Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Q: Where is the African Holocaust Memorial? A: There isn't one.

Britain is a nation built upon the backs of colonial empire, forced labour and the theft of land and resources throughout the former colonial empire. As we celebrate Black History Month 2017  it is a vicious anomaly and a calculated insult that no memorial exists, in recognition of the greatest crimes human history.

This most grievous omission from the heritage landscape of modern Britain, is simply a reflection of the historical amnesia we witness, whenever we  attempt to reassert the prolonged and tragic history of transatlantic slavery, back into the formal historical and popular narrative of the making of modern Britain.

  The Holocaust Memorial
The failure of Europe to learn the tragic lessons and failures of the concepts of white supremacy and  racial superiority, led directly to the catastrophic rise of German fascism with all its attendant deadly consequences.

Against that backdrop it should be no surprise to learn the government has announced the establishment of a national monument to the Holocaust in sober remembrance of the Jewish genocide was attempted by the Third Reich.

Any effort to reinforce the popular understanding of the nature of racism is to be warmly welcomed.

However, we are now led to understand that this memorial will be built in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminister, London, where the only existing monument to the abolition of slavery and radical feminist, Emily Pankhurst are both currently cited.

Sir Peter Bazalgette was the chairman of the jury who selected the location and its design, and its rather ironic that the author of the book "The Empathy Instinct" that explores the devastating
consequences of the absence of empathetic understanding for humanity.  Interestingly, he also argues that racism and prejudice are uniquely human traits. Heal thyself physician.

There are plans to incorporate the suffragette Emily Pankhurst and the Slavery memorial into the Holocaust design, but the cold stone fact is, that both these exiting monuments are set to be overshadowed and marginalised by the planned Holocaust memorial.  That is an inevitable consequence of the Governments current plans.

Sir David Adjaye. 

And with a flourish, that will be familiar to black people,
and just let you know there's no insult intended, they have commissioned the celebrated black architect Sir David Adjaye to build the new memorial. From my own perspective I find this project deeply offensive. First let me stay for the record I welcome the Holocaust memorial whole heartedly and without reservation. But the reality is that for years black communities have been campaigning to have slavery formally acknowledged as a crime against humanity.

A fact  recognised by the United Nations and to receive due reparations for the prolonged horror and generational devastation that came as a consequence of Britain's involvement in transatlantic slavery.

In addition we have campaigned for the establishment of a African Holocaust Museum/Memorial to help restore the National dementia that obliterates the African contribution to the development of modern Britain. That has been consistently denied and yet the Holocaust Memorial will be built with £50 million of government money. It's an outrage.

Even the great Emily Pankhurst would object, having seen British working class women play such an important role in demanding the ending of slavery during the abolition movement, and being so inspired  she subsequently modelled her campaign for universal suffrage, on the abolition campaign strategy and tactics.

Its a real shame that such an important national monument should come at the cost of reinforcing the deep marginalisation of the African historical agency in building modern Britain and the struggle for universal sufferage.

African sweat equity financed the British industrial revolution, whilst the profits of colonialism cemented every aspect of progress and profit of industrial and urban Britain.  And to rob salt into existing wounds, all this is announced during Britain's Black History Month, you really couldn't make it up.

Our only real option is to come together as a African community, supported by those who have a balanced view of Britain's historical development and seek to self fund, not just a memorial but in addition an African Holocaust Museum and as an added twist we should open it on St. George's Day or on the birthday of the one woman in Britain whose ammased financial prosperity can be traced, unbroken from the time of slavery, right up until this very day, the Queen.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Recruiting for Code 7's Lambeth School Patrols

Lambeth struggles with increasing rates of youth violence. Last summer a series of after school fights took place that were serious and could have resulted in serious injury or worse. Possession of a knives by school children is rising as young children try and protect themselves from attack.

In response local charity Code Seven, held three community consultation meetings and as a result of community demand, Lambeth School Patrols was born.

We believe in self help and and are now ready to recruit people to its school patrols. We will offer training and a support package to volunteers. Please help us help ourselves and lets show London that black people are capable of taking action against violence.

