Toyin Agbetu

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Toyin Agbetu is a British African social rights activist and founder of the Pan-African group Ligali. Agbetu emerged on the international stage on March 27, 2007, during a Westminster Abbey church service held to recognize the 200th anniversary of the abolition of Great Britain's involvement in the slave trade. Queen Elizabeth II was in attendance at the commemorative event, which marked the British government's 1807 decision to end the Atlantic Slave Trade, although slavery in British colonies would continue until 1834.

In a dramatic display, Agbetu slipped past security guards at the 2007 service and strode into the open area in front of the church altar, standing three metres away from the queen and shouting that the service was an insult to those of African heritage, and which he called in subsequent interviews a self-congratulatory exercise for those who promote oppression and those who continued to prevent the social and intellectual freedom of oppressed peoples. As quoted in major media, he yelled at the queen: "’You should be ashamed. We should not be here. This is an insult to us. I want all the Christians who are Africans to walk out of here with me!’" (Smith, 2007). He was later wrestled to the floor by security guards and removed from the church. Subsequently, a storm of media interest erupted, much of it negative. Undaunted, Agbetu continues to strive for a Pan-African voice for the oppressed.

Ligali is described on its website (ligali.org) as “a Pan African, human rights focused, non-profit voluntary organisation. We work for the socio-political and spiritual empowerment of African people with heritage direct from Africa or indirectly via African diasporic communities, such as those in the Caribbean and South America.” Created in 2000, the organization’s aim is to challenge negative media representations of the African British community. Among Agbetu’s additional initiatives are 'The Stuff You Should Know,' a project aimed at informing young people of their rights, the 'No N Word' campaign (focusing on stopping the rampant use and negative reclamation of the ‘n word’ in media and social institutions), and support for establishing a national 'African Remembrance Day.'

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