A BLACK History Month event will take place at Bradford's City Library next week, celebrating success stories and encouraging community cohesion.

The event, which is on Monday, 4 October, will honour "Black achievers and role models", and will also seek to create more "mutual understanding and harmony" between different communities in Bradford.

It has been organised by the Africa4U Association, a group which strives to bring about more cohesion in the district.

Its CEO, Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez, is originally from Nigeria, and moved to Bradford over three years ago, following a spell living in London.

"Black History Month is important as it allows us to celebrate people's contributions", said Tony, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and World Literature, is a published writer and poet and is an ambassador for the Universal Peace Federation.

"History is not just about the past - because it shapes the present and the future too”, he added.

“We also want to promote people's success stories, so that the younger generation will remember them tomorrow and feel inspired.”

Tony has organised Black History Month celebrations at the Houses of Parliament for eight years in a row, and has now brought local speakers together for this event in Bradford.

These include Charles Dacres, director of Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, author and pastor Kofi Amoateng, community worker Jerry Crawford and Nana Hagan, motivational speaker and philanthropist.

"This event is important for Bradford - although we are a very diverse city, I feel like there needs to be more community cohesion here", Tony said.

"A place is not diverse just because it has people of different backgrounds living there - it is only diverse when people come together.

"This event is a celebration for everyone, and everyone is invited - no matter their background. I hope it allows us to exchange each other's cultures and ideas, because life is all about celebrating our differences and learning to understand one another."

Given that issues around race and racism are now being discussed more openly in the mainstream, after the murder of George Floyd last year, Tony believes that Black history is "even more important".

“After what has happened in the last 12-plus months, with the Black Lives Matter movement, this is even more relevant”, he said.

"I've noticed that some young black people in Bradford don't have a strong sense of identity, so events like this are also important for their mental health and their self-awareness.

“It's not just that they don't have many role models who look like them, it's that some of them don't know who they are.

“I think people need to listen, engage and collaborate in order to bridge that understanding and create change.

“When I organised Black History Month celebrations in parliament, I was able to collaborate with MPs and councillors, as they listened to me and took everything on board.

"But it is up to the people to take initiative, come together and open doors for each other."

Tony also hosts a weekly online show where he interviews “African and Caribbean achievers from around the world”, shining a light on the success stories of people who perhaps have not received the same levels of mainstream media attention.

“I have interviewed people such as Jamaican reggae artist Marcia Griffiths, June Isaacs – the wife of reggae icon Gregory – and Congolese musician Kanda Bongo Man”, he said.

“I will also be interviewing some influential Bradford figures next month, including Charles Dacres, which I’m very excited for.

“I’m also excited to be hosting Black History Month celebrations at the Houses of Parliament again, at the end of October.

“I feel very optimistic about the future. I get inspired by my guests and the people around me, who have phenomenal stories.

“It’s very fulfilling, and I don’t know where it will lead to, but it’s something I enjoy”.

Black History Month celebrations in Bradford will be at City Library on Monday, 4 October, starting at 5pm. Entry is free.

Tony can be contacted on 07882 809005.