A look into the Youth Culture of Ireland
I recently watched a video posted in The Basement by Nonso Anny-Nzekwue. It was a short feature documenting the lives of young creatives in Ireland. I asked Nonso if he’d be up for answering a few questions I had for him, and he agreed to it.
You recently made a film documenting ‘youth culture’ in Ireland. What was the reason for this?
The reason I made this film was because I felt there was a lot happening talent-wise which needed to be showcased worldwide. I felt that people didn’t see past the most prominent aspects of Ireland besides celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day and the stereotypically generalised accents. It’s a message to the world not to sleep on the talent and creativity coming out of the country. Additionally I believed it was something that would have potential to inspire the youth, to motivate and guide them to do something more positive.
Why do you think Ireland is left out when talking about creative hubs in youth culture?
I think it’s because up until recently all that has ever been broadcasted is about facilities for adults in their late 20s and over, and tourist attractions. Things have been happening here for a very long time. It’s just back then you’d get the sense that we’re left out of what’s new and trending, making us seem a bit further behind than other places like London, Berlin, Paris or cities in the US. Social media has definitely given youth culture in the Republic of Ireland the exposure it needs now, whilst keeping most of us updated on what’s forming outside of the country. More businesses, facilities and groups focusing on the youth are starting to appear here which is great.
You mention the Rejjie Snow when talking about creatives your culture has to offer; why do you think he ‘made it’ and not others?
From my knowledge of Rejjie, he branched out of Dublin way earlier, leaving to go to the US, which has a much larger population and overall worldwide influence. In my opinion, having experienced being black and coming from Dublin to living in London, it is extremely easy to stand out, we have a different aesthetic to the locals; giving us that one of a kind aspect. So for him to also create an online persona and give a better name to Irish rappers, It’s no wonder he made it. The same thing had happened to other Irish nationals including Hare Squead and Remz Carter, both from Dublin.
How is it being a young black male in a predominantly white community?
Being a young black male in a predominantly white community can vary. It all depends where you grew up. I grew up in Corduff, which was pretty rough, but moved houses frequently. Even though I got into a tremendous amount of fights, I had a lot of people, black and white, looking out for me. So the whole issue of racist remarks and things like that somewhat die out. Basically the more popular you were, the safer and more protected you were. It’s still easy to get racially profiled in places like shops. But in general everyone’s really friendly. It also helps that people are more integrated today.
You mention a muddle of cultures – growing up in Ireland but being of a different descent. How do you utilise your multi cultural background to good effect?
Being of Nigerian decent, it influences the surroundings, from the food we eat to the way we speak. A lot of newly used slang in Dublin originates from Nigerians and black culture in general. Nigerian culture has helped bring whites, blacks, Asians and other Europeans together. We almost share our heritage with the other minorities, while all still trying to remember our Irish upbringing.
I think as far as youth culture in Dublin goes (in this age of the internet) things are only beginning to kick off. In time Dublin, and even Ireland in general, will have a huge influence on fashion, music, art, sport and film worldwide.
Words by Nonso Anny-Nzekwue
Edited by Daniel Hawksworth