Kamal Ahmed

Kamal Ahmed

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

FoI at Waterstones/
Fri 26 October 2018

Kamal Ahmed

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Kamal Ahmed
Fri 26 October 2018,

Online tickets have sold out but tickets will be available to buy on the door tonight.

Kamal Ahmed’s childhood was British in every way – except for the fact he was brown. Half English, half Sudanese, with a Raleigh racing bike, rainbow-coloured jumpers, Adidas Gazelle trainers and cords, he was raised in 1970s London, at a time when being mixed-race meant being told to go home, even when you were born just down the road.

He tells the tale of growing up as one of the first generation of mixed-race British children, as a man who adopted the name Neil while growing up (it was better than ‘camel’) and who went on to occupy one of the most elite positions in the British establishment at the most British institution, the BBC.

Exploring what it means to be British, he adds to the ongoing conversation about race and identity in the UK through personal anecdotes, political analysis and a passionate belief in the ultimate good of this country.

‘Britain has found it hard to have the conversation about what it has become, now it has arrived in the 21st century. Our very Britishness has stopped us talking about our very Britishness. I do not speak Arabic. Have visited Khartoum just once. And therefore I have never had the “from home” narrative to fall back on, the stories at my father’s knee to use as nourishment. The romantic red dust of the Sahara is not mine, the call to prayer is not mine, not in the way the River Thames is mine, the sands of a Devon summer holiday beach are mine, and a pint down the pub is mine. I am as British as they come, like hot buttered toast and bacon sarnies. And still something of an alien in my own country.’

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