Hull has a long tradition of cultural exchange, reaching far beyond this year’s City of Culture festivities and back to its time at the forefront of British maritime trade. In 1979, a new form of intercontinental collaboration was established when Hull “twinned” with Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Town-twinning is a practice dating back centuries, enacted by local governments as a means of encouraging cultural and social interaction between societies. The choice to pair Hull and Sierra Leone has its roots in the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, which was initiated by Hull MP William Wilberforce and resulted in British naval ships patrolling Sierra Leone in the first half of the 19th century. Since then these links have been closely fostered, and over the past 30 years, a number of churches, schools and residents from Hull and Sierra Leone have come together to celebrate their special relationship.
The City Belongs to Everyone
Hull’s selection as the 2017 City of Culture provided an opportunity to throw a spotlight on the ongoing partnership. As part of its winning bid, Hull 2017 commissioned video production company Nova Studios to make a film, entitled The City Belongs to Everyone, which was narrated by actor Sir Tom Courtenay and features a selection of interviews with residents unified by their common connection to Hull. This year, the organisation commissioned African filmmaker and youth activist Lansana Mansaray (AKA Barmmy Boy) to remake the film in Sierra Leone. Mansaray’s version featured clips of Freetown residents, similarly outlining the diversity that defines the city. Watch both the original film and the remake below.