Nims Obunge is a pastor at the Freedom’s Ark Church in Tottenham, North London. This is a part of Europe‘s most diverse city where one is destined to meet a lot of Black people of African and Caribbean descent. In 2011 when protests broke in North London, the world was given a view of how these Londoners lived in desperate, if not squalid conditions, compared to the image we have of the city.
In 2008, Obunge told the BBC what he made of life in North London from the perspective of a pastor.
“[W]e had a big problem with violent crime here. I was burying young people who had been shot or stabbed and I was speaking at their death, yet I’d never had the opportunity to speak in their lives. So, I felt challenged by God to see whether I could pastor people who I knew would never come to my church,” Obunge said at the time.
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This experience as undoubtedly shaped his understanding of what it is to be a Londoner. His Christian ministry is now well-received and he commands respect beyond Tottenham and the pulpit. He was once a Deputy Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London. But he is still a Black man in Great Britain, Obunge claims.
He told The Africa Report: “[T]he history of the black experience has painfully revealed the base nature of our humanity. Slavery, colonialism and imperialism must never be forgotten as eras of cruelty and total violations of basic human rights.”
Obunge wants to be in a position of influence where his decisions edge towards the restoration and defense of Black humanity. And so when polls open in London on Thursday, May 6, he will be one of 20 individuals vying for the position of London mayor. This list includes incumbent Sadiq Khan, a Labour Party politician of Pakistani descent. Obunge is thought to be an unlikely winner and part of it is that he is an independent runner but the 56-year-old has a plan if the unexpected happens.
“I will call a truce against gang warfare, set up a program for offenders who need to be trained to change their outlooks and immediately establish a Covid-19 Recovery Plan for businesses that need to get back on their feet,” he summarized.
But Obunge is not the only among the hopeful lot to have intimate knowledge of gang violence in London. The Conservative Party’s Shaun Bailey, another Black man, has also touted his experience with the phenomenon among poor ethnic minorities and has said “politics isn’t scary when you’ve seen stabbings”.
Yet, Obunge believes he comes to his conclusions and construction of his identity quite differently than Bailey who is of Jamaican descent. The latter’s parents were among the Windrush generation but the former believes being in Africa and being an African is a phenomenon that forces an appreciation of Blackness like no other.
Obunge was born to Nigerian parents in 1956 in Kensington, London. His father was a diplomat and that meant Obunge’s family traveled a lot. He lived for a while in Nigeria, graduating from the University of Jos in the 1980s. He then returned to the UK after his brother was diagnosed with cancer and has since made his birth country his home.