All because of the flu

Had a good friend tell me today that a young mixed-race girl of 12, was speaking of ancestry in the classroom. As one of only two ‘mixed-race’ children in the class, she referred to Caribbean islands as where her ancestors came from.  The teacher, quite rightly tells her that her ancestors did originate from Africa but then because of a widespread flu epidemic they all left Africa for the Caribbean!

No mention of slavery. My friend is still in shock, wondering if the 12 year old just did not translate everything properly or if this really is the state of educators’ education on transatlantic slavery.

Being a teacher himself, my friend wondered if it was something to do with the limited amount of time available to be able to even broach the subject; or maybe he did not want the girl to be singled out as having slave ancestors. Whatever the reason, it’s most likely that the teacher is ill-equipped to tackle the subject confidently, leaving all the various descendents in the class with their self-esteem in tact.

There must be ways. Educating children on ‘the slave trade’ is tough it’s true. Like other sensitive subjects that reveal the Truth about the dark side of humanity that teachers try to educate children away from expressing. To be good boys and girls and responsible citizens we are bound.  But when teachers themselves are not educated on subject mentally nor had to chance to work the ideas through emotionally and politically,  teaching and learning transatlantic slavery will remain dangerous to the delicately developing adolescent and greater social psyche.

map illustration



Response to this BBC article: (31.7.12)
Proof, if needed, that this government don’t care about Africa or the effects of empire, or any regard for the history of the nation they have inherited and the effects on the present for millions in the former colonies.  It’s not about guilt – that’s a red herring.  I have no interest in British people today feeling guilty for the past.  It’s about government responsibility to put things right.  It’s much deeper than giving aid and charity, which looks good at the time.  It’s about stopping the underdevelopment of Africa through the crippling agreements set by the IMF and the World Bank, and the ridiculous situation of African countries paying OUT more in loan payback than it was receiving, and many other ways the continent has been held back by the West. The legacy of Empire is plain to see worldwide.  African leaders of course also have to step up to their responsibilities and stop corruption and making themselves richer and their people poorer. The effects of colonialism is so deep and ingrained it continues to underdevelop without anyone having to pull any strings, such as the carving up of Africa across kinship lines that caused division between nation states and ‘tribes’, that is still the cause for many of the wars today.  For Hague to say we should “just relax” and “it’s a long time ago……”!!! Hague needs to go back to school.

Quotes from article:

While “a small minority” of people in Africa may still view Britain in “colonial terms”, the UK’s relationship with the continent was fundamentally different now. “This is a new and equal partnership,”

The UK, he suggested, should “just relax” about its role as an imperial power and the legacy of that period in its history, adding that “it is a long time ago, the retreat from empire”.”



Dear Dr David Starkey

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Original copyright remains

Haiti on Twitter


Myths and Facts launch

Soon to launch after months of toil is:

Book Cover - Design by Derek Edwards/Patwa

Book Cover - Design by Derek Edwards/Patwa

Myths, Facts & Feelings – Bristol and transatlantic slavery.

In an effort to respond to views in the communities across Bristol on the subject of transatlantic slavery, this 40 page booklet represents a cathartic journey. Through community research, consultation and commissioning; with academic guidance and creative application, this project has materialised as this small publication.

Myths, Facts and Feelings offers knowledge, ideas and questions toward a more mature understanding of the undervalued history and legacy of transatlantic slavery.  From the viewpoint of one city in the West of England, we see how a past reflects on our present and how it can be harnessed to determine our future – in Bristol and around the world.

The launch takes place on 29th November 2010 in Bristol.

Produced by Firstborn Studios

Design by Patwa

Published by Bristol Race Forum / Community Media SW

On Radio 4 a while ago there was a debate about patron saints and nationalism, and if it was a healthy thing.  One of the guests said they thought Saint George’s day was a good opportunity for different communities to celebrate in England, as Saint George himself represented inclusiveness as he was born in Turkey, and (according to Wikipedia) is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres (Spain), Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Milan, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Barcelona and Moscow.

Here goes then!

“This painting of a religious procession was done in the 19th century in Ethiopia by an unknown artist.  It shows St George riding above the procession on a white horse. You can read about it in more detail on The British Museum’s website.  St George is one of the most important saints in Ethiopia. Paintings of him were taken into battle ahead of the Ethiopian army to give them victory.”

© The British Museum (this version of the was text taken from Show Me website).

Happy Saint George’s Day!

Photograph © Shawn Naphtali Sobers 2010

Sojourner Truth with Margaret Prescod,
Fri, January 15, 2010

Fascinating to listen to other perspectives on a subject.

In this case, community readio – KPFK Radio -on ‘what’s really going’ on in Haiti.

Of course it’s not what ‘really’ going on any more then any other media(ted) framing of experience. However in the Ocean of the other stuff, these perspectives give some insightful counter views.