As we celebrate Black History Month in the UK, have you ever wondered who was the mastermind of it. Well, his architect is Ghanaian born Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. After visiting the US in the 1970s and being inspired by the Black History Month US held in February, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo initiated Black History Month in the UK in 1987, which is celebrated in October. Its initial aim was to support Black children sense of self esteem and social construct. October was chosen because it was shortly after the UK summer vacation and was the traditional harvest period and time when African leaders gathered to settle differences and appraise the state of the community.
Akyaaba Addai-Sebo also worked to promote diversity in a variety of roles for organizations including the Greater London Council, African Refugees Housing Action Group, Notting Hill Carnival, and Organization of African Unity. In 2014, he was executive producer of "One Humanity," a documentary on the 1988 and 1990 Wembley concerts for Nelson Mandela.
For further reading: Akyaaba Addai-Sebo - Black History Month 2021
Tiramagan Traoré was a general of the great Soundjata Keïta, founder of the Mandinka empire, also referred to as the Mali Empire at the end of the twelfth century through to the sixteenth century.
The story goes that Tiramagan Traoré went to the heights of Kabul (present-day Guinea-Bissau which was formerly a territory of Gambia) with his griot Djelimadou Woulen Diabate and two hunters. During this expedition, Tiramagan spotted a Jinn, in front of a cave, which is a spirit in a form of a woman, living in the mountains. When she saw the expedition, the Jinn became frightened and took refuge in the cave.
Back home, Tiramagan told Waligelenjan, a descendant of Kamisoko, about his adventure. All decided to leave the next morning with a fishing net in order to catch this famous Jinn. When they arrived on the scene, the spirit woman was sitting in front of the cave. Immediately, the hunters launched the net on her to capture her. She, once more, took refuge in the cave and came out with a Kora. Tiramagan married this very beautiful woman and gave the Kora to his griot since he was a nobleman and wasn't permitted to play it. Djelimadou Woulen then exclaimed: "Nobleman, that's an instrument of ours, which belongs to the Mandika people".
It is from this story that the Kora, a stringed instrument of twenty-two strings with crystal sounds, draws its feminine gender. The first person to play it was this griot. When he died, in his honour, a string was removed. Since this time, the Kora has twenty-one leather strings. From the time of the first griot Djélimadou Woulen Diabaté, the Kora has been transmitted from Father to Son and has known more than 70 generations of griots.
Here is below an interview that took place at the Jazz Cafe couple of years back with a griot from the Cissokho family "Diabel Cissokho" by Caro Sika. Enjoy :)
We're holding a press conference outside the Mayor's Office
The Queen's Walk
at 10am on Monday 24th February 2020
to read a letter officially drafted by ADPAC (African Diaspora Political Action Committee) to demand the resources for Sankofa Day in Trafalgar Square in order to observe our ancestors.
We are representing 2 Million African Diasporan Londoners and our right to our equal share of London resources as tax payers and as so demand the allotted resources to observe the African holocaust and celebrate our ancestors.
We are inviting African Caribbean press outlets going across TV, online, print and radio.
This is an issue for the entire London African Caribbean community to get behind. We will represent our case based on the African Caribbean economic and civil contribution that we make towards London and on that basis demand our proportional share of resources.
#SankofaDay #ADPAC #DemandParity
This is a FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY COMMUNITY EVENT to celebrate Black History Month that will take place on Saturday 12th October 2019 in Wood Green Library from 12 to 4pm.
The event will be opened by Haringey’s Mayor Cllr Sheila Peacock at 12noon. There will be an African Cultural and Artistic Market with vendors selling a range of items from original fashion pieces, accessories, jewellery, arts and crafts, books and natural products. There will also be drumming and drama workshops by All Eyes on Egypt and BAP face painting by NaaLa Lartey, an ACLT blood donor registration drive, charities and local community organisations holding stalls such as Haringey IAPT, Obaseki Solicitors, Manhood Academy whilst Reggae Britannia will be providing food.
