Estimated reading time:8 minutes, 26 seconds
Everyone has a story. On Saturday 24 September youÂ are invited to join aÂ fundraising event to assist with raising fundsÂ for Da Global Link Up host, Kass Man, so he canÂ have revolutionary stem cell therapy that could help improve his health. Interview by Nicola Baird
Kass Man is an Islington-based performer and event organiserÂ with a passion for positivity raving. At weekends likes to goÂ sober raveing, Â enjoying listening to house music at clubs where alcohol isnâ€™t served.
â€śLast month I went to three raves in one day â€“ I enjoy it because the music is bumping, I experience genuine love and I drink a lot ofÂ water and cacao (raw chocolate) to keep going,â€ť says Kass. He especially likes Morning Gloryville which runs on Saturday and Wednesday mornings (9.30am-1.30pm) with a no-alcohol or drugs policy for the raves at the Oval Space in Hackney and Portobello Road in west London.
Recently Kass performed at one of the ravesÂ â€“ in a Michael Jackson outfit and wig, surrounded by fellow sober ravers.
Kass, 30, was born at the Whittington Hospital and grew up on the Harvist Estate where his mum and dad still live. He went to Grafton Primary School, George Orwell (now IAMs) and then Robert Blair pupil referral unit, followed by three years at a Somerset boarding school. He went on to take A levels at City & Islington College and followed this up by studying psychologyat South Bank University, and then studied digital media and creative writing at London Metropolitan University until â€śI found that Iâ€™m much better at doing what I’m doing without a diploma.â€ť
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Kass has multiple sclerosis (MS), which affects 100,000 people in the UK. His left side has become so weak that he now has to use a wheelchair or an electric mobility scooter. Itâ€™s the scooter heâ€™s used to meet Islington Faces at Costa Coffee near Holloway tube (top speed 8mph) to talk about his fundraising bid over a honey-sweetened mint tea with three ice cubes. https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms
â€śIâ€™m fundraising to have revolutionary stem cell therapy. The main centre is Switzerland but there is also an in-patient clinic in Serbia. Iâ€™ve raised ÂŁ3,500 (4000 euros) but I need ÂŁ19,000 (25,000 euros) by my appointment date in November,â€ť says Kass who is hoping to travel with his sister, Selwa, and good friend Sharmin. â€śSharmin has been supporting me for a number of years â€“ I really appreciate her efforts.â€ť
Kassâ€™ fundraising story is on video here
4 places Kass Man likes in Islington
- Islingtonâ€™s my home! I used to like going down Seven Sisters Road, on the Holloway Side a lot. I used to go to the barbers there. Last Friday I went all round Highbury to find an accessible barbersâ€™ shop. The problems are narrow doors and stepsÂ as IÂ canâ€™t get in. The search for accessibility continues.
- I started a creative writing and English Literature course at London Metropolitan University and I still like going to the university library. It sometimes feelsÂ like a home away from home. Places to relax, go sleep, watch videos on YouTube and charge my phone!
- I love being at home because Iâ€™ve started building a studio with posters of flyers of all my shows. I live on my own and loveÂ my independence.â€ť
- On a bus a wheelchair is sectioned into a designated areaÂ â€“ but Iâ€™m a free spirit and I like to be free so I enjoy watching the journey from the window of the bus.
As well as hosting at the 24 November fundraiser, Kass looks set to perform his brilliant poem, Falling.
Here I am again
And my focus is on getting up
Because when Iâ€™m on the floor
All Iâ€™m thinking is â€śwhat the fuckâ€ť
â€śWhy am I on the floor?â€ť
â€śWhy is my body feeling sore?â€ť
Why is it that when Iâ€™m down
Getting up feels like a chore?
Itâ€™s all inside my mind is what I want to tell myself
But when I look round myself I see myself in
So I go to breathe out
As well as calm myself down
Itâ€™s better when Iâ€™ve calmed down
Because then I can turn it around
And when I say it
Iâ€™m talking about the situation
Because I know that Iâ€™m tired of feeling frustration
As well as perspiration
So I go for restoration
But it all begins with me, so Iâ€™m learning to be patient.
