Monday, 22 May 2017

Black History Month UK Conceiver Addai Sebo's Message To AHMUK Launch Participants

Click this image to watch video

Ghanaian-born Addai Sebo, the person who conceived the idea of marking Black (which we now call African) History Month in the UK in October, was recently in London where he recorded a video message that was delivered to participants at the African History Month UK Network launch, which took place on May 13 2017 at Unite The Union's London headquarters.

You can read the full text at the bottom of this post, or click here for the video version.

Among the launch attendees, we say a special thank you to Bro Emmanuel of Word Power Books, Tony Warner of Black History Walks, Avril Nanton of Avril's Walks and Talks, Devon Thomas of The Black Heritage Group, Eku McGred, creator of 'The African Child' resources, Celine Akigwe of Afristoricals, and Kubara Zamani of Nubiart Diary. Bro Kwaku is the Network co-ordinator., who made a presentation entitled From Black History Month To African History Month 30 Years On... The presentation highlighted how Black History Month (BHM) was introduced in Britain, where it's at, and where it should be going, especially this year, as we mark BHM's 30th anniversary; and history's role in addressing UN's IDPAD (International Decade For People Of African Descent) initiative.

For more details about the African History Month UK Network, which aims to be a hub that connects and disseminates information about community African history delivery throughout the year across the UK, contact Kwaku,

The week before, Brother Addai Sebo joined us at the African Histories Revisited-organised From Mangrove Nine To Guerrilla: A Community Dialogue On Representation Of African British event at the University Of Westminster Marylebone campus, where he spoke about having "sat at the feet" of the likes of Chancellor WilliamsJohn Henrik ClarkeBen-Jochannan, and Frances Cress Welsing, whilst in exile in the US. Addai Sebo is pictured below receiving a copy of 'African Voices: Quotations By People Of African Descent' book from community activist Ama Gueye. Attendees included Tony Warner of Black History Walks, Devon Thomas of The Black Heritage Group, Bro Andrew Muhammed a.k.a The Investigator, and former British Black Panther Movement member Liz Obi.

