BF celebrates Black History Month with Pat Aiyenuro.
October is Black History Month in the UK, an annual month that celebrates and reflects on Black history, arts and culture, as well as recognising the achievements and roles of Black people in shaping history.
To celebrate Black History Month, throughout October we are asking some of the members of our community to tell us more about themselves and their lives in fencing, as well as what the month means to them and how Black history has shaped their lives.
Pat, how are you involved in fencing? What does this mean you do?
I am a board member, on the board of trustees of a fencing club, BFA team manager and BFA International Liaison. All these roles are really important to me and very rewarding. I feel that I am contributing towards the improvement and participation in Fencing -whilst supporting Fencers of all ages, genders and different cultural backgrounds.
How did you get started in fencing?
My son Soji attended a taster session at Camden Fencing Club when he was 10 years old and loved it. My journey started out as a fencing parent -helping out at club level.
What three words would you use to describe your involvement in fencing?
Challenging, Rewarding, Supportive
What is your favourite thing about fencing?
The camaraderie that fencers have is appealing. You meeting people from all over the world from an array of backgrounds.
Can you tell us the most unusual thing you’ve done as part of your fencing life?
I was brought in by Beazley’s (one of our former sponsors) to tweet all the fencing results for London 2012 Olympics at the excel centre.
What is your proudest fencing achievement?
Being awarded a British Empire Medal for my services to sport.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born in Manchester in the early 60s – however, my parents are both originally from Nigeria, Delta State, capital Asaba. They came to the UK in the early 1960s
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is important to me as I see it as a start to educating and celebrating the experiences and achievements of black people. It gives us a sense of pride to show that we have contributed to the development of the modern world through various media: arts, science, music, dance, technology – the list is endless. It is also a time to remember and reflect on the history, hardship and struggles that black people have experienced and are still experiencing. A dedicated month is inspiring and a start; however, I feel it is important to know that as a black woman black history is remembered and the struggles felt throughout the year. It is important that we don’t allow historical amnesia to continue and remind all citizens that black people were also a contributing part of world development.
How has Black History shaped your life?
There is a rich culture that I am proud of. I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother and parents, who were able to share some of their experiences growing up and the struggles they went through – and the generations before them had relayed the same message to them whilst they were growing up. This enabled them to pass on that rich culture. That, in turn, has made me a strong woman who has embraced my Nigerian roots and fused them with my British upbringing. However, remembering the struggles, hardships, achievements – makes me want to leave my mark, no matter how small that may be, and be a role model, so that future generations can learn and realise their own potential.
What three words would you use to describe Black History Month?
Empowering, Reflective, Informative
Who is your biggest inspiration? / Are there any influential Black role models in your life?
My mother is my biggest inspiration as she is a strong black woman who has raised a large family and instilled values, determination and a can-do attitude in myself and all my siblings. I have several role models. However, two of my main black role models are: Maya Angelou and Tessa Sanderson
Who is someone making Black History today?
I am proud to say that the list is endless – John Boyega, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Van Jones, Kimberley Crenshaw, Mo Ibrahim, Trevor McDonald……
If people could watch, read or listen to one thing this month to understand more about Black History what would you suggest, and why?
That’s a tough one- I will pick two:
Movie- Hidden Figures (a favourite of mine) The untold story of the three African-American, female mathematicians who helped win the Space Race even as they dealt with sexism and racism from their colleagues. Based on a true story, Hidden Figures follows the events of the U.S. and Russian race to put the first man in orbit.
Althea: A feature-length documentary, exploring the rise of Althea Gibson – the tennis star who grew up in Harlem and made a name for herself in the tennis world during the segregated 1950s. She went on to become the first African-American player to win at Wimbledon.
Watch on: Sky Documentaries / Now TV
Complete the sentence…“When I’m not involved with fencing I am…”
“…Relaxing with family and friends or working as a medical entomologist.” I work on insects of medical importance – mainly Mosquitoes and Sand flies – at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
My middle name is Obiageli and it means – she who came to enjoy life.
Read more: Pat’s recent election to the board of BF.
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