Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Mela: Wilson Magwere bangs drum for festival's eclectic offering of international acts

By Rebecca Black

African drummer Wilson Magwere was forced to flee Zimbabwe 10 years ago because of his music – but now he is bringing Belfast youngsters together with the same talent.

Performing at the launch of Belfast Mela, the 35-year-old brought a smile to everyone's face with his interactive One People, Nice People song. As well as being one of the star performers at the festival this Sunday, Wilson has been working with kids from Belvoir as part of Mela's year-round outreach work.

"It's incredible how much they love drumming," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"They can be pretty quiet at first but whenever they see the drum they all come running over. Drums really are something that brings all the kids together, wherever they come from."

Wilson was just 25 when he was forced to flee troubled Zimbabwe. Under President Robert Mugabe's stranglehold, many artists were held in great suspicion.

"They didn't like some of my songs so I had to leave," Wilson said. "I moved here 10 years ago, now I have a seven-piece band and we play all over Ireland."

Wilson will be one of a host of acts playing at Belfast Mela, taking place at Botanic Gardens on Sunday.

The one-day festival – now in its eighth year – started initially as an Indian community event and has expanded to showcase a range of different countries' cultures.

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