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Books about Black British History

Black History BooksA reading list of books related to the ongoing Black presence in Britain, Slavery, colonialism and black Settlement in the U.K
The list is by no means exhaustive!

Books about Black British History

  • Staying Power-The History of Black people in Britain by Peter Fryer
    (Pluto Press 1984)
  • Black England-Life before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina
    (John Murray,1995)
  • Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958 by Nigel File and chris Power
    (Heinemann,1981; reprinted 1995)
  • Black Edwardians-Black people in Britain 1901-1914 by Jeffrey Green
    (Frank Cass 1998)
  • Wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands by Mary seacole
    (1857; reprinted by Falling Wall Press,edited by Ziggy Alexander and Audrey Dewjee,1984).
  • Black Londoners 1880-1990by susan Okokon
    (Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998)
  • The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave
    (1831; reprinted by the University of Michigan Press, edited by Moira Ferguson,1993).
  • The first Black footballer-Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 An Absence of Memory by Phil Vasili
    (frank Cass,1998, reprinted 1999)
  • Colouring over the white Line- The History of Black footballers in Britain by Phil Vasili
    (Mainstream Publishing,2000)
  • Breaking Stereotypes-Perspectives of Selected Black and Asian Leaders Edited by Clinton A.Valley,EdD.
    (Minerva Press, 2000)
  • West Indian Women at War-British Racism in World War II by Ben Bousquet and Colin Douglas
    (Lawrence and Wishhart, 1991)
  • Roots of the Future-Ethnic Diversity in the making of Britain
    By Commission for Racial Equality, 1997
  • England Affric-An Ethnological Survey by Ahmed ali and Abrahim Ali
    (Punite Books, 1995) ISBN 0 9518924 4 4
  • A History of the Black Presence in London (Greater London Council, 1986)
    ISBN 0 7168 1679 2
  • Black and white- the Negro and English Society 1555-1945 By James Walvin
    (Allen Lane, 1973)

For a more exhaustive list of useful Books on Black History, you can download a copy of the the Black & Asian Resources available at the British Library.

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (3)

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London


Image: Courtesy of Kurt Miller – KMI Studio Website:

It was during the War of Independence in the colony of America that Britain gained herself these unlikely allies. Black loyalists fought for Britain against the American colonists. Free blacks were joined by thousands of slaves who had been promised freedom and land by Britain if they joined in this battle. The idea of British freedom, i.e. complete freedom in the shortest possible time, was appealing to the escaped Africans who in the 1770s made their way to the British army position to fight for Britain and for freedom.

In September 1783, the independence of the United States and the formation of its boundaries were formally recognised. The new country was founded by an egalitarian movement and based on the philosophy of ‘equal rights’ for all.  After this treaty had been signed, the whole British faction had to leave the United States. In the eight months between April and November 1783, over 3,000 black people leaving the country on British ships for destinations as varied as Nova Scotia, the West Indies, England, Germany, Quebec or Belgium, were recorded in the Book of Negroes .

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London

London had a severe poverty problem in the 18th century. This became more pronounced as growing numbers of African-American loyalists arriving from America ended up living on the streets. The black and white loyalists had all been promised compensation for their losses in the War of Independence, however, the majority of claims from the black loyalists were denied or they were given derisory amounts condemning them to lives of destitution. The Parliamentary Commission Compensation Board reviewing the claims stated, on several occasions, that they believed the black claimants were being deceptive in claiming they were free men with property and should adopt a state of gratitude that they were now at liberty rather than pursue applications for financial assistance. In 1786 there were over 1,000 black loyalists living in London. As the negative sentiment regarding the presence of Africans in England increased there were suggestions of where to relocate these black people; the main areas proposed where the Bahamas, where other loyalists had moved to or Sierra Leone, on the West African coast.

The following year around 200 of this impoverished group migrated to Sierra Leone with government assistance; the government wanted to remove the problem of black poverty and the presence of large groups of free black people from the streets of England. There were 344 poor black people on the ship Myro that sailed from London in 1787.  The plan was to move the burden of the ‘troublesome’ black person from the attention of the public, forever . This was an indication of the racially nationalist philosophy that was to perpetuate the abolitionist movement.


