Africa Oyé’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, Gad Kuju has been recognised with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to diversity, multiculturalism and our very own festival in the New Years Honours.
Born in London in 1965, Kuju grew up in Hornsea, East Yorkshire before moving to Merseyside in 1988, currently living in New Brighton.
“I’m overwhelmed and delighted by the BEM award I would like to thank all my colleagues past and present who have made this possible” said Kuju. “In particular, the team and the board at Africa Oyé who have managed to keep the festival free for one and all”.
Having started his work in the local arts sector in the early 90s as a founder member of the RBP – a production company set up to facilitate and provide a platform for artistic achievement on the Wirral – Kuju worked as an intern at MIDA (Moving Image Development Agency). The current Oyé Chair was also part of a group of local art practitioners who successfully campaigned and lobbied Wirral Borough Council for an arts venue in the area, resulting in the creation of the Pacific Road arts and cultural venue in Birkenhead.
A two-day arts festival to launch the Wirral Council arts initiative, Hamilton Quarter, followed soon after, celebrating local artistic achievement in 1995 and again in 1996. Gad also worked on the New Brighton Rhythm and Blues Festival for a number of years as an event project co-ordinator in the late 90s, before joining the team at Africa Oyé.
Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney was delighted to learn of Kuju’s award.
“I’ve known Gad for twenty years and have had the pleasure of working with him as Oyé grew into something we could never have foreseen” Paul said. “It’s brilliant to see him recognised with such a prestigious award.”
Gad Kuju’s award comes just as preparations begin in earnest for Africa Oyé’s 27th annual festival of African and Caribbean music and culture.
Dates for this year’s Africa Oyé festival are set to be announced later this month with line-up announcements following in the coming months.
Everyone at Oyé wishes Gad many congratulations upon receiving this award and would like to thank him for his years of service and dedication to the organisation.