Make it Pozible - United Struggle Project - REALLY GREAT PROMO - listing participation so far and Objectives Demonstrated.
1. Record music and make music video clips
addressing issues faced by displaced people with artists in affected
areas, displaced by war, colonisation, development, poverty and
2. Create collaborative songs with representative artists from each place.
3. Create a forum for displaced people to express their stories through music and video and documentary making.
4. Create networks to unite struggles and create links amongst artists globally
5. To target racism in the broader international community with music.
With a suitcase sized recording studio in hand, her 7 year old son Bassi
Brown she set out on a 5 month tour recording voices in refugee camps slums and
prisons, across the world.
Below is a small count of some of her work and journey. At present Izzy
is doing her best to raise awareness as to why Australia ought to close
the help shut down Roxby Downs Olympic
Dam mine in South Australia .
She has sent an Invitation to The Lizards Revenge from
Uncle Kev 14.7.2012 come party and help shut down Roxby Downs Olympic
Dam mine in South Australia with the music festival to heal the earth
and stop uranium mining The Lizards Revenge
A No Borders and United struggle Project, hip-hop in Calais
The morning started with a big CRS raid at the Africa House. As often
police come only from one side to enter the area, this time they came
from several sides and also climbed the roof. They arrested about 7
people without papers and 17 No Borders activists with papers.
So the recordings started in Calais France where refugees and migrants
from many war-torn places are hiding in squats and camps on the run
from constant police harassment. Izzy Brown recorded with Afghani, Kurdish,
Sudanese, Nigerian/UK, Indian/UK, Chadian and Eritrean.
Monkeymarc. On meeting awomen called Fran, Izzy Brown and her son
joined forces with No Border collective organising the festival 'Halfi
de Bla Hudud' (music with out borders).
Unfortunately however, during the recordings Izzy Brown was evicted, chased, equipment broken and
arrested. She was sent to a detention center to be deported to Australia
without my child.
It was hectic. Luckily, the No
Border crew were able to get Izzy's passport to the authorities in time. But
unfortunately , as Izzy said, for many of the people she met, escape from Calais was not
that easy .. put simply, the difference is in a piece of paper.
Izzy said, The injustice and
racism she witnessed from the government police and the local community
towards the migrants and towards groups working in solidarity with them
was extreme. It reinforced her commitment to braking those borders with
Given her own treatment by the authorites Izzy adds, "I'm
wondering how did 'making music' officially became illegal in France.
Palestine was the next stop. Dahaisha refugee camp where I met and
recorded with an inspiring young hip-hop group called Palestine Street
While there, Izzy Brown and friends put on a concert called 'Voice of Freedom' in the street on the
back of a very large semitrailer at the entrance to the camp, the show
featuring some traditional music, Bociott, Palestine Street, Combat
Wombat and some deadly local kids on the mic.
From Izzy Brown's journal notes Izzy said, We also did a show with Palestinian artist Simira and G Town in an
Anarchist Bar in Tel Aviv. The bar was run by an inspiring group of
Israeli activists who among other things had served prison sentences
for refusing to serve in the army, that's sole purpose is defending the
lie of which is Israel, they were also involved in weekly solidarity
actions with Palestinian communities."
I witnessed the intensity of apartheid inflicted by the 'jewish state',
the complex nature of the situation and the dichotomy between one side
of the wall and the other.
Through my friends, who had spent most of there lives hostage with in
the walls of the refugee camp, I witnessed the trauma of this
apartheid. When they saw their holy land Jerusalem for the first time
and realised it was no longer the place the grandparents had spoke of
but western jewish metropolis. I saw the pain in them that this war has
inflicted on generations, but despite it all I saw a lot love and
generosity resilience and strength in the people I met.
We discussed plans for a 'Breaking the Borders' Tour of the West Bank
for next year and the potential to build a permanent recording studio
in the Dahaisha Camp.
bringing these music video's home, to Australia, we then share
them by creating film-nights, action event s to raise
awareness, with other people in the community.
This a a big buz, as much as those film nights held in the countries,
with villagers from where the films were taken. For example, launching
the movie G hettomoto on the streets where
it was filmed in Kangemi with a road show of local artist, acrobats and
dancers.... was a hoot.
At the Ghettomoto launch - Izzy Brown tells us, "we didn't find out till the day before that someone
had eaten the money for the permit but we went ahead anyway.. we
brought the stage by hand cart, it was a little muddy but it soon
cleared up and the show was a great success with so many deadly
performances, with more artists hustling to perform than we had time
for. The event ran from 10am to 9pm. It was great and highly fitting to
see Ghettomoto the movie on the big screen in the street where it was
filmed in front of the community that had inspired it. Big thanks to
every one who helped launch Ghettomoto true ghetto style.'