Further reading and research

The Book of Negroes – that listed all the Black Loyalists evacuated from America – can be found in the archives at Kew (Public Records Office).

There is also a copy available online here

The National Archives contain records, that can only be viewed in the reading room, about the Committee for the Relief of Poor Blacks and their emigration to Sierra Leone; this covers the details of events between May 1786 to April 1787.

This article was contributed by Marjorie Morgan.Writer, Researcher. © 2013 | Blackpresence has special permission to publish this article.

Related Link: Black Loyalists

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Soldiers, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (5)

Finding African Ancestors in the Caribbean

Windrush Foundation presents its first community event for 2013 on Saturday 16 February.  It will bring together people who are interested in finding relatives who lived between 1800 and 1900 in the Caribbean. This will be presented by leading African Caribbean genealogist Sharon Tomlin.

The presentation, Finding African Ancestors in the Caribbean is a major part of EMANCIPATION 1838 which marks, this year, the 175th anniversary of the liberation of nearly a million Africans in the Caribbean.

The project focuses on the socio-political, economic and legislative changes that preceded (and resulted in) the 1st August 1838 emancipation (including major ‘slave revolts’ and acts of resistance in Caribbean islands/nations such as Barbados [1816], Guyana (‘Demerara Rebellion’ [1823]) and Jamaica (Christmas Rebellion [1831-32], etc).

It explores the transitional systems of apprenticeship and indentureship that saw the arrival of Portuguese, Indian, Chinese and West African indentured labourers to replace the formerly enslaved islanders as a workforce in the aftermath of 1838, as well as the decades of political struggle and resistance against imperial rule that eventually led to decolonisation and to the process of independence.

The EMANCIPATION 1838 exhibition which opens on 1 August 2013 will be structured into a series of sub-themes, and will feature archival sources, maps, artefacts, news cuttings, documentary photographs, audio recordings of oral reminiscence sessions, film, and literature/poetics about (as well as from) this period of Caribbean history, from the early-19th century to the present day.

During 2013 there will be a series of community events, workshops, etc, include information of key 1820s abolitionists in the Caribbean and Britain, the British Parliamentary Debates of the 1830s, the social, economic and cultural situation in the Caribbean on and soon after Emancipation Day, the situation up to and after 1865 (including Paul Bogle’s leadership, the Morant Bay massacre and the debates about conditions in Jamaica, and the Caribbean as a whole.  At the time, contributors to the debates included John Bright, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Huxley, Thomas Hughes and Herbert Spencer (in support of the Caribbean Africans) and opposing them were individuals like Thomas Carlyle, Rev. Charles Kingsley, Charles Dickens, and John Ruskin.

The aims of EMANCIPATION 1838 are to
(a) develop and sustain interest in the diverse post-enslavement histories and lived experiences of African Caribbean people including a focus on their legacies for descendant communities in Britain;
(b) initiate an information dissemination programme and advocacy campaign to have the events of 1st August 1838 commemorated annually as a historically significant date in the UK’s national heritage calendar;
(c) elevate and promote the lived experiences of African Caribbean women during the 19th and 20th centuries to re-balance gendered and Eurocentric historical narratives.

The learning outcomes of EMANCIPATION 1838 include: Increasing our understanding of the roots of the African Caribbean family.  Developing a better appreciation of African spirituality, music, dance, poetry, story-telling/literature, carnival, mas(querade), food/cuisine, etc. Gaining a new understanding of the shared history and interdependencies of Britain and the Caribbean. Increasing our understanding of the role the islands and nations of the Caribbean region, and their diverse, diasporic communities, have played in the making of modern Britain.

Posted in African History, Caribbean HistoryComments (0)

Fleeing Malians have nowhere to run to, says new report

In a briefing paper released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), thousands of people have been displaced since the military intervention on the 10th January, joining an estimated 220,000 already displaced last year. With the country in chaos, and borders closing as part of the military strategy against Islamist groups, for the thousands of civilians caught up in the conflict, few options remain.