Guest Speakers will be Patrick Vernon OBE and Danny Thompson who will both present on Black History Month.
This event is open to all. Let's come together to learn and celebrate Black History as well as networking with and discovering artists, artisans, charities and grassroot community organisations all working for the good of our communities.
For more info, see website below:
The Founder of Slavery Remembrance - Shezal Laing
Shezal Laing is a trailblazer. She’s just the type of person that would make things happen if she has set her mind on it.
She would say of herself that she wants to be happy with the world as it is but with the current knowledge she has, it has been impossible for her…Nevertheless, she sets out to do something about it …. Not just for her but as a mother of 2 sons of Caribbean and African origins, she wants to set « a path as clear and easy as possible for them and fight as many battles as possible while alive so they don't have to ».
In 2016, what Shezal qualified as being in a horrible place near a breakdown, was actually in hindsight, her springboard into championning the Slavery Remembrance Day in London. While spending time in Jamaica to recuperate from a very stressful work situation, it was while discussing with her children’s grandmother about the lack of visibility and initiatives around the International Slavery Remembrance Day promoted by the UNESCO that the spark came on and she simply decided to do something about it. She observed that the Jewish Holocaust Day was widely accepted while the International Slavery Remembrance Day was receiving very little or no recognition whatsoever.
« I will do something. I will hold a memorial to recognise this day » she decided from then on
And so after incorporating Slavery Remembrance as a company, immediately upon her return from Jamaica, she birthed the African Holocaust Day the very same year and made history by holding the first ever memorial in Trafalgar Square London. She still remembers, baby on her back, welcoming contractors by herself in the morning as they started putting out the barriers. She litterately started on her own.
Slavery Remembrance Day, now African Holocaust Day
The first memorial was a resounding success centered around « educating, celebrating and inspiring » all from African, Caribbean descents and beyond to learn from the past and be empowered to have a common vision for change and success !! The Sankofa Badge, which is also the logo of Slavery Remembrance, embodies our past and heritage as the African diasporas, and represents the foundation to lay down and the stepping stone it provides on our way to achieving in the world we live in as a cultural entity, an economic force and a united people.
And fostering unity, celebrating black history and black culture is at the heart of the initiative which is self-sustained. Slavery Remembrance is more than just a memorial and much more happens throughout the year, also through its sister’s company « My Tribe » which aims at connecting diasporas and supporting black businesses, entrepreneurs and organisations. Shezal also observes that the memorial triggers many different responses within the afro-caribbean communities from anger, guilt, denial. « the memorial has really changed my understanding of where our biggest battle is….. It has opened my eyes to so many mindsets and the need for a collective understanding of what happened. Some are still traumatised by it. Honoring and remembering our ancestors is like a counselling session. People are coming to terms with it, it is a gradual process ».
The Sankofa, which is also the logo of Slavery Remembrance, embodies our past and heritage as the African diasporas, and represents the foundation to lay down and the stepping stone it provides on our way to achieving in the world we live in as a cultural entity, an economic force and a united people.
The next African Holocaust memorial will be held on Saturday 18th August 2018 in Trafalgar Square.
As a small grass root organisation community leader and director, Shezal Laing encourages all of us to step up and share the load. Every job description is needed from admin, bid writing, web content, PR, marketing and more. You can support and contribute in many ways from volunteering on the day and throughout a year, as well as financially by buying a badge or more.
Shezal’s last word « come and enjoy the day, share the event, share the news. »
See Teaser and link of the event below to share extensively!
The concept of SANKOFA is derived from the Akan people of West Africa. The term comes from the words "san" (return), "ko" (go), and "fa" (look, seek, and take).
Why a general history of Africa?
