In July, Bristol’s Ujima Radio became eight years strong.
Photo: Marco Valle
Words: Jasmine Ketibuah Foley*
Walking into Ujima Radio’s studio in the heart of Bristol, you’re greeted by a warmth, an understanding of family that’s held the station together over almost a decade. No matter how old you are, who you are or where you are from, you’ll be welcome.
On air over the years, Ujima has featured urban icons such as The Mad Professor, Brandy and Dawn Penn. It’s teamed up with some of the city’s biggest events such as Love Saves The Day, See No Evil, Bristol’s Harbour Festival, VegFest and Redfest. It has championed everything from an inclusive European Green Capital to voter registration and blood donation among BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups, as well as the return of the much-loved and missed St Paul’s Carnival. So who makes these things happen and how? The answers lie in the Ujima back office.
“It’s a constant hub of activity, with a buzz in the air that seems pregnant with creativity, and ideas constantly being shared by anyone and everyone over cups of tea and open meetings – all with voluntary people-power,” says Julz Davis, Ujima’s external relationship manager.
Ujima was conceived in one of the city’s most deprived yet dynamic neighbourhoods: St Paul’s. From the outset the team made it their mission to inform, represent, educate and entertain by celebrating the culture, heritage and contributions of Bristol’s BAME communities. Now in its eighth year, Ujima 98FM has become a platform of expression for people who otherwise may not have a voice.
Ujima had to move from St Paul’s in 2014 after disputes with its landlord but, with the support of Bristol’s Creative Youth Network, relocated – appropriately – to The Station in Broadmead during early 2015. At the time Roger Griffith, Ujima’s Chair, said the team were “sad” to leave their community base but were “looking forward to a bright future”.
In 2015, after receiving a National Diversity Award, Ujima Radio also won ‘Best Community Group in the South West’ at the MTM awards. “It’s an amazing achievement for all at Ujima,” said founder Kevin Philemon. “Who would have thought that less than a year ago we were fighting for our lives as we were effectively forced to leave our original premises in St Paul’s?”
Ujima remains by Bristol for Bristol and, with over 150 volunteers and 30,000 loyal listeners, has become a powerful platform for promoting local issues, celebrating local talent and influencing positive change. Here’s to our next chapter.