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Accessed: 2 August 2007

Ligali is a not for profit organisation which promotes and campaigns for issues regarding representation and identity for African British people. Ligali was originally conceived as a means of combating the negative portrayal of African people in the media through an intense monitoring of all output by producers. The organisation has expanded since its inception in 2000 to include pertinent community issues and problems faced by members of the African British community.

Founded by the activist Toyin Agbetu, the organisation now comprises six individuals within the 'Ligali Family', with specialist roles in youth development, historical research and media affairs. Founded on Malcom X's principle of, 'by any means necessary', Ligali is an active organisation committed to the cause of Pan-Africanism. With a constitution, an ethos, a commitment to 'African principles', and a dedicated number of supporters who contribute to the variety of forums, Ligali is a well-organised, far-reaching web-based community. The most significant output of Ligali has been the drive to ensure that the representation of Africans in the British media is called into account. Members of the organisation contributing to the website's forums, as well as the core team, regularly draw attention to the negative roles given to African British peo in television, radio and film. The BBC have come in for significant criticism by Ligali, who have viewed the broadcasters output as hostile to Africans, and decisions such as discontinuing the programmes hosted by Henry Bonsu and discontinuing Moira Stewart's place as a prominent newscaster. This 'mediawatch' has critiqued output such as The Last Slave (Channel 4), Don't Shoot the Messenger (BBC) and the recent 2007 film Amazing Grace. These examples are all critiqued by Ligali for their negative portrayal of Africans, their implicit racism and significantly in Amazing Grace the apparently wilful neglect of any African involvement in the ending of the trade in enslaved Africans. This issue of enslavement is especially important as it is one which was taken up by Ligali during the 2007 commemoration of the 1807 abolition act. Ligali's members criticised the supposed 'Wilberfest' which was promoted by the British Government, calling for an apology for enslavement and recognition of the crimes committed by Britain against Africans. This culminated in Toyin Agbetu's protest, directed at Queen Elizabeth, former Prime Minster Tony Blair and members of the British establishment at Westminster Cathedral, during a special service to mark the passing of the 1807 Act.

Whilst the organisation is concerned with promoting African identity, it also assists in creating and maintaining a particular version of this character. Ligali forms a means of mobilising African British peoples with its detailed ethos and constitution. This constitution promotes 'African self determination' by stating the group's commitment to education, addressing social exclusion and debating issues of health and welfare which are thought 'specific to the African British community.' Labelling what is and what is not significant and what constitutes the African British community is a means of forming and defining this group. The Ligali group stresses a concern for language and terminology, listing words which are deemed correct and acceptable and those which are thought unacceptable and offensive. The term 'African British' is preferred over others such as, 'Black' or Black British', which are viewed as removing the historical and cultural ties with Africa. The term 'Maafa' a Kiswahili term meaning 'the great tragedy' is also promoted as a term to describe the history of African enslavement. An interesting feature of this self determination through language is the addition of contexts in which these particular words or phrases should be used and the encouragement of members to contribute to this list. Ligali in this respect emphasises the importance of language in both representation of the self and representation to others, it also give a means by which members can identify and understand themselves. This formation of a specific community through Ligali is evident in the debate forums hosted by the organisation. A variety of topics are covered in these forums, but representation of Africans in the British media forms a significant thread. Members of Ligali contribute to these forums stating with the ability to state whether they are of African descent and their cultural heritage. The forums are regulated by the Ligali team and contributors who are deemed offensive warned about their behaviour. Ligali members can also be observed to regulate themselves as posts are dismissed and the principles of Pan-Africanism as defined by the Ligali constitution observed. Ligali therefore provides a means of advancing and maintaining an African identity.

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