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What Razom Means


The second Razom gathering at the Rose Hill was a celebration of Ukrainian culture – food and music, both in generous measures. By the end it was a party, with rock songs and dancing. But behind it there was apprehension, as Ukrainians sheltering in Sussex wondered how Russia might retaliate for Ukraine's recent military successes. Less than 24 hours later, their fears were realised.


On Sunday afternoon, the singing began with a Ukrainian choir, packed shoulder to shoulder on the stage, fronted by a boy proudly celebrating his seventh birthday. First they sang their national anthem, and then a national song, Chervona Kalyna. On Monday morning, people sang the same song in a Kyiv metro station as they sheltered from Russian missile bombardment, Putin's outburst of terroristic revenge for the humiliating attack on the Crimean bridge.


It's been impossible to browse through the images of Sunday without being haunted by those of Monday, but the latter bring home why it's so important to create spaces where Ukrainians can gather in safety and sing their songs. That is how people sustain each other, and their nation, in exile and under attack. The settings were 2000 kilometres apart: the welcoming warmth of a former Brighton pub here, the concrete security of a metro hall there; but the song was the same, and so was its purpose. It brought people together, as a community and as a nation.


Razom means 'Together', and it lived up to its name. People met, mingled, danced and sang. Adults queued around the bar for their borscht soup, children clustered round the foot of the stage, and the crowd overflowed out into the street. When you look at the pictures, you're seeing what a strong and resourceful community looks like. You're also seeing a community in the process of growing closer to the larger community in which it finds itself, and that is an important part of what we mean by 'Razom – Together'.

 

We have many people to thank for making this event what it was, especially the cooks, the singers, the musicians and the drivers. Huge thanks also to Kassia Zermon, Abraham Moughrabi and the rest of the Rose Hill crew for the fantastically generous and good-humoured spirit in which they hosted the event. And thanks also to Brighton & Hove City Council for the support that made this Razom gathering possible.

 

Thanks to Marek Kohn for this article. See more of his work here

Thanks to everyone at Stand with Ukraine Brighton and Hove for all their work on this event, and ongoing community support.

We've lots of video clips from the event and will post more highlights soon.








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