Know thyself (Part 2)

The Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey said ‘a people without the knowledge of their past, history and culture is like a tree without roots’. And we all know what happens to a tree that has no roots. It withers away and dies.

They are many people in our country who have little or no knowledge of many aspects of British history. Even some of our countries greatest minds and learned scholars are ignorant of many key facts related to our countries development and past. Especially the history of people, who are of African and Caribbean descent.

There is an assumption that people of African Caribbean descent only arrived in the UK after 1949. However, black people have lived in the UK for almost two thousand years.

In-fact, the historian and author Peter Fryer states in his book (Staying Power), ‘there were Africans in Britain before the English came here’. Fryer explains that African Roman soldiers lived in Britain from 200AD in their hundreds. Many had families and children here and we know that they were buried here. In the 1500’s there was a black community in Britain. One of them was a musician who worked in the court of Henry VIII. His name was John Blanke and he was a trumpeter.

The black community in Britain (and London in particular), was so big that Queen Elizabeth wrote an open letter to the Mayor of London in 1596 complaining that there were too many black people (blackamoors) in her realm and they should be expelled. Sounds familiar….
Many British born black people fought for this country in World War 1, including Walter Tull. Walter Tull was born in Folkstone in 1888 and was probably the first black professional outfield footballer. He played for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton. Walter joined the army and became the first black officer in the British Army. Despite a ruling banning black people from exercising control and barring them from officer positions. Walter died heroically in France in March 1918.

Walter is one of the almost one million people of African and Caribbean descent who fought for this country in World War’s 1 and 2.
However, many of us are unaware of this and the many contributions that black people have made to this country. The question is why.
Why has this information been hidden from us all. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that there has been a deliberate attempt to distort and hide our true history from us.

However, we have the power to investigate the true facts if we wish to do so.
So during Black History Month, learn something new. Educate yourself, friends and family. Know thyself.

Stay focused and stay blessed.

Photo Credit: George Grantham Bain Collection

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