Words by Emma “Cherry Bee” Walker Akala



I am a member of the Universal Zulu Nation and as such pr omote the message of peace, love, unity and having fun through the five elements of the Hip Hop Culture (Emceeing, Deejaying, B-Boying/Girling, Graffiti and the knowledge, wisdom and overstanding of the Culture). So as a more conscious thinker in the Hip Hop world, I wanted to see what Akala’s message was all about. This event was being held at Leeds University as part of Black History month.

There were a few hundred people at the event held in the student union building in the afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I had a guess and I was almost right. I thought, maybe this would be a bit of talking and a bit of performance. Akala was met with a warm response from his audience and set the agenda for the session and said that he would first be reading an extract from his latest work: “Akala presents ‘The Ruins Of Empires’ — an epic poem”. His website (http://akala.tmstor.es) gives this description of his book:
This 80-page graphic novel features illustrations by Tokio Aoyama, who also produced artwork for Akala’s most recent album “The Thieves Banquet”. A story that follows ‘The Knowledge Seeker’ through the course of human history, via astral travel and multiple re-incarnations, in an attempt to discover the causes of the rise and fall of empires. Inspired by the French author C.F. Volney’s classic book of the same name.

Akala read an extract with impressive speed. He is, foremost, a rapper and a conscious Hip Hop artist. I enjoyed listening to this reading but did think wonder if I’d have read it in the same way on the printed page: maybe it would work better as an audio book? Anyway, back to the event. After the reading, Akala went on to address the subject of ‘African History’ which was a daunting task: it would take a lot more than the forty minutes he had to explore in detail. Nevertheless it was a very interesting lecture, some thought provoking information about heritage and Africa. The lecture challenged the way in which black history is dealt with in the education system, or rather, the way it is not dealt with as there is a lack of teaching of black history in education. Akala then went on to talk on a wide reaching topic of Africa and heritage. It’s a very interesting talk, one to see if you get the chance. The Q&A at the end gave some insights to Akala’s own journey. I, being a similar age to him, understood being that ‘mixed race kid’ at school. It was a rare sight back in the 80s/early 90s (trying not to show my age!) and I felt that his message was emphasised by my understanding of his personal struggle. The only critique from me is that he was rushed. It was free though, so why am I complaining? I do think we need more Akala’s in this world to spread a more conscious message.

November is Hip Hop History Month. Universal Zulu Nation are holding two events, in this month, in the UK. The first starts on Friday 6th November 2015 at the House of Vans in London with a community day on the Saturday 7th November. The second is an event in Leeds City Museum on the Saturday 14th November 2015. There will be entertainment for all the family at both events. Come down and celebrate Hip Hop Culture with us.

You can buy The Ruin of Empires at Akala’s website (http://akala.tmstor.es) and witness his musical prowess at the Sunday Joint, the HiFi Leeds on Sunday 22nd November.

Akala Leeds Flyer