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Issue 100 of Positive News hit the shelves just at the time we most need some positive news. No doubt, the work on the January-March 2020 edition must have started months before the Covid-19 pandemic started spreading, but the main story “100 People and Organisations Bringing Hope in 2020” couldn’t be any more du jour. While the focus is very much on the people doing amazing work in all sectors in the UK, not surprisingly there are quite a number of trailblazers of African descent. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Ignite
At just 16, Dorea Nengese from North London was already frustrated with many aspects of the education system, especially its tendency to diminish students’ individuality and creativity. With fellow students Tori Allison-Powell and Asiya Kigozi, she set up Ignite, a life skills education programme teaching young people about first aid, money management and dealing with conflict. Ignite is one of the 2019 success stories from The Agency, a creative entrepreneurship programme for 15 to 25-year olds from deprived areas of the UK to deliver social change guided by the needs of their own communities.

Seyi Akiwowo
Seyi Akiwowo set up Glitz in 2017 after becoming the victim of vicious online abuse. The organisation aims to end online bullying through education and campaigning. “Globally women are 27 per cent more likely to be victim of online abuse; black women are 84% more likely,” Akiwowo says. Glitch provides workshops on digital safety for women with public online profiles and campaigns governments and tech companies to take action. So far, Glitch successfully persuaded UN to include racism in its racial discrimination treaty, and Akiwowo was named the Digital Leader of the year in 2019 in the Digital Leaders 100 programme.

Stormzy
Real name Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. is better known for his grime anthems is making a name for himself as a diversity champion. In 2018, the artist launched #MerkyBooks, an imprint of Penguin Random House to publish under-represented writers. He also founded the Stormzy Scholarship which funds tuition fees and living costs totalling for two black students each year to study at the University of Cambridge. The support is worth £36,000 in total. The scholarship is taught to have led to an increase in applications to the prestigious university from black and mixed race students.

Theresa Lola
Theresa Lola, British Nigerian poet was joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and was announced as the 2019 Young People’s Laureate for London. The poet was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to London, England in 2007 when she was 13. In 2015, she graduated with a first-class degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Hertfordshire. On being named laureate last year, she said, “I want to encourage young people to celebrate the things that give us hope.”

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