Behind the scenes of the promotional video for consequences, breaking the negative cycle.
Public speaking has become a prime focus for Emeka Egbuonu. With three years experience he has the ability to grasp the attention of diverse audiences around the world through his passion, knowledge and charisma. Although presently working on two book projects, he is fully committed to sharing his experiences with young people and those interested in the progression of youth. His zeal for young people is evident in his day job. Emeka currently works at ETS (Education Transition Service) helping young people who have been excluded from school be reintegrated into mainstream education by unpicking their barriers to learning. In his spare time ‘The Crib’ youth project in Hackney remains a significant commitment. Emeka attended the club as a young person and now is part of the management team.
An avid reader and inspirational author Emeka also dabbles in the creative art of poetry. With the aim to reach the younger generation his words transcend gender, age and ethnic boundaries packed full of empowering messages. Still a young man in his own right, at just 26 Emeka is a positive role model who has achieved exceptional things in a short space of time. Dedicated and ambitious he aspires to engage even more young people with new ideas and projects to come.
The release of ‘Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle’ has pushed Emeka into the spotlight, providing opportunities for exposure in local and national news, on the radio and as a guest speaker for a number of events. Acclaimed as “highly informative” by Tottenham MP David Lammy, the impact of the book has spread around the world. Emeka has propelled from working in his local area to engaging with thousands in the UK, Germany and North America.
The focus on public speaking is to concentrate his ambitions on inspiring young people through words. His objectives are to enable young people to recognise their worth and fulfil their potential while providing professionals with insight on effective ways to motivate disengaged young people. Main topical concerns include youth unemployment, youth violence, gang culture, under achievement in education and supporting teenage parents.
Recent Guest Speaker Appointments:
If you are interested in booking Emeka Egbuonu to speak at your events, school, organisation or have questions send your enquiries to;
Wolverhampton Citizens for Change (WCFC) Conference
Saturday 24th March 2012
I am very pleased to invite you to our second conference which will be held on Saturday 24 March 2012 from 12.00 noon – 6.00 pm at The Connaught Hotel, Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton WV1 4S4.
Building on the success of the inaugural conference, which resulted in a total of 24 delegates indicating an interest in joining WCFC, this will be delivered through a variety of formats including presentations, workshops and debate. We anticipate this to be an exciting, stimulating and challenging conference which will give attendees the opportunity to contribute to and influence the future activities of WCFC.
The conference will draw on the experience from Keynote Speaker Emeka Egbuonu, writer and youth worker for the Crib Youth Project who grew up in Hackney and is the founder of Consequences, a programme aimed at giving 13-19 year olds the confidence and skills to avoid getting involved with gangs; or help them to exist gangs.
This will be an excellent opportunity to become inspired and invigorated to contribute to the work of WCFC.
Enclosed with this letter is a booking form and information about the four strands to assist you in making a decision about which workshop to attend.
I sincerely hope you will be able to attend and request that you complete and return the booking form by Wednesday 14 March 2012.
To book a place email the booking form to: email@example.com
Chair – Wolverhampton Citizens For Change (WCFC)
Image by: Stefan Paul: twitter @sketchdesignsuk
Are you willing to kill?
Last week I had the opportunity to have a discussion with a group of young people who are actively involved in a gang in Hackney, East London. Their allegiance is decorated on their skin with tattoos of their postcode and gang name. They gave their consent for the documentation of our discussion based on anonymity. The intention of the dialogue was to explore their reasoning regarding their gang involvement. None of these young people are engaged with local youth projects.
Initially the conversation focused on questions about gang hierarchy. With a unanimous voice they declared that they answer to no one and will act on impulse. One replied “the time we use to answer to ‘olders’ (older gang member) is long gone”. “You have to put in the work for your team; this is how you get your status up. Eventually when people know your name they will fear you as an individual or your gang.” Another shouted “at the end of the day it is all about respect”
I intercepted their outbursts with a personal account of my annual video tribute dedicated to all the young people who had died in London due to gang and youth violence. Expressing my sorrow at this situation I enquired about their feelings towards youth deaths. The response I got did not surprise me, the oldest one exclaimed “this is how it is now, people become immune unless they are directly affected”. There was no emotion on their faces, lacking empathy they were devoid of care. The desensitisation to youth fatalities was evident in their reactions. It became apparent that this hard outer shell was embedded into their survival technique ‘never show signs of weakness’.
