Jas Sansi was asked to say a few words at the launch of ‘Discovering Birmingham’ at Foyles Birmingham along with Midlands Mayor Andy Street and the book’s author Jonathan Berg. Here’s what he said.
Good afternoon and welcome to the launch of Discovering Birmingham, here in Foyles Bookshop.
My name is Jas Sansi. I’m a freelance photographer based here in Brum. I’m also proud to be a trustee for LoveBrum which is a charity that shouts about Birmingham to anyone who will listen and even to those who don’t listen but find themselves compelled to listen.
In Discovering Birmingham, whether like me, you were born here, or emigrated here or find yourselves transported here as a refugee and wondering where on earth am I? You have to ask the question ‘What is Birmingham? What is our story, for it is also now your story.
Liverpool has the Beatles, Manchester the football, and you may scoff and say they didn’t have it on Saturday in the FA Cup Final losing to Chelsea, but I would add they WERE there unlike my team West Brom and Andy’s team Aston Villa.
So Liverpool and Manchester have a clear narrative. London is London and hosting the FA Cup Final on Saturday wasn’t enough for the capital, they threw in spectacular wedding for good measure. But what’s our narrative?
I would suggest Birmingham is on a journey. And the best part of any journey is twofold; at the beginning and just before arrival.
At the beginning we set off, energised and expectant. With hope and dreams. And near the end when we’re almost there, the anticipation of arrival, of seeing those we love and the places we love.
As a city and as a city region including Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull we’re at that point of anticipation. We’re almost there.
We can see land, its the new headquarters of HSBC in 2018, its Coventry City of Culture in 2021, its the Commonwealth Games in 2022, and its HS2 in 2026 And on that exhilarating horizon we may even see Channel 4.
Either way, that’s where we are. Its incredibly exciting.
In our journey, Hope is being replaced with Anticipation.
Our horizon has been set out by the region’s leaders, businesses, believers, activists, artists and dreamers.
We’re on a journey, Andy Street who recently used a lovely phrase ‘we have learned to win’ is steering that journey and I have every confidence we’ll be docking soon.
A book such as Discovering Birmingham reminds us how far we have come. It’s pages are the backdrop to all of the stories, the dreams and the aspirations that exist in the hearts of our citizens.
Its reminds us why we LoveBrum, and that is reason alone for having a copy in your homes and work places.
Thank you for attending today’s launch here in Foyles. Its important to support local bookshops.
Thank you to Jonathan for the invitation to say a few words and I wish you every success for this wonderful addition to Birmingham’s story.
Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and a columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.
@jassansi 07930 837 505