Born in Zimbabwe, Johannes Gonani has lived in Scotland since 2005 and describes himself as a ‘Christian, husband and proud father’. Johannes’ passion is working with diverse minority communities and he is the Co-founder and Operations Manager at charity Pachedu.
Pachedu was set up in 2016 to help minority groups in the West of Scotland be more visible and pro-active in shaping their communities. Johannes also works part-time as Project Coordinator at West of Scotland Regional Equality Council.
For Black History Month, we are making space on our platform for Black Leaders and in this blog, we speak to Johannes to hear about the importance of grassroots Black voices and he discusses Pachedu’s recent work addressing racial imbalance in a COVID age.
“Black history month is important as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on people who have been dehumanized systematically for over four hundred years. It is important to be able to address the issue of racial imbalances and also to get some sense of accountability”.
“There is also something fundamentally wrong with a curriculum that does not seem to acknowledge the presence or participation of black people and Black History Month is a tiny opportunity to try and address this.”
“It is funny that a lot of what is documented about black people, especially in Western countries, were not written by black people. The truth is that any narrative is as good as the motive of the person who coins it. If one adds two and two together, it is not difficult to conclude that black people have been deemed voiceless.”
“Our focus is on grassroots voices – people tend to listen to someone because of their clout and not necessarily on the merit of the substance in their narratives. At Pachedu, for Black History Month 2020, we chose to focus the narrative on children from our School of African Culture who worked in partnership with Renfrewshire council to create a “museum of me” exhibition.
“Another way Pachedu are celebrating Black History Month is through the launch of ‘Cultural Melting Pot’, a virtual compilation of music, dance, comedy and more to celebrate black voices. Cultural Melting Pot starts on the 26th October on Pachedu and Kairos social media platforms.”
Alongside their current activities for Black History Month, Pachedu are currently running a project to address the racial imbalances presented by the pandemic.
Their Connected and Empowered project was awarded £9,950 of National Lottery funding to distribute information to BME communities, and to provide support and learning on relevant health topics through COVID-19.
“Our target communities are almost entirely from diverse BME backgrounds and tend to fall into the low or middle-income bracket. Statistics have shown this group to be at a high risk from COVID-19 and other major health related challenges.
“Our [Connected and Empowered] project hopes to disseminate essential COVID-19 information to the communities we support through social media, in a number of community languages. We also facilitate mental health awareness events, deliver weekly health related sessions and post lockdown measures including arranging weekly local walks and family activities (with safety guidelines in place).