Keeping Tradition Alive

Categories: Reflections and opinions

In light of National Poetry Day, Suléy Muhidin shares his poem, inspired by the Market

Suléy Muhidin is a community participation officer at Southwark Council (he was awarded the coveted title of 2015 Apprentice of the Year) and is driven by an inspirational commitment to helping people and communities to develop, become sustainable, and self-sufficient.

“I used to be a rapper, and I was asked by the mayor’s office to produce something on that level—the spoken word—to celebrate the history of the Market, but then I thought a poem would probably be more appropriate. I went over to the local history library on Borough High Street to do some research into the past: how it all came about and how it all works.

“I learnt a lot of new interesting things about the Market itself, but then I kind of threw that all away and I thought, what’s really important is the people—like all good things, it’s the people that make the place. To my eyes, you just can’t avoid the beauty of it, the richness of it. The diversity. If you walk down the street you’ll meet people from all over the world, I hear so many different languages every day.

“I eat here, buy bread here—I love it. A week before the service I came over and stood in the Market and for the first time really looked at it from the perspective of ‘what’s it all about’; seeing it for what it really is. I observed the sellers and buyers and the atmosphere, rather than just enjoying the moment, the great food, the spring sunshine! I drew a mental picture of the Market itself and I wanted to capture that image and bring it to life, to capture the spirit of the Market and bring it to life with words.

“In the future I think it’s going to be important to keep the essence of the Market going—keep growing with the times of course, but remain true to what it was originally. It was a Market, and it was people trading. It would be a shame if it all went away. I would hate to see that.”

On Saturday 7th March 2015, Suléy Muhidin gave a brilliant performance of his poem Keeping Tradition Alive in Southwark Cathedral, at the civic service held to celebrate 1,000 years of Borough Market. 

Keeping Tradition Alive
Let them, treat those two customers like they are the same,
For neither are present without the same objective,
For we are inspired by the history, the tradition of the trade.
Indulgent buyers alight with an eye for the beauty abounds.
Somewhere in the distance, we all hear that welcoming sound
Which calls us like summer time, like beauty like splendour.
“Over here!” they shout that wonderful vendor
And over we go to see what is afoot,
There is always such wonderful variety—behold.

Let them, the traders appeal to your taste,
If they can sell to kings and never lose their virtue;
If they can sell to queens and never show outward applause.
There is much to be gained from the wonderment of this place
We are proud to be ‘Southwark’ and we love the rat race.
It’s an atmosphere that takes you so present yourself fare,
There is everything to gain from the reputation we share,
Be a part of antiquity whether in front or behind that stall,
For we are all a part of a greater ambition
And for every penny spent we are upholding un-penetrated tradition.

Let them, the buyers inhale and exhale in their hearts,
If they can fill their minds with the experience—the art.
Remain in the moment; keep those wits about you,
For our history is what brought us here,
It is what has provided us with the tools to construct
None of this happened with a stroke of luck.
Yes, this took grit and desire and full of fair play,
Our old Southwark traders, they are here with us today.
Chuffed at your work, your grit, your drive
To keep the spirit of Borough Market alive.

Let them, the charitable board of trustees
Continue to uphold what the eye doesn’t see.
Borough Market is abundant in grace and is steeped in history,
So go home with a few bags full of produce abundant but none too much
And if you haven’t yet been, to the place where brilliance has touched,
Then trade away your hesitation and arrive.

Carefully hand picked, selected and matured,
Waking up with the birds in an effort to allure.
The people, its heritage is ripe and thorough,
What else can we expect in such an affluent borough?!

Words: Suléy Muhidin