"Crushed by centuries of oppression, Africa has seen generations of travelers, slave traders, explorers, missionaries, governors, and scholars of all kinds give out its image as one of nothing but poverty, barbarism, irresponsibility and chaos. And this image has been projected and extrapolated indefinitely in time, as a jurisdiction of both the present and the future... Is it surprising, then, that African History should have been accorded such a small and subordinate place in all the histories of mankind and of civilization" Introduction by J.Ki-Zerbo, GHA Volume I, Director of Volume I
"At a time when the peoples of Africa are striving towards unity and greater cooperation in shaping their individual destinies, a proper understanding of Africa's past, with an awareness of common ties among Africans and between Africa and other continents, should not only be a major contribution towards mutual understanding among the people of the earth, but also a source of knowledge of a cultural heritage that belongs to all mankind". Bethwell A. Ogot, President, International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa
"In the new African renaissance, we place great emphasis on the presentation of history"
"Our History needs to be written as the History of our society, not as the story of European adventures. African society must be treated as enjoying its own integrity; its History must be a Mirror of that society, and the European contact must find its place in this History only as an African experience, even if as a crucial one. That is to say, the European contact needs to be assessed and judged from the point of view of the principles animating African society, and from the point of view of the harmony and progress of this society." Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana, 1st Congress of Africanists, Accra, 1962
The monumental venture of recording the General History of Africa (GHA) was therefore initiated in 1964 in response to the aspirations of the newly independent African states to decolonize their History, and re-appropriate renewed discourses on the African past. Under the scientific and intellectual leadership of 39 members International Scientific Committee, including two-thirds of scholars from Africa such as A.Hampâté Bã, Pr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Pr. Gamal Mokhtar and more, some 350 authors, translators and volume editors from different regions, worked together for more than 35 years in view of the elaboration of the GHA.
Continue to read below for more information on the General History of Africa:
History was recorded from both written archives but also by confronting oral sources and little-known African written annals such as the Ajamis (in Wolof, Fulani, Mandingo, Bambara, Songhai, Soninke or Tamashek.... and calligraphed into Arabic script). The outcome forms a first series of 8 volumes; the main editions being in English, Arabic and French and translated into 13 languages including Kiswahili, Fulfude, and Hausa. In addition, 12 "studies and documents" and 13 volumes on the "Sources of African History" were published to accompany and complement the collection.
Please note that the volumes of the General History of Africa are available to consult and free to download. See some of the volumes and find more info by clicking the link below:
Continue reading the article below:
The coalition of artists
Despite their undeniable scientific and political success, the first eight volumes of the GHA remained largely unknown to the general public and African youth. Drawing lessons from this, the global strategy for the second phase of the GHA has included a more attractive form for its products that is more in harmony with new forms of knowledge consumption, using digital technology and interactive, fun methods. It has also established a communication plan supported by opinion leaders, such as artists, to convey the message of the GHA to young Africans and the diaspora in particular. In that connection, UNESCO, represented by Ali Moussa Iye, chief of the section for History and Memory for Dialogue, as well as Tabue Nguma who coordinates the project since 2015, is establishing a network of African and non-African artists (musicians, film-makers, playwrights, actors, painters, photographers, etc.), called “the International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa”, in order to raise awareness among young Africans and the general public regarding the importance of a better understanding of the African continent’s history and cultures. A number of events have already taken place in Paris around different topics such as hip hop or the cinema and their artistic creations connected with the continent.
I had the pleasure to speak to both of them. They expressed their desire and commitment to see these resources reach a wider public, especially the youth in need of representation; as well as duplicating these artistic events, with a view to engaging a dialogue on African History. London could be a next location for such events.
See link below for more info and pics:
Rose Lokissim (1955-1986) was one of the first women to become a soldier of the elite in Chad.
Following the taking of power by Habré in June 1982, she joined the opposition.
She was arrested on 14th September 1984 and incarcerated with political prisoners, being the only woman among sixty men. She would be tortured for eight months and then transferred in a cell reserved for women.
She then decides to record the facts, prisoners, the abuses, writing down the information on various pieces of paper and smuggled outside the prison. She is eventually denounced and again questioned in 1986 for these written evidence. Consequently, on 15 May, she is executed.
