Heritage of Tomorrow - A short film by AZEEMA

Words by Sunayah Arshad, edited by Jameela Elfaki

Interview by Noor Alabdulbaqi

Heritage plays an important part in our identity, whether it’s the clothes we wear, the style of our hair or the food we eat.

On Saturday 21st September we were part of the Trippin x Nike ‘Heritage of Tomorrow’ event. An immersive experience and celebration to mark the launch of the new Nike Shox. Handpicked by Trippin among 8 other collectives as some of the most progressive thought-leaders of the moment, the event explored the past, present, and future of London's Heritage. AZEEMA was asked to create a short film which showcased what heritage means to us and our community, with digital enhancements produced by Digi-Gxl.

Taking inspiration from Early Renaissance paintings, we invited members of our community to take part in this beautiful short film, a cultural and educational journey that celebrates traditions and heritage. Reinventing the typical renaissance painting, capturing a moment in history of our own, each member was asked a series of questions centered around the themes of the film, and their connections with others. Acting as a bridge between cultures, we wanted to showcase just some of the ways our community present and carry their heritage in London, and how it is shared between generations. 

We had the pleasure of showing our work alongside films curated by Pxssy Palace, BBZ & Church of Sound. The event also included customisation workshops by Home Team Project and Muslim Sisterhood, with a photo display from Save Latin Village. By night, the space had been transformed into a celebration with sounds from Bossy Ldn, BBZ, Native and Odunsi. 

Delve deeper into the interviews with our featured community below:



What connects us as womxn?

Nuz: I think there’s quite a lot of different experiences that women have, although we don’t have collective experiences, we can still have empathy and relate to each other in certain ways, just as human beings in general, no matter which walks of life we come from.

 I think that human connection and that empathy is really important and that goes beyond cultures and religions, and ethnicity, race, gender, class.

Is there sisterhood between friendships and how would you define that for yourselves?

Nuz: Sisterhood and friendship. I think sisterhood is medicine.

Sabira: I’ve found in my personal experience there have been women that I’ve met over the past couple of years, and the connection that I’ve formed with them has been so strong. Even though we’re not blood related, I would describe it as a sisterhood. I would describe that as a love that I would have for my sister. Nuz I would consider as a sister. I feel very blessed and lucky that I can work with her. 



In which ways do you show and carry your heritage?

I love eating traditional food at home, my mum for example, she would speak in her native language to me. We have our own clothing that we wear sometimes when we’re going to special occasions, like a wedding. I’d love to teach my son Lodan his heritage, so he can grow up and pass it on.

I’d love to just pass on small things like the way we cook, the language - I think language is really important because that’s your identity. So I’d love Lodan to speak his language and his dads language. 

I just want him to know the full history. I feel in the UK, history is very small and narrow and they don’t teach a lot of African history. Especially cause back home, in history we’re taught everything, we know a lot about UK history and everywhere. I’d just like him to know his background and his backstory, so he’ll have his own identity as well.

What do you want to pass on to your family and why is it important to you? 

Funnily enough my mum has this necklace called coral beads and it’s very rare cause you get it deep deep down in the sea, and my mums grandma’s grandma had it, so its been in our family since the 1800’s. So what I really want to do is pass it onto Lodan, so he’ll have something. I think it’s really important for him to have it, because it’s something that you can’t replace, that has been in the family for generations. I'd also love to pass onto him clothing and  just different heirlooms really, that he can keep.

My birth wasn’t really the easiest, Because you know when you're half way through and they tell you ‘right birth plan and everything’. Nothing went my way, but I guess that's how life is you know? I feel with Lodan, we’ve been through a journey, a really long journey from birth to now. It just makes me feel like ‘oh, I can do anything’. Just because something is bumpy along the way, it doesn’t mean there’s not going to be sunshine at the end of the rainbow. And yeah, I just feel like no matter what happens, wherever we are, it’s just gonna be us together. 



What connects us womxn together?

I think our emotions connects us all as women as we're able to feel vulnerable not only for ourselves but other people. We’re able to put ourselves in the feet of other people and feel compassion, and through that we're able to build communities and a sense of mothering one another and nurturing another. I think that that comes at all stages where I’ve just instantly met someone or I've known someone for five years onwards.

In which ways do you show and carry your heritage?

