By New Worker
ANTI-FASCISTS, many of them veterans of dozens of struggles, came to the Theatro Technis near Mornington Crescent in north London last Saturday evening for an evening of music, conversation and fund raising on behalf of Searchlight anti-fascist magazine.
The evening began with an introduction by local Labour MP Frank Dobson.
This was followed by Tayo Aluko, a singer, presenter and historian, giving a very brief summary of the struggles of the people of “Black Africa to the White House” – interspersed with songs.
The songs were Negro spirituals – favourites of the great singer and fighter for civil liberties and for working class rights, Paul Robeson.
Tayo Aluko’s rich bass baritone voice was well suited to the performance and he sang unaccompanied – except when the audience joined in, because all the songs were very familiar to everyone there.
Tayo covered the historical journey from the Egyptian Sphinx to the kingdoms of West Africa, the fabulous riches of Mali and the University of Timbuktu, through the horrors of slavery to the election of Barak Obama and to the modern struggles of workers and oppressed people around the globe.
After his presentation, Tayo Aluko answered questions and there was discussion.
Further music was supplied by the Travelling Irons – Roberto Foth on violin and Ulrike Schmidt on guitar, who played music from eastern Europe, Spain, the United States and Argentina – and a Kurt Weill classic.
But music and political struggle go together, as Ulrike made a special plea on behalf of Roma people of Europe – who are facing racist attacks, evictions, hardship, exclusion from education and healthcare.
She was particularly concerned for those in Hungary where the neo-fascist party of Jobbik is very strong, leading to a life of fear and deprivation for Roma communities.
The meeting ended with various veterans of the anti-fascist struggle, in Britain and Europe, giving their accounts of what the magazine Searchlight has meant to them and how much it is still needed today as it was when it was founded.