Press Releases

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Harrow event reaffirms Black History Month African-centred focus and Black Sections members highlight their efforts in the election of the 4 “black” MPs in 1987

Nov. 7 2012
A meeting last week in the Council Chamber in Harrow, north London heard from those directly linked to two milestones in African British history, which took place in 1987.
25 Years On… focused on how Black History Month (BHM) was introduced by Greater London Council successor organisations, such as the London Strategic Policy Unit (LSPU) a quarter of a century ago, and also on the work of Labour Party’s Black Sections group, which led to the selection and election of the first African MPs – Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng (Keith Vaz, was not the first Asian MP – that honour goes to Dadabhai Naoroji, elected as a Liberal MP in 1895).
The free event, organised by WHEAT Mentor Support Trust and Akoben Awards, attracted a diverse audience including councillors, community activists, teachers and young people.

The panel and special guests were made up of activists in local government and politics in the 1980s. This included Ansel Wong, former head of LSPU’s Race Equality Policy Group (REPG), Addai Sebo, REPG policy team leader, Marc Wadsworth, former chair of Black Sections, Bernard Wiltshire, former deputy leader of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA); and Narendra Makanji, a former Black Sections chair and Haringey councillor, who along with Linda Bellos, another Black Sections member and former LSPU chair and Lambeth Council leader, got London councils to declare the period from August 1987 to July 1988 the African Jubilee Year and mark October as BHM in Britain.

The introduction of BHM, which was predicated upon the tenets of the African Jubilee Declaration, was a way of redressing the pernicious effects of racism upon African people, and to counter the misinformation and lack of knowledge of the African contribution to world civilisation.
“The essence of the Declaration was that the London boroughs and authorities would make just restitution … just restitution means reparations, to years of incalculable damage done to the African,” explained Sebo, who conceived the idea for BHM in Britain after hearing a colleague tell him about the racial identity issues facing her young African son named after pan-African champion Marcus Garvey.

Concurring with Sebo, Wong added that although “the essence of what we were trying to do was to bring about a recognition that people of African descent have made significant contributions to the development and success of British society and to the world,” the use of the  word “black” was a pragmatic “political convenience”  to pass the commemoration through Labour and Conservative councillors in the London boroughs that supported the Declaration.
The African Jubilee Declaration  was presented as part of African Jubilee Year (August 1987 to July 1988) by the London Strategic Policy Committee,  the Association of London Authorities and the Inner London Education Authority in recognition of three global African history landmarks: the centenary of pan-African champion Marcus Garvey's birth, the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of  formerly enslaved Africans in the  Caribbean, and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
Among the commitments the Declaration enjoined the bodies that signed up to it included the promotion of “positive public images and an understanding of Africans and people of African descent and encourage the positive teaching and development of their history, culture and struggles”.
However event chair, co-ordinator of Akoben Awards and TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) Kwaku pointed out that the political landscape has now changed. “As of today, as we’ve commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Black History Month, from now on, it’s African History Month,” declared Kwaku.
“They were in a different political situation, where they had to make compromises to talk about Black History Month. And also there was then  the political black – that’s why Narendra could stand together with Marc – Asian heritage and African heritage. But things have changed, Narendra is now often described as Asian, rather than black.”
African History Month, will continue to be a forum for all members of the community to engage in and learn from. However as Harrow deputy mayor Cllr Nana Asante pointed out: “It’s like a bus – Africans are the drivers, and everybody else is a passenger. It’s all encompassing. Everybody is welcome. But the history we talk about is African history.”
The event ended with Wadsworth speaking about how, in spite of lack of support from the Neil Kinnock/Roy Hattersley Labour Party leadership at the time and some serious opposition from within the party, the Black Sections was able to force through changes. This included overcoming opposition to the formation of a group to address race issues within the party that removed two African females who Black Sections had helped to be selected as parliamentary candidates.
Whilst the Black Sections may be best  remembered for helping bring about the victory of the 4 “black” MPs of 1987, Wadsworth reminded the audience that its work also resulted in getting hundreds of councillors elected across Britain. His parting words for the new crop of activists were “organise, organise, organise.”

