In 2018, Lives of Colour had the pleasure of meeting and having conversations with some of the most prominent poets and authors of our time Afua Hirsch, Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson during the Cheltenham Literature Festival. For me, this was an opportunity to not only interview guests of the festival, but to have in depth discussions in order to inspire and encourage those who aspire to become authors, poets and more. Furthermore, by connecting with such notable literary artists, Lives of Colour were able to demonstrate to many black and minority ethnic communities within Gloucestershire that the festival attracts guests from diverse backgrounds so that they too can be a part of one of the world renowned annual events that take place on their door step.
For many BME people and allies, October brings with it the exciting start to celebrations of Black History Month, but for those who live in Cheltenham it’s much more than this. This is when the literary world sets their eyes onto Cheltenham for the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival. And for those whose world revolve within literature, I was informed, it’s the one event that everyone looks forward to be part of each year, Nick Makoha. Meeting Nick and Roger was quite daunting at first for me but they really made me feel comfortable and was able to talk to them openly about the Windrush Generation and more.
One of my take -a -ways from our conversation was how much a good education has enabled them to curve out careers and opportunities for themselves to give them the freedom to become who they are.
In 2018, Afua Hirsch was one person I had seen on TV many a times and greatly admired from a distance so meeting her at the Cheltenham Literature Festival was a dream come true. We had a very limited time-slot for conversation, and with many questions rushing through my head I didn’t know where to start, but for me her poignant words on owning your own narrative were the best few minutes I could have asked for. The honesty and openness that came through was inspirational and really highlighted the importance of remaining true to yourself.
In addition, Afua mentions that in her new found position of fame and privilege, she takes it upon herself to conquer the daily challenges that come up against her, so she can blaze a path for people less fortunate than herself. Afua Hirsch continuously champions for her community and for that reason we at Lives of Colour greatly admire her.
Last year Cheltenham Literature Festival celebrated its 70 years, attracting authors well beyond Cheltenham; regional, national and international. We are honoured to have collaborated with Cheltenham Festivals over the years and thank Cheltenham Festivals, The Times and The Sunday Times for making the Cheltenham Literature Festival a great event year upon year.
Diversity is a reality, inclusion is a choice…