Fleeing Malians

IDMC reports that the patterns of those being displaced shows worrying trends.  ‘Those being forced to flee inside Mali are caught between a rock and a hard place’ says Sebastián Albuja, Head of the Africa and Americas Department at IDMC.  ‘They cannot stay where they are due to the grave insecurity caused by the conflict, yet the meagre resources and the diminished coping abilities of the government and humanitarian actors means that they faced with limited options’

In the last few days,  and since Algeria closed its borders, people in the north are increasingly heading to the desert where they will face harsh conditions and real struggles over food and water, with limited humanitarian assistance.

For the majority of Fleeing Malians, escape to the government controlled areas of the south, joining the tens of thousands already displaced last year, this upsurge of newly displaced will only exacerbate pressures on an already exhausted community.

‘The conditions of their flight are extremely harsh’ says Albuja.  ‘Many are fleeing on foot as they cannot afford the prices demanded on boats or buses and some of the roads are blocked’.

In its report, IDMC calls on the government to implement the framework outlined in the Kampala Convention which Mali ratified only last month.  Amongst other things, it states that all parties to the conflict must ensure that internally displaced people are protected from any human rights violations and abuses.

“IDMC is especially concerned about vulnerable groups such as women, children and the injured caught up in the displacement crisis, with sexual violence and rape a worrying trend and reports of injured people too afraid to go to hospitals because of the bombings”  says Albuja. ‘Last month Africa celebrated the entry into force of the Kampala Convention and its ratification by the Malian government. The Government should now use the Convention as a road map to implement an effective response for the hundreds of thousands being forced to flee within the borders of Mali in this current crisis’.

About IDMC
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is a world leader in the monitoring and analysis of the causes, effects and responses to internal displacement. Through its monitoring and analysis of people internally displaced by conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations, and natural or human-made disasters, IDMC raises awareness and advocates for respect of the rights of at-risk and uprooted peoples .

IDMC is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). For more information, visit our website at www.internal‐


The following files are available for download:


Mali-IDMC-Jan2013 1

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The Nubian Response to Tourism

Nubian Museum

Nubian Museum

The Nubians are an ancient African people whose forbears have been living in the Nile Valley for thousands of years.  Nubian culture in this area has been dated to the Late Palaeolithic (ca. 25,000 B.C.), and the history of Nubia includes the kingdoms of Kush (Kerma, Napata, and Meroe), as well as the Kushite pharaohs who founded Egypt’s 25th Dynasty.  In ancient times, the Nubian homeland extended from the First Cataract of the Nile, just south of the town of Aswan (in modern Egypt) to the Sixth Cataract, just north of Khartoum (in modern Sudan).  The modern Nubian homeland reached, until recently, from the First to the Fourth Cataracts. Although Nubians live in both Egypt and Sudan, my research in cultural anthropology was done among the Egyptian Nubians, and so this blog concentrates upon their culture.

I want to begin with a discussion of the manner in which the Nubians who live in West Aswan have dealt with tourism for the past fifty or so years. In a future blog, I hope to talk about the changes that had been occurring right before the “Arab Spring” and the revolution in Egypt.

In Egypt the Nubians lived, until the mid-1960s, between Aswan and the Second Cataract. In 1964, the Aswan High Dam was built, creating Lake Nasser and flooding out most of the Egyptian Nubian homeland.  The Egyptian government  relocated approximately  50,000 villagers to an area further north as a result. Not all of the Nubians were resettled, however; there are several villages around Aswan which were in no danger of inundation, and so were not evacuated.  I have been conducting field research in one such village, West Aswan, since 1981, returning periodically to chronicle changes that have taken place through the years. In this blog, I would like to talk about the effects of tourism on the lives of the people there, and the ways in which the villagers have responded to it.

The town of Aswan is situated on the Nile River, approximately 900 kilometers south of Cairo. The village of West Aswan lies directly across the river, on the west bank. The people of West Aswan have been welcoming tourists to their village for several decades. Tourists came to Aswan by airplane, train, tour bus, cruise ship, and hired car to see the pharaonic tombs, Abu Simbel, Philae, the High Dam, the Nubian Museum, and the Nubian villages.

Throughout the year, but most heavily in the winter and spring, groups of tourists were brought to West Aswan by felucca boatmen, in order to see the village, the houses, and the people.  The leader of such groups always spoke  first to the man who owned the boat, or his representative, who then told the boatman to which village and to which house to take the tourists.  The owner of the boat generally sent the groups to the houses of his relatives, usually his sisters, who had agreed in advance to receive them. The women who lived there served the tour groups tea with mint. These women also took them on tours of their large and spacious homes, sold them bags and caps which they had crocheted especially for the tourist trade, and hoped to receive tips from the tourists.  They also received a percentage of the fee that the group had paid for the tour.

