This weekend, London celebrates the Notting Hill Carnival, and Lloyd Bradley, writing for the Guardian’s Observer magazine, meditates on how it still remains true to its Caribbean roots despite having become Europe’s largest street party. The essay, which you can access through the link below, concludes thus:
Since [the violence that characterized it in the 1970s], the Notting Hill carnival has gone through another seismic shift, but is an equally relevant expression of what it means to be black in London in the 21st century – a far more diverse, mixed up and inclusive state of affairs. Like the capital’s black population itself, the carnival now has its own history and draws upon that to acknowledge where it came from as well as where it’s at: of course there are steel bands, costumes and calypso, but there are sound systems busting grime, garage and drum’n’bass along with the reggae. And as British black culture has become part of the world at large, so the world, both at home and abroad, is welcomed in.
As a result, what began with a couple of hundred Caribbean immigrants following two or three steel bands has become Europe’s biggest street festival, but black London remains as its beating heart, with its music, its sound systems and its updated takes on original Mas costumes. Claudia Jones, the Trinidadian black and feminist activist who founded the carnival 50 years ago, might not quite understand too much of it, but she’d be beaming with pride.
You can access Bradley’s essay at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/30/lloyd-bradley-notting-hill-carnival
For a guide to carnival events this weekend go to http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/events/article-23737988-details/Guide+to+Notting+Hill+Carnival/article.dohttp://www.thisislondon.co.uk/events/article-23737988-details/Guide+to+Notting+Hill+Carnival/article.do