October 31, 2023

Black History Month: Three important voices right now

Black History Month: Three important voices right now

To celebrate Black History Month, we would like to celebrate a selection of strong black voices making positive change in the world right now.

1. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

Sister Rosemary is a Ugandan nun who has dedicated her life to freeing and helping women who were held captive by Joseph Kony, the leader of the lords resistance army, who fought government forces for over 2 decades. She is the director of St Monica’s , a school for girls in Gulu, which has refuged over 2000 women, many who were subjected to horror during their time in Kony’s army. You can hear her discuss the story in full here.

“The women at St Monica’s have been through terrible atrocities and pain in their lives. A lot of them were abducted by the rebels when they were young and trained as child soldiers"

Every year, St Monica’s takes in at least 200 girls between the ages of 15 and 17. Not only do they take in girls who have been child soldiers, but they also support women who have dropped out of school because of conflict in Uganda or who are disadvantaged for any reason. You can find more about the story of Sister Rosemary in the book 'Sewing Hope'.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

2. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a space scientist. Born in Britain to Nigerian parents, she attended 13 schools before going on to study physics at imperial college London, completing a PHD in mechanical engineering. She has worked in private industry, government contracts, and in academic research. She was the lead scientist at Astrium, the optical instrumentation group researching for the European Space Agency and NASA, meanwhile she was giving talks about the subject to children and young people, which led to her presenting the show ‘The Sky at Night’ since 2013. Maggie is now concentrated on presenting and promoting science to the general public, as well as this, she is an honorary research associate of University College London's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and has been the chancellor of the University of Leicester since February 2023. You can learn more about Maggie's story in her own words here.

Her latest book: 'Am I Made of Stardust?: Dr Maggie Answers the Big Questions for Young Scientists' is a shining example of a strong black voice working to educate younger generations, all while improving representation and diversity within the science industry and discipline.

“At school I used to say I wasn’t; English, I was Nigerian, even though I’d never been to Nigeria and couldn’t speak the language. I wanted to make the point that I was proud if being different. There were no other black children in the class and I was teased. Looking back that many have been part of the attraction of space. You don’t see barriers. I loved Star Wars partly because it involved all kinds of different people working together”

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

3. Akala

Kingslee James McLean Daley, known professionally as Akala, is a rapper, author, activist, and poet from Kentish Town, North London. He has won a mono for best hip-hop act, a BAFTA for a BBC series about romantic poetry, and founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company: a music theatre production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of William Shakespeare and that of modern day hip-hop artists.

His best selling publication titled ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ explores his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors. Covering various topics including the police, education, politics and more. You can hear him talk more about this book here.

Since his best selling book, Akala has become a strong commentator on empire and race, both in Britain and globally. He is a shining example of how artists can also be activists, with his vision and ability to communicate history to a wide array of people across the UK.

“Britain has two competing traditions – one rooted in ideas of freedom, equality and democracy, and another that sees these words as mere rhetoric to be trotted out at will and violated whenever it serves the Machiavellian purposes of power preservation.”

Kingslee James McLean Daley (Akala)

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