Rotimi Adebari

Rotimi Adebari

Rotimi Adebari is a Nigerian-Irish Politician who was elected the first black mayor in Ireland. Rotimi was born in 1964 in Ogun State, Nigeria.  Rotimi received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Benin University in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria in 1993.  Shortly afterwards, he held a job in sales and marketing for the Ogun State television station. At one time Rotimi was a Muslim, converted to Christianity and then was forced to flee Nigeria along with his wife, Ronke, and two sons, Damilare and Opeayo, in 2000 to avoid religious persecution because of bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians in southwestern Nigeria. The Adebari family sought asylum in Ireland.

Rotimi and his family settled in Portlaoise, Ireland in 2003. His application for asylum was initially rejected but the family was able to get residency rights in the country since a son was born in Ireland by that point. While living in Portlaoise he became involved in several organizations including volunteering at the Abbeyleix Tennis Club in Abbeyleix, Ireland. He was also a training consultant on inter-cultural and anti-racism issues with the group Optimum Point.

In 2004 he received a master’s degree in intercultural studies at Dublin City University and in the same year entered local politics when he was elected to the Portlaoise town council as an independent candidate. In 2006, Adebari launched an integration initiative called Voices Across Cultures. The initiative uses food, arts, and music to promote cross-cultural appreciation in Ireland.

In June 2007, Adebari was elected mayor of Portlaoise, becoming the first black mayor in Ireland’s history. During the June 2009 elections, Adebari retained his Town Council seat while securing a seat in the Laois County Council. His victory made him the first immigrant to be elected at that level of government in Ireland. In 2011 he was an unsuccessful candidate in the Irish National Parliament general election.

In 2005, Rotimi was chosen as a jury member for the European Programme for Integration and Migration in Brussels, Belgium. Rotimi was also credited with founding the Volunteering initiative for National University of Ireland in Maynooth, Ireland where he encouraged students to volunteer to address various social problems and issues. He was also a Director for the Portlaoise Educate Together National School Board of Management and the Irish National Organization of the Unemployed.

Rotimi has served as a member of Community, Economic Development, Cultural Heritage, Sport, and County Promotion Strategic Policy Committee of Laois County Council. He has been the host of the radio program Respecting Difference, which celebrates cultural diversity and promotes racial integration. Rotimi organized a non-profit organization called Books for Africa Ireland. The organization was responsible for donating books to institutions of higher education in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2012, Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice and Equality appointed Rotimi a Peace Commissioner which is an honorary position in Ireland.

Uzo Iwobi

Uzo Iwobi

Uzo was born in Nigeria. She studied at the University of Nigeria between 1987 and 1991 where she graduated with a law degree.   She met married Andrew Ubaka Iwobi in 1989 and on 28 October 1991 they were married at the Lagos State Registry in Lagos.   She then went on to become a qualified solicitor and barrister, and was called to the Nigerian Bar.   She then joined Andrew in the UK.

When Uzo arrived in Wales she worked as a Lecturer in Law at the Swansea Law School for 9 years.   In 2002 she became the Principal Equality Diversity Chairperson of the African Community Centre in Wales, which she founded.   Uzo served with the Police National Diversity team, based at the Home Office in London, in which she was involved in national policy creation on race relations and diversity.  By 2007 she had successfully completed the MSc in Business Management at the University of Glamorgan.

In 2006 she was appointed a Commissioner for the Commission for Racial Equality until it merged with the Equality and Human Rights Commission in October 2007.  By 2009 she had become Director of Operations at Ofuobi Equality and Diversity Consultancy.  In 2010 she became part-time Chief Executive Office at Race Council Cymru and also passed the Institute of Leadership and Management’s Executive Coaching level 7.   Between 2013 and 2016 Iwobi was a Trustee for the British Red Cross and a year later she became Vice Chairperson of the Black History Association Wales, and a year after that she became Trustee / Governor at the UWC Atlantic College until 2016.

More recently Uzo became the first International Chair of Diversity at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in November 2018.   In January 2019 she became Commissioner to the Centenary Commission on Adult Education at Balliol College until February 2020.   She also became Specialist Adviser on Equalities to the Welsh Government also in 2019.   She also holds Postgraduate Certificate in Education from University of Wales Swansea and is currently Professor at Practice at University of Wales Trinity Saint David .