For more info on the facts
Louis Delgrès, hero of the fight against the restoration of slavery in Guadeloupe.- Proclamation of 10 may 1802
Louis Delgrès is, according to the most likely hypothesis, the natural son of Elisabeth Morin (known as guiby) and Louis Delgrès White Creole De Saint-Pierre who was the recipient of the King and director of the King's estates in Tobago. He will live with his parents in Martinique and then in Tobago. Louis Delgrès began his military career on 10 November 1783 in the militia, in the colonies. He is soon appointed sergeant, stationed in Martinique. Inspired by revolutionary movements in American colonies, he will assert his anti-slavery and abolitionist opinions throughout his military career.
The Historic and tragic event that will retain the memory of Delgrès is the anti-slavery proclamation signed by his him, dated 10 may 1802, when he is head of resistance against the Richepance's consular troops. , sent by Bonaparte to restore slavery on the island. It is then that he displays on the walls of Basse-Terre, the proclamation:
To the entire universe, the last cry of innocence and despair:
"À l'Univers entier, le dernier cri de l'innocence et du désespoir":
On 20 May 1802, Delgrès and his troops were forced to retreat to the fort of basse-Terre which they then had to abandon on 22 May 1802 (escaping secretly with his men) to take refuge at the foot of la Soufrière in Matouba, towards Saint-Claude.
On 28 May 1802, when they'd lost, Louis Delgrès and his 300 companions committed suicide in their refuge from the habitation house in Matouba, under the revolutionary motto "Living free or dying".
May 10 is the "National Day of the Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery" since 2006, in France.
This day honors the memory of African Slaves and commemorates the abolition of slavery. It also refers to the proclamation of the colonel Delgrès on 10th May 1802, when he was head of the resistance against the Consular troops of the General Richepance, sent by Bonaparte to restore slavery in Guadeloupe. The proclamation would be displayed on the walls of Basse-Terre:
"To the entire universe, the last cry of innocence and despair:"
This date also marks the day of the unanimous adoption by the Senate, in the second and final reading of the Act of 2001 recognizing slavery as a crime against humanity in France.
........Slavery is still rampant in 2018. The mass of Afro-descendants, throughout the world, was violently confronted, in November 2017, to a practice that has never stopped, although illegal and inhumane, forced on sub-Saharan migrants fleeing austere, fragile, corrupt regimes, devoid of opportunities; or simply deceived in the pursuit of a European ideal maintained by a hegemonic system which devalues and impoverishes the African continent with, too often, the complicity of its elites and leaders. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, everywhere in Europe, outraged by the horror of slavery which persists!!!
These protests have had the merit of awakening our consciences, if nothing more...
For the account of Afro Culture, we chose to partner with Red Entertainment to launch a Song Challenge #iamnot4sale and to organize two artistic events, one in London in February 2018 and a second in Paris, in March 2018, to continue to raise awareness on the plight of sub-Saharan migrants and to raise funds to support actions on the ground in the Gambia for young migrants who experienced hell in Libya through a Partner organisation "Youth against irregular migration" YAIM. We are particularly encouraged by their campaign of prevention in the rural areas of the country sharing their experience to deter the youth from leaving their homeland and encouraging them to invest in developing the economy of their country.
Red Entertainment Ltd, has also facilitated the sponsorship of young returnees from Libya so that they have access to professional training which can lead to an employment or the creation of a small business.
For the International African Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday 18th August 2018 in Trafalgar Square, London, the artists S. rise and and the rapper K9, who participated in the Song Challenge #iamnot4sale, will represent #iamnot4sale Campaign, performing song tracks. African Holocaust Remembrance Day is organised by the founder of "Slavery Remembrance" Shezal Laing.
Let us all continue to denounce the practice of Slavery and honour our ancestors!
For more info,
on the Campaign #iamnot4sale - www.iamnot4sale.org
on YAIM - Https://www.facebook.com/yaimgambia/
on Slavery Remembrance and the African Holocaust Day - www.slaveryremembrance.org