Inherited: All Our Names

Inherited: All Our Names


Africa Writes 2021 Headline Event
Saturday 23 October, 17:30 – 19:00 (BST)
Knowledge Centre Theatre and British Library Player
Tickets: £10 / £8 / £5* (or also included in Saturday Day Pass)

A rhythmic evening of poetry, dance and sound exploring names we inherit.  

What does it mean to inherit the names given to us? Join us for an evening of exploration, movement and thought into how we embody the names we desire, defy the names that limit us and reclaim the names once lost to us. Featured is Sethembile Msezane’s short film ISIMO, where an ancestral matriarchal figure feels and holds the pain of the living, and Raymond Antrobus performing from his latest collection. All The Names Given translated into visual vernacular by Catrina Nisbett. Finally, David Ellington brings to life his poignant and political BSL poem, LIBERTY, in a new highly-visual, poetic and physically realised short film commissioned by Ad Infinitum and HOME. The evening will be narrated by award-winning storyteller Mara Menzies

This event will be BSL interpreted.

This is a hybrid event which you can experience either in-person or through live stream on the British Library Player. The safety of our audiences are paramount, if you choose to attend in-person please note we will still be implementing socially distanced measures. Be prepared for an exciting evening brought to you with your safety and comfort in mind.



Sethembile Msezane
 is an international mutli-award winning artist based in South Africa. Using interdisciplinary practice, Msezane creates commanding works heavy with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores issues around spirituality, commemoration and African knowledge systems. She processes her dreams as a medium through a lens of the plurality of existence across space and time, asking questions about the remembrance of ancestry. Part of her work has examined the processes of mythmaking which are used to construct history, calling attention to the absence of the black female body in both the narratives and physical spaces of historical commemoration.

Raymond Antrobus was born in London, Hackney to an English mother and Jamaican father, he is the author of To Sweeten Bitter and The Perseverance. In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre. Other accolades include the Ted Hughes award, PBS Winter Choice, A Sunday Times Young Writer of the year award and The Guardian Poetry Book Of The Year 2018, as well as being shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, Griffin Prize and Forward Prize. In 2018 he was awarded The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, (Judged by Ocean Vuong), for his poem Sound Machine. His poem Jamaican British was added to the GCSE syllabus in 2019.

Catrina Nisbett is a Child Of Deaf Adults (CODA). Growing up with deaf parents, British Sign Language was how she communicated at home. Through this she understood the importance of gesture, body language and facial expression. She began dancing at a young age, and believes the link between BSL and dance is a powerful tool within her work that allows story-telling without spoken dialogue. In 2017 Catrina founded Deaf Jam Fitness, a project that delivers dance to the D/deaf community, with a focus on improving mental, physical and social well-being. She is currently a performer and Rehearsal Director of Spoken Movement Dance Company.

David Ellington’s roles have been diverse, including film, theatre, and television drama and presenting since 1997. Films and TV / adverts credits under his belt are Accessible adverts – The Last Leg (C4), Paralympic accessible advert (C4), Smirnoff – Deaf dancer. Film work includes: Small World- Episode 2 (Mutt & Jeff Pictures), Stand By Your Man (BBC), I’m Spaziticus – The Comedy Lab (C4), The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (BBC), Holby City (BBC) Theatre also includes Frozen (Fingersmiths), Paralympic Opening Ceremony / The Garden / Against the Tide (Strange Fruit & Graeae), Bent / Diary of an Action Man (Graeae), Under Milk Wood (Oxfordshire Theatre Tour Company). Circus art and street theatre experience also includes Extraordinary Bodies – What Am I Worth / Weighting (Diverse City & Cirque Bijou).

Mara Menzies is an award winning performance storyteller whose dynamic, colourful style brings this ancient artform to life. She has been invited to share stories in 27 countries with her latest production, ‘Blood and Gold’ exploring the legacy of colonialism and slavery through myth, legend and fantasy. It premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 as part of the Made in Scotland showcase and was nominated for the CATS award 2020 and was one of 5 shows nominated for the Filipa Braganca award for best emerging solo female performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019, receiving rave reviews from top theatre critics. Mara draws on her rich cultural heritage to create stories that explore our deepest fears, joys, loves, jealousies, passions and mysteries. She finds the truths about humanity in stories. She creates bespoke stories informing, inspiring and entertaining.


Image credit: Sethembile Msezane in ISIMO


*Join our Arts and Culture Membership for 50% off all full price tickets!

Africa Writes 2021 returns from 4 – 24 October. You can join us in celebrating the imagination, pleasure and activism within contemporary African literature either online, at 180 The Strand and the British Library. Learn more about the 2021 festival headliners. You can also access 50% off all full ticket prices for The British Library events, consider signing up for the RAS Arts & Culture Membership.