‘Africans Were In Britain Before The English…’

This powerful statement of fact is how historian Peter Fryer started his seminal book Staying Power (Pluto Press, 1984) documenting the black presence in Britain

SONGSTRESS: An unnamed member of The African Choir from South
Africa who played concerts for a high-profile audience including Queen Victoria, courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

IT IS a notion that would confound most people, particularly against the backdrop of today’s fierce debate on migration. Yet the truth remains that African history in Britain stretches back to the 3rd Century when valiant and gallant soldiers fought beside the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Though a few of these largely forgotten heroes remained in England, Scotland and Wales, the focus has been on Africans as slaves and servants in royal courts in the stories of people like Quobna Ottobah Cugano, Olaudah Equiano and others
who documented their lives in Britain.

After the transatlantic slave trade, Africans started coming to this country as much sought-after musicians and performers in the courts of nobility. Others came as seafarers working on ships that brought raw materials from
the colonies to Britain and returned with finished goods fashioned for the tropics.

They settled mainly in the port towns of Bristol, Liverpool and Portsmouth and through the advent of colonialisation
others were brought here to learn the language so that they would act as interpreters to aid trade with Africa.

Continue reading “‘Africans Were In Britain Before The English…’”

Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/do-black-people-feel-excluded-brixton

Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?

LOCAL LANDMARK: The street market in Electric Avenue, BrixtonDOWN TO: The market in Electric Avenue.

THERE WAS a time in this country when the mention of Brixton symbolised the experience of Caribbean people in Britain.

While this is still true to a large extent – Brixton is home to the Black Cultural Archives, and rightly so – it seems to be the only legacy remaining.

For a significant number of the children of the Windrush generation, their lives were about Brixton: where they went to school, where they grew up and made lifelong friends and where they ran into various scrapes that finally culminated in clashes with heavy-handed police in 1981.

However, when a large number of shops closed after the riots and Brixton was left almost derelict, a run-down no-go area, it was black professionals and businesses – accountants, lawyers, estate agents, recruitment consultants, newspaper publishers, PR and advertising agencies, builders and contractors, management consultants, researchers, restaurants, book shops – who staked their claim to it and helped regenerate the area.

It was to Brixton that all black VIPs and celebrities from abroad, such as Nelson Mandela and Mike Tyson, flocked to for a taste and feel of the black experience when they came to these shores.

Continue reading “Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?”

Celebrating Black Businesses at Black History Month 2013 – Ade Sawyerr

Mayor of London Black History Month Event.

Many things have been celebrated in black history month over the years but I doubt whether there has been any celebration of black people in business in Britain so in this brief note I intend to chronicle the history of black business development and celebrate the initiatives in the hope that more assistance will come in the way as we look forward to contributing to the brighter future of wealth creation in this country.

We have come a very long way from the days when black people did not routinely aspire or even think of self employment; setting up a business was but a dream for most.

I know there were several small black-owned businesses around 35 years ago, travel agents, hairdressing salons, night clubs, takeaways and restaurants, newspapers, patty shops and bakeries, records shops and various other businesses though most were devoted to personal services.

Research into black businesses

In 1980, the UK Caribbean Chamber of Commerce had brought their difficulties to the attention of government.  The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee commissioned some research and called for several papers and published in December 1980 the report titled: West Indian Businesses in Britain.

Several others carried out research on the back of this initial report to assist in the development of policy on how black people in business in this country can be assisted.

  • Martin Kazuka wrote ‘Why so few Black Business’ for the Hackney Business Promotion Project
  • Alan Brookes researched Caribbean businesses in Lambeth
  • Peter Wilson focussed on Brent for the Runnymede Trust in 1983
  •  Ade Sawyerr also contributed to the effort with my research on Particular problems faced by black controlled businesses in Britain with some proposals for their solution for his MBA dissertation at Manchester Business School in 1982 which broke academic ground on the subject.

Most of these reports revealed that black businesses faced several problems:

  • Black businesses were small and remained so because they focussed on personal services serving a captive ethnic market.
  • Access to capital and credit was difficult in the face of unwillingness by banks to lend partly because they did not understand the businesses and did not have confidence in them as entrepreneurs.
  • There were problems with access to premises and skilled staff and competent managers
  • Markets were generally closed to them because of their size and this led them to focus on their own communities.

These could be resolved with concerted action by government, the private sector and the academics working together and by facilitating organisations also providing assistance.

But it was left to Lord Scarmann who had been asked by government to inquire into the Brixton disorders who having found that ways of policing Brixton was totally unacceptable bemoaned the issue of young black people who were unemployed and to a large extent had no stake in the british society.  He was bold enough to suggest a raft of employment training initiatives and went further to push government into action.  Scarmann wrote …..: but I do urge the necessity for speedy action if we are to avoid a perpetuation in this country of an economically indisposed black population.  A weakness in British society is that there are too few people of West Indian origin in the business, entrepreneurial, and professional class.

