Chart-topping Lewisham singer highlights the impact of pollution on Black communities

A Lewisham born singer has released a music video featuring local residents to highlight the impact of climate change on Black communities in South London.

Love Ssega, a former member of the chart-topping band Clean Bandit, was brought up in Catford and has featured local residents in the video for his new track Our World (Fight for Air).

Love Ssega pictured on Lewisham High Street. Credit: Nick Obank

Ssega, who is British-Ugandan, wants the campaign to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on Black neighbourhoods.

“We really need to get Black people and voices heard in this battle against Climate Change,” He said.

“We’ve tried the news, we’ve tried through politics, so no I’m trying through culture. 

“I’d never seen my area shown in a multi-ethnic, rich and positive light, so I made a video about that with Black female director Tracy Kiryango. 

“I wasn’t hearing Black people’s opinions on climate change in the news, so I made a song about air pollution that’s killing. 

“The challenge here is not for Black people to talk about issues, it’s for cultural magazines, outlets and platforms to feature our voices when we do so.

“Then we can push through more representative and meaningful change.

“Placing this narrative in Lewisham where I was brought up was very important because it is this community that is suffering the impacts of climate change.”

Shaunn Watt. 36, from Brockley was featured in the video, said: “I was really happy to be featured in the video because as a Lewisham resident I know the impact pollution is having on our community.

“At the end of the day this is our world and so it is our problems, we need to find our solution, before it is too late.”

Billboard’s have also appeared across Lewisham with a tear off climate change comic, also produced by Ssega.

The art project focuses on toxic air caused by pollution from the nearby South Circular Road, which runs across London.

Emissions from the red route road, one of Britain’s busiest, were ruled to have partially caused the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived in Forest Hill, in 2013.

Ssega described Ella’s death as ‘appalling’ and said more needs to be done to tackle air pollution.

Pollution levels in Lewisham are way above the national average with children under nine 40 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma.

Ella Kissi-Debrah

That figure jumps to 78 per cent for children under 19.

In some areas, including Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth as many as 1 in 5 primary schools are by major roads, forcing children to breathe in high levels of pollution.

Living near busy roads in London may stunt lung growth in children by 12.5 per cent and can increase adult’s risk of coronary heart disease by 6.3 per cent.

Chantelle Bernard, 41, from Southwark, who also featured in Ssega’s music video, said: “I absolutely love skating in nature with my family, friends and community and so the air we breathe should be safe and clean and beautiful for everyone.

“I want people to think about what they are doing to our Earth and what they can do to change things for the better ”

Filmmaker Tracy Kiryango who created the music video, said: “I had a wonderful time working on this project and filming all the lovely people who work and live in South London.

“Air pollution is a silent killer, and it’s important that we combat it as soon as possible.”

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