The organisers of an event in Salford during Black History Month say they hope to showcase African arts, language, dress and culture.
The free Our Salford My Home event, which will take place at the Sebastian Community Centre on 30 October, will include poetry, keynote speakers, music exhibition, a fashion show, presentations, stalls, food and drinks.
Wilson Nkurunziza, Councillor for Pendleton and Charlestown and part of the Salford Forum for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum (SRF), says: “This year the theme is ‘Our Salford Our Home’ so what we’ve done is to organise different people to come out and speak about the challenges they are facing, and we also have stalls from different organisations such as: Salford Clinical Commissioning Group and Salford Credit Union (which) is very important because it teaches people how to get loans and to advise people.
“We are all volunteers and I’m a local councillor this is what I have become, this is my passion for people who are seeking asylum and (ensuring) refugees are integrated in our society and are seen. We are all from different organisations and have come together to organise the event.”
Ms Chioma Mgbeokwere of Ibo Ladies In Diaspora Aid (IBDA) says: “The event is about showcasing our culture and the kind of African arts, different languages, different ways of dressing, tasting our special coffee and dancing. Not only are children going to come, but we’ll also have the police coming too, Salford CVS and Salford Credit Union.
Discussing her role in IBDA, she added: “There’s different things we do with different women for example, because of their culture they don’t tend to interact. So, we are there to say that this is an era where you can come out, you don’t have to hide in your homes you need to socialise. Empowering women that’s what we do.
“Some of these women wouldn’t come out they’ve been either been through domestic violence relationships or they don’t have a status in their country, if they’re not educated, they can’t speak English, so we try to see how to support them into courses.”
Ms Mgbeokwere added that the IBDA is a supportive group in the city.
She said: “We do a lot in the community Salford is a community place where we do things together, so we support one another. Obviously, we wanted to break the stigma about stop and search, so it’ll be a way of the police interacting with people and explaining (so) people know and understand that the police (are) not actually harassing them, they’re doing their jobs. There’s always an opportunity to create awareness, people listening and for people to talk about the challenges they’re facing.”
“There’s about twenty-five women in the group. It can be nice to get them to speak it’s quite a lot that goes on, like I say some of them due to culture there is a stigma of coming out to talk, they shy away or do things because of that stigma. We try to tell them that this is a different culture and that this is a different era you can do whatever you want. It’s a free world (unlike) when you’re in Africa you can’t do this or you’re not allowed to do this or you have to tie your hair and hide yourself, so this is what we’re teaching these women to empower them that there’s many things there’s opportunities, teach them the culture of being in Salford.
“We have support groups, and we talk to them all the time on a daily basis. (But) the case varies with each person, so some people need you to talk to them all the time because you have to be there in person to help them with paperwork, if they’re going out and they don’t understand something they get scared…
“I have one of them telling me that their son doesn’t want to go to school, she’s left the father to come here and she doesn’t know what to do we just have to try to help out in the ways that we can i.e. who has the custody of the child, so speaking to the social worker so that you know where you stand and doing what’s right for the child either by keeping the child at home or taking him to school where he is scared because someone used a knife to threaten him.
“Some of these kids if they’re different they tend to pick. There’s a lot of shocking things that can happen we try to do what we can do to reassure these women to go to the police.
“This [event] will give them an opportunity to talk to the police about concerns that they have. The police are coming as a friend in this case for people to understand that the police are people, not actually the way you think. In Africa when you say police people think of police as the enemy, not a friend so they need to think when you have a problem you can actually go to the police you don’t have to be scared to go to the police you can go to the police.”
Black History Month happens every year in October from the 1st of October through to the 31st.
Tickets for Our Salford My Home are available from Eventbrite