Travel Tales: Brixton, South London

A former resident returns to the district after over a decade

Coming back to Brixton this year after living there in the 90’s is like coming home to me. The smells in the air, the Afro Caribbean people selling their wares at the market, the religious spruikers on the corner of Electric Avenue and the lady sitting on a milk crate in front of Brixton tube station playing her comb and selling her tin and glitter artwork all takes me back.

The rich cultural and political history has always fascinated me, from the riots in the 80’s to the black history and culture that seeps through every nook and cranny.  On my second day in Brixton, I visited the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square to see the Staying Power exhibition, a collection of photographs of black British people from the 1950’s to 1990’s. Spending two hours mesmerised pretty much explains what an amazing exhibition it was, in particular interest to me was the photographs of the ska youth sub-culture and the kids stories behind the pictures.

After the exhibition, I then made my way down to Electric Avenue, made famous by the Eddy Grant song, the riots in the 80’s and the bomb site where the Brixton Bomber David Copeland let off a device injuring 39 people. I love this market street so much that heads into Brixton Village, the people yelling at me to buy their wares - and I mean YELLING at me - the strong odorous fish shops and exotic fruits.

What I hadn’t expected to see was the Brixton Speaks street art installation by author Will Self on the Iceland side of the markets. In the summer of 2009, conversations were noted throughout Brixton and were incorporated into an electronic speech board. In the 2 weeks I stayed in Brixton, I stopped to watch the board change every day.

And for this, my heart will always belong to Brixton.

By Amanda Rogers from National Geographic Channel


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