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Taking up space, a conversation with Ore Ogunbiyi


The evening was filled with fun and excitement. More than the great conversations around book, drinks, music from DJ Sensei, and even some branded merchandise were everywhere. For Ore Ogunbiyi, writing a book about what it is like to be a black girl in a university in the United Kingdom appeared an important undertaking to share her experience with others.

The book, Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, details what it means to be a black girl in an environment that is not conducive. It’s the first book from #Merky Books, and the Booker Prize winner Bernadine Evaristo said it is one of the best books of 2019. Described as a survival guide for black British girls considering university, it includes the collected experiences of their graduate friends, and an impassioned argument for the rethinking of higher education in the UK. It touches on everything from academics to mental health, relationship and activism.
Speaking at an event hosted by Adewojumi Aderemi in Victoria Island, Lagos tagged “Taking Up Space: In conversation with Ore Ogunbiyi, the writer said while at the institution, she and her coauthor, Chelsea Kwakye had been working hard at getting other black students into university.

“We had a very good idea of the discussion we’ve been having internally that need to be shared the rest of the world. The book “Taking Up Space”, gave us an avenue to do that,” she said.Ogunbiyi admitted that writing the book was a challenging exercise. “I was doing my Masters, Chelsea was at law school. It wasn’t like we had as much time, so quite a high pressure. But it was therapeutic because it forces you to interrogate your experiences, your past and what you went through.

“ It was challenging, but I am glad with the finished product,” she added.She believed that the book has touch many lives and changing how they view issues and how they approach diversity in education. “And it highlights problems that people didn’t believe or understand exist,” she said.
Ogunbiyi revealed she spent time during her schooling at Cambridge working to repatriate a particular Benin bronze Cockerel that was taken from the country.

Ogunbiyi said: “I believed the very fact that it was stolen is enough reason for its return. But Nigeria has a lot of work to do to make sure we have the right facilities for the stolen work to be taken into museums. “The event was rounded off with a book signing.


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Ore Ogunbiyi
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