• BHM was officially inaugurated in the UK on October 1 1987 with a series of programmes aimed at school children and  adults at the (by then abolished) Greater London Council's old building, County Hall, where Dr Maulana Karenga gave the opening keynote address. Other African historians who made presentations during the African Jubilee Year included Dr Yosef ben-Jochann, Dr John Henrik Clarke, Dr Tony Martin and Dr Frances Cress Welsing. Their presentations are compiled in the currently out of print book, ‘Our Story: A Handbook of African History and Contemporary Issues’ (Addai-Sebo, Akyaaba and Wong, Ansel, eds 1988, London Strategic Policy Unit, 1988).
· • The official BHM logo incorporated the Sankofa symbol. Its significance is underscored by Dr John Henrik Clarke, who delivered this Sankofaism: “If we have to change tomorrow, we are going to have to look back in order to look forward."  
  Addai Sebo now lives in his birth place, Ghana, from where his contributions were made via video
• 'Recollecting African British History: My Role In The Launch Of Black History Month' by the then ILEA deputy leader Bernard Wiltshire, one of the supporters of BHM, and who delivered a speech at the BHM launch, is posted at:
Photos by Linda Panford, except * by Kwaku. Hi res upon request
Subjects include:
Ansel Wong, former LSPU’s Race Equality Policy Group (REPG)
Addai Sebo, REPG policy team leader*
Marc Wadsworth, former chair of Black Sections
Dr Hailu Hagos, executive director of WHEAT MST
Kwaku,co-ordinator of Akoben Awards and TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question)
Bernard Wiltshire, former deputy leader of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA)
Narendra Makanji, former Black Sections chair and Haringey councillor
Jessica & Eric Huntley, community activists and publishers
Mia Morris, political aide and founder of

TAOBQ Press Release: Attendees Affirm We're Africans 22/01/2012

TAOBQ Press Release: Missed Opportunity of UN initiative prompts campaign on African identity 15/25/12/2011

The 25 Years On… event in Harrow aims to shift the focus back to African history in line with the aims of Black History Month (BHM), first introduced into Britain in 1987. The audience will hear first hand accounts of why BHM was introduced and how the first three African British MPs came to be selected and elected

October 24 2012

Despite the recent waning of support within some circles, Black History Month (BHM) is still a ubiquitous marker on the British calendar – it’s marked by numerous councils, schools, libraries, museums, unions, newspapers, magazines, community organisations, and even commercial entities that wish to be seen to be doing their equality or diversity bit.

Whilst some of the content may be suspect, BHM is increasingly taking place not just within the designated month of October, but also beyond. For this reason, some call it Black History Season.

Others are now calling it African History Month (AHM), in a bid to bring it in line with its raison d’etre. Set up 25 years ago by Greater London Council (GLC) successor and affiliated organisations, and progressive London boroughs, BHM was meant to bring global African history and contributions at home and abroad into mainstream awaress, in addition to advocating an anti-racist and anti-apartheid agenda.

Its introduction on October 1 1987 and subsequent adoption by mainly London councils, was predicated upon signing up to the African Jubilee Declaration, which included recommendations for activities that recognised the contribution of Africans to the economic, cultural and political life of London and the UK. The Declaration drew its strength from sections of the 1976 Race Relations Act, which enjoined statutory bodies to “promote race equality, equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups”.

Contributing via video to 25 Years On… will be Addai Sebo, recognised as the person who introduced BHM. On the panel will be his boss at the London Strategic Policy Unit, Ansel Wong, plus special guests who helped champion BHM across London.

The second half of the event focuses on the behind the scenes work that resulted in the selection and eventual election of the first three African British MPs in 1987. The panel includes Marc Wadsworth, former chair and campaign organiser of the Labour Party’s Black Sections, whose work also led to the selection of numerous African and Asian councillors across the country.

The free event takes place on October 30 in the Council Chamber at Harrow Civic Centre. It’s organised by WHEAT MST in association with Akoben Awards and TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) and chaired by history consultant and Akoben Awards/TAOBQ co-ordinator Kwaku.

For more information or to book:,



25 Years On…
THE Harrow African/Black History Month event of 2012

African History Month (then Black History Month) introduced in Britain

First 3 African MPs elected to  British Parliament

Hear the behind the scenes stories of how these historic moments came to be by the people who were there, doing the works…

Panel: Ansel Wong and Addai Sebo (via video) (London Strategic Policy Unit officers who helped introduce BHM),  Marc Wadsworth and Roger McKenzie (Black Sections executives who helped with the election of the first 3 African British MPs), Chair: Kwaku (Akoben Awards), Host: Dr Hailu Hagos (WHEAT MST) + books on sale

Oct. 30, 6-9pm @ Harrow Civic Centre. Free.,

Remembering Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) an African British composer & pan-Africanist. Audio-visual presentation. Putney Library, 5-7 Disraeli Road, SW15 2DR. Wednesday Oct 31 2012, 6.30-8.30pm: 020 8871 7090
The First Grader screening and open discussion on the value of education and British colonial rule in Kenya. + book stall. Westminster City Hall, London Victoria, Friday Nov. 9, 6-8pm:

Global African workshop feedback indicates more opportunities needed for self-examination. Follow up workshop, ‘How To Regain Our African Identity And Self-Confidence’, convened for October 24 2012

October 10 2012

At the ‘What Does It Mean To Be A Global African?’ presentation and workshop, which recently took place at the WEB Du Bois Centre in Accra, one of the presenters, Addai Sebo, charged the present generation in the land where lies the remains of three giants of pan-Africanism – the African-American WEB Du Bois, the African-Caribbean George Padmore, and African’s son Kwame Nkrumah, with failing to take forward the fruits of Nkrumahism and pan-Africanism, which were sown in Ghana over forty years ago.

