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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 October 2006, 09:26 GMT
Music event helps build bridges
Bangor Samba group drumming
Organisers hope to make it a regular event
Organisers of Bangor's first multi-cultural event hope to build bridges between the city's estimated 76 different nationalities.

City mayor Douglas Madge wants it to develop into an annual carnival.

He said people were friendly but reserved but something as simple as a smile could "make a difference" to someone moving to the area.

The free event at the Penrhyn Hall included performances from a local samba group and and community choir.

Mr Madge has personal experience of moving to the city from outside.

Welsh children

He came to the university at Bangor from India - although he is British by birth - to work as a photographer in 1962.

Douglas Madge
If you smile and maybe say hello enough times people will feel they are being recognised
Douglas Madge, mayor of Bangor

"It was tough, and I felt very isolated," he said.

Mr Madge later married a woman from Caernarfon and their three children speak Welsh.

"People are not unfriendly here, but they are reserved, and a smile makes a difference.

"If you smile and maybe say hello enough times people will feel they are being recognised," he said.

Saturday's event focussed on allowing people to meet and exchange information and enjoy displays including African drums, a choir and Polish dancers.

In tandem, a committee has been set to allow people from the other nationalities to "have a voice".

"The city council deal with planning applications mostly thinking about the white community never about people who have emigrated here, but its important to hear their voice," said Mr Madge.

The event has already resulted in one new friendship.

Abdul-Aziz Barazi from Syria saw an article about the event in a local newspaper and contacted Mr Madge offering his help.

Bangor Community Choir
There was music from a variety of styles

"My work involves helping immigrant people to set up in business so they are self-sufficient and I thought this event was such a good idea," said Mr Barazi.

"There is a sense of isolation and helplessness when people first come here, they feel ignored and unrecognised."

Media coverage focusing on a certain group of people often caused insecurity he said and the event in Bangor should help to alleviate this.

"People have chosen to make this place their home and it is important for them to feel at home," he said.

"The fear factor comes from ignorance."

The Welsh people were "an inspiration", he said, to people who moved here to live because they were standing up for themselves and fighting to save their language.

He said the Bangor event was "completely informal".

"With the progress of technology the world is getting smaller and this diversity brings strength," he added.

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