Arts + Culture

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.

 

 

 

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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