My Photos: Wonderful WOMAD 2016

3.8.16

Children on the iconic WOMAD sign at Charlton Park, Wiltshire, in July 2016 (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photo set on Flickr here!

14 years ago, in July 2002, just after my wedding, I visited — and took part in — for the first time the WOMAD festival (World of Music, Arts and Dance), a world music festival that was established by Peter Gabriel and a number of colleagues in 1982, and which, at the time, was at a site by the River Thames in Reading. I went with my wife Dot, and our two-year old son, to take part in children’s workshops run by an Australian friend, who then returned to Australia, handing on the workshops to Dot, who has run them ever since, with myself and a number of our friends and their families.

From those first days, when we drank merrily while our kids slept in their buggies, we have seen our children grow at WOMAD, and we now tend to go to sleep while they are still out clubbing. Our group of workers also shares a special camaraderie, and, of course, we have also watched a wealth of world music talent over the years. We have also worked every year with children to prepare headdresses and other creations to accompany a giant figure, designed by Dot, that, with others made by the many other groups involved in the workshops, is, every year, carried through the whole site on the last day of the festival, as part of the children’s procession that reminds all of us of the central importance of children in all our lives.

In 2007, WOMAD moved to Charlton Park, a stately home in Wiltshire, near Malmesbury, and we went with it, of course. I’ve taken photos of it every year, and have made them available on Flickr since 2012 — see the photos from 2012 here and here, from 2014 here, and from 2015 here.

This year the festival was particularly special, perhaps in part because last year was very wet, whereas this year was mostly dry, but also, perhaps, because of the need for unity in the face of the EU referendum result, which, whatever else it was, was a blow against the kind of internationalism that is so central to WOMAD. This was  made particularly clear by one of the opening acts of the festival, Asian Dub Foundation, whose guitarist, Steve Chandra Savale, spoke about how support for WOMAD was revolutionary — a little hyperbolic, perhaps, but understandable given the huge recent increase in racism and xenophobia, as European citizens have hardened their hearts against the refugee crisis sweeping across the continent, which is unprecedented in most of our lifetimes, and, in the UK, voted to leave the EU, in large part because of anti-immigrant sentiment.

I hope you enjoy my photos — of musicians that also included the legendary George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and, my favourite act of the weekend, Konono No. 1, wild street musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are also photos of the site, of WOMAD’s iconic flags, and of the festival-goers, and even photos of my band The Four Fathers, and my son Tyler (The Wiz-RD), a beatboxer and spoken word poet, at various open mic events we took part in. See here for The Four Fathers’ Fighting Injustice EP and our debut album ‘Love and War.’

If you haven’t yet been to a WOMAD festival, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Please check out the UK site, and also the international site for other events worldwide.

Also see the album here:

WOMAD 2016

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

 

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my photos from this year’s WOMAD festival, where I was with family and friends working on children’s workshops, as we have done every year since 2002, and where, of course, we also saw a wealth of wonderful world music, including George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Asian Dub Foundation, and my faves this year, wild African street musicians Konono No. 1. The article also includes some of my reflections on the festival this year and over the years. All this and my band The Four Fathers also played an open mic session at Molly’s Bar.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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