At the same time, the Festival's presence might have helped build some bridges and heal some wounds. It may, of course, be too soon - we should probably be content to wait for 2019 before we return to the area, at which time we can work with the community to do something affirmative. There were many who felt the Ariana Grande commemorative concert in Manchester came too soon after the event - and that was in a place where the community had been united by the tragedy. In North Kensington, there is great anger.
For all that - there is a genuine role for Festivals in healing wounds and building bridges. On Monday, Marcia Langton talked about this aspect of indigenous festivals in Australia as part of her ORIGINS Lecture - and last week we saw it in action at our REMEMBERING POCAHONTAS event at Syon House. The visit of Pocahontas to the London home of the Percy family was a full 400 years ago, of course, and was a diplomatic mission, not a catastrophic inferno. But the arrival of three Native American women to commemorate a Native American woman was still a highly significant moment, precisely because they have been so shut out from history. As Graham Harvey said at our AFTERNOON OF TALKS, the Pocahontas 400 events so far have concentrated not on where she lived but where she died, not on her indigenous but her Christian identity. A ceremony of smudge, drum and dance felt like a redressing of the balance, an invitation to bring previously excluded voices to the centre.
I hope we will be able to go back to North Kensington soon, and to offer a contribution to that community's healing.
|Sierra Tasi Baker, Gabe Hughes, Stephanie Pratt|