Film release, Black Kings upon Hull Part II

Back to Ours is releasing the second part of a hard-hitting four-part series of documentary films by two Black music artists from the UK city of Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire. The first episode was shared as part of Black History Month 2020, and the second as part of Race Equality Week 2021. 

Black Kings upon Hull.
Music artists Bacary Mundoba and Chiedu Oraka discuss the Christopher Alder story and speak to Janet, Christopher’s sister, about her ongoing fight for justice for her brother. A documentary film series by Bacary Mundoba and Chiedu Oraka, commissioned by Back to Ours. 

Written, directed and presented by Bacary Mundoba, lead singer with Afro-codhead-skank crossover band Bud Sugar, and Chiedu Oraka, grime-influenced rapper and MC with the Lockdown collective, Black Kings upon Hull is a no-holds-barred insight into their Black British experience.

Although both are making waves as musicians, poets and artists outside their home city, their identities are far removed from the ‘traditional’ Black British narrative – outside, that is, London, Birmingham and other major UK cities.

In the first film, Bacary and Chiedu revealed what it was really like to grow up mixed race and Black on council estates at different ends of their northern home city, as “a product of the working class”, a “product of African heritage” and a “product of Britain”.

Both grew up with strong single mothers and few or, in Chiedu’s case, no Black peers.

Both experienced racism – of the deliberate and the unthinking varieties – on a daily basis in the city that proudly and publicly honours its famous slavery abolitionist son, William Wilberforce. Both have grown up with the fallout of systemic racism and the knowledge that, 22 years after his death in custody on the floor of a Hull police station, the family of Black ex-paratrooper Christopher Alder is still fighting for justice. 

WATCH EPISODE 1 HERE: https://youtu.be/KLueAjFwJus

Episode 2 explores the story of Christopher, who died while in police custody in April 1998. A coroner’s jury decided he was unlawfully killed, and misconduct and manslaughter charges were later brought against five Humberside Police officers.

They were acquitted of all criminal charges in 2002.

In November 2011, his family were further hit by the news that Grace Kamara had been buried at Hull’s Northern Cemetery in Hull in 2000 instead of Christopher, who’d been in a mortuary for over a decade. 

Chiedu Oraka said: 

“This episode of Black Kings hold a very special place in my heart and I feel very privileged being able to interview Janet, understand her story and be able to take into account everything she’s had to encounter in her life. 

“The Christopher story is one I’ve known about intensely from a very young age and I think it had a massive effect on my growing up, being a young black kid growing up in the city getting in trouble with the law and being aware that I might not be treated the same as my white counterparts. 

“I feel it’s a message young kids – not just Black kids, but everyone – need to know about. It’s one of the biggest injustices in the UK ever, and it’s crazy we’re still fighting for justice 25 years on. 

“We can’t be silent. We need to keep fighting until we see a change in establishments.”

Bacary Mundoba said:

“Hearing from Janet was really eye-opening, not only the strength and conviction in talking about the injustice against her brother, but also in finding out about her own background – her traumatic time in the care system, and her experiences as a young black adult living in Hull. 

“Unlike Chiedu, I didn’t know a lot about the Christopher Alder case. I’d heard about it as a kid but wasn’t even really aware that it taken place in Hull, I just knew the name because my mum spoke about it quite often. 

“So I really came to this with fresh eyes and ears. I have nothing but admiration for Janet for fighting tirelessly for justice but also for entrusting me and Chiedu with her story.

“She’s a true Black Queen.”

Louise Yates, director of Back to Ours, said: 

“This is such a huge and important story, and one that needs to be listened to.

“The Black Kings Upon Hull documentaries are about the reality of growing up Black, working class and from Hull. We’re proud to be working with Bax and Chiedu to talk about  Christopher and Janet’s story, and how it’s affected them growing up in the city.

“The story of Christopher is widely known, but there’s still so many people who don’t know what happened – we work closely with groups of residents, and when they previewed this episode it really hit home to them just how much Black families have gone through. 

“We hope people will listen and it’ll start some conversations – some of them difficult, but that’s never something we’ve shied away from.”

Part 2 of the four-part documentary film series launches on Friday 5 Feb, 8pm, through the Facebook and YouTube channels of Back to Ours, Hull’s Arts Council-funded Creative People and Places project.

Coming up next: 

Part 3 – coming later this month – features investigations into the Black experience in UK schools.

[Christina Lewis – for Back to Ours]