Review: Akala Presents: The History of Black People in Britain

Review: Akala Presents: The History of Black People in Britain

Kingslee James Daley, whose stage name is Akala, is a genuine polymath. Since the start of his music career in 2003, Akala has become an MOBO award-winning rapper, a campaigning journalist, lecturer and founder of a company that teaches Shakespeare to schoolchildren - a man of many talents.

Yesterday the rapper, poet and Historian spoke to a 200 plus crowd, giving a brilliant and enlightening overview of the 2000 year presence of black people in the British Isles.

During his talk, Akala discussed a plethora of topics surrounding the history of British black people, tackling the whitewashing of the British education system all whilst sipping his cup of tea.

Listening to him, it was clear that this was a discussion well worth hearing. Examining the slave trade, Akala emphasised how both the mainstream media and the British education system tend to ignore certain moments in history, such as the crucial role of the Haitian revolution in ending the slave trade, preferring instead to focus on figures such as William Wilberforce. By a show of hands it became clear that this was a history lesson a lot of people needed to hear.

Whilst he may have been preaching to the converted, it was shocking yet distressing to learn about the extent of whitewashing on British culture, the New Cross House Fire for instance - where 13 young people were killed in an arsonist attack, and yet nothing was said about it in the national news. It was a sobering reminder of the virulent colour prejudice happening only a few, short decades ago.

After the event, I was reminded of our most difficult challenge - imposed ignorance. Only by confronting the, often invisible, whiteness which underpins the dominant intellectual culture, can we begin to build genuinely inclusive and progressive places of learning.