New Hoxton square to be named after 1980s Hackney reggae charity appeal

Leon Leiffer, founding member of BRAFA. 

Leon Leiffer, founding member of BRAFA. - Credit: Hackney council

A new Hoxton square will be named after a Hackney appeal which saw reggae artists come together to record a charity single and hold a benefit concert for people suffering in the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s. 

The new square at the entrance to Britannia Leisure Centre, in Hyde Road, will be named BRAFA Square, after the British Reggae Artists Famine Appeal (BRAFA).

BRAFA recorded the song Let's Make Africa Green Again in response to, and as an alternative to the Band Aid song, Do they know It's Christmas, released in 1984. 

Frustrated by the lack of African and Caribbean artists taking part in the Band Aid single, Hackney resident and lead singer of The Blackstones, Leon Leiffer formed the appeal with other musicians living in Hyde Road near the site of the new square.

BRAFA founder Leon Leiffer said: “As a young boy leaving the Caribbean and coming to England I would never envision something like this. Now, 35 years later, the name BRAFA is coming back alive and will be there for the rest of time, in history, in Hackney.

"It’s more than winning the lottery, it's a mega honour for myself, the people who coordinated and for each and every musician and singer that took part for the good and great reason of helping the famine in Ethiopia. I’m proud that Hackney has taken it upon themselves to recognise this name is worthy of making history.” 

The charity single Let's Make Africa Green Again by BRAFA. 

The charity single Let's Make Africa Green Again by BRAFA. - Credit: Hackney council

BRAFA brought together 200 reggae artists and members of the public to help the group record an alternative charity single produced at Hive Studios in Stoke Newington. 

The song was released by Island Records and performed at an open air concert in Shoreditch Park in 1985, raising thousands for Save the Children's Ethiopian famine appeal. 

The appeal's legacy was rediscovered in 2019 thanks to the Shoreditch Park Improvement Project which spoke to local residents who recalled the story. 

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After making the final naming shortlist overseen by Hackney council, BRAFA won the public vote. 

BRAFA Square will open at a public event to be announced in summer 2021. 

People who have memories of BRAFA are encouraged to get in touch with Hackney Heritage by emailing

Rendering of BRAFA Square.

A new square at the entrance of Hoxton's Britannia Leisure Centre is to be named after BRAFA. - Credit: Hackney council

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