Asian communities’ cultural contribution is the focus of new Bradford book (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Asian communities’ cultural contribution is the focus of new Bradford book
A revealing new book offers a fresh perspective on the economic and cultural contribution of Bradford’s South Asian communities.
Called Changing Bradford, it contains a series of profiles of people, including young actors and entrepreneurs, and looks at how Bradford has changed since its South Asian community settled here in the 1950s.
Spearheaded by the Consortia of Ethnic Minority Organisations, with partners including Bradford’s Impressions Gallery, Manningham Youth Project and West Yorkshire Archive Services in Bradford, the book is based on 21 interviews with people of South Asian heritage, from housewives and factory workers to leading business figures and celebrities.
Material was gathered by young people from Manningham Youth Project and Impressions Gallery’s New Focus group through oral history interviews, visits to museums and archives and study tours of Bradford.
Among those featured is Aqib Khan, 18, a former Tong High School pupil who starred in 2010 film West Is West, the sequel to East Is East.
“There’s a family atmosphere in Bradford,” said Aqib. “A guy I was talking to earlier said he used to sell pork pies in between two mosques for about 20 years and he had no trouble at all. There’s respect here. Bradford is progressing quickly – business-wise, they’re all making money.”
Mussarat Nazir, born in Faisalabad, moved to Bradford in 1965, aged 18, to join her husband. She said: “I found it strange because there were no women, just men! Bradford in those days had a lot of ronak (good atmosphere). The mills were working, hustle and bustle, so lots going on.
“One of my favourite buildings was the ice-skating building – it looked so beautiful, sparkly in the sun. I used to love the cinemas, especially the Arcadian Cinema on Legrams Lane. I used to sit in the cinema all day with my children.”
Dr Mohammed Salam, COEMO chief executive, described Bradford as a “place that stirs the emotions”.
He added: “Though the city has much to offer, it is sometimes perceived in a negative light. For those of us who live and work in Bradford, a different place emerges when we talk about the city – a place far from the media stereotype which reflects the creative passions, community spirit, business acumen and family values of its multicultural population.
“We hope Changing Bradford will contribute to the ongoing story of community cohesion and social inclusion in Bradford, opening up a fresh perspective on the city.”
The book charts success stories such as Mumraz Khan, born in a remote Kashmiri village, who moved to Bradford in 1972 and is today one of the city’s most successful entrepreneurs. “Asians moved forward because they worked hard, they earned money – they wanted to have a comfortable life,” he said.
Also featured is Anita Rani, award-winning journalist and TV presenter, born in Bradford to Indian Punjabi parents.
“My mum and dad used to employ lots of women – Pakistani women, Indian women, English women. It was a melting pot and on that sewing-room floor everyone was the same,” she said.
Copies of Changing Bradford will be distributed to libraries, schools and community groups following the book’s launch at the Impressions Gallery in City Park on Saturday, October 5. An exhibition of photographic portraits from the book will run there until November 2.