So for me I've felt my heritage is shown on me on a daily sense through my skin, my cheek bone structure, even simple things such as my surname being Adeyemi. But definitely for me my heritage is shown within my hair. It very much holds a place of my identity as I am carrying on traditional styles and techniques that my ancestors had imposed on modern day. 



In which ways do you show and carry your heritage?

My heritage is Moroccan and I always say that I'm the most Moroccan person you'll ever meet. It goes from being vocally spoken about and caring about the politics and the history and my culture. And then it goes to simply dressing the part, introducing and bringing beautiful items of my Moroccan tradition to my outfit and my fashion and that translates into my art as well. And honestly even silly little things like when I was 17 I designed my bike to look green and red completely like the Moroccan flag, but it didn't really work out cause when I’d cycle on the street people would just shout “watermelon” or “do you have a Christmas bike?”. It missed the memo like it's a Moroccan bike but that’s just like little ways here and there, you just explore and celebrate your heritage and culture. 



What connects us womxn together?

Even though everyone comes from different cultures, families, backgrounds, everyone is connected through that in a way and we all go through similar things.

 I'm proud to be from Iraq, I have a very Arabic name as well, so when I was younger I used to always be kind of embarrassed about it but now it's like “yes I have ten long names”. Just like wearing my hair natural like letting my eyebrows grow out. Just being proud to be who I am.

I grew up speaking Arabic in an Iraqi household. My parents are both from Baghdad. So I grew up in that kind of environment and I've taken that with me. 



What connects us womxn together?

Pari (Leila’s mum): We can multi-task without being stressed out (laughs) I think that is very important, we can do that and understand that and it’s the understanding. Being mothers as well, I suppose that’s another important aspect isn't it?

I suppose now because my children are much older, when they were younger it was wonderful as they were growing up. My granddaughter Mimi, it's wonderful at that age and when they become adults, it's different. Each stage is so different and each stage is so enjoyable. I think that’s the most important thing. We mustn’t forget that, because when they’re children it's lovely - that bond, the growing and nurturing them and things like that are, oh now I'm emotional, that’s the nice thing about it.

As you grow older you see things in a different perspective, each stage has different aspects of it and each one is so important and going through those phases in life is also very important, and the milestones. Those actually contribute a lot to their bringing up isn’t it. 



What connects us all as women, I think our strength. When I look at my mum or my grandma all I see is their hard work, their confidence. They’re so hard working despite like the odds that might be against them and that’s something that they’ve definitely like put down on me as well and my little sister and I think that’s so beautiful to see because I think it’s so important for us to like see strong women and to be able to see that in your family. It’s quite a beautiful thing. 

Also, strong doesn’t mean a single mother or strong doesn’t mean having to be rude or harsh, it means, just knowing yourself and knowing what you want and that’s something my mum always teaches me.

My heritage is something very important to me. I went to school in Gambia, I’ve been brought up in a household where my mum and dad would play Senegalese and Gambian music so that’s always be quite important to me and also the  idea of community that’s something that’s quite strong in my heritage and where I come from. It’s nice to know that it’s important to be with each other or look after one another. You have like so many cousins who aren’t your family but you call them cousins and it’s that whole idea of like being there for one another, which I think is just so important, which I always carry with me

I think I have sisters from different parts of the world. I think what connects us is a sense of understanding. We get each other despite us not being from the same countries or the same like cultures. There is so much that we can see in one another, Sometimes your friends might be going through things and you don’t have to say, you just know and that’s the whole idea of sisterhood, you just know. Knowing about each other enough to know when someone is going through something or when to lift someone up and I think that’s what’s beautiful about sisterhood because my friends, my sisters, they always check up on me and that’s a beautiful thing and I check up on them as well.


Directed by @jameelaelfaki
DOP and Editor @kieferpassey
Produced by @sunayah._
Set design direction @evarhussayni
Interview narrative concept by @noorpalette
Production & Set Assistant @fekaikii
Styling by @ellaluciaa assisted by @radamcnally , @alianusseibeh @sophiecastillo3
Hair by @clmorhair assisted by @jackreynolds91
MUA @maha.gram assisted by @aoifecullen.x
Sound design @graciesouz
Graphics by @digi.gxl
Commissioned by @trippin.world x @nikelondon

@leilaafghan , Pari and Mimi
@lottie_dionn and Lodan