evening was however, from Nigeria and Tanzania.
No sooner was I settled then these guys and girls were saying hello, shaking hands, asking to have a drum to accompany them, very communicative.

Hamis Kassim, (dancer-dramatist-singer), myself Blogger, Farida M. Ashu (stand-up comic), Michael Dalali(photographer),Sanyu the singer, dancer and poet (partly hidden) and footballer, Omary Wahabi.

They were so easy going; cheerful, so different from youths growing in the so called developed world. It was an eye opener. We spent hours singing, playing and dancing. Each of them had a specific talent. Here were dancers, dramatists, stand-up comics, poets. By the end of that Thursday evening in August, one thing slithered up my mind.
These might have been unusual, free spirited entertainers…but…
Young people are fun.
The news we consume of attitudes, guns, gangs, drugs, rebelliousness, knives and such negative stuff is only a small part of the equation. And something else. Youths from Africa can teach all of us, especially the youth here, in the Diaspora and Rich World, a thing or two. Fun, humility, respect, hope and what else? That being young is still the most beautiful thing… Not something we look at with exasperation, trepidation and fear each time we see hoods, sulky faces, hanging trousers, peeping knickers and smell whiffs of Ganja and skunk.

Felista Rugambwa or as she is known, Sanyu, from Tanzania recites her poem entitled "Africa"....

The two stand-up Nigerian comedians and storytellers, Stephen Oguntayinbo and Farida M. Ashu mesmerised everyone with their funny tales.

18 year old budding footballer, Omary Wahabi, told his audience how young people make their own balls out of recycled paper and rubbish. He has high hopes both for himself and Tanzania's Taifa Stars who are currently second to Senegal in Group 7 of the Africa Cup championships due to finalise in Ghana, January 2008.
London youths were represented through the creative and unassuming Jesse, who also presented a short play with his mates and benefited from the mutual educational exchange .

Plus some of the adults who had to see it all going according to plan.

Gerson Oloo (right) Director of African Community Partnership flanked by DJ and engineer, Eric Ochola, both from Kenya.

Musician and percussionist Gwang (Grenada) who accompanied me under the banner of Kitoto band.

Last but not least, to document the occassion through photos and video, Sam Jenkins from Kenya.


Jeff Msangi said...

My heart is always filled with joy when I see African youth embracing their/our cultures and traditions.Out here where I live,every friday evening,I meet with young people and we do what we call drumming circles.Its always the best times.We surely need to keep our cultures and traditions alive.If we don't,nobody will.


These kids are a must see, kuona kuwa wana mpira wa makaratasi wakiwa London wanatukumbusha mbali sana.

Hongera brother Macha, see the blog is a good place to think aloud and share info.

Keep it up Bro!