You run on tracks… tells the story of Niraj’s family, who travelled from India to Uganda to the UK as they sought work, and faced acceptance and resistance from the public and politicians along the way.
Niraj has created the piece using the words of well-known nationalist politicians. At times uncomfortable to hear, these powerful, beguiling words are set to music to ask questions about who defines our land, and who it truly belongs to.
The other musical element is the sound of the railroad, which has been ever-present as a theme in Niraj’s story of migration. In contrast to the forces of resistance, the railroad creates a feel of dynamism, a force to move people and create change.
The words of the piece
The piece comprises three movements, based around speeches and interviews given by political leaders.
He does not want England to be colonised, by Africa, by Asia.
Opening the piece, a vocalist uses the words of the dictator Idi Amin, taken from his time as the leader of Uganda. In 1972 Amin ordered all of Uganda’s Indian and Pakistani minority, many of whom had travelled to Africa to work on the railway, to leave the country within 90 days. In this mass movement, many of the expelled chose to move thousands of miles to the UK, Niraj’s family among them.
What’s wrong with racism?
The words in the second movement are taken from the words of British politician Enoch Powell. Most famous for his so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, Powell’s words were set against the background of rising immigration in the UK, and in the context of this piece represent fear over race and identity.
I am nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I’m a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So yes, you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist.
The piece ends by focussing on Narendra Modi; a politician, and now Indian Prime Minsiter, from the Indian state of Gujarat where Niraj’s family began their journey. Modi has long been associated with Hindu nationalism and continues to face questions on his attitudes and actions towards India’s Muslim minority. Niraj chooses to end the piece with Modi’s ambiguous words set against the fading sounds of the train, as his own way of questioning what the future holds.
Rishi Coupland – Creative Consultant
Maya Prabhu – Project Researcher
Anna Grenman – Visuals
Denyse Anyogu & Japjit Kaur – Melodist / Vocalists
Vikaash Sankadecha & Harvin Singh – Percussion / Drums
Kerry Andrews / Artsdepot – Producer
Niraj Chag – Composer / Creative Director