Please share and attend. Book now on https://Ispcode7.eventbrite.co.uk

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

British Black History: We didn’t all arrive on the #Windrush

British Black History: We didn’t all arrive on the #Windrush My Kru (tribal name) African grandfather from Sierra Leone/Liberia arrived in Liverpool in 1911.

The Kru nation was what both Sierra Leone  and Liberia, were called before the UK in 1787 and the US in 1882 invaded. The Kru fought against the invading armies of the US and the UK who were manned by freed African slaves. The Kru fought both. Imagine Kru having to fight freed African slaves, recruited into the imperial armies of the UK and the US and being sent to clear the Kru of their land, so the west could create homelands settlements for freed Africans?

The Kru people were said to be incapable of being made slaves. It’s said they’d either kill themselves or kill the white slavers at any given opportunity. They were considered as being impossible to break into slavery.  So the Kru fought against both the invading Imperial armies of the West and had to kill freed Africans recruited into the UK and US armies to resettle on Kru homelands.
Tom Jasper 

My Granddad arrived in Liverpool as a stowaway away aged 15 and was sent back on the next ship. He hid on another ship in Freetown and came right back. He was the original deportee.

#Kru people settled in Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff, Britain’s oldest black communities established first African welfare Assoc. He became Chairman of the Kru Club in Manchester a association dedicated to welfare support of Kru. Also curiously Grandad had a blue spot tattooed on the middle of his forehead. 

The name Jasper was the name given to him by the British merchant navy, we've never been able to trace his real name.

They lived in the North Manchester area, of Cheetham Hill, Waterloo Road. It's an area where I have most of my first childhood memories.

Grandad's British Merchant Seaman travel logs are fascinating insight into the breadth and scale of British imperial trade of the day.
What I’ve found fascinating is Grandad role as chair of the Manchester #KruClub.

The minutes show they tracked down errant husbands. White working class wives would complain of husbands and fathers going missing or not paying for children. The Association would find them, force them back to the family home and ensure they lived up to their responsibilities. It was considered not the Kru way to abandon their families. It was considered a disgrace on the whole community.

Abandoned or widowed wives would be entitled to weekly payments from the #KruClub. The Club also arbitrated tribal and legal disputes.  They organised seaside trips, christenings, weddings and funerals. They organised community self defence, often in Manchester with poor Jewish communities, to protect themselves from racist attacks and petitioned Government of the day for equal rights and justice way before the 1950’s and the Windush arrived. Granddad died when I was five and I lived with him and my Grandmother. 

These Africans are Britain’s oldest black communities. The real pioneers of Black Britain.

Dorothy Jasper 
Now my English Grandmother was born in Manchester workhouse in 1901. She was from a reasonably well off Victorian family who abandoned her.  The conditions in 1901 Manchester Workhouse were appalling. From workhouse to the convent Grandmother had an extraordinary hard life.

We are told she married in her early 20's to an Irish Republican.
I’m told that her first husband died, after being battered by police and flung into the Manchester Ship Canal. They had one child a son.

My Grandmother then met my African grandfather and he married and adopted Grandmas only child too. She worked at Manchester Co-Op HQ as a cleaner for many years.

They married in the 1920's and I can only imagine the racism they faced at that time in Edwardian Britain. It must have been horrendous.

She hated five things, the royal family, Tories, Churchill, social injustice and Mick MacManus, a wrestling star of the 1960's. She was a Northern matriarch of 4'6 with a fierce determination to protect her children and confront any racism they faced head on.

She was the radical Granddad was much more laid back, while she would slay dragons for the family and that is the history of the Jaspers.

So my roots are solidly African and working class. Tracing these histories is a joy and reflects the story of the British Empire.

Notice Granddads perfectly ‘concked’ hair all the rage in 1920s Britain. As for Grandma she was a beauty. 

British ‪#BlackHistory goes way back and it’s time the African pioneers were given as much attention as the Windrush generation. ‪#BHM17