The project printed and burnt 100 dvd's of Ghettomoto that were distributed
between the artists involved in the production and 20 United struggle
T-shirts that were so popular even mine went missing off the clothes
Nairobi West Prison
United Struggle has teamed up with Sauti Academy (Natalie and Insect)
to run workshops in Kenyan prisons, it has had an amazing response from
the prisoners, so much talent and enthusiasm. It has been an uplifting
experience for all involved. To see a whole room of prisoners up
dancing and rapping was wild.
United Struggle have recorded 4 songs so far and many
more to come.
On the trip to Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps ,with
a crew of artists from Nairobi.. the project recoreded some deadly tracks which can be found on the
United Struggle and Izzy Brown Youtube Channel.
My son, Bassi had the opportunity to attend at school in Kangami. He had a crew of about 20 kids that followed him
everywhere together enjoying wild amonts of freedom and extreme sports in open sewer
jumps ... as mother watching... found it a little stressful at times).Life hon the journey was certainly an epic but
hay that's the way aye, blessed to meet so many
amazing people and overcome numerous difficulties with just enough
seconds to spare.
Ghettomoto dancers were started by one of Izzy Browns housemats in Kangemi. Jane aged 14
and her friend Martha enjoyed dancing around the room testing
out their latest dance moves. She may have been inspired by the event a
week before, after attending a
United Struggle concert
in Kibira. Jane came along to check it out. There, she saw a
dance troop of
girls her age performing. So after seeing her enthusiasm for dancing
around the house Izzy Brown encouraged the girls to start a Music Dance
group together. The girls took this suggestion very seriously and
started recruiting half
the neighborhoods teenagers and insisting on rehearsing everyday in the
small room we shared.. Dance rehearsals became fierce competition to
any recording and even cooking in such a confined space. Next came
costumes, mini skirts, matching bandanas and trips to the salon to get
there hair done at 5am, teenagers can be high maintanence at times but
worth every super, we on the
United Struggle fed them. They rocked the stage at the Ghettomoto
launch and drew the crowds at Mukuru, even after the generator died the
second time, they danced all day and at every birthday and church event
from that day forth.
Poverty Transition Initiative
One night in a matatu (taxi bus) said Izzy Brown, I met a fellow named Fredric Ohduimbo
. He is a kenyan political activist who had been beaten and tortured by
government security after confronting president Kabuki about issues of
poverty. He invited me to come to the orphanage school he is
supporting. Insect, Farouq and me recorded the song Haki with Fredric
and the students in solidarity with his project Poverty Transition
After waiting in suspense for weeks to see if we had obtained permits
from the U.N to visit Daadab refugee camp near the border of Somalia we
(me, my son Bassi and 3 artists/film makers from Nairobi -Timo Insect
and Fauouq ) finally heard 2 days before we where due to leave that it
was on.. After having no success in obtaining a 4 wheel drive for free
with such sort notice we decided to revamp the old pergot 504 I'd
spotted sitting in pieces in Faruoq's studio in Nairobi.
It had been
his fathers car from the1980's and had a cracked wind screen, missing
light, flat tyres, a lot of rust and numerous mysterious engine issues
(some never solved up to today). It was a bit of effort to get her on
the road. After two solid days of fixing and a midnight graffiti
mission during which we practically lost a wheel she was ready to role.
We set off at dawn and after braking down about 10 times on the first
day and being towed by a public bus some where near Thika it had become
apparent that we had missed the armed U.N. convoy we where supposed to
travel with through the supposedly bandit ridden roads on the way to
Dadaab and were left to make it on our own.. we were determined and
after fixing the car about 20 more times on random roadsides we made it
From Garrisa we were told it was impossible to get to Daadab with out 4
wheel drive and we could not afford to hire one.. we were at a loss,
I'm sure the Aid organization we were supposed to be working with had
given up hope of our arrival since we had not appeared with the convoy.
