FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 6 June 2016
Mid-summer Western Sahara Festival: Film premiers, music, poetry and talks highlight long-term Saharawi refugee plight in SW Algeria.
London, 2 July 2016, 4-10pm
A Sandblast production in collaboration with Stave House & Hundred Years Gallery
On July 2nd, London-based arts and human rights charity Sandblast will join forces with acclaimed UK music academy StaveHouse for a multi-arts mid-summer Western Sahara Festival. The event will highlight the on-going 40-year-long plight of the Saharawi refugees in the Algeria Sahara and present recent efforts to bring early music-learning to the area. The charity will also launch Run the Sahara 2017, known internationally as the Saharamarathon, which takes place annually in February. UK participants raise funds for Sandblast’s music and youth projects in the refugee camps. The majority of the Saharawis became displaced in harsh desert camps, in SW Algeria, after Morocco forcefully annexed their homeland of Western Sahara in 1975. The territory, a former Spanish colony, is officially recognized by the UN as Africa’s last colony.
Eye-opening film premiers, photography, music and poetry will offer something for every taste in Hoxton’s hipster Hundred Years Gallery. A presentation of the Stave House in the Sahara pilot project will be made by ethnomusicologist Dr. Violeta Ruano. She leads the project to implement music education in English in the Saharawi primary schools in the refugee camps and is working in close collaboration with Ruth Travers, the creator of the Stave House music-learning system based on storytelling. The Run the Sahara 2017 launch will feature testimonials from former participants. Potential candidates will be able to register on the day to either run or walk 5, 10, 21 or 42km and spend a week hosted by a local family in the refugee camps, experiencing the legendary hospitality and stories of the Saharawi people.
Unforgettable mentally and physically. I would recommend this journey to anyone as it changes your point of view. Tomasz Laczny, 2015 runner
The English premiers of “Battalion to my Beat” by Eimi Imanashi, and “The Desert of the Deserts” by Samir Abujambra’s will provide potent contexts to understand the Saharawi struggle. The former, a short fictional film tells the story of a young Saharawi girl who wants to become a revolutionary soldier and the latter is a fascinating, original account of Saharawi culture and the history of the conflict in Western Sahara. The evening will conclude with a collaborative performance of two artists who have both been to the Saharawi refugee camps. Poet Sam Berkson will recite original poems and translated Saharawi poems from his poetry book “Settled Wanderers” accompanied by darbouka player Karim Delalli playing irresistible Algerian beats.
For info & tickets, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mid-summer-western-sahara-festival-tickets-25595518886
Hundred Years Gallery, E2 8JD, London. Contact: 02036027973
*Sandblast is an arts and human rights charity working with the indigenous people from Western Sahara, the Saharawis, whose identity and culture is threatened by the impact of exile and Morocco’s occupation. Sandblast’s mission is to empower the Saharawis to tell their own story. www.sandblast-arts.org
* Stave House, developed by UK-based music teacher Ruth Travers, is a versatile music teaching method that is being used extensively in primary schools in the UK and elsewhere around the world (they have schools using the method in the USA, China, Greece, Nigeria and other countries. Please see www.stavehouse.co.uk). The method has been approved and certified by the London College of Music (LCM, University of West London), and children trained through it (in theory, singing and instrument playing) are regularly assessed by LCM examiners in order to further their careers.
*Hundred Years Gallery is an emerging and dynamic art space situated in Hoxton, East London supporting experimental and innovative art from London-based and international artists. The Gallery`s exhibitions programme is aimed at presenting a wide spectrum of contemporary art production with an emphasis on providing a platform for radical ideas and young or unrepresented artists. The space also provides opportunities for those in the arts to become part of its exhibition programme through its annual open calls and editions project.
*Stave House in the Sahara is a new project that aims to facilitate the implementation of music education in English in primary schools in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria). It was first launched in the UK on 27th Feb 2016 at a fundraising concert at the Galleywood Heritage Centre in Chelmsford, Essex. Its pilot stage was led by ethnomusicologist and music teacher Violeta Ruano in the Saharawi refugee camps during March and April 2016. Throughout the two months, she taught a group of 30 Saharawi children and trained 3 Saharawi local teachers to be able to lead the project in the future. http://stavehouseinthesahara.weebly.com
*Run the Sahara is Sandblast’s annual awareness-raising and fundraising event happening in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria). It is part of the Sahara Marathon, a unique and inspiring international running event. Next race will take place on 28th Feb, 2017. You can choose to run a full marathon, a half marathon, 10km or 5km. If you don’t like to run, but would like to join, you are welcome to walk instead! http://www.sandblast-arts.org/the-run
*Sam Berkson is a poet from London, author of acclaimed collection Life In Transit (Influx Press 2012). He runs workshops in schools and wrote words for Lorenzo Vitturi’s astonishing photobook Dalston Anatomy. Sam has been performing poetry for many years as ‘Angry Sam’ as part of the Hammer & Tongue collective. In 2013, Sam was invited by the charity Olive Branch Arts to visit the Saharawi refugee camps as a poet in residence. In March 2014, following a successful crowdfunding campaign, Influx Press raised enough money to send him back to gather and translate some of the contemporary poetry of the Saharawi. Together with Saharawi translator and illustrator Mohamed Labat Sulaiman, Sam has recently published Settled Wanderers, a collection of translated and interpreted (Hassaniya to English) poems from the greatest living poets of the Western Sahara. Sam will be collaborating with London-based Algerian world-class darbouka player Karim Dellali, who has also been to the Saharawi refugee camps and collaborated with Saharawi artists. www.angrysampoetry.wordpress.com
*Background history: Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa and the site of a protracted territorial dispute between the Moroccan kingdom, which claims sovereignty, and the Polisario Front, the Saharawi liberation movement which seeks independence. The majority of the Saharawis are refugees today in one of the harshest deserts in the world. Despite extreme hardships, the Saharawi refugee community has managed to build a democratically-run nation-in-exile, where women play a prominent role, defying Western preconceptions of Arab-Muslim societies. Thousands more Saharawis live under Morocco’s occupation in Western Sahara. They are deprived of their human rights and separated from the refugees in SW Algeria by a 2700km-long Moroccan-built military wall manned by over 100,000 soldiers and surrounded by over five million landmines. http://www.sandblast-arts.org/western-sahara
News about Sandblast & Western Sahara