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Malachi Kirby on portraying Kunta Kinte

Malachi Kirby is an English actor known for his roles in EastEnders and Doctor Who. This year, many TV lovers were introduced to Malachi after he reprised the role of Kunta Kinte in the remake of popular slavery drama Roots.

The series that wrapped early this week of course too had that emotional part where Kunta Kinte was hoisted and whipped as he was being forced to denounce his African name.

Malachi says in an interview with Haffington post that his emotions got the best of him as they shoot the brutal beating.

In this Q&A though, Malachi talks about resurrecting the role of Kunta Kinte, almost forty years after the debut of the original series in 1977.


Q: So Malachi, what does it mean for you to be part of Roots?
Malachi: Well, it’s been life changing, to say the least. It’s actually quickened me to look into my own roots. I’ve played this character, Kunta Kinte, and I’ve gone on his journey, and I’ve seen what has helped him to survive. It’s his understanding of where he came from, for the most part. That spoke to me in a big way. I am second generation Jamaican. I live in London; I was born in London, and I don’t know where I came from. I don’t know my history past my grandparents, so I feel like there is a lack of identity there that, in some ways, has disempowered me. So yes, being part of this has made me want to find out where I come from.
Q: What do you hope that the audience will get from this show? This programme is very much about how to stay true to yourself in a time of injustice. It’s very much about the bond in the family, and the importance of the family. The family protects you in such terrible times. It’s the importance of identity, that you keep your identity all the time. It protects you.
Malachi: I really hope that the audience that watches this project will take away a sense of peace from it, a sense of healing, I think, that a lot of people don’t want to see themselves as slaves anymore. They don’t want to see that story. They’ve seen the original Roots, and they have expectations of what this will be. I really hope that people can embrace this as something new.
We have a lot more information now to give a lot more facts. It, essentially, is the same story, but we’re telling it in a very different way.

I hope that this brings about healing for a lot of people and a sense of empowerment; the understanding of the knowledge of self, and how that can empower you. The importance of family, and keeping that bond alive. We live in an age where families don’t even sit down for dinner anymore at the table. So this understanding of unity within the family. Hopefully, that will bring about unity outside of the family, also.
Also, the understanding of the important of staying true to yourself and being integral. For me, a big part of this story is the understanding that we may live in a society that doesn’t allow you to be integral to who you are. For me, that’s a big part of why this story is important. Because what we see are characters who remain so. Against many injustices and many struggles, they hold on to exactly who they are. I feel that’s very encouraging and very empowering. It’s something that we can all take on, the importance of that. Not becoming who people say we should be, but being true to ourselves.

About Kaggwa Andrew