• Awele Ajufo, currently studying a Master of Public Administration at The London School of Economics
• from USA / Nigeria
What does Black History Month mean to you?
For me, Black History Month is a time for us outside of just everyday, to be proud and celebrate what it means to be African and be a part of the African Diaspora. I think now, as much as it is important to be inclusive of Africans in general, there is a sense of feeling lost in what that definition is; feeling the need to fit into the African stereotype or black stereotype. There is such a large amount of diversity even within that. Black History Month for me is specifically starting to embrace the different forms of culture that we like to tie back to Africa as a continent.
Being from the US, you celebrate Black History Month in February. How would you compare Black History Month between America and the UK?
I will say I was quite surprised that it was in October. I feel it isn’t as prominent in the UK. In the US it’s so big; everybody celebrates it! Whereas in the UK it’s almost siloed to the black African community. In the US it’s more in your face which makes it little easier to fully embrace everything. In the US, people of all colours are celebrating Black History Month and even though this has taken time, everybody is being educated about Black History – although of course it has a lot to do with what community you’re in or subset.
The company I work for is a large corporation and they made sure it wasn’t just the black community which was celebrating it. They celebrated Black History Month as a company.
How do you feel LSE has done with regards to creating and advertising Black History Month events?
I think they could have done a better job. I think a lot of people don’t understand why Black History Month is a thing. LSE is an institution where you could really use the breadth of knowledge and expertise to educate so many people as to why months like this are so important. I did feel like it was siloed within the LSE community to ACS and other various minority groups so I did wish there was more.
What kind of events would you like to see more of or introduced at LSE with regards to Black History Month events?
I mean considering LSE has events almost everyday, I would like to see more black speakers across the board and outside of Black History Month. I think this should be a thing because representation is really important. Even within our curriculum; our classes and readings can be more inclusive.
As someone of Nigerian heritage, how often do you travel to Nigeria and could you give a perspective on the importance of Black History Month there?
Unfortunately I haven’t been back for ten years. But I don’t know if Black History Month is necessarily important in Nigeria. Black History Month is about recognising oppression in terms of racism and perhaps colourism. While I appreciate that such prejudices do exist in Nigeria I just don’t think they are so tied to what you look like. I think Black History Month is more important in communities and countries where black people have been oppressed. So while I don’t think it is as important in Nigeria, I do still see the need for it with regards to educating no matter what subset of the world you’re in. Everyone should know what black culture is and what it means to us.