On Sunday 18 September, Bristol’s award-winning community station Ujima Radio hosted their first ever live outside broadcast inside of a church. The Ujima/Festival of Ideas event was called My Bristol, Our Future, and set in a building steeped in the past of centuries of St Stephens Church in the heart of Bristol, the speakers were a fitting mix of young, wise, poetic, bold and inspiring.
The event began with Councillor Asher Craig and Ujima broadcaster Primrose Glanville, reflecting on Ujima’s recent Gold win of best UK Community Station and Female Presenter of The Year. This led on to Roger ‘The G Man’ Griffith speaking from the pulpit, introducing the event to a gathering crowd of radio listeners and passers-by. Roger brought us a passage from his memoir ‘My American Odyssey,’ reflecting on his travels in America and discovering Bristol’s dark secrets. After an impromptu reading from Miles Chambers, next to take centre stage was Jenny Davis, an eminent Bristol writer and playwright. Jenny read a passage from a deeply moving production she is working on with themes of slavery and power. Following on from Jenny was the up-and-coming writer Hari Ramakrishnan, who shared witty anecdotes of experiences of British life through the eyes of his Indian upbringing. Den ‘Bee’ Shots brought his slick MC skills to change the vibe in the church, gesticulating on themes of Bristol and youth empowerment. Reflecting the growing links between Bath and Bristol with was spoken word artist Hannah Teasdale, who shared a piece she drafted for the event, with a powerful message of staying strong when faced with adversity. Ujima poet-in-residence Lawrence Hoo was the penultimate act; bringing poems he had written assessing the problems and providing solutions through the power of words in the past, present and future. Finally, Makela Cheung wrapped up the event with her warm energy and Acappella songs on Bristol.
As the commotion of Make Sunday Specials street celebrations filtered in from the outside, part one of the broadcast came to a close and the baton was passed to the vinyl Independent Label Market live from St Nicolas Market hopefully with the audience more emboldened than when we entered.
St Nicholas market Corn St was filled with the hustle and bustle of families, friends and friendly visitors of Bristol who had made their way to the centre of Bristol to sample the ‘Make Sunday special’ atmosphere. On Corn Street, by the drumming workshop community consultant Jose Barco was doodling an infographic full of passer-by’s ideas for Bristol’s future. These included ‘Make Bristol use more sustainable energy, cycle routes and lanes’, ‘create more friendly spaces for people from all backgrounds in Bristol to use and pleas for better integration.
Two of Ujima’s finest presenters DJ Style and Tommy Popcorn were covering the Independent Label Market and sharing their love of vinyl records. They also interviewed up and coming busker Bethany whose soft soulful voice echoed across the Old City. Roger then rounded off the jam packed day with an interview with Lorna Knapman, the organiser of ‘Make Sunday Special’ event, who was extremely happy with how the day had gone and we hope there would are many more events like this in the future.
The whole day was fantastic and a reminder to all Bristol residents of the breadth of diversity and culture in the region. Whilst also striving for the inclusion of all, whilst also giving a platform to independent musicians and small businesses. We can’t wait to do it all again!
Make Sunday Special forms part of the Ujima Autumn Cultural Season supported by Arts Council England. Next Event ‘Sisters With Voices’ at St George’s Bristol on 5th October.