Nubian women have traditionally (stemming perhaps from pre-Islamic times) had the right to earn extra money. In the past, they raised sheep and goats to sell, which helped support them when their husbands were away from home as migrant workers, but which they continued to do even when their husbands were living at home. Even today in the Aswan marketplace, Nubian women sit in a section reserved for them, where they sell eggs and fowl.  The money that a woman makes is regarded as hers, to do with as she chooses, but it should never exceed what her husband makes as head of the family. A Nubian woman usually uses her money to buy schoolbooks or clothing for her children, but she may also invest in some gold jewelry or in enlarging the house her family is living in. A major investment of time and capital, this is customarily a right and duty of the married women. Women supervise the addition of rooms and floors to their husband’s house, and although the majority of the money comes from his paychecks, she takes credit for it.  Five, ten, or even twelve rooms might be added to family domiciles over a ten-to-fifteen year period.

This was the traditional way of life in the Nubian village when I was first there in 1981, before political changes occurred in that area of the world. In future blogs, I will discuss how political changes impacted the Nubian response to tourism.

Nubians and their Response to Tourism: A guest blog by Anne M. Jennings


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New Equiano Book, edited by Dr Eric D Lamore

Equiano Book

Equiano Book

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself (1789) is one of the most frequently and heatedly discussed texts in the canon of eighteenth-century transatlantic literature written in English. Equiano’s Narrative contains an engrossing account of the author’s experiences in Africa, the Americas, and Europe as he sought freedom from bondage and became a leading figure in the abolitionist movement. While scholars have approached this sophisticated work from diverse critical and historical/biographical perspectives, there has been, until now, little written about the ways in which it can be successfully taught in the twenty-first-century classroom.

In this collection of essays, most of them never before published, sixteen teacher-scholars focus explicitly on the various classroom contexts in which the Narrative can be assigned and various pedagogical strategies that can be used to help students understand the text and its complex cultural, intellectual, literary, and historical implications. The contributors explore topics ranging from the religious dimensions of Equiano’s rhetoric and controversies about his origins, specifically whether he was actually born in Africa and endured the Middle Passage, to considerations of the Narrative’s place in American Literature survey courses and how it can be productively compared to other texts, including captivity narratives and modern works of fiction. They not only suggest an array of innovative teaching models but also offer new readings of the work that have been overlooked in Equiano studies and slavery studies. With these two dimensions, this volume will help ensure that conversations over Equiano’s eighteenth-century autobiography remain relevant and engaging to today’s students.


ERIC D. LAMORE is an assistant professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. A contributor to the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry, he is also the co-editor, with John C. Shields, of New Essays on Phillis Wheatley.


Buy Teaching Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative & Support Blackpresence

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press (15 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572338687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572338685
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm



Posted in African History, Black History BooksComments (1)

A Time There Was – The Africa Channel UK

Thursday 22nd November at 9pm

Donald McWilliams, 2009, Canada

In October this year, a historic judgement was passed in favour of veterans of one of the most contentious episodes in Britain’s imperial endgame. Elderly survivors of Britain’s violent repression of the 1950s Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya won the right proceed with their legal claims against the UK government, a judgement likely to lead to similar claims from the victims of Empire around the world. The UK premiere of the exclusive documentary A Time There Was uses interviews and archival footage to give a unique insight into this episode of history.

Mau Mau Rebellion

This autobiographical documentary revisits the Mau Mau Rebellion of the 1950s in which director Donald Williams participated as a young British soldier stationed in Kenya for his national service. This conflict sparked by an anti-colonial uprising resulted in huge loss of life and a significantly shifted political landscape in Kenya.  More than 50 years after the conflict, Williams confronts his past with audacity and unflinching self-inquiry.

