Inspiring People - Akala
By Gbemi Alabi - 12 April 2022
A few people from around Worth Unlimited have agreed to tell us about someone who inspires them. Next up is Gbemi Alabi!
British rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet
Kingslee James McLean Daley, better known as 'Akala', is a British rapper, journalist, author, activist, and poet from London. He has appeared on TV promoting his music and poetry, and speaking on wide-ranging subjects from music, race, youth engagement, British/African-Caribbean culture, and the arts.
He has numerous online lectures and performances that have attracted millions of views on YouTube and is well known for being the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards in 2006. Akala is also a published author and one of his books is titled “Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire” (2018).
I first read about Akala many years ago and was captured by his passion to impart his knowledge of historical events. He has written and spoken about the inequalities within the British Empire that has existed for hundreds of years and still persist today. Most recently he commented on the Windrush Scandal - in 2018 the UK government started retroactively deporting people back to the Caribbean islands, mainly Jamaica. The deportees are people who had been living and working in the UK for over 50 years since the 1960s, most of them children of those that came to UK as British Nationals (as they were coming from one part of the British Empire to another). The British Nationality Act 1948 permitted such movement having conferred citizen status on people who lived in any British colony at the time. It later transpired that the UK government destroyed the landing records and then began to remove lawful residents from the UK.
Akala has shared that he was first stopped by police at the age of 12. He stated that he didn’t even bother to share the experience with his mum, as he just accepted that this would be the norm for him as a young man of colour in the UK. He has challenged the media about the way news is reported, stating that it is biased and negatively skewed against people of colour, especially when it relates to criminal acts and offences.
Like Worth Unlimited, Akala is an advocate for the young and how they are being let down by the system because the resources are not going where they’re supposed to go, to the kids who need them. He has suggested that that a possible approach to addressing gang culture and knife crime could be that taken by the Glasgow’s transformative Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) — a holistic suite of community initiatives, school mentorship and employment opportunities. It’s a model that the Evening Standard campaigned for following an in-depth investigation and which Sadiq Khan subsequently announced he would support in 2021.
Akala also brought focus on the case of Christopher Alder, a former British Army paratrooper who had served in the Falklands War and was commended for his service with the Army in Northern Ireland. He died while in police custody at Queen's Gardens Police Station, Kingston upon Hull, in April 1998, in entirely preventable circumstances.
As the mother to two teenage boys, I am always striving for them to do better, more so because we live in a world that struggles to see past their skin colour. I’m reminded by Akala’s words that we are not born with an opinion of the world, but it clearly seems that the world had an opinion of people like me. Conversely, I hold on to my thinking that diversity is our greatest strength. Diversity is a time for reflection, connection, learning, growth, education, bonding, love and focused unity.
By taking time out to look deeper at individuals we can discover things and build better relationships. Reflection is good, it unlocks emotional doors, it connects and it bonds.