Brothers set up walking group to bring Black community together

The walking group aims to help the migrant community to make friends and take in the sights of Scotland.

When Enoch Adeyemi first arrived in Scotland, he cried.

He immigrated to Bridge of Allan from Lagos in Nigeria in 2006.

But despite being excited about the opportunities ahead of him, he felt overwhelmed and yearned for a community.

He told Scotland Tonight: “I just thought, how did I get here? And you feel that sense of loneliness. So I felt it that first night, knowing that you’re by yourself. There’s no uncle, auntie, brother, sister. There’s no one.”

It was a similar tale for Enoch’s brother, Joshua, who joined him in Scotland more than a decade ago. 

He said: “It was difficult because I didn’t know much… had I known someone, I would have just contacted them, and they would have helped me and laid the path for me, but unfortunately I had to figure that out on my own.”

The brothers quickly found solace in the countryside – and it was that experience which inspired them to set up Black Scottish Adventurers in 2022.

‘It’s like therapy’

Scotland Tonight joined Black Scottish Adventurers on a walk up Ben Gullipen in Callander.

Between 80 and 100 people join Joshua and Enoch every month for hikes around Scotland.

Most of the group’s members are first generation immigrants who want to connect with their new home and find a support network of like-minded people. 

Anthony Emebo was introduced to the group after moving to Scotland to study.

“I come from Nigeria and there are a couple of restrictions, and we look at it like ‘oh, maybe this isn’t really for us’,” he said.

Enoch Adeyemi founded the group with his brother Joshua in 2022

“So exploring the outdoors isn’t so popular where I come from.

“But I’ve always wanted to. I look at the mountains, the videos, the creators who do this, and I think, ‘I should be doing this. I’d like to try this.’”

The majority of members are not experienced hikers, so the focus is usually on accessible routes, which will introduce people to the outdoors.

Minekhia Irune began as a total novice but is now the group’s sustainability ambassador, teaching others about caring for the environment. 

She said: “My first time was hiking with the group here and I got good support. I was very dramatic, but I had people holding my hand. And I felt better, you know, when you get up and see the view, it’s like therapy.”

Some people arrive as friends; others as strangers, but that quickly changes throughout the day.

The community gets stronger and closer during the hikes – and that support extends beyond the group meet-ups. 

Josh said: “We get people that get to meet a mentor during that time, and those mentors, they’ve helped people to get jobs that they couldn’t have been able to get if they were just by themselves.

“So that’s a place where people get to connect intimately, and then they take that connection away with them as well.”

‘Here, I can be me’

At the summit of every hike, the group sings and dances – and those newly-formed bonds are clear to see.

And the positivity doesn’t end there.

In the afternoon, BSA prepares for what they call ‘the vibes’.

At a town hall in nearby Doune, the barbecue is lit, the music is turned up, and even more people arrive to enjoy the festivities and celebrate their culture.

Enoch said: “What we found throughout the years is that this is actually the highlight of the day for most people.

“For a lot of us, we go to university or we go to work. When you go to work or you go to university, you need to behave in a certain way, because there’s a way things are done.

“So you’re mostly there’s this thing called code-switching. 

“You switch into the way you should behave and you’re not really your full self.”

Participants enjoy sharing food and music with each other at 'the vibes' event

That rings true for Ade Fakoya, who moved to Livingston during the pandemic to work as a teacher. 

She said: “My neighbours, the pupils I work with, my co-teachers, they’re such beautiful people, my word! It’s just beautiful, I really, really, love it here. 

“Here, I can be me. I’m very ebullient, very noisy, very playful… I’m a lot! But here, I can be a lot.” 

Enoch is keen to highlight that although Black Scottish Adventurers was initially set up to support the black community, it is open to everyone. 

“We are here in Scotland now, and you are hosting us. 

“We want to give a bit of ourselves to you, and we can do that with an outlet like this.

“You can come, you can listen to our music, you can taste our food, you can have a conversation with us. 

“You can get to learn more about where we are from. 

“And I think that will help cohesion across the society. 

“So definitely; BSA is for me, is for you, is for everyone.”

You can watch Scotland Tonight: Highland Adventurers at 8:30pm on STV and the STV Player.

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