Image for post
Image for post

Once again #AfroLondon delivers. It is such a privilege to be part of moments like the one I lived tonight at the Total Refreshment Centre in Dalston. It was the beginning of their seven-day-long Africa Week Festival and the celebrations could not have started better. A lecture on Venezuelan folk music archive, the screening of a documentary on the life of Belén, the “Reina of Quitipá” and a live performance by the extremely talented Luzmira Zerpa and her band.

Belén really grabbed me. This was a film that sought to capture a person’s humanity and succeeded. Belén Palacios is an unassuming cocoa farmer deep in the Venezuelan jungle. She has a passion for the world of bamboo sounds. A world that comes to life via the tiny frame of this indomitably spirited woman. Belén is the door into the realm of Afro-Latin culture in this corner of South America. She is the human anvil, situated in the centre of this sonic universe, upon which the bamboo is turned into drum and the drum into musical temple. A place, not only in which to practice and worship, but also in which to honour memory. The memory of our ancestors. The memory of Africa.

Early evening and I am in the lounge, reading Zadie Smith’s Feel Free. A soft, tenuous shaft of light throws itself onto the red furniture rendering it golden. What a contrast to the morning sun and the sudden shower of light I get every time I open up the curtains. At times like this, especially sunset, I forget for an instant that I am in someone else’s house, sitting on someone else’s settee and abiding by someone else’s rules. Welcome as they are, moments like this are misleading and dangerous. They trick me into believing that my situation is normal, that I am leading an ordinary life instead of being an ex-part of a duo.

I cross my legs on the sofa and carry on reading Zadie’s dissection of Anomalisa.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store