Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Notting Hill Carnival Goes Green to Pay Tribute to Victims of Grenfell Tower Blaze | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55382006

Doves are released before the Notting Hill Carnival to acknowledge the lives lost in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. (AFP)

London – In the Notting Hill neighborhood, volunteers prepared all-green decoration for the well-known carnival held in west London, to commemorate the victims of the Grenfell tower fire.

Around 20 people cut out paper hearts, painted banners and inflated balloons a few hours ahead of the launch of Europe’s biggest street festival.

Volunteers prepared the decorations in a building that has been turned into a center for fundraising for the victims of the fire that broke out on June 14. More than 80 people died in the tragedy, while hundreds others were displaced to this neighborhood that lures tourists.

Toby Laurent Belson, who works at a donation center filled with piles of clothes for victims of the fire, said: “Green is a beautiful color, of healing, of growth, and strength in adversity.”

He added that “the plan is to turn the carnival green for Grenfell. We have a lot of decorations, and green hearts and banners to be hanged on trees. People can also hang them on their windows and doors. The aim is to hang something that reminds people of the fire and expresses solidarity.”

Green has become a symbol of the Grenfell tower since the schools surrounding the burned building used it following the disaster to pay tribute to the victims.

“People have to live with it every day. Some of them see (the tower) from the window while doing household chores or from their children’s room,” said Belson.

People have remarkably responded to the calls to make ornamental pieces thanks to social networks. Everyone believes that with this activity, they have overcome their anger at the authorities, which has been blamed for the tragedy because of its negligence.

Warzy Macaly, 24, a radio presenter from east London said that this an opportunity for the communities to come together.

“I think there’s a lot of anger because the tragedy should never have happened… And so people are angry and their anger is just, but it needs to be channeled.”

The Notting Hill Carnival is considered an appropriate response in this context. The Caribbean-style festival was established in the 1960s following violent riots against a racial background in which white and migrant people from the Caribbean clashed.

Ursula Parvex, a 37-year-old local teacher who was wearing a green t-shirt, said: “Carnival was born through suffering. The beauty of carnival is the ability to be able to protest and celebrate.”

Painter Sabrina Rowan Hamilton told Agence France Presse: “It was a way of celebrating multicultural London, symbolized by Grenfell Tower itself where 34 languages were spoken.”

The carnival marked a minute of silence on Sunday and Monday.

Notting Hill, Europe’s largest street festival, attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists and Britons. The festival is held on Sunday and Monday of the last week of August.