Message To African History Month UK Network Launch – Saturday, May 13, 2017
Anuanom (i.e. Sisters and Brothers gathered). This is Addai-Sebo.
I have been in London the past two weeks and I am on my way back to Ghana. I came to confer with Ansel Wong and Robert Lee on how best our collective African community can organise itself to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month this coming October and prepare the way for our youth to take over from those of us who initiated the cause of Black History Month. We strongly feel that the time has come to pass on the baton to a well prepared and groomed younger generation. I thank Brother Kwaku for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the African conscientisation work of Kwaku along the instructions of Kwame Nkrumah’s CONSCIENCISM. Brother Kwaku, well done for working so hard along with Serwah to uplift the AFRICAN PERSONALITY. We must free ourselves from mental enslavement so as to be sacredly conscious of our African identity and reality. Such is the abiding task and challenge of the institution of the month of October as our own sacred space and period of self-examination and renewal.
Black History Month is African History Month as African History Month is Black History Month. As Peter Tosh sang: “No Matter where you come from so long as you are black you are an African”. Black History Month is Afrocentric in its intent and purpose. The essence of Black History Month is the space it occupies in the annual British Calendar of events. It is this space that we should hold sacred, protect and enhance in our collective interest. It is this space that we should fill each year with content that gives meaning to our life and answers the challenges of our time. The space has been created for you to manage it in our collective self-interest. The month of October therefore is your space. It is yours and you must consciously own this space and make the correct choices to define the space in our collective self-interest. Each one of you, so far as you think and know, accept and respect yourself as to why you are an African, is and must be the manifest content of Black History Month. A liberated and enlightened African constitutes the manifested content of Black History Month. He or she who says and understands I AM AFRICAN I AM PROUD or I AM BLACK I AM PROUD is a manifestation of the social and economic purpose of Black History Month.
Black History Month is your space and so hold on to and shape that space in the collective interest of our African community sojourning in the United Kingdom.
The time has come for us to prepare ourselves to pick up from where Marcus Garvey left off with the BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENT.  There must be a conscious and organized movement Back to Africa. Diaspora Africa has a critical role to play in the urgent need for Mother Africa to MAKE UP, CATCH UP AND SURPASS IN ALL AREAS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND SECURITY. OCTOBER therefore is our sacred month of individual, family and collective self-examination of our future in the present. October is the period for us to reflect on our collective destiny and come out with solutions to resolve our state of under-development as clarified by the intellectual work of Walter Rodney and Kwame Nkrumah. We must amend or make up, catch up and surpass because as Marcus Garvey taught us: “If we did it before, we can do it again”.
This coming October will mark the 30th anniversary of Black History Month and you are gathered now to reflect on these 30 years, look at lessons learnt and let the benefit of hindsight guide you in your preparations to celebrate and honour the contributions of Africans to world civilisation from antiquity to the present and the positive impact that Mother Africa’s beholden children sojourning in the United Kingdom continue to make to British life as did Septimius Severus and Augustine. Black History Month is therefore a period of self-examination and intellectual preparation for the future safety and development of Mother Africa and her children “both at home and abroad”.  This meaning and character of Black History Month is enshrined in the chosen symbol, SANKOFA (i.e. Retrieving the Past is No Taboo). We must imprint this metaphoric bird “looking back to move forward” in our consciousness and display it all over. You must catch the depth of meaning of the SACRED SANKOFA BIRD superimposed over the skyline of London. The wise is spoken to in proverbs. It is not a taboo to retrieve the past.
Septimius Severus was an African Roman Emperor of Rome from AD 193 to 211 and it was he who came to England to protect Britain from the “savages from the North”. He rebuilt the Hadrian’s Wall and gave Britain hundreds of years of peace as a result of the protective institutions he built and left behind. Septimius Severus did not assimilate as even his food was imported then directly from Africa.
St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) was one of the most prolific geniuses that humanity has ever known and who gave meaning to Christianity and Christian life. He was an African born in modern day Algeria. His influence informed the life and work of St. Augustine of Canterbury (d. AD 605), originally sent to England from Rome by Pope St. Gregory The Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons in to Catholicism. Your African ancestor, St. Augustine, was described as the “The Father of Catholicism”.
You are AFRICAN AND PROUD just like Emperor Septimius Severus with his DNA – Directly Nurtured African -  well engrained. Believe in yourself and train and shape your mind so that your DNA recaptures its Directly Nurtured African personality as Kwame Nkrumah taught us.
Black History Month is yours and the protection and advancement of this sacred space lies in your self-consciousness as a proud African.
©Akyaaba Addai-Sebo 08/05/2017

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

TAOBQ Responds: We Wouldn’t Write ‘Afro-Caribbean’ Today, But Is ‘People Of Colour’ OK Now?

April 5 2017

By Kwaku
TAOBQ co-ordinator

TAOBQ Responds: We Wouldn’t Write ‘Afro-Caribbean’ Today, But Is ‘People Of Colour’ OK Now?

Today the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent conference being held in Geneva April 3-7 has a consultation with civil society organisations. Whilst we won’t be there to formally take issue with the “Descent” part of its name, we’ve inputted into a submission that calls for recognition of Afriphobia, as an alternative to its favoured Afrophobia spelling.

However this article is in response to the ‘We Wouldn’t Write ‘Afro-Caribbean’ Today, But Is ‘People Of Colour’ OK Now?’ article by former Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott. Although it’s over a year old, I only recently chanced on it online and felt the need to respond to this rather revealing article on how the Guardian’s editors interrogate the ‘race’ terminologies the paper uses.

In the 15 years I’ve been involved in community African (you notice I’m not using the usual Black) history delivery, I’ve been harping on about the importance of terminology, mostly within spaces occupied by African British people with some interest in history.

I didn’t realise the mainstream, by which I mean that which is dominated by the Europeans (some say white), had any particular interest in how we, Africans, are described. Which is why I’m both surprised and impressed by this revelatory piece -

Responding to the article, I warn you now, gives me an opportunity to deal with some long-standing bugbears.

Yes, I agree that “language evolves”. Indeed, I’m part of a group that has been pushing for Afriphobia to be used when referring specifically to anti-African racism or prejudice, just as Islamophobia has now come to be understood as racism or prejudice against Muslims. We urged the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry to use Afriphobia specifically in reference to anti-African racism, which made its way into the Inquiry's Report published last June.

