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Nasema Asante – saying thank you to past generations for Refugee Week

Nasema Asante – saying thank you to past generations for Refugee Week

19th June 2019

This week is Refugee Week, and we are really pleased to contribute this specially recorded track to the campaign. If It Wasn’t For You was written inside Harmondsworth immigration detention centre, next to Heathrow Airport, and in this brand new cover is performed by Mamajay Juliet.

"The lyrics represent an idea of how a person can acknowledge their upbringing, as well as an adult appreciating getting a helping hand from a child, or a young person."

"The lyrics represent an idea of how a person can acknowledge their upbringing, as well as an adult appreciating getting a helping hand from a child, or a young person."

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is “You, me and those who came before”, and so the lyrics Mamajay chose mirror the theme perfectly as the lyrics discuss generations past.

About If It Wasn't For You

This track was originally written during a community exchange project connecting detainees held at Harmondsworth immigration detention centre with young people from the Early Intervention Service group at the Pembroke Centre, run by CNWL NHS Trust in Ruislip. Listen to the original in our music player here.

The song came about after a discussion about the people who help you get through in life. It is a message to grandmothers, mothers, friends, and others who provide support during tough times. 

Mamajay said that she chose the song to cover, because "the lyrics represent an idea of how a person can acknowledge their upbringing, as well as an adult appreciating getting a helping hand from a child, or a young person.”

Part of the chorus is in Kiswahili, 'Nasema Asante', which means 'I'm saying thank you'. Mamajay often sings in Kiswahili, as she’s originally from Kenya.

Mamajay is a treasured part of the Music In Detention family, and first got involved with us last year, leading on some great music for our choirs project with Soulful Choir, where they covered one of our songs, All I need. You can hear this on our player, here.

She is based in the West Midlands and is passionate about multicultural community music and does a lot of work with refugee communities. You can see a video of her talking about these projects here.

Catch If It Wasn’t For You live!

You can catch Mamajay performing If It Wasn’t For You — amongst other tracks — with her band at the Radiate Windrush Festival on Sunday 23 June 2019. She’ll be performing at 2pm so don’t miss her!

You can also follow Mamajay on Twitter.