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ACS Ignites the Conversation

QM Afro-Caribbean Soc hosts inspiring night of debate and performance

On the Friday 16th January 2015, Queen Mary African and Caribbean Society (ACS) hosted students, guests including our sponsors, performers, and speakers for a night of debate and performances titled ‘Ignite: The Conversations’.

The event, presented by Ra’ifah Rafiq and loosely modelled on the ‘TED’ format, whereby external guests speak on a variety of themes and topics for 18 minutes, was sponsored by QMUL ACS sponsors Linklaters, Clifford Chance, and the QMSU Arts and Culture Fund.  A great deal of effort went into the planning and execution of the event, with the ACS committee staying up late on Tuesday evening painting the boxes that would become the props and stage design for the day, and filling the gift bags with souvenirs kindly donated by Linklaters and Clifford Chance.

Ignite: The Conversations was divided into three speaking segments – Heritage, Today, and Legacy, with an additional section entitled Provocations. Heritage had two performances by Jolade Olusanya, a spoken word performer, and Margaret Rwegasira, a QM alumna and performer. Both pieces were anchored on how to overcome current stereotypes as well as dealing with how to keep track of the cultural progress we have made.

This section was followed by a short intermission whereby our audience enjoyed canapés and drinks in the foyer whilst continuing to discuss and ‘ignite conversations’. After the break there was one of two ‘provocations’, whereby guest moderator Solomon Olukoya led the debate amongst audience members about the issue of assimilation versus integration.

The next segment was Today, in which another QM alumna, Funmi Abari, took to the stage first. Funmi dealt with how to overcome obstacles and not find excuses for failures but instead work through them. Her talk left the audience buzzing ahead of the next speaker Claud Williams.

Claud is an entrepreneur and founder of DreamNation which is a social enterprise helping to groom ‘practical dreamers’. He addressed the idea of ‘culture’, which was based on how it has a dynamic nature and the ways in which we can use this as an advantage. This led to another provocation, this time dealing with the Baga killings in Nigeria and the lack of Western media coverage in comparison with the widely reported Charlie Hebdo killings. Once more, Solomon Olukoya was able to carefully navigate the discussion, engaging many audience members to share their opinions on the sensitive issues – this brought about heated yet insightful exchanges.

The QM Ignite Team tactically kept the identity of guest speakers a secret ahead of the event, therefore when Olympic Champion Christine Ohuruogu arrived took to the stage, the audience was visibly excited. Still, this did not deter members of the audience from asking very provocative and challenging questions after Christine’s motivational speech regarding how to be determined and not subdued by opposition.

The last segment was Legacy, and the two speakers Junior Ogunyemi, an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and QM alumni, and Dr Gbadebo Ogunlami, a lecturer and powerful speaker, really brought Ignite: The Conversations to an amazing finish.

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