A new single written by a graduate and an international musician was performed at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) on Friday as part of a fundraiser to raise awareness of the plight of young people in The Gambia seeking a better life in Europe.
The event was one of the latest projects from Global Hands Leicester, an organisation run by Dr Momodou Sallah, DMU’s Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work.
Dr Sallah runs regular trips to The Gambia for DMU students who get involved in major community projects. Last year’s trips saw students helping build a library and funds have been raised to stock it with books.
The new single features singer and Global Hands director Ayolah, who graduated from DMU in 2012 with a degree in Youth and Community Development, as well as Gambian musician Silver P and is called ‘The Back Way’.
To get to Europe, young Gambians must take the long and clandestine ‘back way’, beginning with the Western Saharan route in Senegal, and ending with the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy, where 80 per cent of deaths in the Mediterranean occur. Countless others disappear into Libyan immigration detention centres, or into the sands of the Sahara.
The single launch took place in the Vijay Patel building’s Design Wing.
Dr Sallah said: “Young people are choosing to get out of the Gambia by using the dangerous back way method because they feel hopeless, like they have no real prospects, and I hope the song will help to raise awareness of this and inspire people to help.
“While working with Global Hands, I also aim to publish books showing the perspectives of those living in poverty all over Africa and set up projects in the Gambia to give training and education to people who are thinking about leaving the country in a dangerous way.”
The single will be officially launched on Saturday April 29 at Abbey Park, Leicester and the event will also include Global Hands’ annual Run 4 Africa, which is a 5km run around the area to raise funds for teaching programmes at the Manduar Development Hub in the Gambia.
At this event, which will take place between 12 and 6pm, there will also be a Candle of Hope vigil, in which people will have the opportunity to light a candle and make a pledge to the people of the Gambia.
Singer Ayolah, who has visited the Gambia nine times, said: “I wanted to take part in making the single as I found it heartbreaking to hear people’s stories about how they were desperate to leave the Gambia by taking such a dangerous route.
“By making this song alongside Silver P, I hope to use it as a tool to educate people about the back way, while giving people in the Gambia the chance to travel to other counties in a safer way by getting different organisations to create solutions.
“Also, it’s been great to be able to collaborate with Silver P because I first heard him sing on a DMU Global visit to the Gambia and I was so touched by the song he sang that I had to join in and ask him if I could sing a verse on it.”
If you want to register for the Run 4 Africa event on April 29 or make a donation visit the website here.
Posted on Friday 31st March 2017