He decried the fact that none of Nkrumah’s books can be found in the school curriculum. Sebo, who is credited with introducing African History Month (formerly Black History Month) in Britain 25 years ago, paid tribute to the elders of previous generations who had made him the man he is today through the free education he received in Ghana before going on to further his education in the United States, where he widened his knowledge of African history and pan-Africanism.

The term “global African” is beginning to gain currency within pan-African discourse, said workshop facilitator Kwaku. The global African realises that he’s African wherever he happens to be located on the globe. It’s a more “fluid” alternative to “pan-African”, he said, in that it encompasses the way one lives, in addition to the political context.

The other guest speakers were former teacher, veteran diplomat and social commentator KB Asante, and the distinguished composer and musicologist Prof JH Kwabena Nketia.

The latter highlighted two opportunities that helped him learn more about Ghanaian and African music. The first was  the support he received in the 1950s from Nkrumah, then Leader of Government Business, who brought him in to help with work on culture and national development. The second was Dr Kofi Busia, who as head of sociology (and leader of the opposition), created a research fellowship in African studies within his department.

Prof. Nketia has been able to share his knowledge of African music with diverse peoples around the world. He is the author of the 1974 published ‘Music Of Africa’, which has been translated into numerous languages, including Chinese and Japanese.

Asante highlighted the “colonial mentality” as one of the results of  the ravages of colonialism, which the likes of Nkrumah tried to “correct” by promoting the “African personality”, “African confidence”, and the unity of the African continent. The task right now, he said, is to go further, by bringing all peoples of African heritage into the global African family.

The event, which was attended by a cross-section of Africans from the continent and the diaspora, was organised by UK-based voluntary organisation BTWSC and the TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) campaign, in association with the WEB Du Bois Centre. In his welcome address, Centre executive director Ato Keelson re-iterated the Centre’s mission, which is to promote the continued pursuit of self-definition for Africa and the diaspora.

Participants were then tasked with deliberating upon four workshop topics:
  • What is the African mindset/Point of view/Personality? What is influence of Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah?
  • Ways in which the global African can articulate his concerns about welfare of Africans on the globe
  • What are the different forms of neo-colonialism?
  • How do we ensure that foreign cultures don’t dominate, and that education inculcates knowledge and appreciation of African history and culture?

Participants were encouraged to make a personal commitment regarding what they would do to demonstrate their global African mindset.

At the plenary session, it was agreed that the global African should:
  • have a mindset which radiates self-confidence and promotes the African personality. This will be facilitated by an educational system that teaches African history from primary school to university and highlights African heroes.
  • be concerned about the welfare of Africans on the globe. Once the African understands that he is an African, regardless of where he is located on the globe, he will be concerned about the treatment of his fellow Africans wherever they reside.
  • be aware of influence of neo-colonialism and actively resist it.
  • appreciate and know his culture, and not allow other cultures to dominate his expression and values.

Positive feedback has led the organisers to convene a follow up workshop to enable participants to focus on two of the most important themes. ‘How To Regain Our African Identity And Self-Confidence’, a free workshop, takes place on Wednesday October 24, 5-7pm at the International Press Centre on Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue, Accra.

To book or for more information: Awula Serwah,, 0302 774344


Photos courtesy of BTWSC. Hi res photos upon requesst
Group shot LtoR Ato Keelson, WEB Du Bois Centre executive director; Addai Sebo; KB Asante; Kwaku, workshop facilitator and TAOBQ co-ordinator
Mr KB Asante presenting
Mr Addai Sebo presenting
Workshop group photos

BTWSC is a UK based voluntary organisation that raises aspirations and promotes social cohesion.

TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) is a UK based campaign aimed at encouraging people of African heritage in Britain to engage with their African identity.,,!/taobq

Personal Commitments:
  • Patronise African products
  • Plan to read more about Africans in other parts. A book a month to start off
  • Make national politics my businness too, and not leave it to the narrow-minded, micro-ethnic ruling elite
  • Create an awareness on the social media
  • To read books on Kwame Nkrumah and send out his ideas
  • To be more conscious of the ways cultural imperialism can affect my actions
  • My core duty is to reach out to my children or the young generation about what has been. I’ll discourage people from speaking foreign languages in their households

Workshop notes:

Workshop 1: What is the African mindset/Point of view/Personality? What is influence of Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah?
  • Cultural, religious imperatives that impinge on our assessment of who we are in relation to the encounter with slavery, enslavement, and colonialism
  • Multiplicity of European languages and influences affecting our norms and values in conflict with local languages
  • The problem of recognition and acceptance by fellow Africans because of the degree of pigmentation (i.e. lighter skinned)
  • The African/pan-African consciousness is lost in the mindset of majority of Ghanaians who see themselves first by their ethnic origins

Workshop 2: Ways in which the global African can articulate his concerns about welfare of Africans on the globe
  • Knowledge first, then comprehension: Understand what’s happening – we take Western propaganda e.g. “Gaddafi was a dictator…”
  • Why were Africans murdered in Libya?
    Writing to the media, contacts that are influential
  • Social media /networking should be used
  • Formerly GNA (Ghana News Agency) provided the international news, but now most of the Ghanaian media houses just copy information almost verbatim from foreign media such as the BBC, etc. Africans should use the media we own
  • Interests, not friends - Must remember that our relationship with the West is based on their national interest and not friendship. All countries (ought to) pursue their national interests

Workshop 3: What are the different forms of neo-colonialism?
  • Foreign Music
  • Foreign Religion
  • Foreign Media
  • Foreign language(s)
  • Changing taste in preference for Western foods or food preparations
  • Disregarding our traditions in preference for Western traditions/styles
  • Family systems “Europeanised”, including nuclear in place of the extended family
  • European names also mistakenly termed “Christian names” precedence over African names

Workshop 4: How do we ensure that foreign cultures don’t dominate, and that education inculcates knowledge and appreciation of African history and culture?
  • Culture – a way of life of a particular people
  • Areas of focus - music, language, arts, movies, beliefs, knowledge, morals
  • We must identify cultural imperialism through the media
  • The way forward is to start with the family unit; the educational and cultural institutions must engage the mindsets of the people for a behavioural and attitudinal change
  • Check media content
  • Also self reliance by ensuring quality packaging of cultural products; presenting local information through our culture, such as drama, theatre, music
  • Government should buy into African values – reflected within the education curriculum, civic education
  • Be nationalistic

The ‘What Does It Mean To Be A Global African?’ workshop aims to highlight key drivers to find our rightful place on the world stage

25 September 2012

A workshop aimed at highlighting key points to empower and drive Africans on the continent and the diaspora is set for October 4 at the WEB Du Bois Centre in Accra. The free event, entitled ‘What Does It Mean To Be A Global African?’ aims to highlight the core values, mindsets and perspectives that Africans ought to have in order to make their mark and uplift the African image in today’s global world.

The event is organised by UK-based voluntary organisation BTWSC in association with TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question, a campaign aimed at encouraging people of African heritage to engage with their African identity), and the WEB Du Bois Centre For Pan-African Culture. There will be a few, short presentations by special guests including KB Asante, Samia Nkrumah MP, on how a confident African identity should permeate whatever fields of endeavour we engage in, so that the African is seen as second to none.

“The event is aimed at a broad church of stakeholders, including politicians, educators, administrators, writers and artistic people, and not only those who identify themselves as pan-Africanists,” says workshop facilitator and TAOBQ co-ordinator. “We also want it to appeal to those driven by excellence, and encourage others to see excellence as  an Africa trait.”

TAOBQ is behind a move in Britain for the use of African instead of “black”, to describe people of African heritage. At its first event held at London’s Westminster City Hall in January, a motion moved by Southwark Councillor Martin Seaton asking the attendees to affirm they were African was carried unopposed. TAOBQ is part of a group marking the 25th anniversary of the introduction of Black History Month (BHM) in Britain in October. It will move that BHM, which was championed in London by Ghanaian-born Addai Sebo in 1987, be called African History Month.

The term “global African” is beginning to gain currency within pan-African discourse. The global African realises that he’s African wherever he happens to be located on the globe. He intrinsically understands the African proverb that says “no matter how long the fish has been in the river, it doesn’t become a crocodile.” Therefore his mindset is one of promoting the African interest. He’s unashamedly pro-African in outlook, but not anti anybody else.

For more information or to book:,, or call BTWSC co-ordinator Awula Serwah on 030 277 4344.


Awula Serwah
030 277 4344

The workshop takes  place at the WEB Du Bois Centre is on Fifth Link Road, Cantonment, Accra (near the US Embassy) on Thursday Oct 4 2012, 3-6pm. Free

Guest speakers besides KB Asante and Samia Nkrumah MP to be confirmed

Segments of ‘The African Or Black Question’ documentary, as used in the Henry Bonsu-helmed Shoot The Messenger Vox African programme, can be seen at: