Tell us about your world, what creative work do you do? K BAILEY OBAZEE: PRIM is about providing access. We want to offer space for people to be able to breathe, to feel whole and to be their authentic selves.
FINESSE ONYE: My biggest project so far has been the Author’s catalogue that we have on our website – a great resource to find Black multidisciplinary authors of African, Afro-Latinx and Caribbean heritage.
What inspired you to create/join PRIM? JOSH WOOLFORD: I went to my first OKHA book club in 2019 that PRIM was hosting at The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. Tai Freedom Ford read poems from their book & More Black and there was a photography exhibition by Bernice Mulenga. I remember feeling so grateful for the space K had created and wanted to support in any way I could.
K: We wanted to find an alternative way to build community, and make reading cool! Too often I felt I was surrounded by nightlife when connecting with my community. And I knew that it wasn't enough for me to fully grow, as a person with other interests. There were other things I loved too!
What impact do you wish PRIM to have within the community? GRACE SAMBA-BANDZA: I hope PRIM inspires people to heal through reading. It’s important to keep sharing our stories. I also hope that OKHA continues to become more than a book club, but a community that makes a difference to young Black queer lives. K: We hope that PRIM will encourage people firstly to engage in reading as a practice, secondly in reading authors of Black ancestry. And finally to ensure people see queer Black people authentically. You know, as real humans existing on this earth, deserving of all the good things!
How has being a part of PRIM changed you? DESIRE DESRÈE: Being part a of PRIM has educated me & made me more open minded, PRIM has also made me more confident as a person and introduced me to talents I had that I hadn’t yet explored. FINESSE: PRIM has been a constant and consistent reminder that our stories matter. Representation matters. Visibility matters. PRIM is legacy. PRIM is our past, present, and future.
What role does fashion play in your life? GRACE: As a French Congolese babe, fashion is everything! In my culture we really take pride in our clothing. Not because of the brand names but because of how it makes us feel and the story we’re trying to tell. Commonly known as Les Sapeurs, Congo has some of the best dressed individuals you’ll ever meet.
FINESSE: Fashion is exactly what you make it, and it should always centre you. As somebody who has always been plus size, this is not a fact that I have been allowed to be accept but at this point of my life, I understand that I get to be the main character in my fashion show. I wear what I want now.
K: The role of fashion and style within the queer community definitely stems from a desire to express who you are and where you are in your journey. It's also something that leads you towards finding other people who share your values, your desires and maybe who have had similar experiences in life.
If you were to give some advice to a budding storyteller what would that be? K: I would say start with what genuinely speaks to you, it will make your work so much more authentic. And reading is extremely important to be able to expand your horizons and see who might have been working in a similar vein to you. JOSHUA: My advice would be to focus on the things that you can’t avoid thinking about, and to find ways to share them.
Why is storytelling important? JOSHUA: When I started reading fiction I fell in love with Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and Giovannis Room by James Baldwin. These books made me think “yo, it’s not just me that has these internal monologues running through my mind, everyone else is constantly thinking and feeling too!”
K: We need to tell our stories because we have to come to a place where queer black people aren’t misrepresented. We need to be the most trusted source for our own stories.
DESIRE: Storytelling is important because every individual is different, every perspective is different. No one can tell your story better than you!