You can sense the buzz and the energy, as the city lights up for ten days of non-stop music, arts and culture. North by Northeast (NXNE) is an annual music festival that rings in the summer. The festival celebrates community and new music, with showcases, panels, installations and parties. In a city brimming with culture, with events around every corner, NXNE stands out as one of the few times of year that every Torontonian looks forward to.
I’ve been going to NXNE for many years but this was my first NXNE since my two-year sabbatical in London, England. I was extra excited for this year. Wandering around, taking in all the sights and sounds, there was one event that really stood out: it was the first ever #BlackOutEid, which aims to highlight, promote and honour black Muslims. Historically black Muslims have been among the least visible members of the Muslim community.
Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The hashtag #BlackOutEid was inspired by the #BlackOutDay campaign – which encourages the posting of content that was created and curated by everyday black people. #BlackOutEid was created by Aamina Mohamed, a screenwriter in Minnesota. One of the longstanding traditions of Eid al-Fitr is wearing your best outfit. So #BlackOutEid became a way to honour your visible blackness and showcase your best Eid outfit and connect to the community during this sacred holiday. It was created for true visibility, and the real representation of Muslims. After four years of incubation online, we’re at the Toronto Media Arts Centre getting to see a dream come to life.
Host Fatuma Adar didn’t start speaking until everyone in the audience moved closer to the stage, and more importantly, closer together. She urged us, we must be together. Mashalla. This was an emotional event, as Award-winning poet and author Ifrah Hussein left you with chills and took you on a journey so powerful you felt as though you’d actually lived through it with them. There were also performances by DJ Obuxum, DJ Hangaelle, as well as the talented singer Faiza. Ahay, the collective that brought this event together, included DJ and Artist Nomad Nala, journalist Ebyan Abdigir and Said Yassin. The event was co-hosted by community organizer Abdifatah Hussein.
photographed by Marie Powell