Tuesday 2 July 2024

Celebrating Harlesden's place in Black Music History at the Reggae Tree and Harlesden Library

 Beneath the Reggae Tree outside Hawkeye Records, Craven Park, Harlesden


Yesterday's International Reggae Day celebration in Harlesden took on an international dimension as well as delving deep into the local history of Black Music on this corner of Brent, 'Harlesbridge', combining Harlesden and Stonebridge.

Linking the struggle against South African apartheid with Jamaica, Ghana and the diaspora in England, Kwaku claimed that reggae helped give South Africans the energy to fight for equality (You can hear the great Reggae Mandela album HERE) while Ghana has linked with Jamaica and the UK through their joint concern for the environment through planting of a symbolic Reggae Tree in Accra.:

The Reggae Tree is a symbolic nod to International Reggae Day's Tree Planting Challenge, which is endorsed by Eco-Conscious Citizens. The environmental group's partner organisation, BBM/BMC, planted The Reggae Tree in London in 2018. It's sited in Harlesden, the north-west London area that is the capital of reggae in Britain.

IRD2024 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, highlights the importance of reggae to the fight against apartheid in South Africa and the unbreakable bond between Jamaica and South Africa, which is mirrored by the unbreakable bond between International Reggae Day and its original inspiration - South Africa’s Mama Winnie Mandela.

During the event, Eco-Conscious Citizens will also launch a plastic bottle recycle bank to raise awareness of Plastic Free July, which is a global movement that encourages individuals to reduce their single-use plastic consumption for the month of July. The group is asking stores to give their customers the choice of buying non-plastic reusable bags, instead of the free, throw-away single-use plastic bags.

Sonny Roberts with his daughter Cleon

Speaking against the background of a huge and noisy Craven Park traffic jam, the Cleon Roberts, daughter of Jamaican record producer Sonny Roberts LINK   Reggae Ambassador, Diane Shrouder-Johnson, spoke of the importance of Harlesden as the capital of  reggae and Black Music, developed during the 50s, 60s and 70s to the present with record shops, selling of records from the backs of cars,  and studios tucked away amidst a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship.



Yesterday also saw a special exhibition at Harlesden Library of the Brent Reggae Albums Covers Exhibition which is on until October with curator talks on Monday 12th August, Monday 2nd September and Monday 14th October. 

Kwaku gave a well-informed and humourous commentary on the  album covers and the music, artists and producers involved.



 Towards the end of the talk Kwaku asked the audience whether this was all in the past or continued. Amid the cries from the audience he unveiled a hidden display featuring the the Big Zeeks album cover and the artist himself stepped up from the audience to talk about how much he loved Harlesden and Brent and wanted to give back to the community.

Big Zeeks pointed out how the album cover features many aspects of Harlesden. Can you spot them all?
The history continues.

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