A conversation with... Astrid Madimba and Chinny Ukata
In every issue, we have a section for parents/carers to share their thoughts on the chosen topic. Astrid and Chinny wrote a piece for The Film Issue about Amplifying African female trailblazers. Astrid Madimba and Chinny Ukata are the co-hosts of the podcast, It’s a Continent, a top 25 history podcast in the UK. Chinny’s previous work has featured in publications including gal-dem and Black Ballad. It’s a Continent is their first book.
The Film Issue, available to buy here
Photo Credit Joseph Osayande
Welcome Astrid & Chinny. Tell us a little about yourself.
AM: I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to the UK aged 7, and grew up in Devon. Beyond my marketing day job, I’m obsessed with the theatre and try to see a show once a month. The Hamilton soundtrack is forever on repeat for me. I also love finding new brunch spots and, of course, my latest passion, writing. It’s a Continent: Unravelling Africa’s history one country at a time is our debut book.
CU: I’m British-Nigerian (Igbo and Edo) and was born in the UK, spending my formative years in sunny Southend-on-Sea. Astrid and I met on an internship in 2015, and we started. It’s A Continent to address the common misconception that Africa is a country. Aside from podcasting and writing, I enjoy live music, documentaries and swimming.
It’s A Continent is your first co-written book. What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
AM: The most challenging element I found was balancing full-time work with writing the book, hosting our podcast and trying to maintain a social life. I'm not sure how we did it, but it definitely helped to share this experience with Chinny.
CU: Sometimes, it was a challenge to establish a clear tone between the two of us and write in such a way that holds the line between our different writing styles.
When were your earliest memories of Black history, and what was the experience like?
AM: I’m not sure what my earliest memories are. African history has always been a part of my upbringing as my mum made a conscious effort to share stories about our history with us. However, as I reached my late 20s, I took greater ownership of learning about African history, which to some extent led to us creating our history podcast.
CU: The stories my dad used to tell me about being a child during the Biafran War. I remember asking him about the moon landing when I was much younger. He said he did not see it as the country was at war—hiding in the thick forest from Nigerian soldiers sounded terrifying. So it was shocking to learn how involved Britain was in this conflict and blockade. I then began wondering about other stories that needed to be unpacked.
Your podcast It’s A Continent has been running for 2 years. Which discuss the most influential people. Can you share the three most influential people in your life and the impact they have on you?
AM: My mother has and continues to have the most significant impact on my life. She is the heart of our family, and her resilience is just magic. There is no one like my mum, and I feel blessed to be her daughter.
CU: I think back to how my parents must have felt leaving Nigeria for Europe and later the UK in the early nineties, working their way up into society. I admire their tenacity as they faced conditions that I simply wouldn't have known what to do - or have become easily discouraged.
Both: As the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai led the charge in environmentalism within her community. Her Greenbelt movement in Kenya has planted over 50 million trees, demonstrating that conservation has always been present within the continent. After defending her position against the Moi dictatorship despite the consequences, she paved the way for countless other environmental activists from the African continent, such as Elizabeth Wathuti and Vanessa Nakate.
What was the last book you read?
AM: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. I love a love story; this book is both beautiful and heartbreaking.
CU: I recently collected Second-Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta at a Free Books Fair. It was a revealing look into the lives of those who journeyed from Nigeria to the UK before us.
It’s a Continent by Astrid Madimba and Chinny Ukata
Available at bookshop.org