My questioning shifted to serious topics: Are you willing to kill for your ideals, your gang, or where you live?
The smallest out of the group replied; “we are in too deep, I have enemies who probably will not hesitate to kill me if they saw me slipping (caught off guard). That is why I am always prepared for whatever the occasion and if that means dropping a body in the process then so be it”
Although many may be shocked by this, I was not. Unfortunately this is not the first occasion in which I have witnessed this same content from young people. I am always reminded of a quote from the film ‘we own the night’ “I would rather be judged by 12, than be carried by 6”. After I told them about that quote, they all agreed, saying that is exactly how they see it.
What would it take for you to move on from this lifestyle?
They all exchanged glances before one of the quiet ones who hadn’t yet participated in the discussion piped up: “to be honest even if I decided to go legit, I would still be in the game because like they said before we are in too deep. I would probably have to move out of London totally to actually concentrate on other things. Apart from that no way, my guard stays up 24’s.”
It is young people with this mentality that I am consistently attempting to engage with. Their loyalty to their peers and self perception as gang members forms a stumbling block from opportunities to change. Although weapons cause considerable damage, the real danger is spread through the mindset of these young people. Minor altercations can now result in a fatal shooting or stabbing, leaving yet another family with a scar that can never be healed. I attempt to get these young people to attend my consequences workshops or engage in youth activities but they refuse. However I consistently converse with them to challenge their way of thinking and provide an alternative lifestyle to the one they currently uphold.
More senseless killings
A few days after our discussion, I found out about the fatal stabbing which took the life of Kwame Ofosu-Asare (17) in Brixton. Reading the story made me angry and reminded me of the pain of losing someone. Also thinking about the family and how they will now cope with this void in their lives.
I am reminded of the period when I was doing research for my book and a man in his late 40’s said to me “do not waste your time it is inevitable, they will continue to kill each other”. I chose not to accept what he said, that can only happen if we do nothing and allow this to continue. The thing is people do not think it is their problem until something happens that affect them. The way things are anyone could be a victim.
I wrote my book Consequences to enhance my ability to spread my message to people around the country and of the young people I work with that believe in change. Thankfully I have been doing that by speaking and working in schools, at youth projects, prisons, and in the next month I will be running more consequences workshops, speaking at youth conferences in Wolverhampton, and also in Berlin.
Although I enjoy communicating, action is essential for change. Due to this I have enlisted positive young men to take charge and make an impact on someone’s life through mentoring. There seems to be an outcry when the police kill someone, while young people are killing each other every day, with a lack of effort for change and justice. One thing I learnt from my time in Los Angeles, speaking with former OG Crip gang member is to always have hope no matter how bad things may seem.
My repetition is for emphasis: everyone can play a part no matter how small.
If we strive to change mindsets, promote ambition and invest in young people then we would not need to tell them to put the knives and guns down. They would be in a position to make the right choices. This is not the time to give up, or to remain silent. A generation of future doctors, lawyers, prime ministers and teachers are wrapped up in a detrimental lifestyle of violence where innocent people are dying. Complacency cannot bring change.
When I say division am talking about;
Africans against Africans, Caribbean’s against Caribbean’s, Africans against Caribbean’s it’s like a bunch of slaves on a ship bragging about who has the best looking chain…
When I say division am talking about;
the misguided youth who are ready to kill each based on geographic territory that they will never own
When a 14 year old black boy can say his biggest threat is someone that looks like him.
When I say division am talking about;
The shades of black, that makes some believe that they are superior to others because of the tone of their skin. Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
seems like the media cop oration have more say on what your perception of beauty is.
