Black History Month in Norfolk

Black History Month has come a long way in the 81 years since its seeds were first sown.It began as Negro History Week, a celebration of African-American achievements launched by Carter G Woodson in order to raise awareness in the segregation-era USA of black people's contribution to history.

Black History Month has come a long way in the 81 years since its seeds were first sown. It began as Negro History Week, a celebration of African-American achievements launched by Carter G Woodson in order to raise awareness in the segregation-era USA of black people's contribution to history.

Since then it has grown into a month-long event that is celebrated around the world, including here in Norfolk. Our county's Black History Month has grown into a fixture in the county's cultural calendar and this year's promises to be as entertaining and informative as ever. There will be more than 60 public events and a number of further events in Norfolk's schools and colleges and both the county's prisons.

This Saturday, September 29, sees the launch of Norfolk's fifth Black History Month and it promises to be the biggest yet. While there is plenty of variety on offer, taking in music, drama and comedy, the organisers have a theme: the bicentenary of the 1807 Parliamentary Act that aimed to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. This year's festival is entitled From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas.

“One of the main things we are organising is a project called Norfolk's Hidden Heritage, looking at hidden links between Norfolk and the slave trade,” said Shaun Whyte, of the Norwich & Norfolk Racial Equality Council.


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“We have been running it for nine months, employing Dr Richard Maguire as a full-time researcher, and he will be giving a lecture series talking about different aspects of slavery and its legacy.

“There will also be a play called Diary of a Son of Africa, which is being produced by a local youth drama group, and it's linked to some of the Hidden Heritage research.”

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The play is at the Norwich's Playhouse Theatre on October 24 at 7-30pm, with full price tickets costing £6. Other highlights including Mercury and MOBO award-winning jazz and hip hop star, Soweto Kinch, who will be at Norwich Arts Centre; critically acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay; the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and Curtis Walker, one of Britain's best known black comedians, who will top the bill at the launch this weekend.

Saturday's festivities at the Forum (September 29) include an African Market and live entertainment throughout the day in the amphitheatre outside on Millennium Plain. This will include a Kiss FM DJ playing the latest hip hop and R&B, a live performance from acclaimed local reggae band Darien Prophecy, calypso beats from Luton-based steel band NXT Generation, and Norwich's own hip-hop collective Spoken Drama. Then Curtis Walker will feature as part of an evening function, for which tickets need to be booked in advance.

Sean said: “The launch officially opens a month of music, lectures, discussions, workshops, dance, drama, comedy, visual arts, film and theatre.

“We will be giving some workshops on the slave trade in both the county's prisons, and we are looking at taking some artists into the prisons as well. We already work closely with the prisons at Norwich and Wayland.

“With over 60 events taking place throughout the county there is something for everyone.”

The launch on Saturday is free, but it is necessary to book your places for the evening in advance by contacting Sean Whyte at the Norwich & Norfolk Racial Equality Council (NNREC) on 01603 611644 or e-mail: sean.whyte@nnrec.org.uk

For more information look out for the BHM events programme or visit the website www.norfolkblackhistorymonth.org.uk

PERFORMANCE TIME

t Exhibition in Sheringham throughout the month portraying an artist's reflection of black history. A range of Gloria Ojulari Sule's work will be on show in the foyer of Sheringham Little Theatre from Monday to Saturday. Anybody is welcome to have a look around free of charge.

t African Market at Great Yarmouth market place on Saturday, September 29, from 9am to 4.30pm.

t Evening of African and Indian music and dancing in Watton, near Thetford, featuring some of the best African dancers in the UK. The performance will be held at Queens Hall, on October 27 from 7.30pm and will cost £6.

t Two finales, one taking place in Norwich and the other in Yarmouth. The Yarmouth event is being held on 28 October from 4pm onwards. The grand event in Norwich starts at 7pm and will go on until late. Headlining the event is Mercury and MOBO award winning jazz and hip hop star, Soweto Kinch. There will also be dance and comedy performances throughout the evening from local and national performers. The evening is being held at Norwich Arts Centre. Admission is £4-£6.

t Using dance, drama, story-telling and physical theatre, the East Anglian-based Kenya Performing Arts Group and Engage Theatre Company will put on a show at Yarmouth Town Hall on October 12 at 7.30pm and October 13 at 3pm. Tickets cost £3.50.

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