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This Is Me … Solomon Illingworth

Category: black history month, BAME Inclusion, Race Equality, Aviva, Insurance, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, Customer Service Consultant

BAME.

Who Are You?

My name is Sol and I’m a Claims Consultant in Health PMI Claims. I’m also the Simplicity lead for the SMES Team.

Where are you from?

I’m a local lad. I was born and raised in Broomhall, Sheffield. I’m of mixed heritage, half Afro Caribbean and half Yorkshireman. My Dads family emigrated to the UK during the Windrush Era. My mothers’ side is from Halifax, Yorkshire.

Any success stories?

I design and make clothes in a spare time and my cultural heritage is a huge inspiration behind the designs I create. I’m currently making modern rave clothing by making Japanese silhouettes out of African fabric, all of which is purchased from a Tanzanian lady who runs a fabric store on the Moor Market. Currently this just a hobby that I’m passionate about. I hope to turn into as business one day.

Me at Shambala Festival wearing my Afro- Kimono.

What does Black History Month Mean to You?

As someone who is interested in history, black history month is very important to me. I really enjoy reading about inspirational black figures from history. I’ve recently become fascinated by the Story of Yasuke, an African slave who was taken to Japan during the Sengoku Period. Yasuke quickly became something of a local celebrity thanks to his physical prowess and ended up becoming a fully-fledged Samurai under the service of a powerful Daimyo Lord, the only African to do so in all of history. Yasukes story inspired one my favourites TV Shows called Afro Samurai.

There are many other black historical figures that I enjoy reading about including:

  • Claudia jones (Notting Hill Carnival founder)
  • Ignatius Sancho (Composer, actor, and writer. He is the only Briton of African heritage known to have voted in the elections in 1774 and 1780)
  • Madam C. J. Walker (First black female millionaire and social/political activist)
  • Baroness Lawrence (Political activist/police reformer)

This importance of these individuals is almost immeasurable as they paved the way for future generations to free from the shackles of oppression.

How would you encourage those in the office to get involved in BHM?

Food and Music! Sheffield has many Afro Caribbean restaurants and take always to enjoy. Marcia’s is probably the most famous in Sheffield and a personal favourite of mine. I would also promote black music events/nights like Dubcentral and Riddimtion, you can follow them on Facebook to find out when they’re next playing.  
Check out the Crucible Theatre during BHM, Black Men Walking will be playing which is a play written by British rapper Testament and is based on a group of black hikers from the Sheffield Area. If you want something lighter hearted, then the legendary Lenny Henry will be performing in Sheffield as well.

There is also great black music being created in Sheffield. My Mate is a key part of KOG and the Zongo Brigade who are a popular afro fusion band. The band includes Ghanaian force of nature Kweku Sackey, aka K.O.G, and the whirlwind of energy that is Jamaican rapper Franz Von, the Zongo Brigade deliver infectious High energy rap, operative vocals, hard hitting patios, unmistakable African rhythms, electric brass and thunderous percussion. They have fast gained recognition in the UK, Ghana and around Europe. 

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