Asylum seeker’s play is London bound

By Peter Stanners

A play written by a tortured Cameroonian asylum seeker who lives in Greater Manchester will now be shown in London.

Lydia Besong’s play ‘How I Became an Asylum Seeker’ will be performed at the Break the Silence event on Sunday 28 November, at 3pm, at the Riverside Studios.

The event, organised by Women For Refugee Women (WRW), aims to shine a light on the hidden experiences of women who seek asylum in the UK.

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Chinese Arts Centre curates London exhibit

ART: Birth and Belonging explores Chinese identity

MANCHESTER’S Chinese Arts Centre has curated a London exhibition which explores Chinese identity.

‘China: Birth and Belonging’ kicks off on Friday 26 February 2010 with a special performance and display of newly commissioned interventions at Wellcome Collection as part of larger exhibition ‘Identity: Eight rooms, nine lives’.

Chinese Arts Centre (CAC) CEO Sally Lai said: “Working with Wellcome Collection, Chinese Arts Centre is presenting an evening of intriguing performances that explore the complexity of identity.

“Reflecting a current trend in Chinese contemporary art of art as an event, the three performances offer unique perspectives that are at once playful, mesmerising and challenging.”

Accompanied on Saturday 27 February with talks by an international panel of speakers, Birth and Belonging will explore the complex nature of Chinese identity.

Questioning hot topics like the one child policy’s influence on family attitudes,  stem cell research and conflict in 20th- and 21st-century, the exhibition also brings together experts from the worlds of performance, humanities and science to provide exciting new insights into human identity.

Ken Arnold, Wellcome Trust’s head of public programmes, said: “As part of our ‘Identity’ season, we wanted to explore a completely different national identity. Is there an essence of Chinese identity? Is the nature of the individual within it distinctively different? Does ‘Chineseness’ remain unchanged when exported to ‘Chinatowns’ around the world? This symposium aims to go beyond common assumptions to delve into these fascinating questions.”

With a population of over 1.3billion, China is the most populous country in the world and therefore ideas of family and the individual differ dramatically.

According to various ancient philosophies, a person’s essence is founded in their interaction with the world. Life does therefore not begin at conception, but at birth. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the idea that the body is influenced by inheritance, the environment and Qi (breath of life).

CAC’s curation asks how these ideas influence an individual’s sense of identity and belonging? And how does examining another nation’s perspectives on identity affect they way we view our own?

The contributing artists include Brendan Fan and his practice of discreet gestures, actions and interventions, Yuen Fong Ling and her workshop that reconfigures the traditional notion of life drawing, and composer Seaming To, who will be accompanied by a variety of Chinese musicians.

As well as this Prof Therese Hesketh, of University College London, will be examining the impacts of the one child policy, while Vivienne Lo looks at food’s effect on identity and Prof Rana Mitter, of University of Oxford, explores how war has altered Chinese ideas of identity.

Diana Yeh, Visiting Lecturer, University of East London, will also be revealing rarely told stories of artists and writers of Chinese descent in Britain and Prof Jack Price, of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, will be looking at how China’s world leading stem research effects the country’s culture.

Rochdale teen Diyar missing

MISSING: Nafisa Diyar disappeared from a Rochdale care home 10 days ago

POLICE want the public’s help locating a 14-year-old black girl who has been missing for more than a week in Rochdale.

Nasifa Diyar was last seen at 7:40pm on Saturday 6 February 2010 when she told staff at Rough Bank Farm care home, Woodside, that she was going outside for a cigarette.

She has not been seen since and police are growing increasingly worried for her welfare.

Diyar is around 5ft 6ins tall and of medium build. She has long black hair – usually tied back in a pony tail – and was last seen wearing a knee length black dress, jeans, a short brown jacket and brown boots.

She is originally from London and has only been living in Rochdale for three months. She is thought to be in either the Rochdale or Oldham area.

Det Chf Ins Graham Stevens said: “I am growing increasingly concerned for the safety of Nafisa as she has not been in contact with her carers for several days.

“Those who know Nafisa describe her as being a friendly outgoing girl who can be easily influenced.

