A new cultural movement aimed at promoting a message of hope among young people is awakening in Donegal.
Purple Gorilla describes itself as a “movement of individuals who are trying to create something better for themselves”.
At its base though it is a group of young people dedicated to taking control of their lives and shaping their own journeys.
And they want as many young men and women as they can get to join them on that quest.
Set up late in 2017, Purple Gorilla currently comprises Letterkenny’s Hashim Murungu, Albert Mataka, Brodie Enfield, Sam Kasenga and Doda Jawn.
“The idea is to give people hope,” said Hashim Murungu, a business student who recently transferred to LYIT from Blanchardstown.
“It is a movement of individuals who are trying to create something better for themselves and it is about saying you have to help yourself because no one is going to help you.”
The name Purple Gorilla is broken into two parts, explained Hashim.
The purple comes from the fact that everyone feels frustrated to the point of explosion from time to time. The gorilla is a person’s inner self, roaring forward and saying ‘I can’t take it anymore’.
While centred very much on community, the Purple Gorilla team is currently using the medium of music to promote its message.
Both Sam Kasenga and Doda Jawn are former members of Letterkenny rap outfit Phat Kiidz who enjoyed musical success in 2016 with their tune GAA Jersey. The song, an unlikely Celtic rock hip hop collaboration with Goats Don’t Shave, made the band an overnight Youtube sensation and even booked them an appearance on the Late Late Show.
Brodie Enfield meanwhile has just released his new single, ‘What’s Your Story’. Sticking very much to the ethos of Purple Gorilla, the song encourages people to talk about their problems and realise they are never alone.
“Right now we are using music to promote and get our message out there. But Purple Gorilla is a brand, it is a community trying to help people and bring people together,” said Hashim.
To promote that message the team meets up every week at the studio of DJ and producer Reuben Keeney where they put down ideas and record tracks. In addition to that they have established the ‘Purple Room’ which they use to showcase the talent Letterkenny has to offer.
They have also enlisted the help of Re-Act Productions who film the songs before uploading them to Youtube.
“Right now there are no platforms for the kind of music we do,” said Hashim.
“In Dublin you have the likes of District Magazine but up here you have nothing. A voice for the youth, that is what we are trying to create and we want the local community to help us push this forward and work with us. We have a lot of plans for the future in terms of gigs and shows and we have already spoken with Highland Radio about getting airplay for any of the songs we drop. That is what we want to be doing and hopefully somewhere down the line we can attract funding because right now we are paying for it all out of our own pockets.”
It is not just hip hop that the movement is promoting either. Anyone who feels they have talent, Purple Gorilla wants to give them a platform.
Hashim Murungu said, “We recently did a show for Autism Awareness because the message we are pushing matched what they were promoting. They saw what we were doing, they liked it and got in touch. That is the kind of thing we want to be involved in.”
In a strange sort of way, Hashim himself is a product of what he is trying to create. In Dublin he promoted himself as less of a musician and more of a businessman. That changed though when the 24-year-old relocated to Donegal.
“I never saw myself as a musician but when I came here that changed and now you can find me on some of the songs with the boys,” he said.
And that is exactly what Purple Gorilla is trying to do – convince young people that there are no limitations and they can become whatever they choose to be.
Hashim added, “You can get caught up in all this ‘there is no help’ thing but when it comes down to it, you are the only who can do it for yourself. It is about taking that first step and knowing that when you do there are people out there with the same dreams, the same ambitions.
“People up here don’t express themselves as much as they do in cities like Dublin and we want to change that. Five years from now we want that platform to exist where anyone with a talent can showcase it. Kings of the north, that is what we want to be.”
If you would like to get involved, check out Purple Gorilla on Facebook, on Twitter at @p_gilla or on Instagram, purplegorilla2.0.
Posted: 2:00 pm March 4, 2018