Mansa Musa,ruler of the Mali Kingdom in the 14th century

The times that we live in are worrying. A wave of right-wing political parties across Europe are starting to see a surge in their popularity, the UK’s  Brexit campaign nurtured and exposed levels of  racism and prejudice that many thought were a thing of the past and the success of Donald Trump has given the KKK and other such organisations the attention and fuel they need to become mainstream again. We have also witnessed US congressman, Steven King, state that non-white groups have made no contribution to civilisation and London mayor, Sadiq Khan, being racial abused on Twitter because his team organises Africa on the Square, an annual event that celebrates African culture.

 

This month is Black History Month in the UK and with the current political and social climate, BHM is needed now more than ever before. Ideally what we need is on-going sustainable education of the ignorant; we need an education system that tells the truth and gives a balanced view of history.  In the meantime, we have to take advantage of the opportunities that we currently have and BHM is one of those opportunities.

 

This year is the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK and last year was the  90th anniversary of Black History Month in the US, which started as Negro History Week.  Through both of these months much progress has been made over the years to address the fact that the contribution that people of African descent have made throughout history has been excluded from mainstream education, but clearly more needs to be done if we find ourselves in the situation that we are in right now. It may be that we became complacent believing that our work was done, but our work is far from being complete as lack of awareness of our contribution has led to an under-appreciation of our worth. We therefore have to take control of history’s narrative and correct it. Just read what Nelson Mandela had to say:

 

“It is important for African nationalists to be armed with evidence to dispute the fictitious claims that Africans are without a civilised past that compares with that of the West. In a single morning, I discovered that Egyptians were creating great works of art and architecture when whites were still living in caves.” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

 

It is important for so many reasons to correct history’s narrative and probably the most important, from our point of view because of the work that we do, is to create a sense of pride in our children which will help build them into well-adjusted successful adults.

 

Queen Idia, the first Queen Mother of the Benin Kingdom

Having knowledge of the rich history of Africa and teaching children about our great ancient civilisations is life changing. Knowing that their ancestors weren’t just slaves but scholars who created a civilisation where the oldest medical text books originated and was home to one of the world’s first and oldest universities inspires children. Realising that Africans beat Columbus to the West Indies;  that the oldest monarchy in human history was in Nubia (present day northern Sudan and part of modern day Egypt ); that Africans  90,000 years ago were conducting fishing expeditions (way before anyone else) and were mining 43,000 years ago, opens up a whole new world of possibilities for young people. They see their potential, they see their greatness and they have something to aspire to.  Importantly, children from other races will grow up respecting our history and culture. This creates a balance in the world that allows us to work together for a common good rather than creating division and unrest.

 

To prevent our world slipping into an even darker place we ultimately need an education system that embraces everyone’s contribution to civilisation. At that point we won’t need Black History Month because our contribution will be recognised every day.

Ciara's badgeIn this week’s blog post, our junior blogger Ciara writes a very powerful story on the topic of slavery. Please support Ciara with her writing by leaving a comment in the comments section below.

 

I am a soldier fighting to free the slaves, my name is Jack and I am from Kentucky.

 

When I was young  my father owned slaves. I hated to see them get beaten for  no reason. When I was 10 I tried making friends with one of the young slaves my age, but while we were playing tag he tagged me but at the same time I tripped over a root. My dad thought he pushed me and started to beat the 10 year old slave. It was very devastating to watch him bleed and mourn for  help, but I just sat there and watched him. When my dad was done he told him, very meanly, to get back to work, he then walked over to me, while he the slave was still weeping and mourning on the ground, and says “If he messes with you again you tell me and I’ll kill him.” I did not even say that I tripped myself and it was not him, I could have said that before he got beaten.While he tries to get up he moans in excruciating pain from the beating he just got, I try to go over and help him, but he just says “Leave me alone before you get me in more trouble.” When he said that it was like a slap in the face, I never wanted to hurt anybody, I just wanted to help, but I just made things worse.

 

When I was 17  I saw my dad  beating a woman. I remembered that the last time I saw this happening to my young play mate I did nothing. I just stood there and watched him get beaten. I still remember the sound of the slaps he got on his back and the terror in his face as he watched the whip come upon his back. But this time I want to change and make things right, so right when my dad was about to slam the whip back down on her back I slightly jerked his shoulder back. Dad, thinking it was a slave, swung around  with all his might  and slapped me with the whip right across my face. All the pain came rushing to my face as blood poured out of my gash onto my clothes, I yelped in pain and agony. It felt like 2 million bees had stung me in my face at the same time. My father watched me in horror as he saw the gash on my face. I could just see how scared he looked as he saw the gash he made in my face. When he bent down to see if I was okay I scooted away from him and told him he was a monster. He tried to tell me that he thought I was a slave touching him, but I got up and told him that I was trying to get him to stop whipping the  slave, but instead you whipped me. When he was about to respond, I ran away into the woods. There I cried and sat on a rock by a stream while the light shines onto my stinging face for 3 hours straight.

