NumbiFest: Poly’s Day

A day-long festival celebrating the life of the iconic Somali Punk pioneer Poly Styrene!

Sat, 26 June 2021
12:00 – 18:00 BST
Toynbee Hall
28 Commercial Street 
E1 6LS

Book your ticket on Eventbrite here

About this event

In 1976, Marianne Elliot-Said, a young Somali-English woman named herself, ‘Poly Styrene’ and embarking on her musical career posted an advert in the back of NME magazine for band members to join her, later iconic, Punk group, ‘X-Ray Specs’. The title of the advert read: ‘Young Punx That Want to Stick it Together’, a call to those who shared her same spirit of self-creation and tenacity.

To kick off NumbiFest 2021 we are launching with Poly’s Day! Poly’s Day is for those who would have responded to her ad! 

Poly Styrene is regarded as a pioneer. As part of the handful of Black-British frontwomen in music during the 1970s, she used her voice to address everything from racism to consumerism and environmental issues. Her daughter, author and director Celeste Bell, joins us on Poly’s Day to share her insights and experiences in celebration of Poly Styrene’s life and Somali heritage. In her debut documentary, I Am A Cliche, Celeste Bell brings to screen Poly’s genius as well as the challenges she faced. Together we will explore Poly’s world through DIY workshops, panel discussions, food, photography and music.

Watch I Am A Cliche here – by using this link, half the proceeds go to supporting Numbi Arts.



12:00 PM – 13:40 PM – Badge making workshop with illustrator Habiba Nabisubi.

14:00 PM – 15:40 PM – Face-mask painting with make-up artist and graphic designer Bilansu.

16:00 PM – 17:40 PM – Zine-making workshop with OOMK Zine co-founder Rose Nordin.


12:30 PM – 13:15 PM – ‘Somali Culture and Experimental Music’

Numbi’s own Hudda Khaireh chairs conversions with Somali musicians: DJ Raks2Riches, Bebe Luna and Autumn X, on their creative journeys in experiential music and how their Somali identity and culture informs their work. 

13:45 PM – 14:30 PM – ‘Reframing your Childhood’

Hudda Khaireh and Celeste Bell hold a conversation on how art can be used as a vehicle towards healing and forgiveness, through discussing Celeste’s debut documentary, I Am A Cliche, about the life of her mother Poly Styrene and their relationship together.

15:00 PM – 15:30 PM – ‘Oh bondage ! Up yours !’

In Conversation with our Co-Directors Kinsi Abdulleh, Alana Jelinek and our special guest Rachel Garfield as we talk about publishing and Rachel’s new book ‘Experimental Filmmaking and Punk: Feminist Audio-Visual Culture in the 1970s and ’80s’ and on how Poly Styrene influenced British culture.

16:00 PM – 16:35 PM – ‘Radical Archives’

Halima Khanom, Tower Hamlet’s Heritage Officer, explores Poly Styrene in the archives. From playing iconic gigs such as the 1978 Rock Against Racism concert in Victoria Park, as well as her Somali family connection to East London.

17:00 PM – 17:30 PM – ‘Introducing the Somali Museum’

With Kinsi Abdulleh and the team behind the Museum who will speak about progress on our exciting new venture. 

+ special guests. To finish the event in true Somali style we will end the afternoon with ceremonial dance, song and spoken word! Featuring artists including the legendary Somali Actress, dancer Faynuus Sheikh Daahir.


Food – Delicious food will be served from 13:00 PM.

Photography – Poly Styrene themed photography studio with a professional photographer.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms before the event, please stay home. Unless exempt, all attendees must wear a mask indoors. Please abide by all current Covid-19 regulations. Poly’s Day will operate a one-way system, and attendees will be required to maintain social distancing. The organisers reserve the right to limit the number of attendees and stagger entry inside the venue for public safety.

There are a limited amount of tickets for those less able to pay. For more information please email

Event and original listing by Numbi Arts

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