However even amongst those who signed the Africans For JC Values letter to the Inquiry, they were a few who had some reservations with the word, simply because of the “phobia” part. This is because phobia means “irrational fear”. But of course the meaning of words can be made to evolve. Hence Afriphobia has nothing to be with fear. It’s simply means deliberate, though it can also be unwitting, racism against Africans.

We have also been insistent that the word is spelt (I have never been comfortable with using the more prevalent alternative ‘spelled’) with an “i”, as it then closely ties this form of racism to Africans. Just like anti-Semitism is linked to Jewish people, though technically it ought to apply to Arabs as well, as they are also Semites.

Before I get off from this particular soap box, I’d like to add that as I write this, the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent – the body that was instrumental in the UN adopting 2015-24 as the International Decade For People Of African Descent (IDPAD), has an April 3-7 conference in Geneva, where the Afrophobia spelling will be used. A representative of IDPAD Coalition UK has been advised to introduce our alternative spelling into the April 5 deliberations with civil society organisations.

Now back to Chris’ article (you probably can guess how long ago I was in primary, or what we called preparatory, school, because I find the alternative Chris’s spelling inelegant). I’m glad the Guardian news editors questioned the ‘people of colo(u)r’ (POC) terminology. We do not have to import every Americanism, particularly one that is insidiously racist!

African people here are beginning to use POC much more, I guess because it seems like a convenient way to refer to non-Europeans, instead of BAME, which I don’t use. I prefer AAEM (African, Asian, Ethnic Minority).

As I don’t tire of saying – POC is not only racist, it’s also nonsense! Firstly, white is a colour. When one goes to B&Q looking for paint that looks like  snow, one asks for white paint, not the “non-colour” paint!

Secondly, without realising it, the very people that are using terms like POC in the context of fighting racism or white supremacy, are unwittingly propping up white supremacy by suggesting that Europeans, or white people, are a breed apart, and the rest of humanity has colour.

Which brings me to a truism lost on many – there is only one race – the human race. Sure, we have different phenotypes, but the classification into different “races” is a baseless social construct that has its basis in the kind of racist ideology that justified European enslavement of Africans. Thankfully, quack racist "science", from eugenics to The Bell Curve, have been discredited.

Whilst I’m at it, I also preach that as science claims that all humanity came from Africa, then it stands to reason that terms such as “African origin”, “African descendant” and “African descent” can not specifically refer to just Africans.

African or African heritage specifically refers to African people. So at this stage, as a pan-Africanist, I must explain that my usage of African refers to all people of African heritage, whether their immediate antecedents are located on the African continent or its Diaspora.

As Chris correctly notes, Afro-Caribbean has become outdated. We advocate the use of African-Caribbean, but not as in the prevalent erroneous understanding that it refers to people of African and Caribbean backgrounds. The truth is that African-Caribbean refers only to people of African heritage with Caribbean backgrounds.

Hence African-Caribbean does not refer to me, as I am of continental African background. Which is why we move for African to be used as a unifying descriptor for all people of African heritage. And for those who feel this subsumes their Caribbean roots, the alternative is African/African-Caribbean. We don’t accept Black as a suitable terminology for African people, but it’s fine when used in the context of the unifying political Black.

Oh, need I mention that Caribbean is not synonymous with African-Caribbean? How many times do we hear people using the term Caribbean people, when they mean just African-Caribbean people.

They obviously do not realise that there are African-Caribbean, European-Caribbean and Asian-Caribbean people!

Recently, I saw a scholarship being awarded to young Caribbean boys. I wondered if a Caribbean boy of Asian heritage applied and was refused on the grounds that it was aimed at African-Caribbeans, wouldn't there be a sound reason for a legal challenge?

Incidentally, some years ago a now defunct African British (no Black British here) national newspaper decided its house style would use African/Caribbean – but then again this was inadequate, because the intention was not to cover Caribbeans of all heritages.

I will mention West Indian, which like coloured ought to be dead by now, only to point out that it’s mainly used today by people who had their formative education in the British colonial system.

