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BAME pioneers honoured

REMARKABLE: From left - MOBO founder Kanya King, architect David Adjaye and sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp with Baroness Amos

THE UNIVERSITY of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has honoured three pioneering figures in the field of art, architecture and music at its 2017 graduation ceremony.

Kanya King, founder of the MOBO awards, was given an honorary doctorate, while architect Sir David Adjaye and sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp were made honorary fellows.

Director of SOAS Baroness Valerie Amos said:

“We are delighted to welcome these remarkable individuals. For me personally, it is particularly special that we celebrate three figures with strong African and UK roots whose work is strongly connected to culture, heritage and to pushing the boundaries of our understanding of identity and place. These are important themes for us at SOAS, where we constantly reflect on and challenge conventional understandings.

“In each of their fields, their achievements and activities are global in scope and they have been innovative and forward- thinking. They also take time to ‘give back’ to communities in their work. They are excellent role models for SOAS students.”

Adjaye is widely recognised as the leading architect of his generation, and his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. Last year saw the opening by then-US president Barack Obama of Sir David‘s biggest project to date, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. In London, his projects include the Idea Store, the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Rivington Place, and the Bernie Grant Centre for the performing arts.


Douglas Camp is known for sculpting powerful works from steel that engage viewers’ emotions by their colour and invention, but also challenge them to confront the historical inequalities and contemporary political challenges Africans face and to imagine the positive responses to these.

Entrepreneur King founded the MOBO organisation in 1996 to recognise the outstanding achievements of artists who perform music in genres such as gospel, jazz, R&B, soul, reggae, hip hop and grime. Since then, the MOBO Awards have played an instrumental role in elevating black music and culture to mainstream popular status. They have also helped to launch the careers of many of today‘s biggest artists. King is also a popular public speaker, as well as founding the MOBO Trust, which advances education in the performing arts, particularly among children and young people from diverse backgrounds.

SOAS was founded as the School of Oriental Studies in 1916. Since then, it has become renowned all over the world and especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East for its academic research.

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