On Wednesday, I was excited going to the Parliament at Westminster for the second time. For some reason, I was not at my best with being organised. I ran up the stairs leading to the station with complete disregard to the fear of slipping- as if the train held the key to my life. I managed to catch the train, running across the platforms to catch the Thameslink heading to the London Bridge where my group was already waiting, casually seated with an aura of excitement. It was an interesting conversation on the way as I sat beside my friend and we talked about networking, food, legal experience, inspiration and many more. The train journey was like our session to just check-in because sometimes, we don’t get to sit down and have these conversations as our lives move speedily in similar yet distinct directions.
Getting to the parliament, I am always amazed by the incredible history rooted beneath our feet. The fact that many great people must have walked on the same floors keep me in awe. I always think to myself- thousands of years later perhaps, the future generations would walk on this same floors and think the same. Perhaps, someday, I would achieve so highly and become a notable member of the society. However, I cannot help but think of great places like the Parliament, with the great history and statues that – once, these White dignitaries of high status thought of people like myself ‘unworthy’ of entering places like this. I always make a joke of it. I said to two friends, my thoughts aloud ‘you know years ago, we would not have been allowed in here- at least not as persons of dignity and identity’. She replied ‘why?’ and my facial expression, partly amused gave the answer away. How very easy we forget.
But I cannot help it and I wonder if it is healthy to remember or should I just ignore this? To ignore this would be to ignore a history which birthed my rights to be recognised as a person. Perhaps, future generations will find it much easier to forget. But I cannot help but think when I enter historic buildings for example, the Law Society of England and Wales. At least, the frames of people like Claudine Adeyemi remind me that things are changing and these walls do not have to reflect or remind me of the dark history.
Apart from the reflection on the relevance of black history and these buildings, I had a great time looking at the paintings which held so much meaning to them. My friend and I also met with a Sky producer and spoke about how we would love to talk about topical issues. He was very kind to share his experiences. It was also interesting to see the modern spaces as if paradoxically-intended.
The parliament’s history which I describe above remains relevant but walking around, we also saw the evolution of society being reflected. The New Dawn was an art recently displayed in celebration of the 100th year of women’s suffrage. Again, when you think 100 years, that was not so long ago. So perhaps, we must not forget this history every time we enter these buildings. To think that being Black, I would not have been allowed in such a building one hundred and something years ago because of race. To think that being female, I would not have been allowed rights through this same parliament because of sex, one hundred and something years ago is a point of reflection. Do not get me wrong, society is making great strides in the right direction but we must not forget history and certainly, must not repeat history!
Later on, we had a session with four Members of Parliament: Caroline Lucas, Peter Kyle, Stephen Lloyd and Lloyd Russell-Moyle. We talked about the issue of tuition fees, international students, student debt and of course the Office for Students and its apparent lack of diversity on its Board. Afterwards, I had lunch with Shile at Prezzo- an Italian restaurant. I do not come to London often, at least not to explore. It is mostly for law-related events so I enjoyed the good food. I had the prawn starter, spaghetti and meatballs as main, although being on a diet meant I could not eat as much.
I left London feeling very inspired and could not help but think of the great changes and additions that I can make to society. We slept on the train and reached Brighton not long after. I was quite tired and slightly angered by the voice of the ticket inspector who made me look for my railcard, knowing fully well, I was not best with searching for items after just being woken up by the loud voice saying ‘Can I see your ticket please?!’
Later that evening, I had dinner with my old friend Hang. I had not seen her for a long time. I am a reflective person- so whenever I see her, I remember when we first came to England as very young and naive girls and how much we have grown. It was my first time at the Vietnamese restaurant- Pho. It was a surprise that I had so much space for food but it is important for me to take time out for friends. Since graduating, I miss the moments I shared eating, playing or just laughing with friends. I had the chicken wings for starters which were similar to how Nigerians would make chicken wings. Then I had the chicken and flat noodles pho. It was delicious! It did not end there, we wanted dessert and did not want the evening to end. So, we walked to the dessert shop but we knew not to push our luck as we settled for two scoops of ice cream.
Days like this I love and miss
Moments like this I do cherish
Days like this I reminisce…