Akala: One of the most respected voices in the UK's Black Lives Matter movement
4 June 2020, 14:28
Akala is one of the leading and most respected activists in the UK's Black Lives Matter movement.
When it comes to respected voices on conversations around racism and the oppression of the black community in the UK, Akala is undoubtedly up there as one of the most inspirational.
There are a number of reasons why Akala is so important to Black Lives Matter in the UK, so if you don't know much about the British rapper, author and educator, or you just want to find out more about important figures in the UK's movement, this is a good place to start...
1. Akala came to prominence as a UK rapper
From documenting his own life as a black man in Britain to directly speaking out against oppression and addressing political issues across a wider spectrum, Akala's music catalogue is deep and important.
Whilst Akala's early works on his album 'It's Not A Rumour' thrust him into the limelight, including the tracks 'Roll Wid Us' and 'Shakespeare', his music has continued to inspire and educate in the 14 years since its release.
Albums like 'The Thieves Banquet' and more recently 'Knowledge Is Power, Vol. 2' have become some of the most insightful when it comes to cultural issues and are essential listening.
2. Akala has written a book discussing race and class
'Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire' is a semi-biographical book that discusses issues and questions around race and culture in Britain and around the globe.
The book's synopsis reads, 'From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook.'
'In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives will speak directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.'
3. Akala founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company
Founded in 2009, The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company (THSC) is 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.
Through live events, productions and workshops THSC have helped countless people find their voice and opened up their self-expression, learning plenty along the way.
Find out more about THSC here.
4. Akala is a Dr and has received two honorary degrees
Both Oxford Brookes and Brighton Universities have celebrated Akala with honorary degrees. Speaking on Instagram after receiving his first one, Akala said, "As someone who never went Uni I have always been slightly envious of those that did/do go but the things I learned with the man dem and then in business and life were also invaluable."
He went on to say, "I'd like to thank the entire Caribbean pan-African community that helped me through school and encouraged an intellectual curiosity and self development from a very young age. Safe."
5. Akala has spoken out publicly on issues around race on shows including 'Question Time'
In one of a number of public appearances where Akala has spoken about a number of issues including class and racial injustice, he addressed one question about "traditional working class British towns".
Check out Akala's response below...