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Who is Ngozi Fulani? Charity boss steps down over race row abuse

Ngozi Fulani has stepped down as CEO of the charity she founded after suffering from abuse online  (PA)
Ngozi Fulani has stepped down as CEO of the charity she founded after suffering from abuse online (PA)

Ngozi Fulani has stepped down as CEO of charity Sistah Space after facing abuse arising from the royal race row.

After speaking out about being asked where she “really came from” by Lady Susan Hussey, Fulani suffered from abuse on social media.

Sistah Space had to temporarily close down over safety concerns, but has since reopened.

Now, Fulani has had to temporarily step down amid the abuse. She told Good Morning Britain: “I’ve now temporarily stepped down as CEO of Sistah Space. I’m announcing that now because the service users and the community can’t access us properly.

“This whole thing has cost us a fortune because we had to pay our own PR to stop the press from coming up. It was horrible.”

What was the royal race row?

In November, Fulani said that the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting, Susan Hussey, repeatedly asked her where she “really came from” at a royal reception hosted at Buckingham Palace.

Fulani experienced “horrific abuse” on social media after speaking out.

A month later, Lady Suan apologised to Fulani in person with a statement from Buckingham Palace saying that Lady Susan had “pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved”.

The palace said: “Ms Fulani, who has unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere, has accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended.”

The Queen with her then-lady in waiting Lady Susan Hussey (PA Wire)
The Queen with her then-lady in waiting Lady Susan Hussey (PA Wire)

Who is Ngozi Fulani?

Ngozi Fulani, 62, is the founder of the charity Sistah Space, which offers domestic abuse services for women and girls of African heritage.

Born in Harlesden, London, to Caribbean parents, Fulani lived in Kilburn before moving to Hackney at the age of 18.

She gained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in African studies at SOAS University of London.

Fulani said that most of the department heads at SOAS were white, and described the university as “a colonial environment”.

“It did not feel authentic and at times I found it traumatic,” she said.

Fulani taught African dance in Hackney for 20 years and ran the Hackney-based Emashi Dance ensemble.

She worked as a marriage registrar before retraining as a domestic violence advocate.

It was while running the dance school that she noticed the prevalence of domestic abuse affecting women with African and Caribbean heritage. Fulani told the Guardian: “Black women were saying ‘nobody is listening and nobody cares’. Perpetrators were getting away with a slap on the wrist.”

She took young people, including her own children, to visit Africa, telling Future Hackney: “I wanted to share my culture with them in my way because the narrative had always come from people who don’t look like us or understand us or often don’t like us.”

Fulani founded the non-profit initiative in 2015 in response to the murder of Valerie Forde and her baby daughter by Valerie’s ex-partner in 2014.

She has four children and three grandchildren, and is widowed.