n'famas visit

N'fa rapper from 1200 Techniques talks to students at Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre.
Photo by Mike flynn

Cultural Exchange Program

Rapper N'Famas visits BHIEC 2006
Michael Harmey

Ambassadors of Diversity

Mixing it with N'Famas
by Jeanette Stehen

“I grew up with my mum and brother in suburban Perth . Mum was an art teacher and lecturer, she worked hard and long hours. My father (from Sierra Leone) stayed living in England after Mum left with us due to living under long term stress and death threats from the Sierra Leone government officials on my father and his family - us. Mum wanted us to grow up in a healthy safe environment.”

LUNCHTIMES were never like this when I was at school.

In the good ol' days, rock stars never dropped into classrooms to jam with the students.

But on Friday afternoon students and staff at Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre were 'mixing it' with N'Fa, the former lead vocalist of award-winning hiphop outfit, 1200 Techniques.

"It feels so sweet up here - I'm hearing beautiful music in my ear," rapped N'Fa in the impromtu freestyle form to his young audience, who reciprocated by providing drums, tambourines and even the odd cowbell as his backbeat.

"Clap your hands, shake it on the floor, come on now . . . I feel so much love in this room." And how.

Teacher Julie Ross welcomed the hiphop artist with ba packet of Tim-Tams, in reference to his one-time gig as the original genie in the ad for the "addictive" chocalate biscuits.

While fronting 1200 Techniques, N'Fa - who is also Known by the stage name of N'Famas (pronounced 'infamous') - prompted his audience to think about creating a better world with the likes of Karma.

For the school's 15 or so percussion students, the tall, dark and handsome visitor on the microphpne was intriguing to watch, to say the least.

Many had limited English and may have struggled with the freestyle rap but they knew one thing for sure, the man can jam.

Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre teaches newly arrived students from countries as diverse as Sierra Leone and Tonga. and Friday's music-making certainly reflected the vibrant mix of cultures within the classroom walls.

When question time inevitably rolled around. N'Fa his experiences of growing up in the outer suburbs of Perth with his West African immigrant father and Australian mother.

"There wasn't as much culture as there is in this roomwhere Igrew up." he told the students.

"Growing up, it was quite lonely in that cultural element - it kills me that I didn't have access to that because I feel like I don't know a part of myself."

"There's this weird thing in Australia where you feel you have to pick a side. I never wanted to do that so I ended up floating around and meeting as many people as I could."

Perhaps one of the most resonant messages the rapper relayed to his new fans was that they could achieve anything that they set their minds to.

"I'm amazed I'm even where Iam." he said modestly.

"What I'm saying is that you don't have to come from a certin stock to achieve. I got as far as I did with a notepad and pen - I was petritied but I thought: "I have to do this'."








Beverly Hills Intensive English C