A new square at the entrance to Britannia Leisure Centre is to be named BRAFA Square after a great, yet forgotten, part of Hackney’s African Caribbean history. The name reveals the story of the British Reggae Artists Famine Appeal (BRAFA) which became Hackney’s answer to Live Aid in 1985.
When Band Aid was set up in response to the Ethiopian famine in 1984, Hackney lead singer of The Blackstones Leon Leiffer was frustrated by the lack of African and Caribbean artists taking part. Inspired by his wife Fay Addison, Leon formed the British Reggae Artists Famine Appeal (BRAFA) with fellow musicians Courtney Carr, Ras Elroy Bailey, Tony Douglas, Raymond Dangarembizi, Jah Bunny, Ken Kendricks and Gene Rondo.
Two hundred reggae artists and members of the public answered a call from the BBC to help BRAFA record an alternative charity single ‘Let’s Make Africa Green Again’, which was produced in February 1985.
BRAFA’s legacy was rediscovered in 2019 during the Shoreditch Park Improvement Project when historical research was conducted to find a name for the new square and a local resident recalled the story. The BRAFA was voted as favorite.