Omotade Omotosho: “The topic of political inclusivity is now a subject of discussion amongst African communities in Poland”

Omotade Omotosho

Omotade Omotosho is one of our first-generation ideation grantees.Based in Poland, he is laying the foundation of a platform and infrastructure to support people of African descent in this country to be politically aware and participate in political processes. We recently interviewed him to see how his initiative is going.

Omotade, you are trying to build infrastructure to support people of African descent in Poland to participate in the political process. What are some of the achievements so far?

I am excited at the speed and progress we have made so far. The project began by a pilot study which was aimed at trying to know if people of African descent in Poland are participating in the political process in Poland, either as voters, supporters or if they would be interested in vying for positions. Interestingly, this quest has now made the topic of political inclusivity a subject of discussion amongst African communities in Poland. My goal is to further promote the idea of re-imagining politics in Poland to the extent that people of African descent with Polish citizenship who live abroad will also be engaged. 

What do you think would be some of the direct outcomes of having people from African descent and other underrepresented groups inside the Polish political institutions?

The direct outcomes are obvious and very beneficial to underrepresented communities. Having people of African descent and other groups participate in Polish political process would lead to more diversity, equity and inclusion. Particularly, it would provide representation for the underrepresented groups, especially in the case of vying for election. Outside of the Multitudes project, I recently ran for election myself. And I remember someone calling me after seeing my election poster and campaign – this person was so excited and proud, seeing an African candidate for counsellorship position in that district, that was the first of its kind. For this person and many other who saw my posters online, it gave them gave a sense of representation. In general, I believe when more people like me get involved, political elites will realize that the minority groups are interested in the affairs of the district, have something to offer and should be further engaged and included. 

What are some barriers that people of African descent face to participate in political life and run for office in a country like Poland?

The major barriers that I think people of African descent face when participating in the political process in Poland are lack of information and access to resources. This is evident in the study I made and therefore justifies the need for community education and awareness. I believe these challenges would be overcome as the idea of inclusive politics develops within the minority communities. Other challenges include negative stereotypes, cultural, language barriers as well as elements of discrimination. I experienced a bit of it, as one of my campaign banner was inscribed with a racist language.

We conceived our ideation grants knowing that political changemakers face a lot of obstacles or need to pivot a few times in the initial phases of their projects. What are some challenges you are facing yourself?

One of the major challenges I face is the stereotypical attitude towards the idea of inclusive politics within some of the African community.  Some people would rather not get involved in Politics, either in supporting, voting or vying for a position. So, my job has been building the knowledge gap and putting in a lot of effort in convincing fellow Africans why there is a need for us to be involved in the Political process in Poland. Limited time and lack of committed volunteers are also a bit of challenge. 

As you mentioned above, you recently walked the talk by running for the position of Wolomin county councilor in Poland. What took you to this decision and what have you learned?

When I stared the reimagining politics project, I did not think I would run for office, however one of my long-time friend who was a mayor for 3 tenure approached me at the beginning of March 2024 and said they needed one more candidate to run in Wolomin county. I was reluctant at first, but after giving it some thought, I realised it was a good idea, after all, I am the one encouraging and promoting inclusive politics, so why not be an example. I thought it would be good for the project I am working on with Multitudes support to get some real world experience. So, I took up the challenge, my friends provided me the support I needed, and we began campaigning.  Although I did not have enough votes to win a seat, but it was a good run. In the process, I realised that some open-minded locals were very much intrigued by the idea, seeing an African contesting for the first time in the district brought a sense of diversity, inclusivity and social change. This is only the beginning; I will run again, and I will continue to mobilize more people to get involved. I can see clearly that It is possible to have an inclusive politics.

What is your experience with the support provided by Multitudes so far?

I would not have been able to embark on this project if not for the support from Multitudes. The Multitudes community has provided me with all the guidance and assistance that I need every step of the way.