Rokia Traoré performs in “Dress for our Time” for refugees at world’s largest music festival
Malian singer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador sings in Glastonbury, England
GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND (UNHCR) – Tents were pitched over last week end across the sprawling fields of the world’s largest music festival in Glastonbury, England. But one particular shelter made a special appearance 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 – Traoré cut a striking figure on the main Pyramid Stage. “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” she said after her performance, which took place during the UK-wide Refugee Week following Refugee day on 20 June.
Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré 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 while it is 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, 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!”
The music festival in Glastonbury started on Thursday 23 June and ended last Sunday. In addition to Rokia Traoré, it gathered other worldwide-known performers such as Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, British performer Adele, and American rock band ZZ Top.