Thursday, 25 April 2013

Post-John Archer & Black Politics Presentation

Last week Tuesday’s John Archer & Black Politics presentation had one of the highest number of attendees for the history programmes at Battersea Library. I thank all who attended. Especially:

Sean Creighton, who contributed. Although Peter Fryer and several sources state that Archer’s mayoral vote was 40-39, Sean opts for the contemporaneous reports of the day, which indicate 30-29. Archer’s wife is often referred to as Bertha, an African Canadian, but Sean’s research shows his first wife was called Margaret, an African Canadian, whilst Bertha was the second wife, and English.

Knowing my stance in using ‘African’, and promoter of ‘black music’, Sean thought some clarification would be helpful. Well, there’s no confusion. Reproduced here from the TAOBQ (The Black Or African Question) blog is my position on the matter:

Black is a term that does not recognise the African identity or connection with the African continent. It was once a powerful and unifying political term, which embraced British “ethnic minorities” such as Africans and Asians. However, the latter have in recent years forged a separate identity, whether or not they were born in Asia, which has led to classifications such as Black And Asian, and Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic.

Whilst TAOBQ has no issues with ‘black’ in relation to an all-inclusive term for political solidarity among British ‘ethnic minorities’ or ‘black music’ describing a music genre, the campaign is advocating that people of African heritage be identified as African, instead of the meaningless ‘black’.

Next on the roll-call is Allswell Eno, who’s behind the The bLack Of Respect campaign, which aims to  “restore our dignity as a race by getting people, chiefly ourselves, as well as institutions in the UK, Europe and other parts of the world to cease referring to us as ‘black’ and describe us by heritage, like every other race.” Please support the bLack Of Respect petition for institutions such Office of National Statistics and others that engage in ethnic monitoring to abandon ‘black’ for African, be it British African, British African-Caribbean, African-American, African-Brazilian etc.

Brother Omowale’s attendance was a timely reminder for me to attend the PASCF (Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum) workshop last Thursday on Kwame Nkrumah’s Consciencism philosophy. Although we only managed to read a few paragraphs on the introduction to ‘Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization’, I learnt so much about my former president because facilitator Brother Kwami made sure we understood the import of every sentence! Nkrumah did not use words “by heart” - each word was used purposefully.

If I was to sum up what I learnt - in a way Nkrumah is warning us about the mis-education of the then colonial African, who becomes learned through his engagement with Western philosophers and higher education, which if applied "wholesale" just props up the status quo i.e. Western capitalist and imperialist structures and viewpoints. It is the awakening or conscientisation which allows Africans to use that knowledge in a way that serves its people, rather than the colonisers.  

If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the works of Nkrumah’s and other political thinkers, this free, small class is highly recommended. It’s not a seminar, and be ready to be a pro-active participant. Participants are encouraged to study particular topics in order to lead a discussion. The next Consciencism workshop is this Thursday April 25, 7-9pm at WASP (the West Indian Association of Service Personnel), 163 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4 6DB (Clapham Common). Just turn up or email:

Nubian Jak almost gave the impression that my presentation was literally predestined, as that was the same day the news of the John Archer stamp was announced! I thought it was the Post Office that had introduced that horrible term ‘Afro-Caribbean’, but I was wrong – the Post Office’s website uses the African-Caribbean terminology. I suspect that ‘afro-‘ source must be the Daily Mail’s story, which has then been lazily regurgitated by other media!

Talking about black music, my organisation, Music Congress, is the initiator of British Black Music Month (BBMM), which takes place in June into mid-July - expect a Nubian Jak plaque to be unveiled in London  during BBMM2013. BBMM2013 will also feature a Vinyl Memories event in Battersea Library, and I’ll be roping in two old mates who attended, Clive Allick and Mark Jackson, as guests on the Veterans’ Front Room: Vinyl & Music Industry Memories sessions that will take place on the weekends in Wembley.

