BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist, writer/poet and historian, Akala, has accepted an invitation to deliver the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture on 22 August 2016, as part of National Museums Liverpool’s three day commemorations for the city’s 17th annual Slavery Remembrance Day, which is marked on 23 August.
Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album ‘It’s Not A Rumour’, Akala has become one of Britain’s most revered and respected MCs. His reputation for stellar live performances has seen him grace stages across the globe, supporting a variety of artists including Jay Z, Nas, Damian Marley and M.I.A.
Akala’s lecture will focus on the subject of the Haitian Revolution, which directly links to the original catalyst for marking Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August – an uprising of enslaved Africans which began on 23 August, 1791, on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
This revolt was crucial in the fight against transatlantic slavery. UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – chose the date as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation. Liverpool has been at the forefront of Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations since they began in 1999.
Akala said: “Slavery is an ancient institution that sadly continues until this very day. However, the racialized chattel enslavement of Africans in the Americas may well have been the most brutal, cruel and large scale human traffic ever to have taken place. Fortunately for all of humanity Africans (like all enslaved humans) continuously rebelled and in Haiti between 1789 – 1804 gave history it’s only successful slave revolution – where the enslaved themselves became the government.
“The role of the Haitian revolution in breaking the back of transatlantic slavery has often been downplayed by mainstream historians but fortunately that silly trend seems to be lessening these days and we can all more fully appreciate this complicated but unique chapter in the human story”.
Akala, the rapper, writer, musician and producer, also runs his own independently-founded and funded record label Illastate Records, and is the founder and Artistic Director of The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company (THSC) – a music theatre production company offering educational programmes, live music events and music theatre productions for young people, which has led to a collaboration with Arts Council and National Youth Theatre. He regularly features on numerous TV programmes promoting his music, poetry as well as speaking on wide ranging subjects from music, youth engagement, British/African/Caribbean culture and the arts as a whole.
Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Akala to the city, to deliver our Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture as part of our activities to mark this important date.
“Slavery Remembrance Day is not only important because it commemorates the lives and deaths of millions of enslaved Africans and their descendants who were central to the rise of Britain as a power, but it remembers African resistance to enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade.
“We still live with the legacies of transatlantic slavery, such as racism and discrimination and ongoing inequalities, injustices and exploitation and that is why the International Slavery Museum is an active campaigner for social justice.”
Slavery Remembrance Day events are organised by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool City Council. Our Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture is named after a woman described as ‘Liverpool’s greatest fighter against racism’ and, for the last 17 years, people have converged on the Albert Dock to remember those affected by slavery during a traditional Libation ceremony, and a Walk of Remembrance has been taking place in Liverpool since 2011.
Our Slavery Remembrance lectures in recent years have been delivered by civil rights campaigner Mr Martin Luther King III, renowned activist and scholar Dr Maulana Karenga, civil rights campaigner Diane Nash and Zimbabwe’s first Black cricketer Henry Olonga. BAFTA winning historian and presenter, David Oluosga delivered the Lecture in 2015.
The International Slavery Museum highlights the international importance of enslavement and slavery, both in a historic and modern context. Working in partnership with other organisations with a focus on freedom and enslavement, the Museum also provides opportunities for greater awareness and understanding of the legacies of slavery today.