Islington’s Black History Month celebrates Keskidee Centre

12:00 01 October 2011

Keskidee pictured in 1975

Keskidee pictured in 1975


»Art and film events celebrating black culture and the famous Keskidee Centre are planned during a bumper four-week festival.

Keskidee Centre history

- Founded in 1971 by Guyanese-born Oscar Abrams and his fellow trustees, the Keskidee took its name from a singing Caribbean bird.

- The Keskidee became known for its thriving theatre productions and political rallies on topics such as Rhodesia.

It offered legal advice and classes in literacy, typing, cookey, photography, painting and pottery.

- The centre featured in Bob Marley’s 1978 Is this Love video which starred a young Naomi Campbell

- The Keskidee Centre closed because of diminished funding and growing debts in the early 1980s

- A permanent memorial in the form of a green plaque was unveiled at the Keskidee site by Tottenham MP David Lammy in April this year

Islington’s Black History Month, which runs throughout October, features a film festival, exhibitions, literary talks, poetry and performances.

The artistic theme pays homage to the former Keskidee Centre in Gifford Street, Islington, which was Britain’s first art and cultural centre for black people.


The final festival event will be held on the site in Gifford Street, which is now occupied by the Christ Apostolic Church.

The event between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday October 27 will celebrate its legacy.

Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Keskidee educational officer, said: “It was unique. There was nowhere else that you could find that kind of ambience to nurture creativity.”

Black History Month events include an online photographic exhibition Our City Through a Lens at the Almeida Theatre in Almeida Street, Islington, hosted by community group Parents 4 Parents and charting the life journeys of black residents.

A marketing event at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday October 6 between 8.30am and 1pm will offer advice on starting a business.

Drama students from Islington Arts and Media School in Turle Road will stage a performance on Thursday, October 13, between 6.30pm and 7.30pm based on black innovation in civil rights and arts.

There will be a premiere of American film Traces of Trade, which documents the legacy of the largest slave trading family in the US, on Saturday, October 15, at King’s Place in King’s Cross between 2pm and 4pm, .

Cllr Catherine West, the leader of Islington Council said: “The festival showcases the extensive influence black artists and entrepreneurs have had on life in Islington.

“From writers to business people, musicians to educators, black culture is intrinsically part of Islington culture. It’s a shared history that enriches our community.Islington BME Forum have arranged a diverse and inspirational programme. I hope residents will take part whatever their background.”

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