One of the very best things about my role as Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is that I have the privilege to meet some extraordinary people from all across the Commonwealth, from Ministers and CEOs to street children, farmers and musicians. It is truly amazing to have the opportunity for my life to be touched by their energy, passion and enthusiasm. To be able to help bring incredible people together, and encourage them to work collaboratively to use ICTs to make the world a better place, is just fantastic.
I have always believed in working hard and playing hard! The CTO’s conferences are therefore very much about having great discussions, but also getting to know each other in ways that one simply cannot (yet) do over the Internet! A valuable lesson that I have learnt in my time at the CTO has most definitely been the importance of the politics of the dance floor – and there are far too many embarrassing photos around to show this!
Our recent Commonwealth e-Governance Forum in Rwanda was just such an occasion, and shows above all the importance of friendship in international relations. Back in 2013 I had the privilege of attending the Transform Africa conference held in Kigali. As with so many international events (but sadly all too often not in my own country!) the government hosted some spectacular networking events in the evenings, none more so than a festival of dance and music held one evening in the Milles Collines hotel that showcased the very best of musical talent in Rwanda. It was there that I first saw Teta Diana perform, and was captivated by her talent and personality. So, when we were discussing our own Commonwealth e-Governance Forum I mentioned to a very special Rwandan friend that it would be amazing if he could arrange for her to perform at our event.
Incredibly, he did, and the photos below try to capture something of the very special evening event that he ensured was laid on for delegates (and thanks very much too to Rwanda Online who sponsored the evening):
The star of the event, though, was absolutely Teta! She has risen already to be one of the real stars of the Rwandan music scene, combining magical performances of traditional Rwandan music with more mainstream jazz, RnB and reggae. She is an amazing ambassador for Rwanda, performing at various official events, and is now eager to take her passion for the way in which music can bring people together to a much wider audience internationally. She is definitely someone to look out for – and I really hope that fellow musicians and promoters in Europe will find ways through which she can bring her talent and personality to a much wider audience. The links below provide an introduction to her music and her life:
Teta Diana is a very special person, determined to do very special things for Rwandans and for the spirit of the music that lives within her.
I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the 2015 Panorama in Port of Spain this afternoon, as a guest of iGovTT – and part of the iPOSSE. Despite the mud, it was an amazingly vibrant and energetic event – that made me feel both very old and very white! Panorama is the annual steelpan competition in Trinidad and Tobago, and for the semi-finals held in Queen’s Park Savannah in the centre of Port of Spain, there are many side events in a separate location just to the west of the main stands. Companies and organisations pitch their ‘tents’, and each have their own posses, many replete with T-shirts personalised by people cutting them into all sorts of patterns. The DJs compete with the steelpan bands, booming out the loudest possible music, and as the alcohol levels rise the dancing becomes much more explicit! I hope that the images below do justice to some of the vibrancy of the event!
When I was last in Korea in 2013, I had the opportunity to watch some amazing drumming, martial arts and dancing in Seoul. I was therefore greatly looking forward to the celebration of Korean culture that was to accompany the welcome dinner for the ITU 2014 Plenipotentiary conference held in Busan this evening. As I hope the images below indicate, this was a vibrant and energetic performance that showed much about Korean culture, both old and new. Thanks to the people of Korea, and of Busan in particular, for sharing with us just a little bit of their beauty, culture and hospitality this evening.
Thanks to Ugo for bringing together such an amazing set of ICT4D talent for last night’s party in the Stumble Inn. It was an fine start to the social programme – and thanks to everyone for being so willing to contribute with everything from teaching us how to do Flamenco (Nicholas Negroponte style), to poetry to dancing. The evening finished off with a guest performance from singer-songwriter Roxanne de Bastion…
The creation of an exciting new orchestra – the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir – has just been announced. Its mission is “to bring together young musicians of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth, uniting them in the pursuit of musical excellence while transcending all cultural, political, social and economic boundaries, and promoting, by example, these values of excellence for the benefit of all people throughout the Commonwealth”.
The Orchestra has four aims:
- To give students of the Commonwealth (aged 18 – 24) the opportunity to perform concerts throughout all the 54 countries of the Commonwealth.
- To give composers of the Commonwealth international opportunities to have their music performed.
- To give conductors of the Commonwealth international opportunities to conduct a world-class orchestra.
- To give young soloists of the Commonwealth international opportunities to perform with a world-class orchestra.
Emmanuel Jal gave a moving rap-rendering and also a more formal account of his life as a child soldier in southern Sudan at today’s Africa Gathering in London.
Amongst his many activities, he is currently actively seeking sponsorship for educational activities in Sudan and Kenya. The mission of his charity Gua Africa is “to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty. Each of our projects focus on providing an education to children and young adults who would otherwise be denied such opportunity. Currently our work is in Kenya and Sudan, however in the future we would like to expand into other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa – working with other experienced partner organisations where ever opportunities arise”.
(video of his recent talk at TED) (Emmanuel Jal on MySpace)
The London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange (LCACE) is organising a one week festival – the Inside Out Festival – from 19th-25th October, highlighting the contribution made by nine London university institutions to the arts and to culture.
The Festival will showcase the exciting, unexpected and sometimes unsung contribution made by nine London universities to the arts and culture. A packed programme of public events will include film, music, theatre and visual art, exhibitions and screenings, workshops and debates, with great thinkers of the day, high-profile figures and well-known academics, as well as up-and-coming undergraduate and postgraduate students. The events will take place all over the city both on university campuses and at leading cultural venues such as Kings Place, the National Portrait Gallery and Somerset House.
Highlights of the Inside Out Festival will include
- a hard-hitting and controversial debate Art: What’s it good for? chaired by Michael Portillo at Kings Place with panellists including Evelyn Welch (Dean of Arts at Queen Mary, University of London), The Guardian’s Economics Editor Larry Elliott and contemporary artist Nasser Azam
- ‘Colour, The Big Draw’ a fun, free, family drawing event at Goldsmiths, University of London
- a performance by the improvising ensemble the Laptop Orchestra with experimental musician and sound curator David Toop from the London College of Communication
There are currently some 41 events listed in the programme, including student film screenings, Tudor and Stuart Southwark, a series of concerts on the theme of Impressions of Spain, a Gamelan concert, Andrew Motion in conversation, a creative writing workshop, and lots more
LCACE is a collaboration promoting the exchange of knowledge and expertise with the capital’s arts and cultural scholars. The partners are: University of the Arts London; Birkbeck, University of London; City University; Courtauld Institute of Art; Goldsmiths, University of London; King’s College London; the Guildhall School of Music & Drama; Queen Mary, University of London; and Royal Holloway, University of London.