African Caribbean Society: Revitalised Powerhouse of Leeds

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This week Penelope Helbest discusses the African Caribbean Society’s rebranding and their early success with President Kingsley Duru.

The Leeds African-Caribbean Society, for those who’ve been keeping an eye out, has undergone a major – almost overnight – makeover. From top to bottom, the presentation and engagement have been completely revitalised, and the President, Kingsley Duru, certainly had something to do with it.

I had the chance to speak to him, and to hear exactly how he did it all. 

“I have a great team” he stressed, his opponents in presidency now fellow committee members, but his platform was something incredibly ambitious – “people said it was impossible from our position” he said, alluding to their less-than-ideal standing in comparison to other ‘big’ societies, “We couldn’t even fill a 200-person room”.

Kingsley ran on a platform of national recognition, northern coalition, and sponsorship acquisition – catchy, and well thought-out. This three-pronged attack directly addressed issues he knew the society had, as well as finding ways to evolve in completely new directions. He even got invited down to other ACS societies, namely Manchester and York, to show them how it’s done!

Sponsorship acquisition was one of the first, and biggest achievements he got under his belt. The society wasn’t originally invited to any of the exclusive events one can find a sponsor at; in fact, he heard that practically every other ACS was invited except for them. So he got a hold of a contact, and sent off an email, pleading their case as to why Leeds should be there. And it worked! LACS got in and got sponsors to boot.

Part of Kingsley’s promise was setting up specialist workshops instead of generic ones, which would zero-in on the parts of a job application people were failing to get past, and therefore the “crème de la crème of the Russell Group students” that these firms now had access to would be all the more capable.

Now, the society has a membership card with local discounts tailored to the individual tastes of the society, including an impressive 20% off at Turtle Bay, “our home base is most important” he had added, sagely, “sponsorships keep a society going, but there still has to be a driving factor”. The card also offered discount deals during freshers, and a sport variant for ACS’s sports involvement.

The event he’s most looking forward to is their ‘Legacy’ cultural showcase on the 23rd October. This Black History Month performance will bring together spoken word, musicians, and a fashion show by the East African Society – which is part of Kingsley’s drive to include other smaller Black societies in the united front. “We have a list of splinter societies”, he mentioned, wherein he invited the Presidents to the ACS Give It A Go, “so people don’t just go to the biggest thing.”

For a later date, and part of the Northern Coalition, we can look forward to the ACS Winter and Summer Games, tournaments in which Leeds will play against Beckett in games such as football and netball. 

The National Recognition is a little more abstract, but they do now have respect from all the way down in London. Kingsley said that he “[has] all the ACS leaders in a group chat”, and a local LUU Riley nomination can’t hurt, as they’ve been nominated for best culture society – “We deserve it”, said Kingsley, “just with the quality of rebranding and progress”.

When I asked him what’s next, he said, “it’s an inside joke that I’m going to resign now, everything’s been done. We just kept topping milestones.”

The Leeds African-Caribbean society has something for everyone, whether it’s help for your CV, great cuisine, game nights, fashion shows, or a casual kickabout. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to find a community for themselves during university, and to begin to form lifelong professional and amicable networks. 

Find Leeds African-Caribbean Society on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.