page-1smlI have just returned from a fantastic evening at The Broadway Theatre in Catford, celebrating the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama. I thought I would share my thoughts of the evening with you.

As I arrived at the theatre, the area was buzzing, people were excited at the day’s events and were looking forward to celebrating a momentous day. Everyone it seemed had brought their loved ones to enjoy the evening and all around me were families and friends, old and young all wanting to enjoy this special evening together. The sense of community was great; it was bound to be an extraordinary night.

It was a star studded event, full of amazing local talent and well known celebrities from the Borough of Lewisham. As our evenings hosts, Curtis Walker and Diahanne Rhiney walked onto the stage they were greeted with a warm welcome, the crowd cheered and clapped and were eagerly ready for the entertainment too begin.

The evening was filled with talented young people, showcasing what they had to offer, in celebration of Barack Obama, they were proud to believe in their talent and show it off to the whole crowd. Performances were rife, from dancing troops, to singers, poets and mc’s, musicians to comedians and speakers all with something to express.

We witnessed some brilliant performances. I was blown away by the variation of talent. The fantastic dancing by local dance troops, Montage Theatre Group, Indiana and Reece and IYDC Dance group were amazing. All this young talent working together was fantastic to watch.

The comedy by Richard Blackwood, Mr C and Kevin J was hilarious. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, as the crowd cried with laughter.

We enjoyed personal poetry renditions by Mark Thompson, Courtney Starr, Vicky Njoki Ngari-Wilson and Miss East Africa all with a poignant and powerful message, and we enjoyed fantastic musical performances by former Flavour cover star Ashley Walters and Devil in a Blue Dress singer Danaeo.

The evening was also blessed with strong speeches by Derek Bardowell (Stephen Lawrence Trust), Richard Taylor (Damilola Taylor Trust), Mrs Sybil Phoenix (Marsha Phoenix Trust) and Dr Lez Henry (Nu Beyond) who all had an important message to share.

page-2smlFor me the show was stolen by two amazing artists, totally different in their own right. Poet and songstress Floetic Lara gave an outstanding rendition of her personal thoughts and ideas, called ‘Legend’. I certainly think this girl is a legend in the making. She had amazing stage presence, and as she rhymed her feelings to the crowd, we all listened and responded to every word. She had to endure two standing ovations, while she was performing. Watch out for this lady.
The fantastic Yolanda Brown wowed the crowd with her saxophone performance of ‘Just Say’ and the American national anthem. This lady is a class act and a star in the making. After performing at the Houses of Parliament and the O2 arena, she brought style and energy to the eager crowd in Lewisham.

The evening came to an end all too quickly, but as I watched the event, photographed the performances and listened to the cheering crowd, it dawned on me that for once, everyone in that room had a common feeling; we all had a new sense of hope, and a belief that things can, and will change. We all knew that we would remember this day as a day of community and love.

It has taken one man, one man out of six billion people to provide hope to people all over the globe. To give people pride in what they do and a belief that they too can achieve their goals and realise their dreams.

Today America had sworn in its first black president, despite all the put downs and sinicism surrounding his campaign, despite a general belief that this day would never come Barack Obama fought against adversity and achieved his dream. One man had believed in himself so much that the American population said, ‘let’s give this guy a chance’, and now we too can share in his belief.

To have hope and self belief, especially in today’s doom and gloom world, has become a possibility; we are all now attracted to this new way of thinking. Suddenly everyone has a chance to succeed, despite your colour or creed, your age or your sex where you are from or how you were brought up. Everyone in that room felt that we all had the potential to follow their dreams, let us all believe it will stay that way. Can we do it…? In the words of President Barack Obama ‘Yes we can!’

Words by Terri Lee-Shield