Black History Month Wales Remembers WWl

16 / 09 / 2014

photo16829Black History Association Wales, in partnership with the African Community Centre, is pleased to announce an exciting and thought provoking programme of events and workshops that will take place across Wales from September to November, many of which are connected to the World War One Centenary.

The Black History Month Wales 2014 Steering Committee have chosen together to deliver a programme of activities with ‘1914 – 1919’ at its core, bringing to life the untold history and shared experience of Wales’ black communities during this period, inspired by a visit to the RAF Museums’ ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’ exhibition and the Merchant Navy Seamen’s Memorial in London.

Work has begun in preparation for a wide range of activities commencing with the official launch event at Newport’s Riverfront on Friday 26 September. Wales-wide performances, film screenings, workshops, talks and visits will continue throughout the season and a spectacular showcase event will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 25 October.

On Friday 26 September, The Riverfront will host the South Wales launch with special guest; Professor Gus John, featuring the 100 young voices of Cwmtawe Community, St. Mary’s The Virgin, St. John Lloyd RC, Pillgwenlly and Maindee Primary schools and debuting new drama inspired by the impact of the African Caribbean migration to Wales during 1919.

Expect rag time rhythms and jazz syncopations from the Voices of the Caribbean Youth Choir, led by Butetown Bay Jazz and JW Community Music, alongside the valiant voices of Diaspora seamen that dedicated their lives to Wales in the debut of Routes, written and directed by Ndidi Spencer, and performed by Neil Reidman, Anthony Corria and Lisa Marged.

And Saturday 25 October, for the sixth year, the Wales Millennium Centre will host the finale of Black History Month. The finale will be an excellent opportunity to celebrate African Diaspora culture and its contributions to Wales and beyond with music, dancing, good food and good company.

The day will include performances on the Glanfa Stage from:

  • Panafest Cymru, who will open the festivities with a bang, featuring a performance from local artists. The performance will be a culmination of 12 weeks of song, dance, drum, poetry, visual arts and theatre workshops.
  • The reliable sound of sunshine, Solid Steel, a London based steel band who will bring the best in calypso sounds to the Centre.
  • Cardiff based, Ballet Nimba combining traditional and contemporary West African dance and music in an exciting and dynamic way.
  • BBC Wales Horizons artists Baby Queens and Kizzy Meriel Crawford who will grace the stage. A Welsh speaker, songwriter and performer with Bajan heritage, Kizzy Meriel Crawford boasts both range and charisma. The all-girl, Wales based group, Baby Queens mix hip hop, rock, soul and reggae with breathtaking vocals.
  • A gospel choir with an edge; Swansea Gospel Choir, singing a mixture of traditional gospel and contemporary songs.
  • The Big Talent School presenting Hairspray. Enjoy an extract from one of the hippest musicals in the West End presented by young, local aspiring performers.
  • Wales Millennium Centre’s very own urban choir, Hard Côr, who will perform a classic song from the early 20th Century in their very own unique style.
  • Messiah Dub Club, authentic ska dance band, fused with Latin, Salsa and Reggae, led by Cardiff’s Anthony Ward a.k.a. Drumtan.

Tavaziva Ten, a stunning and seductive collection of five minute dance pieces performed in the Weston Studio. Eight outstanding dancers will perform these ten short, beautiful pieces depicting the extraordinary imagination of Artistic Director, Bawren [Please note this performance is ticketed].

And if that weren’t enough, back by popular demand is local Chef Geraldine Trotman. The Caribbean menu served at Black History Month Celebrations in 2013, devised and created in collaboration with ffresh restaurant’s head chef, was a huge success and therefore Geraldine will be back consulting on this year’s menu, which will not only be served at the celebrations on the 25th but also at various points throughout the month at ffresh bar.

The origins of Black History Month stretch back to 1926 when Carter G Woodson established African Caribbean celebrations in America. BHM in the UK, which is celebrated in October, has now grown to over 6000 events that recognise the contributions and achievements of Black people to British society. In Wales, the family origins of many black residents link to a number of key ports and in particular Cardiff, Newport, Barry and Swansea Docks, which were once bustling coal ports. The sea brought people from all over the world; wherever coal ships plied their trade.

Records recount the 1000’s of seamen of Asiatic or African ethnicity working on British ships from 1914. Most of these seamen used the seaports of South Wales as their temporary and some their permanent homes. It is therefore, quite surprising that the stories that have been brought to the fore seem to exclude the voices of these Diaspora seamen, seamen that dedicated their lives to Wales. BHM Wales aims to capture the stories and contributions of African Diaspora people to this period of our shared history, through a wide range of creative activity for people of all ages. And following last year’s tremendous success, over 10,000 people are anticipated to attend the 100 + events of the 7th pan-Wales Black History Month season.

“African Diaspora communities take pride in their belonging to Wales and should be able to identify themselves through a more balanced and favourable representation that conveys our many cultural traditions, experiences and contributions. Through the Arts, BHM Wales aims to explore this lived experience and our vision embraces the fact that we’re many Wales’”, says Artistic Coordinator Leanne Rahman.

If you are planning any BHM events and would like to promote them, or if you would like to be involved or book a stall at the finale, please contact The African Community Centre on 01792 470 298. Also get in touch if you’d like to sponsor an activity or discuss a new project.

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