|The Other Side Of African/Black History Month|
|By: Awula Serwah & Kwaku|
First published on Ligali.org on 12 September 2011
Awula Serwah & Kwaku reflect on the challenges and progressive way forward for African history Month in the UK.
We have mixed feelings when we hear or read that some councils are reluctant to celebrate African/Black History Month (A/BHM). Why? Because much of what’s put out as A/BHM fare is often devoid of history. It often entertains but seldom increases knowledge of African history. So for example, we did not join the bandwagon last year demanding that London Mayor Boris Johnson reinstates his massively slashed A/BHM budget. But on the other hand, we did not oppose those who were campaigning for the budget to be re-instated.
It is unfortunate that some A/BHM events focus on enslavement, as if our history starts with enslavement and that there are no other worthy stories to be explored. Others simply regurgitate information on the “usual suspects” - Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and now President Obama, etc., overlooking what has happened in Britain.
Click to find out about the NARM (Naming And Role Model) African British Civil Rights History BHM 2011 events across London
* Press release following Cllr June Nelson A/BHM motion, which was defeated in Hillingdon Council, issued by the Labour Group Office:
At the full council meeting on Thursday 8th September Cllr June Nelson gave an impassioned speech in moving a Labour Motion calling for the Council to re-instate October as Black History Month. This is because the internationally recognised Black History Month has, for the past few years, been renamed in Hillingdon to “Hillingdon History Month” and the commemoration and celebration of the achievements of African people has been watered down considerably.
During the debate Cllr John Major highlighted the flawed thinking of the Tory group be illustrating that throughout the year there are a number of days and weeks dedicated to one particular group or another, but none of these are at the exclusion of others, but they serve to focus attention on that particular group or issue, so that everyone understands and that any myths or fears of what makes us different are dispelled.
“The flawed thinking of the Tory group is exactly what creates tensions and issues amongst our community. The renaming of “Black History Month” to “Hillingdon History Month” on the basis that it includes all residents and not just the Black ones amounts to the same as renaming “Christmas” to “Hillingdon Winter Festival” on the basis that it will include all residents and not just the Christian ones.
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Sunday, 18 September 2011
Sunday, 4 September 2011
14 year old Ghanaian secondary school boy Ekow Asante reviews UK conscious rapper Silas Zephania's single 'Nationality', taken from his album 'War Begins Where Reason Ends'.
This is a song by Silas Zephania, who is an African who grew up in London. He composed this song and talked about the toil Africans have been through. He starts his song by saying “I’m not ashamed of who I am, I’m proud to be African why because it’s my heritage”. This shows that he is someone who understands the greatness of Africa which produced great people such as Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkrumah, the pharaohs of Egypt and many others.
Next he mentions great things that were found in Ethiopia, which is what is believed to be the first human fossil and also talks about other great leaders, like King Shaka. He is an African who wants to show the world that all Africans are the future and he wants us to rise up and change for the better.
Later on in the song he says Africa is the richest in resources and then he mentions a couple of countries. He also mentions the people of Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and black Americans, and he ends by saying all Africans should unite.
I personally think this song is a good song with a good motive and the chorus which goes “I’m not afraid of who I am, I’m proud to be African. Why? Because it’s my heritage motherland. People stand up from Zimbabwe to Egypt, be proud to hold your flags up” is one of the best choruses I have heard.
In light of some of the programmes I've recently delivered, it's good to see more individuals and organisations are marking August 23. In 2007 the British Government adopted the UNESCO-approved date as an annual day for reflecting upon the trans-Atlantic enslavement and its abolition.
However informed Africans object to both the colloquial term Slavery Memorial Day and UNESCO's term - International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, simply because it focuses negatively on Africans (as slaves as opposed to enslaved, etc) and does not sufficiently highlight their determination in fighting for their emancipation.
The preferred term is International Day of African Resistance Against Enslavement, because it underscores the significance of August 23 (1791), which heralded the start of the Haitian Revolution, the first successful revolution by enslaved Africans in the so-called New World, which directly led to the abolition of the trafficking of Africans.
In light of the UN declaring 2011 International Year for People of African Descent, I'd hope many more people will embrace and highlight this date as an important one within global African history.
But so long as it's given an African focus, instead of the Western spin of hapless Africans waiting for European abolitionists to emancipate them.