By Amira Dorant
It has been 1,068 days since the last Notting Hill Carnival and I think we are all in agreement it couldn’t come any sooner. We are all itching to throw up our flags, buss a whine and walk like we’ve never walked before, however it is more important than ever to understand the history behind it all and the significance NHC has to Black British Caribbean culture. This could be one of the most historic Carnivals seen to date, with the two-year hiatus it is expected to double in numbers from their usual 2 million turn out. Falling on the August Bank holiday 27th- 29th, the street party located in West London travels through the streets of: Ladbroke Grove, Harrow Road, Notting Hill and even up to Kensal Rise train station. People are gathered from all over to enjoy the sound systems, steelbands, floats, mas bands and food stalls. The organisers at Notting Hill Carnival ask that you take a 72 second moment of silence at 3pm to honour the lives of the victims of the tragic Grenfell fire on both dates.
Even though Carnival is a very popular event in London, there are carnival celebrations happening all over the country and world. From Leciester Carnival on the 7th of August and Rio De Janeiro’s in April, carnival brings community and shared culture.
Carnival has been a place where anyone from any ends or any background is welcome, and I hope it stays that way. My own memories of carnival have always been attached to my family and the pure joy of listening to music out loud. Watching the next generations make their own memories is why these two days of the year are one of the most important ones. Carnival is British history; it is the legacy I leave as a Black British citizen.
Born out of necessity to create a safe environment from racial tension, Trinidadian human rights activist Claudia Jones initiated the first development of Carnival in 1959, Jones hosted a BBC broadcasted indoor carnival in St Pancras Town Hall, which later on in 1966, activists Rhaune Laslett and Andre Shervington evolved the party to the Carnival we know today. Constantly under threat of shutting down, the history of Notting Hill Carnival represents the resilience and cultural diversity of the communities in London. Darcus Howe, the late Political Activist, once said “if there weren't race riots in Notting Hill I don't believe that we would have had the Notting Hill Carnival.” Carnival is a protest in its own rights, to alert people of black presence in British society and to acknowledge those from the Windrush generation who have contributed to making the society we know today.
So to that I say, welcome to the bad phone service, the queue for a pee, for whatever-the-weather, the joy, being Black in Britain, Soca, Dancehall, looking for your friends, the food, the memories, the two days and respectfully bun all the people trying to shut it down and complain about the noise.