Sunday, 14 May 2017


 Somali poet, Ahmed Magare reads fervently at Rich Mix. Pic by F Macha

I was part of a beautiful day on Easter Sunday.
Rich Mix is definitely among hottest clubs in London at the moment. Strategically situated. Not just in Hackney but Shoreditch.
Many years ago Shoreditch would have been related to mostly, bars, alcohol and clubbing. I recall going to a place with an odd name. Club 333. You paid a few pounds and climbed up the stairs to a very rocking hall. Not only was the floor tilting, the music was insane. Everything to make you dance. Woow.
Rumba aka Salsa aka Merenge; Samba aka Bossa Nova aka Brazilian music; Funk and Soul and Hip Hop; Afro beat ,  Ndombolo,  Mbaqanga, Arabic music, English songs, bellowing singers, captivating rhythms, screeching sax and horns...simply insatiable music.
As an African, 333,  jetted me back to the 1970s and 80s when we used to dress (to the nines) to go bump,  sway,  yoyo to Kool and The Gang, Chic, Dianna Ross and you know what? Disco music. Except in 2004 (or something like that) you got every grooving style on earth.

 Not jumping or starring at mobile phones- to text someone your selfie-in a dance club. Sweating.
 333 was part of Shoreditch’s lungs, livers and legs. God Please Embrace Us!
Another spot was the (then) very famous Cargo. Bands from every corner of mother planet and whoa... ahh.
Yes I saw the Maasai rap group, Xplastaz, peppering the 2003 scene.  Rap in Swahili and Maasai. I wonder where Xplastaz are up as we read this. I know their manager, Mr Jumanne, is currently married to a Tanzanian woman. Listen. Jumanne is actually Dutch. Last year he released a CD compilation of the legendary Afro fusion Sunburst band from (again) the 1970s. What is my point? Shoreditch, East London, meant those “steaming” night venues.

The little that I remember.
We are talking about, Easter Sunday, 2017.
No beers. No Marijuana. No bouncers glaring suspiciously at the crowd and semi drunk (or very tipsy) revellers hunting this and that. Rich Mix @ Noon. You walk in and there are mothers with babies. Prams, for Jambos sake.  Paintings, arts and crafts for sale. Tracy and Kinsi Abdullah, leader and co- organiser of the Free Family Fun, busy texting or speaking or hugging an artist, some guest, er.... someone.
In you walk with your many drums and Nature Nailah, the Yoga instructor helps you with the, whoops, donkey activity. Somewhere along the line, a man with cameras. Daryl Dyer.  Portuguese lady with a camera. Globe trotter Ines Valle. So is... Joseph Adamson aka JJ of “Africans in London TV” (AIL.TV). Half Kenyan, mini Ugandan. With cameras. Cameraaaaaas!
The work of Sara Pittaluga, simply stunning. Pic by F Macha

This is a Numbi Arts event. NUMBI is “a global conversation, locally,” says its site.
There are unusual artists. Elderly Somali lady. Or Italian caricature phenomenon Sara Pittaluga. Creating smiles through her Instant Coffee art.
Plus poets. Naimo Aska. Brilliant.
  Aisha Mohammed cries (for real) as she recites her intense piece. Aisha and Daryl Dyer also do interviews. Apart from your drumming and those gleeful kids, youths, men and women bashing Djembes, Congas and percussions, Kinsi Abdullah, does a story. Later introduces poetry evening. This is not forgetting sessions of   Yoga, and an exhibition of short films by East Africans and participation from various corners of the earth.
 You do your poem about William Shakespeare and Swahili.
Someone else and someone else and...Ssssshhh..... at the end is Mr Ahmed Magare.  Never heard of him. Zealous Ahmed did grin much while drumming earlier.... wait.  Another golden Somali poet, Elmi Ali, introduces Magare and his book.  Swahili speaking Almi reads his incredible poem GAGGING ORDER ORANGE SODA:
“My father was a titan,
My mother lady time
I was taught to rhyme.”
Magare is a Somali painter and poet. Somalia? Somalis are everywhere in East Africa. I grew with Somalis in Arusha. Somalis in Uganda, Kenya, everywhere. Somali is part of East African DNA. Lately.
Lately. Recent years....nonetheless.
Internationally speaking the word Somalia has coughed negative perceptions. But individuals like the elderly lady exhibiting arts and crafts, erase that. We haven’t mentioned Sir Mo Farah, yet.   Kinsi and artists, and Rich Mix plus Ahmed Magare bring us Spring Joy. Catch lines from brother Magare’s poems.  A RETREAT CLOSE TO PERFECTION
“I was here
With the story tellers of a nation
Crippled, crushed and complicated”

Or another beautiful imagery.
 “Milk is peace poured peacefully from a vessel
Sign it with love...”
 Ahmed Magare paints too: “The core focus of my practise is heritage, identity and culture. I explore challenging avenues to depict personal journeys as an urban nomad, a traveller and storyteller.”
Yup. His recent book WHEN HEROES HIDE BEHIND CERTAIN ROPES (Create Independent Publisher, 2017) is available online.
Good news. Good news.
Check out

Published in Informer East Africa, May 2017

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