Archive for the ‘Afri-a’ Category

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


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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.

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I’ve written before about the fact that I am not begging for an apology from Britain and the other slave trading countries.  An apology should be something they offer sincerely, and not something that I should have to beg for.  That said, the disdain in which they continue to trample on the reality that is the legacy of the slave trade as if it is meaningless disgusts me.

This morning I woke up to news that Gordon Brown said “the time is now right for the UK government to apologise for the actions of previous governments.”  This was quoted from a letter in which he has agreed to apologise for the UK’s role in sending thousands children to former colonies.  According to the story on the BBC News website:

“Under the Child Migrants Programme – which ended just 40 years ago – poor children were sent to a “better life” in Australia, Canada and elsewhere. But many were abused and ended up in institutions or as labourers on farms.”

The  Child Migrants Programme dates back to 1618 “when a hundred children were sent from London to Richmond, Virginia which is now one of the United States of America. The final group arrived in Australia in 1967.”  (see here for history.)   I am pleased that Gordon Brown is apologising for this terrible state-sanctioned policy by a former UK government, as it was an abuse of power that has led to generations of physical, psychological and emotional abuse and damage. 

The apology for the Child Migrants Programme is long overdue, and has been the result of much campaigning from individuals and organisations such as the Child Migrants Trust

This then leads to an obvious question.  I am sure you can see it coming.  What about an apology for slavery, to the descendents of slavery?

I am not concerned with reparations in a financial settlement, but rather reparations of an emotional settlement.

The UKs involvement in the slave trade began at much the same time as the Child Migrants Programme in the early 1600s. (see here for history).  Abolition of slavery across the British Empire did not happen until August 1st 1834.  In many ways the Child Migrants Programme was the slavery it imposed on it’s own people (children) in parallel with the transatlantic trade, sending white children to live in the colonies to prop up the emerging ideology of white supremacy across the world.  It is good that the UK is now apologising for its turning its own children into slaves.  It is estimated that over 130,000 children were stolen and shipped away from their mothers and families over the 4 centuries.  So how about an apology for over 6 million African that the UK enslaved over the same period?

In recent days there have been questions in the UK press asking if West African leaders should apologise for their part in the slave trade.  I think that is a valid question as it is no use ignoring the fact Africans also exploited their own people, though the benefits of that trade were all manipulatingly weighed in the Europeans benefit, and the cruelty inflicted on the enslaved Africans in the middle passage and beyond were not known to the African people who captured their own and sold them to the white men.  But in the spirit of the emotional reparations and honesty needed to learn from slavery in any meaningful way, yes it is still a valid question about whether African leaders should apologise. 

This honesty however is not helped by the closed minded defensiveness that happens when the issue of an apology is discussed in the UK mainstream.  For example, see here for a mind-boggingly blinkered article in the Telegraph from “journalist” Ed West, in which he suggests that the descendents of enslaved Africans were done an ironic favour by being enslaved, as they are now doing “better” than their ancestors that still remain on the African continent.  He says this with no acknowledgment that if the Europeans had not exploited their presence on Africa in the first place in the 1600s through to today, under the various guises of Empire, slave trade, colonisation, commonwealth and free trade, then the continent would be doing just fine today by itself. 

The confusion, turmoil and brutality that Africa finds itself in today is due to the systematic exploitation from European countries over the past 500 years.  It is no wonder that some African countries are in such a mess today with its depressing news of eye watering cruelty that some Africans are now inflicting on themselves.  It is a continent that has not been allowed to know itself for the past 400 years.  In the mid to later 1900s when the European carved invented African countries were given “independence”, it was like telling a child that has never been allowed to go outside his/her house  or think for themselves, to leave home forever at the age of 18 and fend for themselves.

Europeans conquest for Empire has caused a blanket of confusion over the entire world that is still being felt to this day as witnessed in the political turmoils of countries such as Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran, South America, Pakistan, India and nearly every country in Africa.  But as Nneka sings in the post below, simply blaming European oppressors will get us nowhere.  We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, tell them to go f*** themselves and get on with our own lives.  That is easier said than done if you are a five year old dying of Aids in Malawi, but African leaders need to step up and do the right thing.  So far they have not, and many have only depressingly served in their own interests.  Though they have had good teachers.  If the recent expenses controversy in UK government had happened in any African country you can imagine the headlines.  Many African leaders today are leading countries based on antiquated European laws, laws that have long since been revised in their ‘mother countries’, (see this BBC article from Zambia as an example.)

If there is anything that many African leaders can do today, that they can learn from this present UK government, it would be to apologise to their people for their own failings and for the corruption and exploitation of past regimes.  African leaders need to move forward and do the right thing in the spirit of emotional and honest reparations.  Though for that to have any effect, African people ourselves, on the continent and in the diaspora, need to want to move forward in an honest way.  A body needs to want to heal, in order for wounds to actually begin healing.  No amount of bandaids or kind words will help.

