From The Talking Drums To Rap & Grime concert, which took place at Tavistock Hall in Harlesden, North-West London was perhaps the most on-point and edu-entertaining event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Abolition Of The Slave Trade Act.
The importance of the Act was questioned through the narration by Black Music Congress founder Kwaku – the 1807 Act did NOT seek to abolish slavery, and it also enshrined discrimatory clauses, such as Negro soldiers in the King's army were not entitled to pension. The Abolition of Slavery Act was not passed until 1833, and even then enslaved Africans over the age of six had to serve a period of apprenticeship.
The musicians, which included singer / percussionist / trumpeter and band leader Niles Hailstones, singer-songwriter Noel McKoy, percussionist Adesose Wallace, spoken word artist HKB Finn, kora player Tunde Jegede, and guitarist Derek Johnson, plus a number of young rappers, took us on a journey from pre-Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Africa to the present diasporic experience.
The subject of resistance by African freedom fighters such as Queen Nzingha, Queen Nana (Nanny) of the Maroons, Bussa, Sam Sharpe, right up to Abolitionists like Equiano and Cuguano underlined the music. Indeed feedback by many who attended the concert talked about singing sections, particularly "I want my freedom…" all the way home.
The concert attracted audiences in and out of Brent, with a party coming all the way from Sheffield! The BTWSC / Black Music Congress organised event was part funded by Arts Council England's Passage Of Music. The feedback from attendees and funders has been very positive, and many attendees have asked for the concert to be repeated.
The next BTWSC event is the launch of the one-year long Brent Black Music History Photo Exhibition on Monday November 26, 2-4pm at Willesden Museum in Willesden Green Library Centre, north-west London.