News Brief

A Knight's Tale: Social Media Responses to David Adjaye's Knighting

Read some of the social media messages we received in response to David Adjaye's knighting.

DIASPORA—On Sunday, we posted a picture on our Instagram of British-Ghanaian architect, David Adjaye being knighted on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. To put it subtly, the photograph—which showed Adjaye bent on a burgundy stool with his head bowed as Prince William conferred his knighthood with a sword—didn't sit well with everyone. Comments rolled in from people who thought the picture evoked images of colonialism and racial subordination.


We later posted the picture on Facebook, and asked followers to tell us how they felt about the photo and whether or not it made them uneasy. The responses were mixed, with some questioning the age-old tradition and the British monarchy's imperialist history, while others saw it as a well-deserved honor for the star architect. Read some of the responses below.

In 2016, Idris Elba was also appointed Knight of the Officer of the British Empire. Responses at the time were mostly congratulatory as the actor announced his knighthood with a photo of him and his mother after the ceremony.

Ghanaian editor in chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful was also knighted last year. The fashion maven wears his title quite proudly.

Other Black knights throughout history, include Welsh-born singer Shirley Bassey, soccer legend Pelé, Sidney Poitier and Colin Powell. 

Robert Mugabe was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, and then stripped of the title in 2008.

The responses that we received helped ignite a conversation that, now more than ever, is certainly worth having. With our history steeped in oppression, it's necessary to call out any and everything we think might reinforce those systems no matter how grand or symbolic they may seem. That's not to say that accolades for black folks don't matter, though. They're useful in helping combat underrepresentation and the outright erasure of our accomplishments.

Needless to say, Adjaye's black brilliance beams, with or without a fancy title.

 

 

 

Interview
Photo by Trevor Stuurman.

Interview: Thando Hopa Never Anticipated Acceptance in the Industry—She Anticipated a Fight

We speak to the South African lawyer, model, actress and activist about her historic Vogue cover, stereotypes imposed on people living with albinism and her work with human interest stories about vulnerable groups as a WEF fellow.

Vogue Portugal's April edition was a moment that caused everyone to hold their breath collectively. For the first time ever, a woman living with albinism was featured on the cover of the magazine in a sublime and timeless manner. Thando Hopa, a South African lawyer, model, actress and activist was the woman behind this historic first. It was not just a personal win for Hopa, but a victory for a community that continues to be underrepresented, stigmatised and even harmed for a condition outside of their control, particularly in Africa.

At just 31, the multi-hyphenate Hopa is a force to be reckoned with across different spaces. Through her considerable advocacy work as an activist, Hopa has and continues to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about people living with albinism as well as changing what complex representation looks like within mainstream media. In 2018, Hopa was named the one of the world's 100 most influential women by the BBC. After hanging up her gown as a legal prosecutor after four years of working with victims of sexual assault, Hopa is on a mission to change skewed perceptions and prejudices when it comes to standards of beauty.

As a current fellow at the World Economic Forum, she is also working towards changing editorial oversights that occur when depicting historically underrepresented and vulnerable groups. The fellowship programme prepares individuals for leadership in both public and private sectors, and to work across all spheres of global society.

OkayAfrica recently spoke to Hopa to find out about how it felt to be the first woman with albinism to be featured on Vogue, the current projects she's working on and what's in the pipeline for her.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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