Independence, Identity and Belonging Workshop at The Drum, Birmingham

In the heart and soul of the Jamaican community at The Drum in Birmingham The Harambe Drummers rhythmic introduction set the stage for Delores Cooper OD to open and chair the event.

With a very diverse audience in age and cultures the Jamaica Hidden Histories Producer, Lorna Holder introduced a short film outlining the historical context of the project. Delores Cooper and theologian/historian Rev. Canon Eve Pitts explored concepts of independence, identity and belonging and how early social, cultural and environmental influences have shaped the integration of modern communities and notions of identity in multicultural Britain; with a particular view to Birmingham.

Visitors and participants, including a number of Newman University students, were keen to enter the lively and sincere discussions on the central theme, where they openly discussed and shared their own sense of identity and pride in belonging to the Birmingham community.

The Harambe Drummers performed intermittently with their strong cultural and spiritual identity embedded in Rastafarianism. Ian Sergeant, the Drum Arts Development Manager talked about the significance of the drum as a vital means of communicating and cohesiveness in past communities.

Curator and collector Charlie Phillips shared his own and participants’ objects that had been bought in focusing on the importance of preserving Jamaican heritage through such objects for future generations.

Sharon Rapaport led one to one oral history interviews on the theme, which were filmed and recorded, giving an invaluable source of information and a future archival resource for the project and exhibitions.

As a major feature of cultural identity Jamaican cuisine was again one of the stars of the show with guests treated to authentic jerk cooking and tasty accompaniments. All washed down with a range of drinks compliments of Grace Foods.

Gene Huie Manneh

JHH Education Coordinator