Article appears in The Hull Daily Mail – 21/07/07
The Hull Daily Mail’s website has been inundated with messages of praise from teenagers for a rapping star from Sierra Leone.
Earlier this week, the Mail ran a story about 19-year-old Lansana Mansaray, known as Barmmy Boy, who has been visiting schools in the city.
As well as teaching youngsters how to rap, he has also been sharing his experiences of growing up in the war-torn country.
Over two months, he will work with children from St Mary’s College in west Hull, Winifred Holtby in Bransholme and Wilberforce College in east Hull.
Among the issues Barmmy Boy raps about are growing up in the country’s capital Freetown, HIV/Aids and the aftermath of the civil war that ravaged the country for a decade.
When the story appeared on the Mail’s website on Wednesday, it initially attracted criticism from one reader calling himself Barmmy Man, claiming rappers encourage young people to join gangs and use guns.
That drew a huge response from teenagers who defended Barmmy Boy and praised his work to educate Hull youngsters about life in Sierra Leone.
A web user called Gerry, from St Mary’s College in north Hull, was among more than 40 youngsters who posted a comment on www.thisishull.co.uk
He said: “I think you lot are talking about him in the wrong way. He isn’t into the shooting and that lot, I know because I have met him.
“His rapping is about peace and stuff like HIV, which is a bad disease in his country. He is not like a kind of gangster rapper, he is great.”
Jordan, from east Hull, said: “He’s ace and shouldn’t be taken as if he’s a gangster shooting people, because his raps are about peace.”
The rapper was brought to the UK by Hull organisation Cafe Society and funded by the British Council and Government arts scheme Creative Partnerships.
Cafe Society organiser Jon Robson said: “Barmmy Boy is an excellent ambassador for Sierra Leone and has made a lasting impression on the young people he has met in Hull.”
Barmmy Boy said: “It’s been great working with young people here.”