Halimat from TBMT-UK was able to speak with comparative sociologist, and educator, Abu Bakr Madden Al Shabazz on the experiences of black people in the UK and Wales , how he got into his field, and his plans and ambitions for his new company.
Brother Abu Bakr has been a Muslim for 23 years and specializes in Black and African pre and post Islamic history of the Moors (Blacks) and their scientific development in Northwest Africa and Andalusia in which Europe became highly developed, as part of his daw’ah programme.
As a Socio-Historian his expertise is in Black and African people’s behaviour, experiences and treatment as a minority group around the world. He is the leading person on these issues in Wales and has consulted with the Welsh Assembly Government about the future of Black people in the 21st century as well as black African-Caribbean boys in the public schooling system in England and Wales.
Wales Untlold – An international history of Cardiff & Newport.
Asalamu Alaikum brother thanks so much for speaking with us! Can you introduce yourself to our audience?
Walaikum Salaam sister and thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak to The Black Muslim Times and its readers. My name is Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz age 47. I am a Historian. Life Coach and Comparative Sociologist who was brought up in Cardiff, Wales. My grandparents on both sides arrived here from Jamaica in the late 50s and early 1960s before sending for my parents to join them here.
What led to your journey of becoming an educator in the social sciences?
I worked as a professional chef in the hotel and catering industry for almost 30 years. Although I started my career in 1985, as early as 1991 I decided to retrain as an educator. This was due to the overt racism within the educational system I experienced in comprehensive school which continued into the labour market.
I became an educator in social sciences due to my exploitation by senior managers in these industries. Although it was not my job description I was required to train unqualified and inexperienced white staff, who would eventually become head chefs and managers for the same establishment. I was unable to gain upward mobility for myself, despite my qualifications, but they could and this pained me deeply. I realised very early on that my diploma in French Cuisine, Food Nutrition & Science and Communication Skills did not automatically guarantee me a leadership position.
Going home after work feeling drained, degraded and deflated, I started to read books and watch programmes on racial prejudice. It was during this period I became acquainted with the works of the Jamaican born British sociologist the late Professor Stuart Hall who inspired me to become a social scientist.
You have recently founded an education and training consultancy; can you tell us more about it and the goals and impact you intend to have?
Yes! My company is a Communiversity Academy that offers high educational modules to clients and delegates in personal and professional development skills.
I have just recently designed an accredited module called: Great Black Women in History: Past and Present which I am now teaching through Newport City Council and Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre. I created this module on black women due to the negative exposure they have through the media. I wanted to offset the narrative and bring about a more balanced understanding with positive images from the the historical to the contemporary times.
I offer education and training programmes in life skills to improve the cognitive, emotional and physical well being of others.My education and training packs consist of: life coaching, education psychology, parenting skills, and much more.
My goals are to develop effective and high level education and training programmes that have relevance in peoples lives whether Muslims or non Muslims. Although my expertise is in Black and African peoples I am blessed ma’shallah with having a comprehensive knowledge due to the long hours of study I have done since 1990. I use a cross-cultural method along with a interdisciplinary approach to enhance my services that give it its unique selling point.
What challenges have you come across in your field and in establishing your company?
One challenge that comes to mind was during my training to become a lecturer; there was slight opposition to this, as black males are not known to go into a FE or HE lecturing profession.
During my years supply teaching to help my professional teaching development, whenever I entered the school’s reception area to check in; they would automatically assume I was there for security, or other non-teaching posts. When I said I was there to actually teach or to supervise teacher training programmes, they would usually blush with embarrassment for making an assumption just by looking at me.
The challenges in setting up my company only came after registering my business. This was really difficult due to the vision I had for the company in educational and training services. Companies would often question my qualifications and expertise in these fields; I would have to show them proof during the consultation,such as my five teaching qualifications and degrees along with other credentials and experiences I had in these fields. These are still challenges for me which leaves companies and perspective clients with question marks in my services.
What ways do you believe representation has impacted Black people across the U.K., particularly where you are based in Cardiff?
The impacts are various however as a comparative sociologist I know within the historical documents, journals, and the media that the dominant culture like to focus their entire attention on the black family structure has being pathological and crime breeding units.
Unfortunately, husband and wife relations are not as valued as boyfriend and girlfriend relations. Statistics now show the latter certainly don’t work, but produce the largest demography of children in the UK with unmet needs due to no contractual agreement by both parents before conception producing the baby-mother and baby-father syndrome.
Other impacts on the family are when we come into Islam such as our marriage ceremonies. We rarely announce it publicly as if we are ashamed of being a wife & husband team, the dowries are very small for our sisters, you will hardly find a walimah invitation, unemployment is high for the brothers and the parents who we are supposed to love and respect dearly, find out about our marriage only after the Nikah is complete. This is disrespectful, and when the marriage ends up a disaster which it usually does, we end up running back to the same parents we never involved in our marriage in the first place.
As a community we must realise that the family is the cornerstone of cultures, societies and civilisations and without it family units and groups of people cannot function productively. Based on your own studies and experience, what do you think the solutions are to accurate, realistic and quality representation of Black people, in various fields and industries, across the U.K.?
This is a really good question on the realistic representation of black people!
Across the UK I know when money leaves our hands about 80-90% of our income is spent – the rest goes for future investment which really doesn’t trickle down to the next generation. We consume more than we produce.
As for business ventures we are known globally and nationally by other racial groups, for not financially supporting our own businesses as well as we support theirs. Moreover, when we do support our own we expect favours, as if profits that results in sales for the black business person doesn’t really matter to them, when in actual fact it does so how else will they live if we don’t pay the advertised price? We must invest in ourselves that will naturally invest in our futures.
So the answer to your question in relation to positive representation is for us to invest rather than spend; as the latter does not return to us in the form of wealth, profits or savings. As for ownership of our homes; collective rather than individual pursuits will make it possible and sustainable and this could only be done if we buy, support and invest in our own endeavours so our children can rely on us for employment and not others that only give them a shelf life in employment.
Where can we find out more about your educational company and courses online?
You can find out more by visiting my company’s website on www.acapacademyuk.co.uk for further information. I will be uploading many presentations, radio interviews, documentaries and seminars I have done over the years onto the site and Youtube from 2017 inshallah.
Through social media you can find me on the following:
Many thanks to brother Abu Bakr for speaking with us!