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In memory of Arikẹ, our late founder

1947-2020

musician, visual artist, teacher, therapist, inspirational blues harp player, father, grandfather, a proud Black man

"Whatever a Black man can do to remind himself that he is fully human, to do it and to keep doing it… I don't think we need to do more than that…it is just to remind ourselves that we are fully human.”

Arikẹ, 2020

At Origins Untold we continue to remember all that our founder, Arikẹ, did to love, support and unite Black, African and Caribbean-heritage people in our community. Arikẹ brought our organisation into existence in 2016, and our work continues to be driven by his far-reaching vision, the strength of his principles and the spark of his spirit.

Black Men Are Good Men

As a therapist, artist and community activist, Arikẹ had extensive experience of supporting people to empower themselves, and a particular interest in supporting Black men. He invested many decades of his life raising awareness of the fact that ‘Black Men Are Good’, using this notion as a reminder of Black men’s full humanity, and as a rallying cry in the struggle to end racism.  

Arikẹ counselled Black men individually and in groups at the Afro Caribbean Mental Health Association in Brixton; Broadmoor Hospital; Tudor Views, Birmingham, a rehabilitation hostel for ex-offenders; and the Black African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN). In his counselling work he highlighted the importance of encouragement and praise for Black men, focusing on their emotional wellbeing and the interlocking nature of racism and mental health oppression. 

Arikẹ brought his awareness of the structural nature of these oppressions to all that he did. In Folkestone he was a great supporter, collaborator and friend to many local Black men, laying the foundation for the building of a meaningful local community of Black, African and Caribbean-heritage people. 

Bench for Arikẹ

The bench was designed by Peter Phillips and made by Jacques Raymond of Cut Once Woodworks. The seat is based on one of Arike’s blues harps (harmonicas) and the back of the bench is an abstraction inspired by the African coastline and the organic shape of the rocks of the Zig Zag Path.Thanks to Folkestone & Hythe District Council for their support.

Origins

‘Origins’ was an organisation formed by Arikẹ in 2016. Having previously lived in cities with diverse populations, Arikẹ’s aim since moving to Folkestone was to create opportunities for Black people and others from the local community to come together, get to know one another and feel at home. 

Drawing together a group of friends and co-organisers, Arikẹ worked intensely to highlight the contributions of Black, African and Caribbean-heritage people in the local area, throughout history and in the present day. His work contributed a sense of ‘living Black History’ to Folkestone as he made space for the stories, creative work and points of view of longtime Black residents, as well as newer arrivals.

What started as a small annual celebration of Black History Month expanded to become a programme of performances, conversations, family workshops, film screenings and social gatherings extending first throughout October, then throughout the year. Now, as Origins Untold, we strive to continue Arikę’s legacy, with his emphasis on creativity informing everything we do as we grow our community in Folkestone and further afield.

Arikẹ’s extraordinary talents, profound generosity and deep-rooted optimism are missed by all of us who knew him, and particularly by those of us who have taken up the task of continuing his work with Origins Untold. His memory continues to comfort us, inspire us, and drive us forward. 

Words by Leah Thorn, Aida Silvestri and Josie Carter, June 2022

Inspirations and Artworks of Arikẹ

Videos to Remember Arikẹ

Rotimi Akinsete asks a series of brothers about their reflections on all that's been happening around black deaths under Covid and George Floyd’s murder. This conversation is with BAATN Leadership Member, counsellor, artist and musician Arike.

Arikẹ Busking in New York, 2020

Arikẹ, Black Lives Matter, Folkestone, 2020

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