Celebrating travellers' role

08 June 2005

A FESTIVAL celebrating travellers' and Gypsy communities was launched on Wednesday.

The festival will see pupils treated to storytelling, music and workshops by a Polish Romany dance group and the Snap theatre group.

It will also feature exhibitions of photographs depicting circus, fairground and traveller families and works by borough pupils telling the story of Brent's travelling communities.

The festival has been organised by Brent Council's ethnic minority and traveller achievement service (Emtas).

Head of Emtas, Rocky Deans, said: "Brent is home to Irish travellers, Roma gypsies from eastern Europe and fairground and circus families, among others.

"It is important that we celebrate the culture of these communities and in doing so promote respect and understanding."

Queens Park Rangers football club will also be lending its support by hosting an under-12 soccer tournament for boys and girls from traveller and Gypsy communities on June 24.

The festival marking Travellers and Gypsies Cultural month is being launched at the Gwenneth Rickus building in Brentfield Road, Harlesden, at 5pm.

Speakers include Tom Sweeney, of the Traveller Law Reform Coalition, Romany journalist Jake Bowers and director of the Irish Traveller Movement Martin Collins.

For more details of events taking place call Denise Delalande on 0208 937 3329

The photographic exhibition is on at the Gwenneth Rickus building until June 24 and the one by borough pupils at Brent Town Hall, Forty Avenue, Wembley, until June 30. For details, call Brent Council on 020 8937 1200.

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Although rather interesting and positive, this festival, and the launch of a Travellers and Gypsies Cultural month, it is again all ass-about-face in that firstly it talks about "Traveller culture" - there is no such thing - while there is a Romani Culture, yes, and then apparently, and I can prove them wrong there if need be, that Brent is home to "Irish travellers, Roma gypsies from eastern Europe and fairground and circus families, among others" to quote the "Emtas" spokesperson; but nothing of the Romanichal of this country who also happen to live in the Borough of Brent, though not, necessarily, visibly in trailers on official sites or, more like the Irish, on illegal encampments. And then it is always Roma from Eastern Europe, recent arrivals who often do not even have asylum given to them and are just still here while their cases are being dealt with and given mention while at the same time the local Romani People are being forgotten, deliberately, methinks. We are just not attractive enough in that we do not wear colorful costumes or sing the "traditional" Gypsy songs of the East and maybe the behavior of the traveling Irish who are but Gohja in trailers appeal to folks more as well.