International Mother Tongue Language Day 2021

Would You Take My Hand?

Devised and performed by

Abdullah, Alicia, Amir, Osman.


Yusra Warsama


Clive Hunte, Busha Productions


Jaydev Mistry


Written and performed by

Abas Eljanabi

Farjana Kabir

Louison Kangombe

CAN was part of the live-streamed event, Our City of Languages, Manchester's celebrations for 2021’s UN International Mother Tongue Language Day.

11 May 2021

CAN showcased two short films, made in partnership with Manchester Museum, as part of the live-streamed event, developed by Manchester City of Literature on 21 February.

THE MOTHER TONGUE IS HUNGRY featured a trio of individual short films made by the artists, Abas Eljanabi, Farjana Kabir, and Louison Kangombe.

The Mother Tongue makes us hungry for home, for distant memories, for a time that no longer exists. The Mother Tongue is a craving, sometimes forbidden, sometimes slipping out of reach.

The Mother Tongue is hungry, hungry for change, hungry for revolution.

Abas Eljanabi’s powerful film explored how language could both inspire revolution and become forbidden. It featured an excerpt from a monologue written in 1969 by an Egyptian writer which remains censored to this day.

Farjana Kabir’s film 5am travelled between her home in Greater Manchester and Bangladesh, her country of birth, through a FaceTime conversation with her best friend in Dhaka.  The film spoke of the pain of missing home, friends, and family. Her best friend filmed a visit to Bangladesh’s National Martyr Monument, Shaheed Minar,  that commemorates those killed in the National Bengali Movement’s demonstrations in 1952 in what was then East Pakistan, before Bangladesh’s independence in 1971.

Louison Kangombe shared the story of the language Kingala and its development into the dominant language in DR Congo, through the Congolese army, and Louison’s relationship to it.

CAN Young Artists made Would You Take My Hand?

The film explored the importance of mother tongues, and the artists’ connections with Manchester, where nearly 200 languages are spoken, more than any other city in the UK or the EU.

CAN Young Artist’s short film journeyed across and celebrated the multilingual city of Manchester and the young people’s pride in the city’s diverse communities with their connections to hundreds of countries around the globe.  The group was inspired by the strength, power, and beauty they found when exploring the artefacts in the world collections of Manchester Museum. 

“These words, off this tongue, mean the world to me; the place I call home has the world on its doorstep, the world in its heart….”