Words by Amar Dhillon
Celebrating Sanctuary London returns to the Southbank at Bernie Spain Gardens on June 15
The annual free festival – regularly drawing crowds of more than 20,000 people – will launch Refugee Week UK with a bang. Featuring live music, dance, comedy, art installations, poetry and spoken word, workshops and food, Celebrating Sanctuary is a monument to, and showcase of, the artistic talent and cultural contribution of refugees in London. Also to look forward to this year are exclusive collaborations that bring together the sounds of Ethiopia and Poland, Syria and the UK.
Afrikan Boy – (Nigeria/UK) the grime MC known for pairing Nigerian beats with London bass. Following the internet-hit ‘Lidl’, the London MC has appeared on MIA’s album Kala, collaborated with DJ Shadow on what Zane Lowe termed ‘hottest record in the world’ and is now working on a debut LP.
Somali Party Southall – (India/UK, Somalia/UK) ‘Little India meets Little Mogadishu’ in the percussion of Kuljit Bhamra MBE and voice of Abdulkarim Raas, fusing Panjabi beats with Swahili vocals.
Rafiki Jazz – (Brazil, Gambia, Mauritius, Senegal, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, UK) Self-defining as ‘where beatbox meets berimbau and Brazil greets Banjul’, this eclectic collective will present their second album At Kriol Junction with their newest member, spoken word artist Sister Elements.
Katy Carr + Haymanot Tesfa – (Poland/UK, Ethiopia) Musician and songwriter Katy Carr has released four albums with her group, Katy Carr and the Aviators. Haymanot has garnered a reputation for her soulful voice and Ethiopian Jazz style since coming to the UK. This exclusive collaboration will explore personal narratives as well as cultural influences.
Gabby Young and Other Animals + Jewan Mohammed – (UK, Syria) Gabby Young’s personal genre of circus swing meets Kurdish vocalist and versatile musician Jewan Mohammed in a truly unique venture. A member of the migrant and refugee group The Crossings Band, Mohammed has already performed with various celebrated Syrian artists.
Afrikan Boy – ‘Hit Em Up’