I roamed the streets of Garrisa asking random people about 4 wheel
drives but to no avail. Then we found out that there was a public bus
so we took from the car as much as we could carry and headed for the
bus station. It was a hairy ride as busses raced neck and neck through
At last we arrived. Daadab it was very hot but we were keen to get to
work. We went to the gate of the UN compound to try and find the crew
we were supposed to be working with, unfortunately everybody's phones
where off so it took a while for the guards to locate anyone. The
compound instantly made me feel uneasy, we were surrounded by 2 layers
of razor wire fencing on the far side of the fencing, I could see
children playing and my son waved to them, as they waved back I wished
there was not these big fences between us so that at least they could
play. As we waited in limbo for instructions from some higher
authority, it struck me we were hostage by a million dollar beuroracy
of air-conditioned officers in a razor wire compound of double
We waited at our allocated tent in the Care compound for further
instruction, later that night we where informed that it was illegal for
me to have a child in the compound (even though his permit had been
approved) and having him there was putting the aid organization at
risk. We were told to leave on the first bus in the morning, we were
not allowed to leave the compound to record or film anything. After
much debate we were prevented from relocating into the local community
and then were forcefully escorted to the bus.
The bus was hectic, so bumpy it felt as though ones bones would fall
out, half the passengers were arrested and taken off into the desert at
random check points never to be seen again and it took 6 hours instead
of 2 with constant ID checks and harassment of the Somalli passengers
who could not afford to bribe the Kenyan police for there safe passage
out of the camp.
Once we got over the initial despair of our experience in Daadab we
decided to find some locals in Garrisa to record with while we waited
to hear back from the aid organization if we could come back or not. On
our first morning back I awoke to the sound of the cleaners scrubbing
the stair case and singing so sweetly in their baggy uniform in the
morning light. Due to my lack of local language and considering what I
was explaining being an abstract concept I don't think the girls fully
understood my invitation to come and record. But Insect managed with a
bit of flirting in there local dialect to convince them to come back in
there lunch break and record a song, they were very shy but we did
manage to record a beautiful chorus with them before they had to go
back to work..
Insect met a guy named Zabu in the street near where we were staying,
he invited him to come and record, he had never recored before and was
very excited, by the end of the next day we had recored his song "See
My Life'' and filmed the music video. This session made being stuck in
Garrisa all worth while.
A reggae artist named Shoeshine Boy approached me about organizing a
concert in Mukuru, a slum on the east side of Nairobi. It was short
notice but we pulled it together. We got a sound system crew from
Kangami and headed over. The morning began with a dead body on the road
in Kengami followed by a flat tyre, on the way in to Mukuru there was
so much mud we had to get out of the car and walk in, so that the sound
system didn't get bogged.. it was grey and rainy and on arrival we
discovered there was no power (and hadn't been for a few days), after
much searching we hired a generator but it broke just as the crowds had
gathered. We managed to find another one and by the time we got the
party started the sun had come out, the Ghettomoto dancers brought back
the crowds and Mukuru rocked on with their impressive line up of local
Latest report ..just got back from Kakuma on a public bus which was
over 24 hours of roads so bouncy my teeth felt loose and with a small
but heavy boy with diarrhea on my lap. But it was all worth it. We were
blessed to meet a Sudanese artist on the bus by the name of Lionman who
invited us to stay with his family inside the camp. The hand-built
mudbrick hut made a hot but great recording studio.
Within the first hour of our arrival we recorded a Reggaeton song about
H.I.V. and another song about drug abuse with a Sudanese artist called
Bolingo. The only problem was no electricity and the lap top battery
was flat. The studio was already in high demand with artists from
Congo, Burundi and Eritrea awaiting there chance to record.
So we hit the main street of Kakuma camp in search of a shop with
electricity to charge the laptop. Unfortunately we were apprehend by
some rather drunk security guards who loudly reported over and over on
their radios that they had caught a 'white lady'. Our Sudanese host
Lionman attempted to explain to them that I was his producer and was
there under his private invitation. But they insisted that because i
was a 'white lady' I had to have a permit from the U.N. or my presence
was illegal, at this stage they had paid little attention to Farouq, my
Kenyan colleague who with his mass of dreadlocks did not look
particularly like the other refugees either. I told them to close there
eyes and then we could all be black together and it would not be a
We where eventually taken to the Head Guards office who was an
obnoxious fellow who made all sorts of threats and accusations of being
arrested at gun point and air lifted out. He then left us waiting in
his office while he went to do who knows what.. I made the most of this
and charged the laptop batteries in his absence.. By now it was getting
late and hunger and tiredness from the big journey where setting in. My
son who still recalled our traumatic experience in Daadab, was feeling
wary of this man and our fate of waiting in offices and began winging
to go back home to the mud hut and other children.
