Initially, the celebration had been meant to take place at Jubilee Square and had been meant to have a picnic feel about it. The event had to be moved to an indoor venue because of the rain.
The celebration that took place at The Cookie featured music, poetry, a colouring exercise, an art and photo exhibition and reflections in more than one language on why Leicester is and feels like home for people from all over the world including those who gathered in the room for the celebration.
The celebration opened with “Make Leicester British”, a poem by Round House poetry slam finalist, Toby Campion which celebrates Leicester’s diversity and how migrants are contributing to the city and Britain.
Toby’s recital was followed by a sequence of poems from Siobhan Logan exploring the theme of migration. (See for an interview with Siobhan on her writing, and for Siobhan’s review of Refugee Week 2014.)
Iraqi artist and human rights campaigner, Malka Al-Haddad exhibited some of her art work and photographs and talked about the effect of the war in Iraq.
David Mottram gave a number of songs and talked about his experiences in Uganda just before Idi Amin’s mass expulsion of Indians from that country.
De Montfort University lecturer, Dr Conrad Nyamutata who was a journalist in Zimbabwe before being forced to flee the country because of politically motivated persecution, talked about the research he has been doing on child soldiers and about his own experiences both as a refugee and as a a volunteer in the refugee support sector in Britain.
Other organisations that had a presence at the celebration included Leicester City of Sanctuary, Advice Leicester, the Leicestershire Aids Support Service, Castle Park Solicitors, Pride Without Borders, and the Memories in Conflict collective. The anti-racist anti-fascist football team Kolectivo Victoria had a friendly kickabout the next day to encourage refugees to join them. Their banner reads “No Nations, No Borders, Just People”.
Ambrose Musiyiwa was so inspired by the event he wrote a poem
Leicester World Refugee Day 2015
didn’t we meet
in the room at the top of the inn?
didn’t the music flow from person to person
and swirl around the room
and flow some more?
didn’t the music
show us the way home?
didn’t the music show us
we were home?