Maxwell Ayamba is a well-read student of many things, whilst his particular academic focus is around the trajectories of race, ecology and environmental justice in the UK as a PHD candidate at the University of Nottingham. This strong thread of knowledge also includes the genealogy of people of Black African ancestry and the natural environment in the UK from the Roman times to slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism.
But his love for people and introducing, guiding them in the outdoors is what really shines through in this conversation. Anyone who signs off a podcast, not with a cursory thanks, but with: “Thank you Laura, thank you to all those who are listening and I hope you go out walking, keep walking and I wish you all the best. Stay strong, stay positive, that’s what life’s all about; it’s about being happy.” is a pure legend in our books.
All the people I’ve been walking with, they will tell you the same thing. The relationship they have with people in the natural world, they feel in a different world and they tend to forget about everything. This is our blue thread. The realm of the natural world is so powerful.
Laura (pod host) and Maxwell have a great conversation and sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences, recognising our differences and celebrating our passions is why we have a powerful thread running through Blue Earth Summit.
In 1996, Maxwell arrived in the UK from Ghana after being awarded a scholarship to study journalism at Cardiff University. He went on to complete his Masters at Sheffield Hallam University and there he stayed as a research academic.
In 2004, inspired by wanting to encourage other men to get out there and live a healthier, more active lifestyle, he co-founded the walking group, 100 Black Men Walking for Health (now called Walk4Health Group). Little did he know the impact it would have, it even inspired a play Black Men Walking and led him to meet Joanna Lumley as part of her ITV series Home Sweet Home.
Due to my upbringing we literally grew up in green spaces, and blue spaces or that blue thread if you like, whereas here the way those spaces are perceived appear to be far removed from you. People with my background wouldn’t necessarily have that knowledge of historical British culture around outdoor spaces.
Follow Maxwell on Twitter and catch him at Blue Earth in October.
Also featured in an article earlier this year from our media partner Huck about reclaiming the countryside.