Europeans routinely mention countries and Africa in the same breath. For example “I went to Germany, France, Japan, and Africa.” My wife once had to point out to an anti-war campaigning group that it was disrespectful and unhelpful to indicate that its meeting would have speakers from several named countries, and Africa, as if Africa is a country

Whilst I do not intend to be patronising, I thought this particular mode of expression by Europeans was so endemic, I honestly did not think this was something European editors would even think about, let alone try to address.

If we are in the midst of IDPAD, which aims to address Afriphobia, discrimination and inequalities faced by people of African heritage, it’s time African people recognise that they are African and feel comfortable to describe themselves, and be described, as African.

My view on this issue can be accessed via the TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) post entitled Thinking About Language In Teaching African History - The TAOBQ Primer, which is also reproduced in the ‘Look How Far We’ve Come: Race/Racism Primer’.

I will also be delving into the matter of African identity, history and terminology at the African And Proud? event at Unite The Union HQ in Holborn, London on Saturday April 22 2017, 12.30-4.30pm.

The event will have a segment where participants read quotes from ‘African Voices: Quotations By People Of African Descent’ (we’re all on a journey – the reprint will use ‘African Heritage’) and say how those quotes resonate with them.

I however leave you with a quote, not from ‘African Voices’, by the pan-Africanist historian Dr Runoko Rashidi: “We are African people. Get comfortable with it. And learn to love your African self.”

TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) is a campaign focused on highlighting African identity and terminologies.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Response To: 'Is 2017 The Year Of Action For Black Britons?'

Dear Patrick,

Re: Is 2017 the year of action for black Britons?*

I applaud you for kicking off the new year by setting markers for us to deal with in 2017 in your latest Voice article.

I realise that what’s online may not be the full article as published in the paper edition. Nevertheless, in highlighting the International Decade For People Of African Descent 2015-24 as the thread which runs throughout your suggestions, I would implore you to endeavour to help us fashion a unifying African British identity that takes cognisance of our different antecedents, be they located in the Caribbean, Africa, or Britain (please see (1) below).

So whilst I appreciate the work you do across heritage, health and politics, I must respond to some of the itemised points in your article:

1. Re: UN Decade of African Descent.
As much as I disagree with the "Descent" bit, can we nevertheless stick to the proper UN terminology, which is International Decade For People Of African Descent or the IDPAD acronym?

IDPAD is an opportunity to recognise that we are one family – Africans, irrespective of antecedents, and unite us as African people rather than separating us as ‘Africans and Caribbeans’. As you are aware, we have Asian and European Caribbeans. So when geo- specificity is required and we are referring to Caribbeans of African heritage, it’s helpful to use the African-Caribbean terminology.

We know it’s incumbent on the UK, as a member state of the UN, to publish and implement a programme of activity for the decade. However it may prudent for African individuals and organisations to come up with plans they can deliver, whilst lobbying the government to implement aspects of the specific plans that can only be implemented by government.

2. Re: The Heritage Lottery Fund, etc; The government should also adopt Windrush Day on June 22 to celebrate the Caribbean migration to Britain.
Rather than ring-fencing funds just for Windrush @ 80 commemorations, the focus of such funding should be for African-led organisations to deliver programmes marking the African (not Black) contributions to British and world civilisation, which naturally includes Windrush and beyond.

I hope that Windrush Day will be celebrating the contribution of people of African heritage to the UK

6.  Re: Funding should also be available along with a special memorial to support the role and sacrifices made by British West Indies Regiment.
What's the rationale for singling out the BWIR? What about the King's African Rifles or Royal West African Frontier Force?

Also, 30 years from the introduction of BlackHistory Month (BHM), should we not be aligning it with the African Jubilee Year Declaration which is what BHM was predicated on? And whilst we’re at it, shouldn’t it now be called African History Month?

I notice you’re silent on Reparations – is that an issue to be left for  another time within the IDPAD 2015-24 time frame?

Lastly, I’d like to encourage individuals and organisations to heed your call as chair of Labour’s race equality advisory group and consider making a submission to the Labour Party’s race consultation by the Jan. 13 deadline – see

I’ll certainly be suggesting that racism specifically against Africans be described as Afriphobia, and that a state-funded website be set up as a hub that provides a link to race-related research, which may cut down on unnecessary duplication, and provide empirical basis for making robust anti-racism policies and arguments.