Screw Power Lists. Here’s a pick ‘n’ mix selection of some young people who are actually doing things. In this #EyesOn2016 series, they tell us what’s going to blow up in 2016.
Siana Bangura is a 24-year-old writer, blogger, journalist, poet and performer from South East London, via Freetown, Sierra Leone. She is the founder of leading black British feminist platform No Fly on the WALL and is a creative entrepreneur and social activist.
What were your ambitions when you created No Fly on the WALL?
I created No Fly on the WALL out of frustration having graduated from university in 2013 and feeling tired of being invisible. I aimed to create a platform for black British female voices because I didn’t see anything like that back then. I also wanted to diversify the conversation and say ‘Feminism is not just for white women’. White women have always dominated the conversation and have taken up far more space than they should have… in everything. Here it is noflyonthewall.com.
I also wanted to build a community of woke black British women and allies – people who refuse to be flies on the wall, watching injustice in society silently. Never underestimate the power of talking things out, writing, and being in a physical space with like-minded people and those on the cusp of change. We can all learn from others who are on the same or similar journeys to us.
What are you going to remember 2015 for?
2015 was my year of courage and working things out in the big bad world. It was a very productive year for me. I made the decision to be self-employed and freelance full time, which was hard but necessary. I launched several projects, including an Afro-Caribbean publishing house – Kamaria Press – to a room full of over 150 people guests.
I ended up the victim of a racially motivated hate crime but that was a defining moment for me.
I also launched a history project – The Black Cantabs – which will be a legacy project, aiming to uncover the lost stories of Cambridge University’s black scholars. No Fly on the WALL turned two and is going from strength to strength.
I spoke on stages across the UK and internationally, with one of the highlights being my speech in Bremen, Germany and I did my first Black History Month Tour. My tour actually became infamous because I ended becoming the victim of a racially motivated hate crime but that was a defining moment for me. It was horrific and the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
It confirmed that the work I do is valid and important. It was a defining moment of personal courage in terms of how I held my own and fought my own corner, standing up for myself. I don’t just talk the talk. I really am about the life I say I am.
It has also been a year of black women really speaking up and creating sista circles.
2015 has been a year of decolonising everything from the curriculum to the arts. Everything I have done has been part of the movement and part of that ongoing moment. 2015 has seen a glorious Black British Renaissance unfold. It has been a key year in #GenerationClapback’s work (this is the term I coined for my generation of young black and brown artists and activists). It has also been a year of black women really speaking up and creating sista circles – safe spaces in which to heal, love, thrive and (un)learn in. No Fly on the WALL created a lot of those kinds of spaces in 2015 and I hope we continue that work in 2016 and beyond.
What do you think is going to blow up in 2016?
I really think 2015 has laid the necessary groundwork for an almighty 2016. I think people like Cecile Emeke will continue to blow up and take centre stage. I think photographers like Adama Jalloh will reach a wider audience.
I think black British artists like Stormzy and JME will continue to resonate with the carefree black girls and guys out here on their grind. I think spoken word will continue to be a force for good, a force for meaningful change. I’m excited to see what writers like Marlon James do next.
I’m very excited for the year ahead!
What’s keeping you busy in 2016?
The coming year is going to be very busy. I plan to do lots of performances across the UK and hopefully in Germany too. There is a great spoken-word scene in Berlin that I’d like to tap into. I am publishing two chapbooks in January and March in the lead up to dropping my first full collection of poetry, which will be out on May 21. That will keep me very busy taking it on tour and promoting it.
I also hope my new startup will take off. It’s a social and digital media consultancy, mainly operating in the Midlands area. I’ll also be turning 25 in September so by then, I hope I am a lot closer to having all my shit together!
Check out more at dontgotheresiana.com
Follow Siana on Twitter at @sianaarrgh
You want to join in? Tell us on Twitter #EyesOn2016