History & Culture

The Unity Festival Pt 1 let's boil the gammon 2014

Due to our reputation for getting things done, at WHQ, people often pitch us ideas. Due to our reputation for anti-racism, occasionally people pitch us ideas specifically around that.

When those ideas are cool & we can help add value, develop & deliver them - we hook up, commit 100% & really great things can happen. 

2015's Unity Festival was one of those really great things.

Leazes Park Newcastle - Site of the Unity Festival. You can see just the hope, breaking through the trees.

Daniel's dream in a bus

This was such a massive thing that it's in 4 sections. There's a film shot on the actual day at the end of sections 3 & 4, but you won't wanna miss the little yarn first - So let's get to it...

In 2014, a young teacher & part time boxer called Daniel Kebede got in touch & met with us, to ask if we would help him realise a daydream (he later told us he’d mulled over whilst riding on a bus..!?) about staging a big anti-racist event.

We are all now so glad he rode that bus.

Our Brother Daniel - a visionary cat.

Danny is a really, really cool guy, really conscious & politically active, so we heard him out & knew we could help. He had no experience in how to stage a really large scale event, but he's a visionary & had the smarts to reach out to us. 

Smart guy - even more to the point, he was one of us. A proper anti racist & he kinda reminded us of a young Muhammad Ali. We immediately teamed up like Brothers, knuckled down & we went at it.

With no concept of just what a wild, wild ride it was going to be…

The plan

The plan was discussed a million times & eventually solidified into staging a one day, free open air anti-racist music festival in Leazes Park in central Newcastle, with loads of headline acts, food stalls, community groups & the involvement of Trade Unions & all the local anti-racist political organisations.

Just think about this for a minute…

If it’s a free Festival how do you get really big name acts to play..?

Then how do you pay for all the staging, power, licenses, risk assessments, council liaison, legals, safety marshalls, cops, marquees, portaloos, fencing, sound equipment, St Johns Ambulance, litter clean up, generators, etc, etc, etc...

The list is endless...

We believe you're already personally acquainted with our old friend..?

Festivals cost tens of thousands of pounds to stage & have so many tricky & unforeseen elements to them. Even the weather is always a massive factor & total gamble.

There’s loads of reasons, ones that aren’t massive & established often go bust & that's even with them charging big bucks for tickets.

We had a big fat zero of loot & were planning to let everyone come for free & fund it all with nothing but donations.

This little fella obviously has no coin... He even had to go in the lake to get a bath. So if we wanted we wanted him to come, which we did - it had to be free.

Sounds like a daft idea..? So what good reason could there be, to take that much of a risk..?

The reason

At the time some fat, inbred, pit-stinky gammons, were always handing out flyers touting right-wing, anti-refugee waffle at the Monument to shoppers.

If you were just a casual visitor the city, you might have (mistakenly) thought that they were running things around here.

Also, some daft right wingers from Europe called ‘Pegida’ were planning a march here, to try to successfully export a 30’s Berlin type-vibe of xenophobia & intolerance to the Toon.

Left : Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Right : Two senior Pegida representatives, just visiting Newcastle to see if they can persuade us to all hate each other.

It was time for us to rally the troops - to bring all the decent people all across the city together, for a show of strength. Something to show them how strong our movement is & the kind of massive numbers we had on our side.

As many of you saw a couple of Summers ago, at the BLM dust up at the Monument, these fools are exactly that & it was time to evoke people power, on a level not even we knew would be possible, to show them what's up...

Just look at the flippin' state of this lot - should be drowned, in apple sauce.

There are way more decent people than twats in Newcastle, this our home. We simply couldn’t be having a few vocal gammons staggering about, thinking they could set the agenda.

We wanted the Festival to be free, so that there was no barrier to attendance & everyone could come & show support for the cause.

With no money, what we were planning was totally impossible – so we simply decided to take on the totally impossible & make it happen...

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