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Kwadwo Adusei-Asante does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The scene opens into a messy music studio, used bottles and pizza boxes littered everywhere. A young man of sub-Saharan African descent appears, exhausted, entering the room late at night.

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As the young janitor starts cleaning, he is distracted by the music playing in the background. Suddenly, the security alarm goes off: he has forgotten the code and immediately calls his manager to request assistance. Over the phone, we hear his manager reprimand him, but he sounds more interested in petting his dog than providing the code and protecting the welfare of the cleaner.

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Black Brass is a captivating theatrical piece written and performed by Mararo Wangai as the janitor named Sleeper, and accompanied by musician Mahamudo Selimaneat. The show is well executed in all areas: the oratory prowess of Wangai as Sleeper, the transitions, lighting, music and innovative rotating stage were superb. But behind the artistic brilliance, Black Brass is a story of the harsh realities faced by many African-Australians.

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Black Brass is the story of people with hyphenated identities : the Black Africans who juggle and struggle with who they are. The abolition of this racist policy in the s by the Whitlam government opened the doors for non-white, non-European immigrants, but neo-White Australian Policies — such as citizenship tests — are still with us, effectively determining who comes to Australia and who does not.

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Clearly, not many Black Africans live in Australia — but, as portrayed in Black Brass, many Black Africans who live here have many troubles. Blackness in Australia is too often seen as not only inferior, but burdensome. As Sleeper finally gets his boss to provide the code, we hear police sirens. Sleeper would be all too familiar with police brutality against black bodies and operations that target Black Africans.

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The play shows how he subconsciously begins to plan for his arrest and a defence against potential incarceration — or even being shot dead though he is unarmed. Then, Sleeper sighs with relief.

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Sleeper laments his underemployment in the country he now calls home. This is the resilience of the Black African. Sleeper lives in a country where skin colour matters more than what a person can offer.

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: A degree doesn't count for South Sudanese job seekers. Highly qualified Africans in Australia remain underemployed. Perhaps, suggests Black Brass, bosses are more interested in their pets. The other reality of this performance is that Sleeper misses Africa.

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He misses his parents and family. Part of him would like to go back to where he came from and start afresh.

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But it is not a simple decision. The corruption, the abuse of power by the political elite, the lack of opportunities in his home country scare Sleeper. He feels trapped in a world where almost everyone — including blacks — hate blacks.

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But, on stage, he finds solace in the soulful music of Mahamudo. Although their colonial past has eroded their ability to communicate in the same language, they find a common ground in African music. Correction: this story originally said 5. Portsmouth Climate Festival — Portsmouth, Portsmouth.

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Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Hyphenated identities Black Brass is the story of people with hyphenated identities : the Black Africans who juggle and struggle with who they are.

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