For the 2017 Leeds carnival, we commissioned King David Oluwale to perform with his 150 Migrant Masqueraders. We aimed to link the story of David Oluwale with the plight of those who migrate and seek refuge today. David was a British citizen. That was no protection when he was subjected to racism, police brutality, incarceration in a psychiatric hospital, rough sleeping and destitution. Too many migrants endure a similar plight. Our masquerade was titled All Ah We Are Migrants. Because we are.

This post uses photos to summarise the collaboration between #RememberOluwale and #HarrisonBundeyMamaDreadMasqueraders in Leeds, UK. The other posts on this KING DAVID tab explain in more detail how we made our contribution to the Leeds West Indian Carnival.

[All photos except the last one are by Max Farrar.]

Making King David Oluwale: Alan Pergusey (on the left, below) built a huge head for David, based on the police’s mug-shot. We asked him to put a smile on David’s face. His early days in Leeds seem to have been relatively happy.

Jane Storr painted the head that Alan made:

Carnival artist Hughbon Condor made the harness. (Hughbon is in the centre of the photo above with Alan.):

Joan Jeffrey made King David’s costume:

Meanwhile, 150 migrant masqueraders’ costumes were made by the team at #HBMamaDread, a carnival troupe with 20 years experience of making costumes with a social and political message for the Leeds carnival. For this masquerade, the idea was to convey (via  hibiscus flowers) the joyful contribution that migrants make:

It all came together like this:

Simon Namsoo carries King David, rising out of the water, with Joan Jeffrey and some migrant masqueraders, in Potternewton Park (28.8.17).

Simon Namsoo/King David on stage at the Leeds Carnival Queen and King Show (25.8.17).

King David Oluwale on the road with his migrant masqueraders (28.8.17). Photo © Dave Goodfield.

As we processed through the Chapeltown and Harehills neighbourhoods of Leeds, we handed out this postcard to the crowds that lined the streets: