Guest Blog: Sba Shaikh on Mela

Published Friday 29 November by Callum

In the latest issue of Waltham Forest News, some of the people who’ve made the London Borough of Culture 2019 programme such an amazing experience explained what it has meant to them.

Here, Sba Shaikh, creative producer of the Waltham Forest Mela, talks about how the event threw open its arms to the whole community…


Being born and bred in London, and of Indo Muslim heritage, I have always been surrounded by individuals from different backgrounds.

This has led me to be culturally and religiously inquisitive – I am always ‘hungry’ to understand and try to relate to those who are/were different to me.

This passion to understand others has led me to constantly reflect on what multiculturism is – how it is perceived by individuals and how fluid it can be. This has impacted the ways in which I wear my various ‘hats’; whether as an artist, a teacher or being the creative producer of the 2019 Waltham Forest Mela.

A dialogue with others outside of one’s own culture is very important in gaining an understanding of other people’s backgrounds and heritages. It is then a case of implementing this understanding of others not only within your own mindset, but within the wider community – with your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

With this recipe for multiculturalism in mind, it is important to highlight the significance of the Waltham Forest Mela and its impact as a key cultural vehicle of inclusivity/diversity.

This year was very important for the Mela to be showcased and included as a major festival on Waltham Forest’s calendar of events for years to come. It couldn’t just keep on entertaining certain cultural palettes, it had to be more inclusive and welcoming to those from different generations, to those who are from the South East Asian diaspora and those who are not.

This year, an inclusive, electric atmosphere was curated by all involved, and it is important to grow this new path of cultural inclusivity as the legacy of Waltham Forest Mela

Culture, diversity and education are batons that no one owns, yet must be nurtured and handed down to the next generation in order for them to succeed and be inclusive.