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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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Williams, John Henrik Clarke, Ben-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