Daley Thompson

Daley Thompson

Daley Thompson was born in Notting Hill, London, the second son of a British Nigerian father, Frank Thompson, who ran a minicab firm, and Scottish mother, Lydia, from Dundee. When Daley was six, his father left home.  At seven years old, Lydia sent Thompson to Farley Close Boarding School, Bolney, Sussex, which was described as “a place for troubled children”. When Daley was eleven or twelve, his father was shot dead in Streatham by the husband of a woman whom the father and a friend had dropped off. Daley’s forename is a contraction of Ayodelé, a Yoruba word meaning “joy comes home”.

Daley’s first ambition was to become a professional footballer, but he later switched his interests to athletics.  Initially, he was a member of Haywards Heath Harriers, but when he returned to London in 1975 he joined the Newham and Essex Beagles Athletics club, training as a sprinter. He began to be coached by Bob Mortimer, who suggested he try for decathlon.

He competed in his first decathlon later that year in Cwmbran, Wales, which he won along with his next competition. In 1976, he won the AAA title and was 18th at the Montréal Olympic Games. The following year, he won the European Junior title and in 1978 came the first of his three Commonwealth titles. In 1979, he failed to finish in his only decathlon of that year, but won the long jump at the UK Championships.

He also worked as fitness coach for Wimbledon F.C. and Luton Town football clubs. He also took part in motorsport, entering the Ford Credit Fiesta Challenge Championship in 1994.

Daley worked as a fitness trainer and motivational speaker, as well as appearing at corporate events.  In 1994 Daley trained with Reading Football Club and even scored in a friendly against Leatherhead.

Daley was an ambassador for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, focusing during the bid stage on highlighting the benefits that hosting the Olympics would bring to education and sport in schools. 

In 2015, he opened his own gym, and in 2018, Daley joined Masterchef Gary Barnshaw and co founded DT10 Sports, creating & selling a range of low-sugar protein shakes and sports bars.

Betty Campbell MBE

Betty Campbell MBE

Born in Butetown, Betty was raised in the poverty of Tiger Bay. Her mother struggled to make ends meet after her father was killed in the Second World War.

Betty loved the escapism of reading – particularly the Enid Blyton tales of girls’ boarding schools. Winning a scholarship to Lady Margaret High School for Girls in Cardiff brought her dreams of an idyllic academic environment within reach. Here, she studied alongside mostly white, middle-class girls. But when Betty expressed the same ambitions as her classmates held, she was crushed.

Always near the top of the class, Betty told her head-teacher she too would like to teach but the response was: “Oh my dear, the problems would be insurmountable.” Those words devastated her – but they also made her even more resilient and focused.

She overcame setbacks and racism to pursue her goal. In 1960 she was one of six female students at Cardiff Teacher Training College which was admitting women for the first time. Juggling a young family, she qualified as a teacher.

When a teaching job became available in Butetown, Betty felt it was made for her – but she still faced hostility from some parents who hadn’t seen a black teacher before. Yet again she defied her detractors by becoming the first black head teacher in Wales.

She had made history. And now she wanted her pupils to know their history.

Inspired by a trip to America, where she learned the story of former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman and other civil rights activists, Betty put black culture on her Cardiff curriculum.

In a speech she later made at the National Assembly, she explained: “I was determined that I was going to become one of those people and enhance the black spirit, black culture as much as I could.”

Her pupils learned about the positive contribution to British society by people of colour. She also helped create Black History Month.

Betty’s fame spread beyond Wales as her school became a template for multicultural education. And her influence on public life grew when she became a member of the Home Office’s race advisory committee and a member of the Commission for Racial Equality.

She also proved a passionate advocate for the people of Butetown as a councillor, as the community faced significant change through the development of Cardiff Bay.

Betty died at the age of 82 on 13 October 2017, having been ill for several months. Hundreds of people lined the streets of Cardiff to pay their respects.