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Africans – by Nneka

U keep pushing the blame on our colonial fathers
U say they came and they took all we had pocessed
They have to take the abuse that they have caused our present state with their intruding history
Use our goodness and nourishment in the Name of missionary
Lied to us,blinded slaved us,misplaced us,strengthen us,hardened us then
they replaced us now we got to learn from pain
Now it is up to us to gain some recognition
If we stopp blaming we could get a better condition
Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

Why do we want to remain where we started
And how long do we want to stop ourselves from thinking
We should learn from experience that what we are here for this existence
But now we decide to use the same hatred to oppress our own brothers
It is so comfortable to say racism is the cause
but this time it is the same colour chasing and biting us
Knowledge and selfishness that they gave to us,this is what we use to abuse us
Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

Those who have ears let them hear
Brothers who are not brainwashed takt ruins and rest
Pick them up and stick them back together
This is the only way we can change this african weather
Lied to us,blinded slaved us,misplaced us,strengthen us,hardened us then
they replaced us now we got to learn from pain

Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

you got to wake up please
youuuuu got tooo
(wake up africa wake up and stop blaming)
blaming ha ha ha
open yours eyes your eyes
stand up and riise
road block oh life penalty
wake up…

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Have been away otherwise would have commented sooner on the £250,000 FOR SLAVERY COMMISSION story!

This is just a quickie response.  More substantial ones to follow.


As we’ve said in one of the first posts on the blog (see here), and more recently here – slavery fatigue set in at the end of 2007 and the debate needs to be taken much further than that.  The awareness needs to go further than slavery.  The education needs to be taken wider, beyond and before slavery history.

I don’t mind admitting that I was shocked at the news as I cynically thought, like most other people, that as soon as 2008 arrives any mention of slavery would be buried and tossed aside like a dead mouse.  So I’m pleased it’s still on the agenda, but ultra cynical about what they have planned.  As much as I love the arts, (some of my best friends are artists!!),  there needs to be something more substantial than a temporary exhibition about slavery or a theatre play or art exhibition.

Why not invest the money in inner city schools or community centres or build a permanant monument or…I don’t know.  (Empty of ideas at this late hour!)  But hot on the heels of this abolition money is news of the £80,000 for the Muslim census.  Non-liberal white working class Bristolians won’t be happy and a certain party (I won’t mention their name!) will be only too happy to exploit these events for their own sordid aims.  They say you can’t please all the people all of the time.  Well the council can’t please many people much of the time! 

Then in the same breath we hear news that the Old Vic is in trouble, and Kuumba is shakey, and our schools have just dropped 4 more places down the league tables due to crappy GCSE results.     

None of these things can be fixed simply by throwing money at it, but the council doesn’t seem to know what to do with it’s money to the point where we are all confused about what we want and where the prioritise are.

In the sober light of day I say the priority has to be sorting out the education problem, for all Bristol’s children regardless of ethnicity.  Raise the level of education and take the children up a level with you.  Easier said than done obviously.  (But as I saw on ITV West tonight, some bloke who was the first to swim the English Channel has a statue up somewhere along the Severn, with the words inscribed, “Nothing that is great is easy.”)

What to do with that £250,000?  I think it’s great that after so long the city is facing up to its past, but we who have been campaigning for this for so long also need to know when to move on.  (Easier said than done I know for the down-trodden folk in the gutter of society, but we have to help him/her move on, and not to encourage them to wally in the gutter of self-worthlesses that is also called mental slavery!)

Obviously more people need to be educated on the history of slavery, but that education can’t be done by investing short term in loads more theatre shows and poetry readings.  I would also say all the emphasis shouldn’t be in heavy handed slavery education in schools because it can have a reverse effect on the self-image of the black child if not handled sensitively.   Yes it needs to be taught in schools for everyone to hear about, but personally I would rather teach it at home to my children.

So, what to do with that £250,000? 

Other than setting up a research centre which investigates & address all the city’s educational and cultural problems, I would say to stick it in a high interest account, and don’t be too quick to spend it all at once. 

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Friends say teacher loves to travel

Have been very speechless over Teddybeargate this past week.  As much as I may love the idea of Africa my ancestral homeland I will not defend her in all her decisions.

The decision of the Sudanese government and courts last week to jail Gillian Gibbons for allowing her school class to name a teddy bear Muhammed is absolutely shocking and depressing.  The Sudanese decision is, no other words to describe it, absultely f—ing ridiculous!!!

For one thing, it was named after a boy named Muhammed in her classroom and NOT the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

The Islamists say they are angry becuase to name an inanimate object Muhammed is an insult and Idolatry.

The ‘Idolatry’ claim is the huge flaw in their theology. 

To place such importance on the name and not the Prophet Himself (pbuh) IS idolatry.

To place importance on any person other than the Prophet Muhammed himself (pbuh) just because they have the name Muhammed is idolatry.

To get offended by a teddybear with a name IS Idolatry as they are placing undue importance on an object that should not be feared. 

The only one to be feared is God Himself.

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is much much more than His name.  For Islamists to believe otherwise is a flaw in their faith in their Beloved Prophet (pbuh).

If such importance and reverence was given to the name in the Muslim world then NO ONE should be allowed to be called that name as no one is as beloved or important as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). 

The woman was just out there working helping out in the way she thought she could.

There is far too much hate in this world.  

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