Black History Month is an opportunity for everyone in all walks of life to celebrate the contributions of our black colleagues, to educate one another on the inequalities experienced by people from black backgrounds and to inspire one another to maintain and further develop an inclusive and diverse culture in society which is supportive and welcoming for all.

Dolapos pictureNCIC project manager Dolapo Olaniyan, who works at Parkhouse in Carlisle, explains what Black History Month means to her.

Dolapo grew up in Nigeria and has an BSc (Hons) in microbiology from the University of Lagos and an MA in Power, Participation and Social Change from Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

She said: “For six years I worked with International non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on thematic areas like gender equity and mainstreaming, inclusive access to healthcare, and youth employability.  I managed high-intervention projects funded by Amplify Change, United States Agency for International Development, British Council, Oxfam International, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands, Women Deliver, and United Nations Trust Fund. 

“I started working for the NHS as a RTT Validator (Bank) with North Middlesex University Hospital, London. Shortly after, I was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager, Elective Recovery Programme.  It’s been about a year now, and a good growth for me. 

“Currently, I work with the Delivery Support Team (PMO) at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, as a Programme Manager. I currently manage the Outpatients Improvement Programme, as well as Cost Improvement Programme for Emergency Care and Medicine.”

Dolapo really enjoys working with stakeholders across different care groups, services, specialities and improvement teams.

She said: “I enjoy collaborating with diverse people from different backgrounds, and teaming up with professionals to transform services, processes and ensure sustainable change is achieved for the main purpose of improving patient care and attaining outstanding service delivery. 

“The Delivery Support Team is very dynamic, brilliant, and supportive.  We are all unique and have transferrable skills, which we constantly benefit from through team improvement sessions. My line manager, John Crooks, is awesome! He’s an inclusive and intentional leader, and puts our welfare and productivity first.” 

Dolapo is a keen advocate of Black History Month.

She said: “For me, Black History Month is a reminder of the authenticity of my story, my journey, and the chance to tell them in my own words.  It’s a time to find the missing chapters and acknowledge the current chapters of my heritage and culture as I share them with the world. It’s an avenue for critical consciousness; educating the minds of others to demystify stereotypes or ideas they have misconstrued about black people, their origin and culture. 

“For instance, like I have told my story briefly here, other young, black women like me will see no barriers, nor ceilings blocking their goals. They see that their ambitions and goals are valid, and impostor syndrome is but a thing of the mind. There is no impossibility!"

Dolapo added: “Though some people think celebrating BHM marginalizes us, I see it as an opportunity to tackle racial discrimination head-on within our society by encouraging government, institutions, and corporations to advocate for diversity, equality, and inclusion.

"Campaigning for racially-inclusive curriculums, activities, and languages in schools, at events, as well as non-discriminatory workplace and government policies is another way to go.

“The NHS is one of the top five employers in the world, and the representation of black people is significantly low. In a century characterised by the most novel advances, as well as global responses to issues we have ever seen as humans, workplace discrimination, racism, is still a huge issue even within the NHS. Health inequalities also impact the wellbeing of many black people out there. It’s time to do better and find humanity where we lost it. We need to pay attention to these issues and approach them through conscientisation. 

“Let’s tell more success stories from black people, to encourage those who feel they have no chance due to their skin colour. Let’s be the best ally and by-stander, and consciously look out for one another. Celebrate the achievements of black people whose stories have been lost in the history curriculum, and how they have shaped culture, history, economic development.”

Dolapo says the values she mostly relates to at NCIC are ambition and collaboration.

She said: “I constantly seek new ways to improve not just my performance but that of the projects/programmes I am handling, with the overall goal in mind. So, when there’s a problem, I’d rather find a way around it or provide a solution to address it as soon as possible. While maintaining professionalism in all I do, I also like to stretch my confidence by trying new approaches to what I am doing, learning from others who are better at those approaches, and improving my capacity to deliver wherever I find myself."

Pounded Yam and Egusi soup

Egusi Soup is made from melon seeds, and largely consumed in Eastern and Western parts of Nigeria.  It is very rich in protein and fat. The soup is thickened with this ground melon seeds and contains leafy and other vegetables. Majority of the Nigerians’ occasion menus are not complete without this delicious soup. Prepare it with goat, beef, fish, or shellfish. It’s extremely enjoyable when paired with various food recipes: Semolina, cassava flour, pounded yam and eba, even with white rice.


  • Yam flour (for pounded yam)
  • Boneless chicken/goat meat (1 Pound)- Cut in bite-size pieces
  • Honeycomb/Tripe
  • Diced Onions (1 Medium)
  • Seasoning Cubes (2 pieces)
  • Big chilli peppers/scotch bonnet (2 fresh)
  • Melon seeds (2 cups) 
  • Spinach/Pumpkin leaves (340 g)
  • Palm oil (1/2 cup) Vegetable oil (1 cup)
  • Dried fish and/or any other type of fish
  • Salt
  • Crayfish


  • Wash goat meat/chicken thoroughly in water. Add one diced onion, seasoning cubes, 1 tablespoon ground pepper, and salt. Cook until tender.
  • Clean and boil the dry stockfish thoroughly, first with hot water and then rinse. Depending on the hardness of the stockfish, you will need to boil it again; the stockfish should be very tender
  • Blend remaining onion, yellow peppers, and red peppers
  • Place ground Egusi in a pot, and add blended pepper purée and palm oil. Mix together with 60mL water until a thick batter is formed.
  • Stir fry on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the batter starts to dry up
  • Add the cooked meat and the meat stock in into the stir-fried egusi. As required, add water to achieve the desired soup consistency.
  • Add seasoning cubes, ground crayfish, and shredded dry fish. Cook for about 15-20 minutes on low heat, stirring constantly.
  • Finally, add the pumpkin leaves/spinach and immediately turn off the heat. 
  • You can see a video here -

Pounded Yam (Using yam flour)

  • Heat up water in a large saucepan under medium heat.
  • Mix flour in a small amount of water until you have a thicker consistency.
  • Pour batter into the boiling water then stir continuously to avoid it from being lumpy.
  • Knead it with a wooden spatula as it thickens. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes. Roll into balls and serve with the soup.