Our youths are in danger - that seems to be the common cry in almost any diaspora community that you go into. This month, we sit down with Sierria Leonian Londonite - Alim Kamara who is doing phenomenal work with youths in London. He is a youth consultant and founder of the award winning community youth organization ATG (Any Thing Goes) Empire.
This community orientated entrepreneur travels around the country teaching creative writing, raising self-esteem and sexual health education. He encourages and challenges his listeners to not only “talk about the problem, but also do something about it”. The Office of Deputy Prime Minister and The Peace Alliance are just two of numerous organizations from whom Alim has received awards for his commitment to community youth work.
We sit down with Alim Kamara whose name means seeker of knowledge and we talk youth,hip hop, education and poetry. Remember to listen to the podcast.
Alim Kamara’s story is quite life changing. He tells a story of being a young boy who hated education until an uncle took him in hand and got very interested in his school work. That uncle taught him how to seek knowledge. In his words he explains, “you know I hated reading when I was growing up because I was not good at it. I had an uncle who literally had to force my cousins and I, to learn new words randomly but his persistence developed me. Now, I am a geek nerd and I want to learn new things and new words. I thank him for that persistence. Once, I decided that I wanted to get into the creative arts , it became more of a reason to read more, study more and learn more. I wanted to listen to the word of the stories and learn something from it.”
One could say that this was his introduction to the world of griots. A griot in West African Society is a poet, often a traveling poet or historian who inspires and empowers the community via his or her words and actions. These special class of people have always had an important role in West African societies, especially countries like Mali. He was empowered by his uncle to seek knowledge and now he empowers young people through words and education that they can be somebody.
Alim Kamara studied Business at the University because that was what was expected of him as a Sierria Leonian immigrant in the United Kingdom. At that time, he was scared of what people will say, if he chose to follow the whispers and pursue his passions. After graduating with a first class honors from the university, he followed the whispers and he eventually got the support of his family when they saw him on Television. He shares that , “it is all about persistence with what you are doing. People eventually come around when you are growing and developing in that field”.
Alim is all about development and he has been developing young people. We talked about the crisis that seems to exist in educating young boys particularly young boys of color. The question was really, from his interaction with this demographic, what exactly is the problem? He shares that these boys that seem cast aside and assumed to be stupid, are really not. After all, many of these boys can recite verbatim, the words from their favorite artists. The problem really lies in the method of teaching and the inability of the educational system to use relevant materials to engage young minds.
He has found that through using hip hop and poetry, he has been able to get into the midst of young people to engage them and get them fascinated with words, reading and telling life stories creatively.
It is old news that Hip Hop as a genre has gotten a lot of flack from society, as being a music for people who do not really appreciate the arts, lower class, thugery, denigrating women and more. The question is how do you implement this in education to engage the youth. He clarifies that video games and movies are often more violent and disrespectful to women. But, playing this music and looking at the themes discussed within this music, breaks boundaries and starts discussion. It gets them engaged once you start having conversations that stimulate the mind.
Beyond, being a prolific public speaker and youth consultant, Alim Kamara is also a recognized spoken words poet and hip hop artist. His story telling CD has sold out in the UK. He also intends to set up a trust called AKT now which stands for Alim Kamara Trust in which they will be sending educational materials back to Africa. He shares, that we “have to stop thinking that we do not have enough, the more you give, the more you receive in abundance".
Alim Kamara’s story is one of persistence. One of being treated shabbily but at the end of the day - his talent won the day. He is a recognized public speaker who speaks from a place of familiarity, empathy and originality. His words of wisdom to youths is simply get your I.P.O.D. I stands for identity - know who you are and know your history. Purpose- know the reason you wake up in the morning. O - your originality. I call what I do the the 3 unit - rapper, story telling and poetry.... be original, step away from the crowd. If you are with the crowd, you blend in. D is your sense of direction. When you tap into that direction you will know what your goals are and what your direction.
To enjoy Alim’s poetry, listen to his works or get him to visit your school to speak - please visit his sites:
http://www.alimkamara.comhttp://www.griotcollection.comhttp://facebook.com/alimkamara1http://www.youtube.com/seekingscholarInterview and Written by P.S
Last Updated ( Monday, 16 April 2012 21:58 )