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  • Debrah Igbinedion

Interviewing Cecilia Anim at the Inclusion Café Book Club

I interviewed Cecilia Anim, the first Black president of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), alongside my colleague Kaitlene, who played a leading role in organising the first bi-monthly Inclusion Café Book Club organised by RCN which took place on zoom. We centred our discussion on the theme of migration and referenced Moving Beyond Borders: A History of Black Canadian and Caribbean Women in the Diaspora, for our session. Cecilia Anim is a tenacious, passionate, and determined individual who preserved against all odds of racism in nursing. Throughout the conversation, she emphasised on the importance of celebrating the African identity in the UK in remembrance of our roots and culture.

Anim attended school in Ghana and completed her midwifery training there at Anokye Hospital in 1968. She moved to the UK in the 1970s and completed her general nursing course at Hull Royal Infirmary, as a staff nurse in paediatrics and later completed her clinical specialist training in advanced family planning at the Bloomsbury School of Nursing. Anim began working at London Margaret Pyke Centre in the 1979 and continues to work as a clinical nurse specialist in sexual reproductive health, alongside her Royal College of Nursing presidency.

As a member of the Royal College of Nursing for over 30 years, Anim served as deputy president in 2010-2014 before being elected president in 2015. She is currently serving her second term as president having been re-elected in 2017, making her the first Black president to ever serve Royal School of Nursing. Her story has inspired me stay fixated on the end goal of a journey and to never give up under any circumstances. In her own experience, when one door closed, a thousand doors opened because of the passion and love she has for her career. For her, being part of the RCN helped combat the isolation she might have felt as an African woman in the British health service. “The best moment has been when I qualified as a nurse, and though I was the only Black student in my cohort, I felt very special…the highlight of my nursing is becoming an RCN steward and all that that brings to your life. The challenges, the excitement and trying to support your co-workers and I think in doing that you become part of a team, you were no more that little Black nurse”.

Several members of YHP had interviewed Anim back in 2019, and this second opportunity for us to listen to her story in a different setting underlined the importance of listening to and celebrating African women’s voices, and ensuring their stories are shared with younger generations.

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