Posted on Tuesday 26th July 2016
Akala to deliver Slavery Remembrance Lecture on 22 August
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.
“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 its 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.
Our Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture will be delivered by Akala on 22 August at 6pm (doors open at 5pm), in the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. building (former Dock Track Office), Albert Dock Liverpool. Places are limited and booking is essential. For further details on our lecture and all other Slavery Remembrance Day events, please visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/srd
Notes to Editors
Over the last few years, Akala has emerged from London’s hip hop underground and into the mainstream as one of the leaders of a new British artistic renaissance. He made history by being the first unsigned artist to have a video appear on MTV UK’s ‘TRL’. 2006 saw his first album ‘It’s Not A Rumour’ drop with trance-sampling smash single ‘Shakespeare’ being play-listed and championed on BBC’s Radio 1 via the support of influential DJ, Zane Lowe. The album received critical acclaim and earned Akala the ‘Best Hip Hop Artist’ award at the 2006 MOBO awards, beating out Kanye West.
The name Akala is a Buddhist term for "immovable” - along with his fans he is at the centre of a burgeoning movement of a young, intelligent and socially-conscious generation.
Race, politics and social conditioning are among the recurring themes presented as barbed comedic satire. In tackling those topics Akala finds himself confronting the issue of the decline of hip hop as a social and political force, angrily restating the genre's credentials as the best, most powerful means of delivering what KRS-ONE calls Edutainment.
Akala has had numerous T.V. performances on T4 and BBC2, worked with the British Council promoting British culture abroad, performing a series of concerts in Nigeria and in Vietnam as the first-ever hip hop artist to perform live. Indeed, Akala's refusal and inability to conform to prevailing stereotypes means he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Saul Williams and Gil Scott Heron, artists he considers inspirations as well as heroes.
Akala touches on race, class, sexism, history, war, hip-hop culture and what it is to live in a world one knows to be inherently unequal, yet rounds it all off not with accusations or anger but inward self-analysis.
Slavery Remembrance Day
Slavery Remembrance Day has taken place annually in Liverpool on 23 August since 1999. August 23 is a significant date as it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. Slavery Remembrance Day is organised by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool City Council. For the last 17 years people have converged on the Albert Dock to remember those affected by slavery during a traditional Libation ceremony. The Walk of Remembrance has been taking place in Liverpool since 2011.
Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture
The Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture is named after a woman described as ‘Liverpool’s greatest fighter against racism’, Dorothy Kuya.
Dorothy Kuya, 80, passed away in 2013. Born in Liverpool 8, Dorothy had an impact far beyond Merseyside becoming one of the country’s leading figures in combating inequality.
Dorothy Kuya was Liverpool’s first Community Relations Officer and became Head of Race Equality for Haringey Council before moving back to Merseyside in 1994. She was part of Granby Residents Association and campaigned against the demolition of homes in the area.
Dorothy was also instrumental in helping set up the International Slavery Museum which opened in 2007 and Slavery Remembrance Day which was first marked in the city in 1999.
Memorial 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.
About National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than 2.8million visitors every year. Our venues are World Museum, Museum of Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.
International Slavery Museum
The International Slavery Museum opened in August 2007. It is situated on the third floor of the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock. It is the only national museum in the world to cover the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies as well as contemporary forms of slavery and enslavement. It is also an international hub for resources on human rights issues and campaigning.
Liverpool and the slave trade
Liverpool became the major port for the transatlantic slave trade. Liverpool ships were involved in forcibly transporting as many as 1.5 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic from 1699 until the British Parliament passed the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807. As a result, much of the city’s wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries came from the profits made by the enslavement of Africans which cemented the foundations for the port’s future growth. In 1999 Liverpool City Council passed a formal motion apologising for the city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and the enslavement of Africans.