Amid all the press coverage of this past weekend’s Notting Hill carnival in London, my favorite was that of Benjamin, a 9-year-old Londoner whose report in the Children’s BBC goes to the essence of what carnival is. Here it is:
“I was born in Ladbroke Grove in London and I’ve been to Notting Hill Carnival every single year of my life.
I take part in a carnival band called Fox Carnival which is a ‘mas band’ not a musical band.
Mas bands masquerade, which means people dress up in costumes and dance on the streets.
This year our theme is recycling and I have made lots of artwork out of plastic bags. You can iron them together, shred them, weave them, make them into pom-poms, kites, flags or creatures, and they look amazing.
By making bags into Carnival art we are reminding people to recycle because bags damage the environment.
On Carnival day I wake up early to decorate the huge lorry which holds our food, music and even two toilets!
I get my face painted and pick a piece of art to parade with.
All the pieces of art are attached to poles and when 400 people move their poles in time to music, dancing like crazy following the lorry, it looks like a mad, moving jungle!
We get to eat lots of yummy Caribbean food at Carnival, including really spicy chicken.
Bringing people together
The best thing for me is having fun with everyone and creating lovely artwork that gets shown to millions of people on the streets.
Being part of the Carnival is one of the best things I’ve ever experienced because no one judges you, so it is a place where you can be free.
Carnival brings friends, family and all different people together and I like being a part of that.
We dance for seven hours so when I go home at the end of the day I drop on my bed and fall asleep!”
You can find the essay with additional photographs at http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_8220000/newsid_8221000/8221063.stm