Dougie Lawton

Dougie Lawton

It was the place where one day you’d see your neighbour getting their haircut and the next you’d spot one of Manchester United’s biggest players sitting at the salon chair.

Douggie’s on Princess Road has been a Moss Side landmark since it first opened its doors in 1956.  Adorned with photos of famous faces, such as Chris Eubank, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis, it was a place full of the personality of owner Douggie Lawton, who sadly passed away earlier this week.

Originally from Jamaica, Douggie moved to England at the age of 16 and quickly established himself within the Moss Side community.  He became held in such regard that sports stars would fly him around the country to get their hair cut.

Anyone who visited Douggie’s barber shop will have seen the silver plaque on the wall, in between the shots of celebrities whose hair he had cut over the years.

The plaque was in celebration of being named Head of the Year in 1993 by the National Hairdressers’ Federation – something that was handed over to him by Chris Eubank himself during a glitzy ceremony.

He held the plaque with the same level of pride that he had for his barbers.

People who come to the shop become like family.

Douggie was one of those bridges between the young and the old generation. He was able to communicate with us throughout the whole of our lives to tell our stories, share our experiences and know how to conduct ourselves.

Paulette Wilson

Paulette Wilson

Paulette Wilson moved to Britain from Jamaica aged about 10 in 1968, to join her grandparents. She went to primary and secondary school in Britain, and worked as a chef for most of her life, even for a while in the House of Commons restaurant.  She had travelled to the UK legally but in 2016 she received a letter informing her that she was an immigration offender, and needed to take immediate steps to return to Jamaica, a country she had not visited in half a century.

She was arrested twice, and spent time in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, before being transferred to another centre in Heathrow in 2017, ahead of a flight to Kingston. It was only a last-minute intervention by her MP, Emma Reynolds, and the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton, that prevented her deportation.

Paulette’s decision to speak to the Guardian newspaper about her wrongful arrest and detention encouraged dozens of other people to come forward and describe how they also had found themselves wrongly classified as immigration offenders. Many had suffered catastrophic consequences as a result of the Home Office’s mistake. Some were denied healthcare and others were sacked from their jobs or evicted from their homes, as they became wrongly caught up in the “hostile environment” immigration policy brought in under Theresa May.

About 164 people were mistakenly detained or removed from the UK. When the scandal broke in April 2018 it provoked the resignation of the then home secretary, Amber Rudd, and the government was forced to apologise.

Paulette later said she had been put through “the worst heartache anyone could go through”, and she and her daughter dedicated much of the last two-and-a-half years to raising awareness of the difficulties experienced by thousands of people who had arrived in the UK legally in the 50s and 60s, before wrongly being categorised as immigration offenders.

When she visited Downing Street a month before her death to deliver a petition calling for compensation to be speeded up, she said she was disappointed that she was still having to campaign for justice. She had hoped two years ago that there would be a swifter resolution of everyone’s difficulties and faster payment of compensation to all victims

Paulette died unexpectedly at the age of 64, a month after delivering the petition to Downing Street calling on the government to deliver justice to those affected by the scandal.

Afua Rose

Afua Rose

Afua Rose is a Therapist, entrepreneur, writer, actress, performance poet and activist. She has worked for 30+ years with the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups. Devising and delivering cultural specific and therapeutic programmes in HMP Prisons & Young Offenders Institutions, as well as extensive work with substance misusers, survivors of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and early childhood trauma.

She has worked with perpetrators within criminal justice and community settings, and provides training to professionals on working effectively with this particular cohort, as well as other hard to reach groups. Amongst these numerous titles, it is her hard hitting performance poetry and even harder hitting style of activism that she is best known for. She has toured with major bands and well known reggae artists, as well as performing at Glastonbury and The V Festival in the early 2000’s. She has enjoyed major roles in well acclaimed theatre productions and achieved small TV roles in the late 1990’s, before ending her acting career to focus on her children and therapeutic career.

An activist since the age of 19, Afua was raised by staunch Jamaican parents with Garveyite ideals. She has had memberships and affiliations with many prominent black organisations here in the UK, the Caribbean, West and East Africa.  She has campaigned and spoken for the rights of young black boys in education, implementing right knowledge & black history, ending knife and gun & gang violence, anti-racism, the rights of black men in the prison system, ending violence against women and girls, and stamping out paedophilia in the black community, to name a few. 

