Projects

Love, Laska

Love Laska, Lots of Laughter

From January to March 2015, a class of 12 children at Maindee Primary School, Newport, enjoyed spoken poetry and song-writing classes with bilingual rapper, Rufus Mufasa.

The children, who are from European Roma backgrounds, experimented with the English and Welsh language through the medium of song, beats and performance. The majority are originally from Slovakia, with one boy from Romania, yet they all speak Roma with each other and at home. The Roma language has many forms and dialects depending on the country, but it is the major language of traveling communities in Eastern Europe. It is a non-written language. Although storytelling, music and song are all central to traditional Roma culture, written literature – and literacy – is often neglected. As a result, this project focussed on the oral aspects of literature, using the melodies and lyrics of Roma music as a starting point for their own song: ‘Love, Laska’.

 

 

 

 

The tracks combine Roma, Slovakian, Welsh and English words. ‘Laska’ is the Roma word for ‘love’, for instance. ‘Bystrany’ – another track – is a name of a hometown in Slovakia. The lyrics were inspired by the day-to-day lives and their favourite things: dancing, singing, church, football and, most importantly, family.

As well as working with Rufus Mufasa, the students enjoyed a trip to the Central Library, where they had the chance to have a tour and see the wealth of books on offer. Many of them had not been to Central Library before, and they were all given the chance to register as users of Newport Library services. Moreover, as seen in the short film, a professional beatboxer came in to give the children a masterclass in the art. Beatboxing can give young people the confidence to express different sounds – a skill which lends itself well to the ongoing task of English language learning.

Maindee Primary School is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in Wales, with pupils coming from all sort of backgrounds – including Pakistan, Somalia, Malaysia, China, Poland and many more. The EU Roma students were looked after by enthusiastic teachers, who offer specialist language acquisition classes. With the added support of a Slovakian teacher and translator, the students delved into the multilingual world of poetry, music and song, and produced some awesome beats.