Black in the Day is the brainchild of Tania Nwachukwu and Jojo Sonubi. The project is a visual archive of the black experience in the UK and it had it’s first scanning party a few weeks ago at Dark Sugars, the black owned chocolate shop on Brick Lane, London.
Tania is a British born Nigerian poet, dancer and actress. Jojo Sonubi, of Nigerian descent, is a graphic designer videographer and photographer. Both have merged their passions to create a project aimed at generating change. WOA caught up with Tania Nwachukwu, one half of this inspiring duo to find out more.
What was the inspiration behind the project Black in the Day?
It started last year when, Jojo asked me to do a poem for black history month in October. There were issues with the filming for it so it didn’t end up being done. Then in February 2016, he approached me again to do to film the same poem. At this point, I said I’d rather have photos of my parents as opposed to my face in the visuals for the poem. Then and there, we began talking about family photos and the need to preserve them. The name for the poem we had come together to film was called Black in the Day which Jojo thought would be a great name for the project.
Where do you intend to take the project? Which spaces do you see it being present and to what impact?
We see the project being present within the education system, libraries, galleries, museums and family bookshelves. We see the archive being accessible in these types of institutions and everywhere that black history is needed. We want it to change the narrative of the black experience in the UK. I feel there is very much one type of story portrayed when it comes to the black experience in the UK- for instance, the Windrush is often spoken of, but the story stops there.
So much has occurred after this point in regards to how black people live in the UK and how they have shaped the British landscape. We want to show that blackness is not one monolithic thing. Some families have been here for centuries, others for decades. There are many different stories and we are trying to tell those in a more honest way. We feel our stories have been told through other people’s lens, not our lens, and it’s not often been a lens concerned with our wellbeing.
Why do you think it’s of importance to document black lives in the UK?
It’s important because nobody is doing it in a way that gives our stories justice. Much has been done but more can be done. Our main thing is preservation. Once these images disappear, once grandparents and other subjects in the photos are no longer here, how do we access their stories? It’s important to have the images and also the stories attached to each photo.
We have to take the steps now to document and preserve or else the future is going to be a guessing game as to what the past was like. We also have a unique history. We know a lot about African Americans and how they live – however it’s also important for us to distinguish ourselves from that narrative. Black History month is African American focused for example civil rights, which is very important but things have happened in the UK that have affected our experience here. We are also a very young generation in terms of being black in the UK. Because of this there is a way of accessing first hand accounts of life over here and that is very important.
So far, what have you noticed through interacting with the photos you’re archiving?
I’ve noticed many similarities and differences, in terms of celebratory practises for example. For me, a person growing up in London, it is very interesting to see black people growing up in a place such as Dublin or Devon. This was alien to me. I didn’t know what it’s like being the only black person in a village, so it’s been very enlightening.
What’s your favourite family photo in your own archive?
There is a photo of my mum when she was younger which I love. It is of her in a wine shop. She’s dressed in a sheer red 80’s style top. She looks really regal and elegant and she’s posing in front of a wall of wine bottles. Red lips, red outfit. I love it because she looks beautiful
Lastly, where can we find you and how can somebody interested submit to the archive?
Come round the corner! You’ll find us at www.blackintheday.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a scanning social at Dark Sugars, Brick Lane from 5-10 pm where you can bring your photos to be scanned and also try some amazing chocolates whilst listening to some amazing DJ’s.
Tania can be contacted @Gwehgweh1 and Jojo can be contacted @jojoldn.