Afua’s most recent campaign, exposes  historic child molestation, incest, paedophilia and rape that has been prevalent in the UK African-Caribbean community for generations. This campaign also shines a light on the victim blaming, secrecy and enablement that has for all intents and purposes, become a part of the Windrush experience. The highlight of her campaign was a flagship march through Brixton which is home to many of the perpertrators and notorious gangsters, murderers, and paedophiles.  Through the campaign the women of Brixton were empowered to stand up to these people for the first time in over 40 years, and regaining their power.

Afua Rose is loved and hated in equal measure for her fiery rhetoric and immovable stance. She is a staunch and unapologetic advocate for the abused, voiceless and disempowered women in the Black British community.

Courtney Griffiths

Courtney Griffiths

Courtenay Griffiths QC has been involved in some of the most high-profile and notable cases of the past two decades. He has a wide-ranging practice in domestic and International Criminal Law and is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding jury advocates of his generation.

Some of his most note-worthy cases being; The PC Blakelock murder trial, The Brighton Bombing, The Harrods Bombing, The Canary Wharf Bombing, The Risley Riot, The Dartmoor Riot, The Damilola Taylor murder trial.

Courtenay is amongst the most sought after of International Criminal law specialists, providing representation in trials of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes before international, internationalised and national courts. He is particularly noted for his work in the recent landmark case in The Hague defending the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Of his cross-examination of super model, Naomi Campbell, the London Evening Standard remarked, under the headline: “Forget Naomi Campbell Real Star of Charles Taylor trial is Griffiths Q.C”“Courtenay Griffiths Q.C. grabbed their attention with his flamboyant style, tenacious questioning and deadpan quotes.”

Courtenay provides advice and representation in foreign jurisdictions on international arbitration matters concerning money laundering and other international commercially related crime. He has been involved in domestic serious fraud work for many years representing both individual and corporate clients. He can advise at first instance on extradition matters and mutual legal assistance.

Courtenay has committed much of his over thirty years in practice to civil liberties work and has unique experience in the application of the European Convention of Human Rights. He is developing a keen interest in international commercial mediation, particularly in Africa, where he can deploy his profile and his legal and political connections to the advantage of his clients.

Inquest experience includes challenging the decisions of the Coroner in the High Court.

Public and Administrative law experience including making legal challenges to the decisions of a wide range of public authorities, The case of Johnson, Davis, Rowe, Goswell v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis was for a while the highest award of damages made by a jury against a police force.

Anna Rotherley

Anna Rothery

Anna was born and raised at Belvidere Road in the city of Liverpool in the 1950s.

Anna’s father died when she was a child and her mother had to take care of Anna and her three siblings. Anna’s mother started to work as a taxi operator and later was promoted to taxi driver. She kept the job as taxi driver until her retirement in 2010.

Anna was educated at Granby Street Primary School, St Silas Junior School, and Paddington Comprehensive School. She continued to study at the university. She studied sociology, psychology and law. She earned a master’s degree in Business and Regeneration.

Since 2006, Anna has represented the Princes Park ward in the Parliamentary constituency of Liverpool Riverside.  From 2010–2013, she was the Chair of the Culture, Tourism and Sport select committee in Liverpool.

Anna became the first councillor of Liverpool to speak at the United Nations in Geneva on Religious, Linguistic and Cultural differences in 2012.  She is the North West Ambassador for the British Institute for Human Rights, and is a member of various different groups, such as Merseyside Common Purpose and Operation Black Vote, a scheme which aims to get more Black, Asian and minority ethnic people into politics.   She is the Programme Coordinator for Migrant Workers North West.

In September 2019, Anna became the first black Lord Mayor in the history of the city of Liverpool after her predecessor resigned. This is a civic role and is bestowed on the individual by the city’s Mayor, rather than being an elected role.  During her term as Lord Mayor, Anna fundraised for local charities, including Anthony Walker Foundation, LCR Pride Foundation and Merseyside Somali Association.