Oration given on 16 July 2008 by Professor Beatrice Han Pile
Dotun Adebayo graduated from Essex in Philosophy in 1987. He currently presents Up All Night (Friday and Saturday, 1-4am) and Brief Lives (Sunday, 6am and 7pm) on Radio Five Live. He also hosts his own two-hour book show, Word For Word, on BBC London every Sunday. But this is only a small part of his many achievements, and if anyone wanted evidence that studying philosophy can lead to an amazing diversity of activities, they only need to take a brief look at Dotun’s career.
He was born in Lagos and moved to the UK at the age of five. As a young boy, he joined the National Youth Theatre where he starred in various productions, including Julius Caesar, Killing Time (Barrie Keefe) and The Red Devil Battery Sign (Tennessee Williams). Still as a child, he also acted opposite Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in The Oblong Box and Lars Von Trier’s The Element of Crime.
After his notable debut as the first black teddy boy in London in his early teens, he studied literature at the University of Stockholm before going on to a further degree in Philosophy at Essex. In 1987, Dotun was elected president of the Student’s Union but resigned within a few months to take up a job with The Voice newspaper. He was Music Editor there for four years, and worked as a columnist on Pride magazine and the New Nation. He has also written for newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, and London Evening Standard.
Dotun has done a lot for the black community. In 1992, he founded the publishing company X Press, which produces black fiction such as Baby Father, Yardie (which became the first black British bestseller) and the controversial Cop Killer, which gained instant notoriety when 200 bullets were sent out to press to promote the title. He is also responsible for the Nia imprint of literary black fiction. In 2000, he published his debut book Can I Have My Balls Back Please, an amusing take on "conflict resolution" in relationships from a man's perspective. Dotun is currently working on his first novel, Promised Land, an epic saga spanning 50 years in the lives of Britain's richest black family.
He is the co-founder of Colourtelly, Britain's first ever general interest black internet television station, which was launched on August 1st, 2007. Colourtelly is an important communication tool for under-represented minorities, featuring videos, audio clips, message boards and a large number of blogs. Dotun is also a talented linguist, being fluent in Swedish and conversational in French and Yoruba. In October 1999, he was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Her Majesty the Queen. It is probably fair to say that the Ivor Crewe Hall, for all its allure, cannot compete with Buckingham Palace, but the Philosophy Department is nevertheless honoured to welcome him and recognise his achievements, as our Alumnus of the Year 2008.
Chancellor, I present Dotun Adebayo