Event Review

The Black History Month Youth Festival

The seventh event in the Black History Month in Berlin series on 17.02.2009 saw the younger generation take centre stage, literally, as the Amerika Haus auditorium became a venue for interactive music and discussion sessions. The event was organized with the support of Gordon Gatherer and Sylvia Hahnisch (Bridge of Hearts Foundation), Anthony Baggette (Clear Blue Water e.V), Patrick Bayogar, Buba Jammeh, Def Jay Radio, and staff of the Herman-Nohl school.

Drumming it in: Buba Jammeh teaches rhythm and tackles racism
During the morning Buba Jammeh, one of the best hand-mouth-body percussionists in the world, gave a group of twenty-five 9th and 10th grade students from the Hans-Bredow school a percussion lesson. During the three-hour workshop Mr. Jammeh not only taught the students how to play the drums, but also talked openly about racism and identity, his life experiences, and what music represents in his life. He discussed hearing racist comments and experiencing racist insults while living in Germany, before explaining that not even racism could keep an African from drumming and singing and expressing himself! He taught in an echo-style, playing his drum and then letting the students copy each rhythm until they were filling the America House with positive energy. Mr. Jammeh also entertained his students with several songs on his guitar that dealt with acceptance and tolerance, and played hand-mouth-percussion for the students. He spoke with them about the negative affects that racism has on our society today, and how we may overcome it.

Creative Arts Workshop with Moderator Gordon Gatherer
The later part of they day was devoted to the festival. Director of the ICD, Mark Donfried, and percussionist and singer Gordon Gatherer welcomed guests to the event. Gordon Gatherer introduced the evening with a short presentation on Kwanzaa and how it relates to Black History month, and introduced the origins of the holiday and the “Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.” Mark Donfried then gave a short history of the America House, the ICD, and the origins of Black History Month. The evening continued with a lively percussion performance by Patrick Bayogar and a school group from the Herman Nohl school, They gave an exciting drum performance that was followed with a Hand-Mouth-Body percussion performance by Buba Jammeh.  Anthony Bagette, director and founder of Clear Blue Water e.V., was then presented with the Blue Hearts thank you award from the Bridge of Hearts Foundation for outstanding work with children. Anthony Baggette also presented audience members with a short poem as a thank you for the award. Children in the audience were then surprised by an exciting performance from Theo Tintenklecks, the mascot of the Bridge of Hearts foundation.

Rap & Rn’B Liveshow
The film Yes I am, a documentary by Sven Halfar, was shown throughout the night in the Media Lounge. The film tells the story of three members of the band “Brothers Keepers”, Flame, Mamadee and Adé, and their work as a transnational anti-racism group that brings together hip-hap, reggae and soul musicians. The film highlights the power of music and the power of speaking as a group.

The evening finished with rap and Rn’B performances put together in cooperation with Def Jay Radio to promote Black History Month to a younger audience.  Bahati, Kheopz, Soulkiss and DJs Daddy Bantam sound and k*mu, all Afro-German artists from Berlin, performed Hip/Hop and Rn’B and addressed the issue of identity with their lyrics, including their own experiences of being Afro-German. Through dance, spoken word, and music these talented artists encouraged their young audience to participate in the issues surrounding Black history Month in Germany.