Pepukayi's bookshop: Former BLF member's Maa Maat Cultural Centre
Sometime in January 2017, my friend and I decided to attend an on-campus event hosted by the “Black, social, political society” (BSPS); there I met Kabejja, who was advertising to recruit more young people into the Young Historians Project (YHP) at the end the event. I was intrigued by the possibility of learning how to film, going to interviews and delving into a part a historical struggle that was dismissed in my school’s curriculum but greatly impacts my life now. A few weeks later, I became a member of the team officially.
After a few weeks of joining the project, I went along to a pre-interview meeting with 3 members of the team to meet a former of the Black Liberation Front (BLF) called Pepukayi. He owns a niche bookshop in High Road, Tottenham, full of books that can only be described as “very Black”. The bookshop revolves around black pride, black history and black art; I have never entered a bookshop that heavily reflects the black experience to such a strong degree.
However, the meeting did not take place in his bookshop, he escorted us to a hall decorated with artefacts from the African diaspora such as Kwanzaa candles, paintings and statues. Discussions with Pepukayi made me realise that he is a man with a passion for black liberation, it could be felt in his words, the way he dressed, his love for his bookshop.
On the 22nd April 2017, we went to his bookshop again to film the interview. This time, I had the chance to learn more about filming, I chose the role of being the sound recordist for the interview, it was a lot easier than I thought, the main issue I had was figuring out what wire goes into what slot; after a lot of trial and error, we were good to go.
During the setting up for the filming of the interview, Pepukayi and his friend, Isis, who also was involved in a bookshop set up by the BLF, and a member of the YHP team, Ama, had an extensive discussion on Jamaican culture and history, concerning Rastafarianism, Marcus Garvey and etc. As a British Nigerian, I am usually not around such discussions so I just listened rather than attempting to have an input, I realised how instrumental Rastafarianism was for Jamaicans politically and socially and I also took in the critique of Rastafarianism that Pepukayi put forward. After a little over an hour of setting up and talking, we were ready to film. The interview went very smoothly, with little interruption.
I noticed that Pepukayi had a lot of advice he wanted to impart on the young generation and was extremely passionate about it. He wanted black people to have pride in who they are and he asserted his political aim of Pan-Africanism. As I said before, Pepukayi is a man of passion, this is something that is impossible to overlook, it will be seen in the upcoming documentary.
Enna Uwaifo, YHP member