When I say division am talking about;
Individualism, the Everyman for himself attitude, that keeps us from progressing.
we seem to be consumers in billion pound industries that we have no stake in. Not creating and supporting our businesses keeps us in economic subordination.
Living in a a world of cause and effect, if this the effect then what was the cause
I close my eyes to imagine the pains of the past to search for the cause
Meritorious Manumission was legal act of freeing slaves for good deeds
Turning slaves against each other for money and greed
So if you snitched on another slave
This would earn you freedom,
Willie lynch theory was based on division
A plantation owner based in the caribbean
to spread his theory was now his mission
Divide and conquer is what he envisioned
He was paid to teach how to control slaves
Divide them through shades of colour, north against south, house against field
Keep some progressing, then play on their fears
this will divide them for hundreds of years.
My message is not to use the past as an excuse
But learn and move forward
So we must now break the chains of division
Sharing the knowledge is now my mission
Replace divide with unite
United so our youth can become generation of achievers and thinkers
United so we may respect our differences and learn from each other
United so we can may portray positives images of our people to the world
United so we can build business and create wealth
Some might call me an idealist, but I would rather do some thing than do nothing
We’re all in this together…. (David Cameron) ‘Apparently’
An explosion of reality has hit the headlines as the number of NEETs has reached epic figures. With 1.6million 18-24’s Not in Education, Employment or Training – what exactly are these young people doing? Being young in the UK now means: No EMA, Unaffordable Tuition Fees, No Jobs regardless of degree certificates, No Prospects and No Property… Adolescence and dependency continues as young people are starved of opportunities for independence. But, don’t worry young people, the government is working tirelessly to create opportunities to earn minimum wage!
With the current recession, unemployment has hit all ages yet the youngest with fewer gems on their CV are pushed out of the magnitude of applications leaving them jobless and dependant on benefits to survive. The government has responded to this crisis with a £1bn Youth Contract Plan providing opportunities for these young people based on apprenticeships, work experience placements and an aim to have reached 500,000 unemployed young people over three years. But there’s a catch. Of course. Firstly the money for this scheme is not new; it will be sucked out of the taxes of working class people, as the poor mop up the mess of the bankers and knee jerk reactions of the coalition government. This strategy – an inverted Robin Hood methodology forces young people to work for free under the guise of gaining ‘work experience’ with their meagre benefits docked should they refuse. This modern-day exploitation highlights the youth slave labour which benefits businesses and the Tories’ by reducing unemployment figures. While money has been promised to private-sector businesses to subsidise 160,000 workplaces, what is the longevity of this strategy when the money runs out? At best it has been proposed that this scheme ‘may lead to a job’ – doesn’t sound very hopeful to me.
The label NEET can be applied to a vast majority of young people with differing circumstances, some of which are well educated with high academic achievements, who require a job and not a half hearted minimum wage substitute covering their horrific debt with a plaster and puncturing their balloon ideology that education automatically leads to success. Other young people have low academic abilities and are poorly equipped for working life despite years in compulsory education. These young people may benefit from the Youth Contract initially, but if they are forced into jobs they hate, or are not given the necessary tools and skills to achieve a sustainable career this could add to their overall demoralisation.
While targeting figures, like a paracetamol cure, it does nothing but hide the underlying issue. The government is focusing on the current cohort of NEET’s, however another generation is already at risk of the same path. What is being done to prevent these young people of becoming NEET? Are early interventions working? As a youth worker in Hackney I am often surrounded by young people who have given up hope, with few or no aspirations they feel they have little to look forward to. Impartial careers guidance that once supported young people on their path has been annihilated and choices have been replaced by coercion. It is important that young people are identified as individuals and not stereotyped by statistics or labels. The focus needs to be what will work best for the young people themselves and not what will keep the government from bad publicity.
By Jemilea Wisdom
George the poet is a young talented poet from North West London and a student at Cambridge University. He has performed at many venues in London and also performed at my book launch.
Suli Breaks is a young ambitious poet from North London. Using visual media to express his words.