For more information, visit

Watch this documentary on The Africa Channel on Sky 209 and Virgin Media 828

Thursday 22nd November at 9pm, repeated on Saturday 1st December at 9pm

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Saving Nigerias Ancient Arabic Manuscripts

Jos Museum Arabic Manuscripts Conservation (JMAMC) Project 27-31 August 2012

Michaelle L. BiddleWesleyan University


The Jos Museum Arabic Manuscripts Collection is one of the oldest and largest manuscript collections in Nigeria. Because of the collection’s importance, its extremely poor housing and condition, the Jos Museum Arabic Manuscripts Conservation (JMAMC) Project was created. The goal of the week-long project was to gather fine-grained, detailed information as to the state of the collection so that a more comprehensive conservation, cataloging and digitization project could be formulated. Biddle details why the collection should be transferred on long-term loan to Arewa House Kaduna.

Full text article:

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Contextualising The Celebration of the Black Presence in Europe

The Black presence or the Black presence post the arrival of the white presence?

It is generally considered that the reason for having a Black history month is to highlight and include the achievements of Black or African peoples which ordinarily would, or appear to be, excluded from mainstream history as it is presently taught in our educational establishments.

This reasonable assumption is based on the observation of a mono-cultural taught perspective of history. A history which provides a simple but detailed recorded account of the interactions between one cultural group – Europeans – through their own lens as they experienced encounters with other different cultural groups. Eg. Africans, Asians etc; and their own intra-cultural encounters amongst themselves and other Europeans.

This may well be seen as, and presented as an objective and honest perspective. Yet it still remains essentially one view seen through one cultural lens only. Furthermore, it can be seen to imply, intentionally or otherwise (in the absence of any other than European cultural lens) that this is truly a universal perspective. This would clearly be wrong and misleading.

I believe the whole premise of having a Black history month even if this argument of mono-cultural bias was to be accepted would still be fundamentally flawed and in error. Why?

Present day science has made a number of startling discoveries:

DNA Sequence

”…All blue-eyed people can be traced back to one ancestor who lived 10,000 years ago near the Black sea…”

Daily Mail (online) Feb, 2008


“…Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology’s most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity’s greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person’s offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world’s races…”

Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin: Washington Post, Dec, 2005

These discoveries clearly suggest that the history of white people, Europeans as we understand them as a group, date back to a maximum of 10,000 years. This challenges and questions the notion of which Black presence should we really be celebrating in all or any Black History months and events? The Black presence or the Black presence post the arrival of the white presence?

About Kwamla:

I am a UK Liverpool born Black blogger. I work in IT and have been writing regularly online since 2008. Researching, via social media, several topics such as: The origins of people , particularly African peoples; and other more esoteric areas such as Metaphysics, Spirituality and UFOs.

My Main Blogs are:

Posted in African History, Black History, Black History Month UK, Guest Blog PostsComments (0)

Job Vacancy: Assistant Professor, Comparative African Diaspora Studies

Ohio State University, The Department of African American and African Studies
Assistant Professor, Comparative African Diaspora Studies

Institution Type: College / University
Location: Ohio, United States
Position: Tenure Track Faculty
The Department of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University invites
applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Comparative African Diaspora Studies.
The discipline and sub-specialty are open.

We are particularly interested in applicants whose research addresses broad questions of
diasporic ontologies and epistemologies; i.e. What is “diaspora?” How is diaspora experienced
and lived? The successful candidate’s work should employ comparative methodologies, such as
multi-sited ethnography, transnational sociology, comparative literary study, and/or global
histories during and after empire, with a critical focus on gender and sexuality, race and
ethnicity, feminist criticism, trans- and post-nationalism, and/or postcolonial migrations and
exile. The candidate will be expected to teach across the curriculum. Ph.D. is required by the
time of employment.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, writing sample of no more than 40 pages,
teaching portfolio and 3 letters of recommendation to:

Professor Ken Goings, Chairperson
Comparative African Diaspora Studies Search Committee
The Department of African American and African Studies
The Ohio State University
486 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210.

Applications will be reviewed beginning November 1, 2012.To build a diverse workforce
Ohio State strongly encourages applications from individuals with disabilities, minorities,
veterans, and women. EEO/AA employer.

Professor Ken Goings, Chairperson
Comparative African Diaspora Studies Search Committee
The Department of African American and African Studies
The Ohio State University
486 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Posted in African American History, African History, Black HistoryComments (0)