It seemed like everyone else had something to sell or plug, apart from me! Sean is the publisher of those useful booklets covering the likes of composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Plymouth Labour activist Bill Miller. NARM role model Marc Wadsworth, who is mentioned in my presentation on account of being the biographer of John Archer’s one time comrade Shapurji Saklatvala, had copies of the ‘Divided By Race United In war And Peace’ booklet – you can see the trailer of the film at

Elder Clarence Thompson MBE, came very early and spent the time telling me and showing me material about things he had done, which he didn’t mention during my recent interview with him for the Look How Far We’ve Come project. He’s one of the unsung been there, done it type of fellow, whose history needs to be better known. He was given an opportunity to raise awareness and fundraise to help south London’s Queen Mother Moore move from a supplementary to a fulltime school, by selling a special badge and copies of his illustrated poem. The original is housed in the UN HQ.

Cllr. Tony Belton, who’s the councillor for John Archer’s old Latchmere, ward attended with Penny Corfield, who scripted the ‘Red Battersea: One Hundred Years of Labour 1908-2008’ DVD, which tells the story of Battersea’s long and chequered Labour party history. Naturally John Archer is featured. Penny was kind enough to give us a copy, and Cllr Belton sent me a copy of the John Archer portrait, which hangs in his hometown Liverpool. See the Battersea Labour website for details of how you can purchase a sleeveless version for £5.

Brother Omowale had flyers promoting his Pan-Afrikan People's Phone-In on Sundays 7-10pm (studio phone number 020 8144 4547). It can be heard via a link on the website.

To wrap up, it’s nice to see history teacher Dan Lyndon-Cohen kept the promise he made on the BASA e-list “to be more conscious in the future” by refraining from using “by people of Black and Asian heritage”. In his comment piece for History Workshop Online, ‘A Response to the Proposed National Curriculum in History’, he must be commended for using “people of African and Asian heritage”.

Nothing to do with history – well actually it does in a sort of round about way, and it focuses mainly on BASA interest areas, Africa and Asia, here are details of two Fairtrade related activities in Brent and Harrow: 

Fairtrade presentation 8th May 1-3:30pm
In the lead up to World Fairtrade Day, there will be a Fairtrade presentation by Cllr Nana Asante, Chairperson of Harrow Fairtrade Campaign and Brent Fairtrade steering group member, at the Luncheon Club, St. John's Community Centre, Crawford Avenue, Wembley HA0 2HX. The cost of the meal is £4 and the presentation will take place after lunch. For more information:

Fairtrade Pop-up Restaurant
Mark World Fairtrade Day at the Fairtrade Pop Up Restaurant at Stanmore Baptist Church, Abercorn Road, Stanmore, HA7 2PH on Saturday 11th May 1:00-3:30pm. It’s organised by Harrow Fairtrade Campaign in partnership with Mission Dine Club (MDC) and is an opportunity to fundraise for MDC & Harrow’s Foodbank, and raise awareness about Fairtrade. The cost is £6.50, but £5.50 if tickets are bought at Menu: Jollof rice & chicken and plantain, with vegetarian option, and dessert. For more information:

Lastly, lastly, lastly – I had an opportunity to watch the South African made feature film ‘Otelo Burning’ last Sunday. Although Flash Musicals Film Club’s regular spot at the their Edgware base is the first Friday of the month, from 6.30pm (£5 adults, £2 children, includes meal), they do the occasional Sunday special. This screening had the director and one of the cast, whom we were able to chat with. Whilst the film is said to be based on real life incidents around the time the country was about to move towards multi-racial elections and surfing, there’s a disturbing end bit, which was not based on an actual incident. It was so bleak, one wondered why the director swung her artistic licence in that direction, instead of offering some positivity or hopeful alternative.


John Archer and Paul Stephenson are NARM role models and the focus of BTWSC/African Histories Revisited’s 2013 African British history presentations. it will be 100 years since John Archer became London's first African mayor, and 50 years since Paul Stephenson successfully led the Bristol Bus Boycott. For more information regarding creating or delivering an African British civil rights history programme around these 2 NARM role models: For event details and bookings:

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