In the future, 2020 will not only be the year a global pandemic hit our planet, but it will also be known as the ‘year of cancellations’. Causing much disappointment in each Londoner, the Notting Hill Carnival was no exception.
So, in order to not miss out on the colourful celebrations of Art, Cuisine, Fashion and Music, we decided to run our own Covid-responsible Carnival at Drive Forward. The underlying idea was to highlight each of these four aspects of culture for the young people and staff to learn about and enjoy together.
Videos of previous events brought the Notting Hill Carnival as close as possible to our offices; highlighting all of the various sound systems, floats, stages, artists and artwork from different areas of the carnival.
We don’t claim to be experts on international cuisine, so it was up to our young people to become chefs for one day! We had a delicious Macaroni Pie, a form of Macaroni Cheese of cake-like consistency garnished with salt fish fritters – yum!
Another young person spoilt us with Jollof Rice and Chicken Wings. Note that Jollof Rice differs across different regions in Africa. This particular one had a traditional Nigerian feel and taste to it.
Then we were offered some non-alcoholic Punch and also a dish called Ackee. Ackee is a fruit that is used and prepared like a vegetable and usually served with peppers, onions and Salt fish. In this case, however, the chef created a magnificent vegan version.
Keeping to the vegan motto our colleague Megan created a beautiful Vegan Sweet Potato and Chickpea curry and Justin threw all his talents at making Jerk Chicken on the BBQ and Curried Goat on the Stove. Of course, it went down a treat.
We encouraged everyone to dress up in a way that they felt highlighted the Notting Hill Carnival and what it meant to them; or to highlight their own heritage whatever they may be. One of the young people designed and actually made her very own Caribbean outfit. What can we say, it simply looked amazing!
Putting his own African roots into the spotlight, our colleague Justin, who also organised and ran the whole afternoon, wore a dashiki.
Among other guests braids and bright colours were very popular.
In line with the Old School Notting Hill Carnival Justin put on some Raggae, Soca and Dancehall. Of course, he didn’t forget about the New School Carnival and also played some DnB, Jungle and Ragga tunes. The young people played music they felt represented how they felt about Carnival prompting everyone at some point to get up, dance and have fun!