Continue reading “Celebrating Black Businesses at Black History Month 2013 – Ade Sawyerr”

Nigerian government prioritises health and education as it reaches out to Diaspora professionals in the UK

Nigerian government prioritises health and education as it reaches out to Diaspora professionals in the UK

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts to engage with Nigerian Diaspora professionals in the UK.  The IOM has launched a national survey to identify Nigerian health and education professionals working in the UK and who might be willing to contribute to the development Nigeria’s health and education sectors.

Clarissa Azkoul, Chief of Mission of IOM UK stated:

‘The Nigerian Government has recognised the importance and positive role that Nigerians professionals in the Diaspora can play in the socio-economic development of the country.  Health and education have been identified as the main priorities for improvement and the government is keen to engage with diaspora professionals in these sectors because it believes that they can make an invaluable difference to the lives of their fellow Nigerians back home.’

It is estimated that the UK is home to over 15,000 Nigerian doctors, nurses and midwives, teachers, lecturers and professors.  Many possess dual Nigerian and UK qualifications in their respective fields of expertise.

Health and education are the foundations upon which the social and economic development of any country are built.  Nigeria’s health care and education systems – characterised by inefficiency, poor standards and a lack of investment – are in desperate need of reform.  These challenges have played a key role in determining the health and poverty status  of the country. Over the last two decades, Nigeria’s public health care system has deteriorated in large part because of a lack of resources and the “brain drain”  syndrome of Nigerian doctors as well as skilled health workers to other countries.  Poor infrastructure, inadequate classrooms, low wages, a lack of standards and the paucity of quality teachers are also seen as the main challenges facing the country’s education sector.

IOM has appointed Equinox Consulting to carry out the national survey and conduct a range of interviews and focus groups with key individuals and organisations.  The initiative will result in the development of a database that will help the Nigerian government to engage more effectively with Diaspora professionals and in turn, make it easier for these professionals to contribute to the government’s development efforts in a sustainable and positive way.

Nigerian health and educational professionals who are interested in participating in the mapping exercise can access the national survey via the following link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nigerianmatters

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Further information can be obtained by contacting Equinox Consulting on +44 (0) 20 8680 5678/ email: survey@equinoxconsulting.net or visit www.equinoxconsulting.net.

END

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Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries, please contact:

(a)         Carlos Pozo, IOM (email: cpozo@iom.int / phone: +44 (0) 20 7811 6002)

(b)         Maxine James, Equinox Consulting (email: survey@equinoxconsulting.net / phone: +44 (0) 20 8680 5678)

  1. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is the world’s leading international migration agency. Since its foundation in 1951 it has helped over 13 million migrants, in the belief that migration – if dignified, orderly and voluntary – is of benefit to the individuals concerned and society as a whole.

With 151 member states, a further 12 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.

  1. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2012, the UK was home to 180,000 Nigerian-born residents.[1]

[1] Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom by Country of Birth January 2012 to December 2012 (Table A), released on 29August 2013.

Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise

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Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise

Cllr Lorna Campbell, cabinet member for Equalities and Communities has called on Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in a major listening exercise in March and April. The council is undertaking research to listen to the views and experiences of Lambeth’s black Caribbean community.

Lambeth is changing the way it operates to give residents real power and influence over decisions which affect their lives. Under Lambeth’s Cooperative Council residents, councillors and council staff will work together to design, develop and deliver services. This research is part of the council’s wider work to understand the views and experiences of Lambeth’s diverse communities.  Continue reading “Call for Lambeth’s Black Caribbean Community to take part in major listening exercise”

Equinox Consulting! Celebrating 28 years of service to the black community in Britain

The Equinox Consulting story

The story of Equinox Consulting can be likened to a journey of hard work with a lot of fulfilment along the way; but like all journeys, things do not always go as planned. There are detours and there are new objectives that get set up along the journey.  The business model and the strategy for survival have to be constantly updated especially if like us you have been able to survive two recessions.

We remain in business because there is, and has always been a compelling need for the work we do for our clients, and the demand for our services has enabled us to survive and be successful. Continue reading “Equinox Consulting! Celebrating 28 years of service to the black community in Britain”

Voluntary sector consultant for Hire?

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Noticeboard- Bulletin of Kente – December 1999

The role of black consultants in the black voluntary sector.

“We were set up to fail” is a constant complaint that one hears at conferences, seminars and discussions organised by the black voluntary sector. The hopelessness inherent in this kind of talk makes one wonder whether we need the black voluntary sector at all. We desperately need the sector, but must start doing something to take charge and devise strategies that will ensure that no one sets us up to fail; rather we set up ourselves to succeed.

I define the black voluntary sector as black-led not-for-profit orga nisations deliver ing services often but not exclusively to other black organisations or users. These are um brella organisations as well as membership organisations providing: education, employ ment, welfare and advice, legal, housing, lei sure and entertainment, arts and culture, so cial care and health promotion services. Though there are several mainstream organi sations that target black users for their serv ices I do not consider these to be part of the black voluntary sector.

My contention is that intervention of the right sort from black management consult ants can help turnaround a sector that is of ten seen as a poor cousin to the mainstream voluntary sector.

Continue reading “Voluntary sector consultant for Hire?”