 

martinique-206916_640 (1)

When I finally come home, it was dark, I see my mom weeping on the porch in a rocking chair, I asked what was wrong but she does not say anything. She pointed to the tree on the other side of porch. I walk over to the tree and see my dad hanging from a rope by his neck, I fall to my knees seeing him and start crying again. I just wish I could have said goodbye, but it is too late and I just have to move on so I’m not stuck in the past. I hear someone come  behind me and put a hand on my shirt. I look at the person with my wet eyes  and I realise it was that boy that I once played tag with, then he says  “I’m sorry about your dad.” I know how it feels to be separated from your father. I ask him, with sniffles in between, what was it like to be sold and separated from your father. He told me it was like you have to live a whole other life, because your father is the  heart of your family and then you get separated from it. The boy and I talked for hours. Eventually I fall asleep into the deep dark. I wake  up right where I was left, but there was something  missing, dad’s body is missing, but there is still a rope. Then my mom shouts “Hurry up or else you will be late to the funeral.” So I hurry up and get ready to go. When we came back I notice that there is a note at the tree my dad hung himself on. The note said:

 

  Dear Jack,

 

              I am very sorry for hitting you. I really did not mean to hit you. I didn’t know that I was acting like  monster, but now I realise I was. I have torn families apart like a monster ripping an animal limb from limb.I have also beaten people like a monster would attack an animal. I want you to set all our slaves free, and I want you to help stop slavery.

 

                                                                                             Love,

 

                                                                                                       DAD

 

From that day on I’ve  wanted to complete my dad’s task and now I have a chance to do so  by being a soldier in the civil war and fighting for slaves’ freedom.

Ciara's badgeIn this week’s blog post, our junior blogger Ciara writes a very powerful story on the topic of slavery. Please support Ciara with her writing by leaving a comment in the comments section below.

 

I am a soldier fighting to free the slaves, my name is Jack and I am from Kentucky.

 

When I was young  my father owned slaves. I hated to see them get beaten for  no reason. When I was 10 I tried making friends with one of the young slaves my age, but while we were playing tag he tagged me but at the same time I tripped over a root. My dad thought he pushed me and started to beat the 10 year old slave. It was very devastating to watch him bleed and mourn for  help, but I just sat there and watched him. When my dad was done he told him, very meanly, to get back to work, he then walked over to me, while he the slave was still weeping and mourning on the ground, and says “If he messes with you again you tell me and I’ll kill him.” I did not even say that I tripped myself and it was not him, I could have said that before he got beaten.While he tries to get up he moans in excruciating pain from the beating he just got, I try to go over and help him, but he just says “Leave me alone before you get me in more trouble.” When he said that it was like a slap in the face, I never wanted to hurt anybody, I just wanted to help, but I just made things worse.

 

When I was 17  I saw my dad  beating a woman. I remembered that the last time I saw this happening to my young play mate I did nothing. I just stood there and watched him get beaten. I still remember the sound of the slaps he got on his back and the terror in his face as he watched the whip come upon his back. But this time I want to change and make things right, so right when my dad was about to slam the whip back down on her back I slightly jerked his shoulder back. Dad, thinking it was a slave, swung around  with all his might  and slapped me with the whip right across my face. All the pain came rushing to my face as blood poured out of my gash onto my clothes, I yelped in pain and agony. It felt like 2 million bees had stung me in my face at the same time. My father watched me in horror as he saw the gash on my face. I could just see how scared he looked as he saw the gash he made in my face. When he bent down to see if I was okay I scooted away from him and told him he was a monster. He tried to tell me that he thought I was a slave touching him, but I got up and told him that I was trying to get him to stop whipping the  slave, but instead you whipped me. When he was about to respond, I ran away into the woods. There I cried and sat on a rock by a stream while the light shines onto my stinging face for 3 hours straight.

 

martinique-206916_640 (1)

When I finally come home, it was dark, I see my mom weeping on the porch in a rocking chair, I asked what was wrong but she does not say anything. She pointed to the tree on the other side of porch. I walk over to the tree and see my dad hanging from a rope by his neck, I fall to my knees seeing him and start crying again. I just wish I could have said goodbye, but it is too late and I just have to move on so I’m not stuck in the past. I hear someone come  behind me and put a hand on my shirt. I look at the person with my wet eyes  and I realise it was that boy that I once played tag with, then he says  “I’m sorry about your dad.” I know how it feels to be separated from your father. I ask him, with sniffles in between, what was it like to be sold and separated from your father. He told me it was like you have to live a whole other life, because your father is the  heart of your family and then you get separated from it. The boy and I talked for hours. Eventually I fall asleep into the deep dark. I wake  up right where I was left, but there was something  missing, dad’s body is missing, but there is still a rope. Then my mom shouts “Hurry up or else you will be late to the funeral.” So I hurry up and get ready to go. When we came back I notice that there is a note at the tree my dad hung himself on. The note said:

 

  Dear Jack,

              I am very sorry for hitting you. I really did not mean to hit you. I didn’t know that I was acting like  monster, but now I realise I was. I have torn families apart like a monster ripping an animal limb from limb.I have also beaten people like a monster would attack an animal. I want you to set all our slaves free, and I want you to help stop slavery.

 

                                                                                             Love,

 

                                                                                                       DAD

 

From that day on I’ve  wanted to complete my dad’s task and now I have a chance to do so  by being a soldier in the civil war and fighting for slaves freedom.