“She is known to have links with the Falinge estate in Rochdale and the Coldhurst estate in Oldham. I would encourage anyone who has seen Nafisa since Saturday 6 February or knows of her current whereabouts, to contact the Police”.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Rochdale CID on 0161 856 4646, or the independent charity, Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Steinberg dies at Ritz

A WELL-respected member of Manchester’s Jewish community has died in a London hotel room.

The Jewish Community Online reports that Lord Leonard Steinberg died at the Ritz Hotel, where he had been staying before attending the House of Lords.

The politician-cum-entrepreneur was 73 when he died suddenly in the room in which he was stopping.

Manchester Chevra Kadisha escorted Lord Steinberg’s body back to Hale, where he had lived for some years.

His funeral took place at Dunham Lawn Cemetery on Thursday 5 November 2009.

Leonard Steinberg, who was born in Belfast, was the president of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel (NIFI) and a Tory life peer.

He became a successful businessman in Northern Ireland thanks to the gambling trade, founding Stanley Leisure.

In 1977 he moved to Liverpool after the IRA shot him for refusing to pay them for protection.

Lord Steinberg sold his business to William Hill and the Genting Group in 2005. The Sunday Times ‘Rich List’ estimated in 2009 that his fortune was worth £90m.

He was not only a successful businessman but also a pillar of the community, presiding over the Jewish Federation, the UJIA’s Manchester branch and Lancashire County Cricket Club. He was also chairman at his local synagogue in Hale.

“Leonard was a popular and active member of the House of Lords, and a good friend to the Conservative Party,” David Cameron, Tory leader, told The Jewish Community Online.

“He regularly offered me his sage advice and words of wisdom, which were always gratefully received.

“My thoughts and prayers – and the condolences of the whole party – go out to Beryl and Leonard’s family at this very difficult and sad time.”

Steven Jaffe, NIFI co-chair, said: “Lord Steinberg was amongst the first to offer us his support when we put together our initial plans for NIFI and he came to Belfast to preside at our launch at Stormont in March.

“Everyone present that night could see his obvious pride in outlining the many historical connections between Northern Ireland and Israel. We were honoured that he agreed to become our president.

“Although he left Belfast to live in England many years ago Lord Steinberg remained a Northern Irish Jew. He said that NIFI brought together two of the most important strands of his life – love of his native Northern Ireland and love of Israel.”

Ian Brown to work with Islamic pop star

By Will Astbury

MANCHESTER  legend Ian Brown has announced he will be working with an Islamic pop sensation.

The former Stone Roses frontman, who is just about to release his sixth studio album ‘My Way’, is famous for his collaborations and has announced he is planning to work with Sami Yusuf.

“I’ve just written some songs for a Muslim singer called Sami Yusuf, who’s an Islamic singer who sings in Arabic and he’s really big in the Middle East,” Brown told the Londonderry Sentinel.

 “He wants to write an album in English, so he’s written the music and the melodies and I’ve just got to do the lyrics. I’m always happy to collaborate,” added Brown.

 Iranian-born Yusuf has been billed by The Guardian as “the most famous British Muslim in the world” and was called “Islam’s biggest rock star” by Time Magazine.

 He was brought-up in London and attended the Royal Academy of Music.

Manchester anti-BNP protest at BBC

MANCHESTER Unite Against Fascism are organising a protest about Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time tonight.

The BBC has decided to invite Mr Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP), onto the political program for a debate on Thursday 22 October amidst much controversy.

A Unite Against Fascism (UAF) statement said: “To make sure he gets an easy ride, the BBC are screening the audience for potential anti-fascist activists.

“Up and down the country, protests against the platforming of this Nazi will be taking place. At the BBC’s Wood Lane studio in London, where the programme will be filmed, there will be an all day picket of the studio and a national protest.”

The UAF’s Manchester picket will be situated outside the BBC building on Oxford Road at 5:30pm.

Manchester Mouth would like to know your thoughts on this. Do you think the BBC is giving the BNP leader a rope to hang himself with? Is this an opportunity for Mr Griffin to spread his party’s rhetoric? Are you keen to hear what one of your MEPs has to say, as he will be representing Britain in Europe? Is this simply an attempt by the BBC to boost ratings?

Get in touch.