November 29 2007

Black History Month – The Sound of the Drum

Sound of the Drum

We celebrated Black History Month (BHM) in October, working with a group of young African people in Cardiff as part of our First Light Movies Project The Sound of the Drum.

Black History Month is held every October in Britain. Its aims are to:

  • Promote knowledge of the Black History, Cultural and Heritage
  • Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
  • Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage.

The origins of BHM go back to 1926 when Carter G Woodson, editor for thirty years of the Journal of Negro History, established African Caribbean celebrations in America. It is still celebrated there in February each year. In Britain, the BHM has now grown to over 6,000 events and in October 2007 it marked its 20th anniversary, celebrating and sharing African and Caribbean history.

As part of The Sound of the Drum video project a group of young African people in Cardiff discussed their identity. All the participants in this project come from war-torn African countries and have little chance of returning home in the near future. Many of them are uncertain if they will be allowed to make Britain their new home.

The filming of this project took place in the summer during the preparation and celebration of this year’s Cardiff MAS Carnival. This year’s theme was ‘Rhythms of Resistance’ and marked the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of slavery. The Sound of the Drum is funded by First Light Movies and will be screened in Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff as part of our Bigger Picture Youth Film Festival.

As part of the project one girl in the group expressed her thoughts about the anniversary of 200 years since the abolishment of slavery:

Rejoice! Oh how we rejoiced!
Our freedom they announced
Africa was freed,
Africa was free!

Kings of the sea no more
Servants of the sea no more
No longer bound with chains!
How we felt at ease
As if forgiven of our sins.
Africa was freed!
Africa was free!

Was it for real?
Oh, is it still for real?
No, not at all
A different face, different force
From above the ground
To beneath the ground
Is Africa free, is Africa bound?

Slavetrade, greed
You are not dead!
Humanity, Humanity
Why abuse humanity?
Our children, our women, our men
Our fathers, our sisters, our mothers, our brothers
Slaves again! Enslaved again!
From brain drain to care drain
Greener pastures or meaner pastures
Survival circuits or death circuits?
Humanity’s troubles
Are they insolvable?

Look! The world is in ruins
No longer in chains
But not at ease
Was Africa freed, is Africa free?

By Justine Namakula, 2007