After negotiating a bribe for the equivalent of $5 he changed his tune
and said he would escort us to the police station and negotiate our
release as opposed to us being collected at gun point in the back of a
truck. So off to the police station we went as we were now apparently
arrested. Here, we and our host were reprimanded for our na´vety and
told we had to go to the office first thing in the morning and make
We attempted to do the right thing and went to the office the next day
only to find it closed, we then returned later that afternoon to meet
with the boss who said we could only get permission to be in the camp
if we had permits from Nairobi.. Well we weren't about to go back to
Nairobi for a piece of paper that they probably wouldn't give us and
the processes to obtain one by email was lengthy. We were out of cash
to engage in any bribery so sencing his hostility to our pleas for
help, we decided to cruise back into the camp╔ via the back way... down
the river bed and through the maze of prickly fences. We knew now
attention had been drawn to us so we had to lay low. From that point we
were hiding out and on the run. It seemed ironic to be the persecuted
minority on the run from the authority in a refugee camp. I'll be
claiming for asylum from the UN for being persecuted for my belief in
music and disregard for bureaucracy. Its enough to get u locked up
these days if your a 'white lady'.
On our way back to the mud hut studio we met a group of Congolese
artists, we wasted no more time with any bureaucracy and recored 2
songs with Chis Black and Innocent - Kifo Cha Mama (this was about
losing his mother) and Ukimwi Kawaida Unaunwa (about H.I.V.). The
next morning we recorded a song with another Congalise artist Makiwa
Fanatic King of Music called Ukimwi ni Hatari, this was also about
We then proceeded with a gang of kids and others we picked up along the
way to film a music video for Lionman called Stand Together, a song he
had recorded in Nairobi about rebuilding Sudan.
'Life is the War', an video series featuring 8
artists from Congo, Sudan, Burundi and Australia.
Below are journal notes from Izzy Brown, continuing her five month
journey, meeting singers, dancers, generous people whose lives are as
diversly lived as were the issues they face, within their own cultures.
Izzy Brown from the United Struggle project said,
We had many dramas related to electricity (next time I'm bringing a
solar panel). So we waited at the Congolese house for the rest of the
day for power to come back on. In this time we had a wicked freestyle
cypher and put together the group track 'Life is the War' featuring 8
artists from Congo, Sudan, Burundi and Australia. The power at last
came back a bit after dark and after an epic recording session we snuck
back to the secret head quarters for a feast of engera and meat from
Izzy said, the next day we roamed the river bed with a massive posse filming the
video for Life is a War, we were then invited to a Sudanese cultural
event to film the festivities. There was a lot of talking then some
great cultural dancing and singing from the women.
We sat down to a massive feast with the community and then we were
again questioned by the same security guard who seem surprised to still
find us in the camp.. with the support and a few words from the
Sudanese community he soon left us alone. Perhaps we were again getting
a little too comfortable and from now on we were defiantly on alert. I
was later told a story that in 2002 the Kenyan police had killed many
Sudanese in this part of the camp, the Sudanese had fought back drawing
the UN's attention to the issue, making it a bit of a no go zone for
the Kenyan police since that time.
The cultural event soon turned in to an all night disco driven by the
most distorted pair of small hi-fi speakers I've ever heard but I still
managed to dance despite the fact that I could barley recognize the
songs through the distortion. In between the all night disco we
returned home to edit the events of the day and Lionmans video, we were
leaving the next day for Nairobi.. i had strategically erased the
endurance test of the bus trip from my mind.
So many people wanted to record, it was heat braking to turn them down
but I promised I'll be back. The demand is huge, the talent immense and
an honor to work with such survivors. I was still burning CD's for the
artists at the bus stop up until we left.
I've have just been informed that the the afternoon we left security
forces raided the camp where we were staying, unable to find us they
took our hosts in for questioning.. I'm yet to hear the full story but
it makes you wonder what it is they thought we were filming and more
importantly what is it they have got to hide.
Back in Kangemi
After another arse flattening ride back to Kangemi Nairobi I received a
call from Paul aka M-baba a blind guy from Handicap International who
we met working in Daadab. He was disappointed things had gone the way
they had on our visit and was keen to record a song. He made his way to
Kangemi and amazingly on arrival freestyles 2 tracks 'Stop the War' (in
Somalia) and a drum'n'bass techno party track called 'Katika', he is
like the next generation Stevie wonder.
Up until the last hour in Kenya I was still receiving calls from people
wanting to record. I hate to turn down any creative endeavor so we were
busy till the end when I handed over the recording equipment to Insect
to continue the United Struggle Project in my absence. Next time (with
your continuing support) maybe we will have the mobile solar powered
studio bus and have enough equipment that we can leave recording set
ups with people we train in each location coz the demand is great and
the power of music to unite, educate and heal is so far reaching...
even border braking╔ if given a chance.
