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Second generation Nigerian MC Afrikan Boy performed a surprise gig for the migrants based in the Calais migrant camp, deemed the ‘Calais Jungle’.
Footage of this performance (shot in partnership with Secret Cinema) can be seen here.
The ‘Calais Jungle’ is an assortment of different migrant camps based around Calais, acting as a home to over 1000 people, often a mixture of asylum seekers and migrants from troubled places in the world; specifically Syria, Eritea, Sudan and Iraq.
As mentioned Afrikan Boy is a grime MC based in Woolwich, London although has significant Nigerian heritage. He has had a certain amount of success already, having supported English recording artist M.I.A. on her 2007 tour.
Afrikan Boy spoke to ‘Noisey magazine’ discussing his surprise gig in Calais, when asked his thoughts before the gig, he responded with:
“I speak a lot about migration and immigration visas in my music, and my new release, “Border Business”, was a track that really speaks a lot about these issues and themes. We’d only dreamt of going to Calais, we’d spoken about it a few weeks before Secret Cinema sounded us out about doing something. It was the right time. I dropped everything I was doing. In terms of expectations? I had no expectations. Like everyone else I’d seen the images in the media but I’d never been to a place like this before. I just went with an open mind.”
Afrikan Boy noted that due to his childhood and his ancestry he understood the difficulties of migration and the complexity of the situation:
“My UK background means I’ve grown up around all the talk of fake passports and visas. Now I’m older I’m aware of the impact that migration and immigration has on the economy as a whole. I was born in the UK but my family is from Nigeria and I feel I was made in Africa so I grew up with dual identity.”
This gig was a fascinating chance for someone to glimpse the real culture and atmosphere of the ‘Calais Jungle’. The mixture of migrants and asylum seekers from all round the world and how they live together through their very real struggles. Afrikan Boy noted the different atmosphere he faced:
“It was like being in Africa, but with European air. The rawness of how these people are living, it’s very basic.Having travelled to the Sudan earlier this year for two shows, one in Khartoum and one in Port Sudan, immediately it felt like I was back there – but I’m not.”
Thousands of people have been displaced due to the struggles in the Middle East, the numbers of migrants in Calais will continue to rise. Afrikan Boy has found a unique way to gain an understanding of the migrants whilst also providing a show for them.