This October we’re celebrating Black History Month by highlighting some of the incredible voices and stories from our community.⁠⠀⁠

This week we spoke to Fisayo about how faith and culture can overlap. We’re so grateful for Fisayo and her family for being such a faithful, prayerful and joyful part of our awesome congregation.

PICTURED: Fisayo Sonuga & family.

Hey Fisayo, could you tell us a little bit about you and your family?
That’s one of those small questions that is really a big question!
Well I’d say that there are two things that make me who I am – my family and my faith, if you take these two things away – there is no me! I have three wonderful children – Ife – 9 years old, Iyi – 8 years old, and Ire my youngest is 2½ years old. I came to the UK from Nigeria in 2005, and started working for Hackney council, five years alter I moved to Hackney permanently to live with my husband.

Who’s been a formational person to the development of your faith?
I’d have to say my brothers! They went to a pentecostal church that preached a lot about the Spirit and speaking in tongues. They encouraged me to seek a relationship with God, and not just to know the Bible’s stories. They were the first to say that I needed to discover God for myself, so by time I got to university i already had a model of what faith could look like. One of my brothers is so calm and prayerful that you can literally see the Holy Spirit in him, and it just makes you fall in love with God, so as a teenager it made me want to know the Holy Spirit like he did.I’d also say my mum gave me a really good foundation to know Christ. The very same things that she taught me are the things that I’m teaching my kids today – how to understand the Bible and our faith, basically how to give them the best tools to discover their own path.

What does it mean to you to be Black and Christian?
Like most Nigerians, I grew up in a religious family. At 6am we had to wake up for family prayers, talk to any of the Nigerian mums at church and you’d think we all had the same parents! It was always a 6am start, my mum would walk around the house ringing this loud bell. And she still does it up to now, she even did it on her 80th birthday!
So growing up as a Christian in Nigeria meant that you learnt to read the Bible, that you’d go to church 3 or 4 times in a week, for services, bible studies, prayer vigils, and youth programmes. It meant that our faith was a part of everything! I even discovered a joy for dancing and choreography through youth groups, and I’m certain that that foundation is why I’m in church today.

What’s one thing that you’d like people to know about Black History Month?
That it should be a normal thing taught throughout the year. As people who are Black and Christian, talking about race really encourages us to be proud of ourself and our ethnicity, but shouldn’t ever be a justification to make judgements about those who are different from us. If anything when you come from another culture it really gives you the best of both worlds, you take the riches of somewhere like Nigeria and mix them with the best things here, and I hope that everyone might get to learn from that mixing of cultures.