Itâ€™s all in conjunction
With developing a function
Of seeing whatâ€™s around
Instead of making up assumption
Iâ€™m getting out the junction
of where I feel like Iâ€™m jumping
So I put myself in a place where
I only focus on one thing
(Here I go again
The cycle starts again
â€śWhenâ€™s this shit gonna end?â€ť
Because Iâ€™m back on the floor
And Iâ€™m thinking â€śNot againâ€ť
This cycle only happens when Iâ€™m feeling really weak
But people only see how I really wanna be
To them Iâ€™m a courageous and strong individual
Indoor there’s a battle
Where only I see the visuals
I experience the effects
And battle with the emotions
In my head itâ€™s all mixed up like a crazy kind of potion.
Iâ€™m fiercely independent
So I deal with it alone
And I only call for help when pain is all I know
For me itâ€™s like â€śshit I canâ€™t deal with this no moreâ€ť
So Iâ€™m looking for peepsÂ to call for help
Because Iâ€™m feeling really sore
While I wait for police to come
I try and be calm but at the same time
Iâ€™m thinking, â€śWhat the fuck have I done?â€ť
Iâ€™m like my independence
Because I donâ€™t like being dependent
But when people help me up
My mind starts second-guessing
â€śOK grab my arm.
Letâ€™s go. 1-2-3â€ť
â€śThank you. Thank you. Thank you.â€ť
Iâ€™m thankful to the people that always want to help me â€“
Truthfully itâ€™s like my faith has been restored in humanity
First it is my family, then it is my friends
Then itâ€™s different people from different ends
Itâ€™s like they knew my worth
And they’re afraid of causing hurt
So they play it safe and I can see how that works
Over time Iâ€™ve met a lot of people when
Iâ€™ve been in this situation
Itâ€™s not the ideal way but hey it feels amazing
But friendship is formed during that short space of time
And when I tell them what I do
Theyâ€™re amazed at how I live my life
They call it inspirational
My speech isÂ motivational
Iâ€™m just being me, and thatâ€™s all I can say to you
I love what I do but only few know about this
Some people think Iâ€™m refusing to acknowledge it
Yeah I hate falling over
But I love being tough
Because when Iâ€™m falling down
Iâ€™m only thinking about getting up.
â€śI donâ€™t usually let people in,â€ť says Kass telling me that heâ€™s been surprised by peopleâ€™s reaction to this excellent poem. â€śOne girl started crying! I was just portraying an insight of what itâ€™s like. There are people who take my kindness for weakness so what do you do? Iâ€™m a poet, so I do a poem.â€ť
Kass still has a large sum to raise â€“ more than ÂŁ15,000 in just three months. But as his friend SandyÂ points out on his fundraising video if everyone gives a little he can do it, â€śYou know this man: he is your brother, he is part of your community. Please donate.â€ť
â€śAnyone can come to the fundraiser â€“ thatâ€™s why the seats are there. Perform or enjoy the show,â€ť says Kass whoâ€™s really friendly. Entry isÂ ÂŁ5, but if you canâ€™t make it and would still like to donate to help Kass get the medical treatment he wants then please visitÂ his fundraising pageÂ .
Hereâ€™s looking forward to the show, the third he’s run,Â and wishing Kass the best of luck – both for this event and sorting out his health. You can get a taste of what the show will be like if you watch
- Da Global Link Up Open Mic (poets, rappers, singers) fundraiser for Kass Man on Saturday 24 September at Ringcross Community Centre, 60 Lough Road, N7 near Caledonian Road tube. Entry feeÂ on the door is ÂŁ5 and all funds raised wiol go towards Kass’ stem cell therapy treatment. The event runs fromÂ 6-10pm.
- Kass’ fundraising page is https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kassim-hammami-closer
- Articles about Kass Man in the Islington Tribune and the Islington Gazette
Over to you
If youâ€™d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.
If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at theÂ A-Z Â index, orÂ search by intervieweeâ€™s roles or Meet IslingtoniansÂ to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola