Story: Douglas Johnson
Photos: Muntaz Ahmed
Sunday 18th May 2008 was a great day for a local and friendly festival so the Burngreave Learning Festival at Verdon Street was perfectly placed and timed.
“There was a big party; there were lots of people,” said Simon Johnson, aged 6.
It was obvious that a lot of preparation had gone into the event and the line-up of entertainment ran right on cue. Performers included salsa and jazz bands, bellydancers and local kids doing traditional and modern dance. Top of the talent table was Kula, traditional Zimbabwean drummers and performers who lead the crowd in singing songs of pan-African tradition – plenty of dancing there for children and adults alike. I asked Nagat, standing next to me, how come all her Somali friends knew the songs from Zimbabwe but she pointed out “they’re our songs too”, even if sung a bit differently.
Between the main acts was continuous entertainment from MC Nige, who really got the kids excited on stage and in the improvised break-dancing space. Something else that excited the spectators, as always, was the chip-pan fire demonstration – one of those odd bits of public education that’s always dramatic and popular.
Numerous stalls in Verdon Recreation Centre and plenty of food in the Furnival meant that everyone was catered for, whether they had a desire to make willow lanterns, fix bikes, learn a taste of everyday Urdu or for rice and peas from the Furnival's regular café.
The festival was organised by the Burngreave Learning Campaign and will be the last one. “This project began in 2004 and funding has been approved until August 2008,” said New Deal.