Culture

Huge mural celebrating contribution of ethnic minority communities unveiled in Cardiff

30 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
The mural by Yusuf Ismail. Picture by Peter Gilbey.

A huge, hand-painted mural, celebrating the joint heritage of Cardiff’s Black and other ethnic minority communities has been unveiled in the city.

Yusuf Ismail, a creative from Cardiff with Somali heritage has created a mural celebrating the city’s black citizens’ joint heritage as part of the project – ‘My City, My Shirt’.

Cardiff has the oldest black population in Wales and one of the oldest Muslim communities in the UK. Yet, instead of celebrating the communities’ joint Welsh heritage and the massive contributions to the city, the community is often demonised, ghettoised and faces daily micro-aggressions and discrimination, the artist said.

Yusuf Ismail said that he felt that Butetown has been left behind and cordoned off by city planning. The heritage of the Cardiff Docks is all but forgotten and plans to build a military museum in the area on public land, despite widespread protests, is emblematic of the exclusion and discrimination the community faces, he said.

“A public mural like this will be a powerful affirmation and provide daily comfort and encouragement,” he said. “For Cardiff City FC supporters, and the wider population it can be an eye-opener, a point of view they may have previously missed, and hopefully a step towards changing mind sets.

“Following BLM demonstrations, the recent review of statues and monuments associated with slavery in Wales, and the announcement to introduce black history to our new Welsh curriculum, change is in the air and it is time to act now.

“Many people from our community are angry following the death of Mohamud Hassan and we want to give the community something to celebrate, an uplifting statement after this deeply challenging time.”

‘Celebration’

Yusuf Ismail said that he had identified Cardiff City FC as a key vehicle for sending a strong message about the issues that Cardiff’s black communities face and showcasing their contribution to and place in the city.

With fans expected to return to football stadiums as lockdown eases, Yusuf Ismail said he wanted to make a statement on racial equality. Football culture is often the setting for racist behaviour and discrimination; many black and other racialised communities are not able to safely support their local club, he said.

‘My City, My Shirt’, a project by the UNIFY collective, is a photography series showcasing Cardiff City FC football fans from diverse backgrounds has been joined by a huge public mural declaring: “We are Cardiffians. We are part of this club and this city. We’re of the past, present and future. We belong and this is our home.”

The mural by Yusuf Ismail. Picture by Peter Gilbey.

The ‘My City, My Shirt’ project is supported by the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel’s ‘Dyddiau o’n Blaenau / Siku Za Mbele (in Swahili) / Days Ahead’ project, which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

The project intends to created a safe, imaginative space for young creatives of Welsh and African heritage to debate, explore and challenge narratives of a future where Western worldview is not the dominant one.

Dr Sarah Younan, Days Ahead mentor, said: “This mural is a beautiful reminder and celebration of the contribution of Black and diasporic communities in Cardiff and Wales.

“Yusuf’s bold image reflect a true sense of belonging. I am incredibly proud to work with talented artists like Yusuf and to play a small role in helping to bring their visions to life”

Yusuf’s mural can be seen at Mischief’s Café Bar, 36 James St, Cardiff, CF10 5EY.

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