Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Black History Month: Scotland had a Black King???

I was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland and studied my BA (hons) at GCU and my Masters at QMUL London.  During my studies I got a scholarship to study in America.  For me what I found most fascinating was the in-depth documentation of the process and legacy of colonialism.  Not only did they have entire universities and museums which comprehensively documented the abolition of slavery but that they also polarized what is the most deplorable and appalling time in world history by creating public holidays such as Juneteenth, Memorial day and Emancipation Day.

Marcus Garvey said ‘A people without the knowledge of their past history and culture is like a tree without roots’.  On the one hand I do feel that what is in the past should stay in the past but surely it goes beyond a mere disservice that the United Kingdom does not celebrate or recognize the abolition of slavery by marking it or any other significant contributors who paved the way to end slavery with an official holiday?  Many might say ‘but we weren’t there at that time’, to which I would suggest that this gives us even more cause to ensure that this education is introduced to Great Britain. Why?  I am sure that any psychologist or even judge will tell you that what happens in the past is imperative in understanding the present and furthermore can actually define the future.  Therefore I believe that people must know their history in order to prevent such malevolent actions happening again.  We also do this out of respect for those who lost their lives in this human purgatory and to remind ourselves of African’s contribution the entire British system, to financial institutions such as The Bank of England, and to the very cities and towns that we live in today. 

Pre-referendum I spent a lot of time studying Scottish, Celtic and English history and one of the most significant findings that I came across is that Scotland actually had a Black King.  His name was Kenneth III and he ruled both blacks and whites equally.  For me I found this knowledge completely thrilling, but at the same time so inconceivable as I had never been taught anything like this throughout my time at school or university. 

As an Afro-Scot, a term I coined in my early youth, when I travelled throughout the UK I found it incredible that there is barely any historical accounts of the history of slavery or any sensible dialogue or debate of the impact on Black British people.  I am also further deeply unsettled that when someone does talk about this topic in public they are made to feel as if they have some sort of chip on their shoulder.  So what is the issue? Are we ashamed and embarrassed about the past, so much so that we prefer to forget and pretend that it never even happened?  Or is the real issue that it could lead to some sort of demand for recognition or even compensation? 

Surely it is wholly unacceptable that the UK is behind America in this respect since I am positive that most British people probably feel that we live in a more open minded and liberal society?  No one would disagree that what happened in Nazi Germany with the rise of Adolf Hitler was an abomination, so when we think about this are we really seeing slavery consciously and recognizing that it lasted literally hundreds of years?  Should we not then have the same mercy, understanding, sympathy and respect? 

We are living in a time whereby there is huge political and social unrest, with new UK parties such as UKIP highlighting the move backwards towards the right and a xenophobic dislike or distrust of ethnic minorities.  With a quick google search you can find literally hundreds of new white supremacy collectives across the EU and in the UK which include, The National Front, The British National Party, Candour and Combat 18. The same cannot be said for Black, African groups.  

To me understanding racism, European culture and psychology helped me to come to terms with the racism that I suffered throughout my life.  I taught myself to appreciate British history and that generally people in the UK are just not taught about this part of our history, therefore have no concept of the effect on the black African community.  I personally believe that more education, a national holiday and an official public acknowledgment and a suitable apology for Britain’s role in slavery may just help to remind us all why so many ‘black’ and ethnic minorities live in the UK today.

@euniceolumide #modernmuse
Image from: Image: http://www.africaresource.com/rasta/sesostris-the-great-the-egyptian-hercules/king-kenneth-dub-and-king-kenneth-iii-of-soctland-the-sons-of-the-black-the-black-kings-of-scotland-pt-1-by-oguejiofo-annu/

1 comment:

  1. Brilliantly put , UKIP??? Is a sugar coated . BNP. Combat 18:=Edl.. STL. Another racist group personaly i think since we all bleed the same we r of 1world &1love(((♡)))))..!all the best karen :!)