Beyond the barricades

1 August 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa speaks to Korrine Sky about the plight of African students who were studying in Ukraine

‘There was a hierarchy of “Ukrainians first, Indians next and Africans last” in who was allowed to leave the war zone’, says Korrine Sky, a Zimbabwean British citizen who was a second-year medical student in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, when the war broke out.

Getting out of Ukraine was extremely difficult for African students, but, according to Sky, it was the easy part compared to the challenge that followed: ensuring they can continue with and finish their studies.

Sky, who…

1 June 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa talks poetry and children's books with storyteller Sandra A Agard

When I was growing up,’ says poet and storyteller, Sandra A Agard, ‘there was hardly any Black Literature. I mean, one of the first diverse books I ever read was Little Black Sambo. It was a horrible book. But it was the only book available in my school and public library with a Black main character. I hated the story. I hated the images. I even hated the paper it was written on, it had this awful smell; but it was the only book around at that time’

Agard herself started…

1 April 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa exposes the racism directed at Africans and other people of colour trying to flee Ukraine

‘There’s a segregation that’s happening at the borders,’ Tokunbo Koiki* told ITV News on 27 February. The Nigerian Londoner added: ‘White Ukrainians have been allowed in[to neighbouring countries] with open arms, and blankets. This is the anti-blackness that is global. So even within a war, even within being under siege, we still have racism.’

Among the millions who have been fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February have been international students from Africa,…

1 February 2022Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa takes a look at a recent compilation from Jesuit Refugee Services

To give a flavour of some of the work in Home is a feeling not a place, Laila Sumpton reads me ‘What is peace?’ by Enirayetan, one of the workshop participants who is also featured in the book. Sumpton says: ‘I can’t ever do this justice, because the lady who wrote it sings halfway through. She bursts into song. It was just fantastic to see someone performing and really, like, almost preaching it with a lot of power.’

Enirayetan’s bursting-into-song happened during one of…

1 October 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa meets the poet Catherine Okoronkwo

Recently, I interviewed the poet Catherine Okoronkwo, who is the advisor on racial justice to the bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, helping to deliver on commitments made following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol.

Okoronkwo, who was born to Nigerian parents and grew up in the Middle East, is currently vicar of All Saints and St Barnabas in Swindon.

Okoronkwo sees her father, who passed away recently, as one of…

1 August 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa reflects on the power of festivals

With some of my friends, for the past eight Decembers, I have been co-organising the week-long Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. We believe that festivals and the arts have an important role to play in creating, maintaining and defending a culture of human rights.

Through its seven days of poetry, music, performances, film, art, talks and discussion, the festival creates a forum for engaging with human rights issues at home and abroad.

With the support of local…

20 July 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa reflects on the continuing journeys of 2015 poetry collection

Large parts of 2015 were dominated by images of people packed into wooden fishing boats and rubber dinghies trying to get to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.

There were images of people, including unaccompanied children, making impossible journeys on foot.

There were images of people climbing over razor wire in Europe, and police forces in different countries using batons and teargas against people at the border.

Months before the image of Alan Kurdi’s body on a…