Capital rappers stand united

12th August 2005 at 01:00
Pupils at a London summer school have produced a music video with a strong sense of harmony, writes Michael Shaw

Police raids on suspected bombers in London's Notting Hill have provided inspiration for a music video by local pupils.

Many of the 10 to 14-year-olds involved in a summer-school project based at Sion Manning school, west London, heard the explosions when police blew off the doors to a flat on the Peabody estate and then fired in canisters of CS gas.

Some of the 40 pupils were on a survival skills course at the time, constructing rafts by a canal less than a quarter of a mile away. Others were at home, closer to the raid.

Twelve-year-old Stephen, who had been playing computer games, admitted being frightened by the explosions.

"I thought it was a bomb at first, but it was too soft - it was more like a popping noise," he said.

Three days later, the pupils began making a music video for the MVD Challenge, one of several free summer schools run by Kensington and Chelsea council.

They quickly agreed that their song should be called "Unity" and should focus on reuniting their community.

Hannah Robinson, a professional film-maker who was brought in to help the group to direct the video, said: "The pupils were all quite disturbed by what happened and wanted to respond to the events."

Stephen, one of four young people who wrote a rap section for the song, said the subject matter sent out a more positive message than many rap songs in the charts. "Writing the lyrics was hard," he said. "You don't hear raps about unity every day."

Alina, aged 15, helped to supervise younger children on the MVD Challenge as well as on the outdoor summer school during the previous week when the raid occurred.

She said: "It was really loud, like 'Bang!' I thought something had collapsed. But the kids carried on what they were doing."

Dan, 10, said: "One of the teachers told us it was a car backfiring. I wasn't frightened."

Part of the music for the song was written by Julian Chown, a London-based musician and producer who has worked with Groove Armada.

All other parts of the video were created by the pupils, who designed the costumes, choreographed the dances and shot the footage.

The children also took a series of photographs to illustrate the cultural variety around Notting Hill, an area which has one of the largest north African populations in Britain.

By coincidence, one image featured in the video will be the Portuguese-run Lisboa cafe, where the suspected London bombers are believed to have met prior to the attacks.

Ermiyas, 13, whose family is Eritrean, said there had been no tensions among the summer-school pupils, who have a wide variety of backgrounds and religious beliefs.

He said: "I've read that there have been more racist attacks, but we all get along - just like the song says."

* michael.shaw@tes.co.uk

ANOTHER VOICE 14

SOME LYRICS FROM 'UNITY'

All around the world

Loving each other

Tears and laughter

We're all in this

Together

Building foundations

A better place to be

Happiness and peace

In one unity

Peace love and

Harmony Is what we

Want to see

Living in our

Community

We'll share

Eternally

Brothers and sisters

We got to stand

Together

I'll stand with you,

Back to back

See you through

Stormy weather

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