St Patrick was Migrant.
More than that, Ireland’s patron saint, whose feast day is celebrated across the world today was a victim of trafficking, kidnapped from France and brought to Ireland as a slave, where he tended sheep on a lonely mountain.
The Emerald Isle has been a country of outward migration for many years, with Irish elbow-grease building the skyline and culture of New York, London and other great cities, as waves of emigrants exported music, poetry, dancing and a fair lash of raucousness across the globe.
The boom times of the Celtic Tiger are long gone and sadly many young Irish people still have to leave home to find work, but there’s also huge inward migration. And some of the newcomers are doing very nicely go raibh mile maith agat.
The ever-so-trendy Irish Music awards was literally rocked to its core last week when an Irish-African hip hop combo, the Rusangano family, scooped the top award for album of the year, with their self-released album “Let the Dead Bury The Dead”.
Described as an album exploring “identity, isolation and where we belong” the recording is a belter of an ouvre, with cool videos to match, notably Soul Food set on Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.
The artists might be celebrating tonight, but there was no over-doing it at the awards. “We have to work in the morning,” said MC Godknows in his victory speech, adding that they would be celebrating with the children that they teach in counties Limerick and Clare.
GodKnows was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in Limerick. His fellow frontman MuRli was born in Togo before arriving in Ireland as a kid. Together with John Lillis, a Co Clare native better known as MynameisjOhn, they formed Rusangano Family in 2014.
“If you were to go 500 years into the future, what will make an Irish person will be really, really different from what it is today,” says MuRli. “But I think we’re at a point where things are shifting. Today, what makes an Irish person is a mix of a lot of things.”
Migrants are rightly known as consummate innovators, and – as migrants do – the Rusangano Family are adapting hip-hop to fit into a modern Ireland. “I would say there is a scene here that is enriched, that’s been here for a very long time”, says GodKnows. “Hip-hop in Ireland should not be hip-hop in England, it should not be hip-hop in America, because this is Ireland. We live as Irishmen. At the end of the day, I want to help you learn about my culture.”
(Quotes from The Irish Times)
Joe Lowry is an IOM Senior Media and Communications Officer