Refugee tribute at Glastonbury Festival
Over the weekend tents were pitched across the sprawling fields of the world’s largest music festival in Somerset, England. But one particular tent made a special appearance at Glastonbury this year.
A UNHCR tent that has sheltered a Syrian refugee family in Jordan has been transformed into a dress worn by Malian singer-songwriter and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Rokia Traoré. Performing her song “Né So” - which means “Home” in her native Bambara language - Rokia cut a striking figure on the main Pyramid Stage.
Speaking after her performance, which took place during the UK-wide Refugee Week, Rokia said:
“There’s no better place than Glastonbury to wear this incredible Dress for our Time. We’re in the middle of a huge pop-up tented city and I’m wearing a dress made from a UNHCR tent.”
Malian singer-songwriter Rokia was appointed earlier this year as a Regional Goodwill Ambassador for West and Central Africa. The award-winning musician has been working with UNHCR to raise awareness about the forcibly displaced, particularly in Africa, since 2013.
“I’ve seen for myself the work of UNHCR supporting refugees from Mali and the difference that shelter can make to people who have lost their homes,” said Traoré. “We are living in a time with more people displaced by violence and persecution than since the Second World War. And I hope that by wearing this dress it makes people think that whilst it’s fun to camp out for the weekend, there are so many refugees around the world who also live in tents and don’t have a home to go back to.”
The tent dress, dubbed ‘Dress for Our Time’, was designed by British designer Helen Storey MBE, RDI, Professor of Fashion and Science at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.
“It is wonderful to see the dress coming alive on stage at Glastonbury,” said Storey. “Rokia’s performance conveyed so powerfully the longing for home and shelter that refugees have to struggle with every day.
"Music and fashion are two of the most powerful ways of reaching both our hearts and our heads simultaneously. Through the power of Rokia’s presence, through her voice and all she stands for, we have together tried to use our combined languages and female energy to support and stand with the refugees. Only Love in action will do now!”