Alex being interviewed at Mela 2009
You'll have to excuse the quality of the photos, they were taken on my blackberry!
It’s my first time attending the event and I really enjoyed it!
I tagged along with Alex Maskey, he has been before and is always received brilliantly by the ethnic minority communities that live here in Belfast. While there we met up with Bairbre de Brún and Tom Hartley, as well as a number of other Sinn Féin activists.
While walking into the Botanic Gardens I was instantly and pleasantly hit with the sound of music and the wonderful smells that waited ahead.
What struck me the most was the people, all from differing backgrounds and cultures, but all of us citizens of Belfast (or as Tom Hartley referred to us all during his term as Mayor, Béal Feirstians).
Belfast Mela is now in its third year and despite today’s heavy rain, appears to be going from strength to strength!
From my quick scanning of the internet, ‘Mela’ appears to be very similar to our word, ‘Féile’, a coming together of people in a positive and joyful way.
Despite the recent and disgraceful racist incidents in this city, I can say that Belfast truly is a welcoming city, opposed to racism and opposed to those who profess it. Today’s event showed once again why we Irish must always strive to welcome people from throughout the world, to our country, to our towns and to our cities.
Belfast is a friendly, welcoming place, with good and decent people; the Mela is a great showcase of all those attributes and a fantastic way for us all to get to know each others cultures, traditions, musics, fashions, religions and arts.
I commend the organisers and as a Béal Feirstian I thank them for allowing us this opportunity, if only once a year, to get together and to remind ourselves that Belfast is a good place to live, with, above all, brilliant people.
Go néirí libh!!