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.