Learning to use all forms of Social Media.... and still learning.
Soundcloud has a number of soundtracks that make it easier to upload while you are on the road.
Here is an entry from Izzy Brown, who raised funded for her journey from locals, doing fundraisers and community events.
This trips budget was $2500 from benefit concerts in Melbourne and
$2300 from private donors all of which was spent on putting on the
events in each place and on the equipment I left behind to continue the
project. All artist received copies of there songs and videos.
United Struggle crew and participants where totally volunteer. Thanxs
so much for your support, we got big dreams and want to make this
sustainable. Maybe a "United Struggle" record label.. I'm no business
person but if there is someone out there with skills in that field and
can donate there time to promote the artists and maybe market a
compilation CD/DVD of there work let me know╔. I'll keep the tunes
Truly amazing, amidst a sea of sieges assassinations and suicide
bombings was a bubble of creativity good times and rock n roll that
managed to stay unshaken by any of the resent attacks.. down in a
crusty basement in kabul with just a strobe light minimal oxygen and
few guitar amps were rock gigs every night of the week leading up to
soundcentral festival, featuring bands from Kabul Harrat Uzbekistan and
Kezecstan the vibe was somewhere between an indie kids gig in their
parents garage and an early 90's squat party in berlin, power cut mid
set ended in a crowd of afghans beat boxing as i continued rapping in
I found my self at a reggae party and even a techno party, Afghanistan
was the last place i thought id be dancing and drinking the night away.
It is a place of the most extreme dichotomies as the kids play in the
street and the old man sells water melons on the corner and life goes
on under the shadow of black hawk helicopters.
Sound Central brought together 4 afghan bands and numerous other local
artists for a week of workshops prior to the festival. We ran a series
of workshops from guitar sound effects, to stage presence and I even
ran an air guitar workshop. We split the bands up, forming 4 new bands
with different members from each group and gave them 4 days to write a
new song, merging many different genres. It was certainly creativity
put to the test, to throw young afghan artists off the deep end in the
world of freestyle jamming and experimentation, but the results turned
out to be very interesting.
I recorded a Tom Waits cover with altered lyrics in Fasi of a very
political satirical nature with Morcha from Harat who are band from
playing in the home town and who i all so discovered are anarchist.
(the only ones I came across in Kabul.. so far)
I also got them to record a Hip hop song Voice from Afghanistan in
response to a song a played them'' Message to you'' by Shikira a14 year
old Aboriginal girl from alice springs.
I was lucky to be staying at the hotel with all the bands that had come
from other parts of Afghanistan and the other 'Stans', This lead to
nightly hotel room jams of gin drinking hashish smoking kebab eating
mayhem and cross cultural song and dance exchanges.
I was honored to have the experience to hang out with the MMCC, Mobile
Mini Circus for Children, a circus school in Kabul and tour with them
to 2 schools to perform, a girls school in the city and a school in the
old city outskirts of Kabul, I got hang out and share my limited
acrobatic and fire juggling skills with kids and bare witness to the
safe haven of colour and life and the loving fun learning environment
created by the dedicated crew at the mini circus home base
The festival ran surprisingly smoothly once it was underway to the
relief of everybody especialy Trav and Ellie who had only managed to
confirm the venue the day before.
The power source was a little problematic with electric shocks coming
off the microphones and a single bare wire plug running the hole show,
but the concert went a head only stopping for 15min intervals for the
call to prayer. The concert opened with Morcha from Harat and was
followed by my band the Puppet government doing a freestyle rap metal
thing.. i was sweating under that burka . the next two bands White city
(ex pats) and tears of the sun from Uzbekistan both featured rockin'
female vocalist that broke many of the stereotypes of how women are
expected to behave and had amazing crowd response and enthusiasm from
both male and female punters alike.
Afghan bands white page and kabul dreams performed for there many
dedicated fans who started a wild mosh pit chanting ''white page, white
page'' and pouring water on their heads.. It felt a bit like 'big day
out'' then you look up and see the security with giant machine guns
standing on all corners and remember where you are. Eklektika and
District unknown played into the night with emo rock and doom metal..
wow we did it.. and its looking like an anual event.
This Life Cambodia is an NGO doing community development in education,
juvenile justice and human rights in Cambodia. This Life Cambodia and
United Struggle Project joined forces to produce this music video on a
day trip a remote community school to deliver bicycles.
Suport This Life Cambodia www.thislifecambodia.org