My highlights: History, Education, and Policing

March 1, 2013 in Blog

The week of 18 February 2013 offered many opportunities for reminiscing, reflection, critical analysis and for planning collective action on a number of fronts, history, education and race and policing and community security among them.

On Wednesday 20 February, Global Hands and DeMontfort University, Leicester, hosted a one day symposium on Police Reform and Developing the Community Security Sector in the Emerging and Developing World, looking at police practices, community policing, non-state policing and policing and national security in Britain, Nigeria, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

My contribution to the symposium was ‘an overview of policing and human rights issues in the developing and emerging world’.  In that presentation I examined a number of issues that are common to Britain, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, to name but a few.  Age old notions such as policing by consent and the centrality of public confidence in the police and in the structures that hold them accountable for their actions are under serious strain in many countries.  This is a consequence of police routinely abusing their power without being held to account, as well as weak government and compromised politicians being seen as incapable of protecting the citizen and upholding the rule of law.  Read the rest of this entry →

Making History by Reclaiming ‘Black History’

February 22, 2013 in Papers

This short paper is my contribution to the ongoing debate about the future of Black History Month in the UK.  It is in response to the ‘Position Paper’ written by Nubian Jack for discussion at the meeting on African Heritage Month International at the Africa Centre, Covent Garden, London, on 22 February 2013. 

Nubian Jak has provided a useful potted history of the origins and development of Black History Month (BHM) in Britain, a story that even after 25 years is unfamiliar to many.

During the last 25 years, much has happened that in my view calls into question the provenance and trajectory of BHM, thus making it necessary for us to question our connectedness with it and how we are fashioning it for the current and future generations in the same way that the early pioneers laid the foundations for us. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John to chair debate for Black History Month

October 24, 2012 in Blog

The University of Hertfordshire has invited professor Gus John to chair a debate on racial issues, as part of their Black History Month celebrations. The session will happen  on Thursday 25th October, at 6:00 pm.

The debate will follow the ‘Question Time‘ format and it will count with the participation of: Rodney Hinds, sports editor at The Voice newspaper; Paul Macey, director of Words of Colour Productions; and Anne-Marie Senior, Community Engagement Officer at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

The panel will focus on some of the following topics: transracial adoption, black and minority ethnic athletes in the 2012 Olympics, image and reality, race and the US presidential election, and more!

The event will take place in the courtroom of the Law Building at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield and is free to attend.

For more information, click here.

Picture (home): “New Law Building” by p_a_h (Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

History… Whose story?

October 23, 2012 in Blog

One does not to drill down too deeply to find the connection between the racist and most brutal murder of Anthony Walker in 2005 and the central thrust of Benjamin Zephaniah (pictured) ’s lecture in his home city of Birmingham on Friday 19 October 2012. History teaching in British schools does a disservice to children of African and Asian heritage no less than to white British children.

Anthony was murdered by white young men in a manner reminiscent of the gratuitous hounding, lynching and killing of Africans in the southern states of America. What is more, the instrument of their murderous savagery was an axe, that most powerful metaphor of white domination of Africans whom colonialism and imperialism defined as sub-human and less worthy of honour, dignity and respect than the horse that ‘massa’ and his slave-drivers rode.

The use of the axe to routinely punish enslaved Africans for daring to seek freedom from bondage or to protest against the inhumane treatment that characterised their daily living is part of the story of what connects African heritage children with their white counterparts in British schooling and education. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John pays tribute to Bob Marley & The Wailers

September 27, 2012 in Blog, Speeches

Credits: Félix Foueillis/ United Reggae

Professor Gus John delivers his feature address

On September 8th, Gus John attended the Bob Marley & The Wailers Heritage Blue Plaque Commemorative Unveiling Ceremony at 15, The Circle, Neasden and paid his tribute to the reggae legends with the following feature address:

It gives me great pleasure to be able to make a contribution to this historic event today and I want to congratulate Delroy Washburn and his team at Reggae Focus – ”Sounds of Jamaica’‘ for their hard work in getting this plaque created and making it possible for us to be present here for the unveiling of the plaque.

Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Atkinson, whose home this is, for allowing us to acknowledge for all time through this plaque fixed to the house they now own, the historical record of the fact that Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and other members of their band lived in this house in 1972 and off and on in the years following.

I am old enough to remember the influence of Ska, Rock Steady and Blue Beat, musical genres originating in Jamaica and bursting onto the British scene in the middle 1960s onwards.  I was a theological student at Oxford and a Dominican Friar, but I managed to frequent parties organised by Jamaican nurses at the Radcliffe and Churchill teaching hospitals in Oxford at which we danced to Jamaican music, Ska especially, as if we were in Kingston.  That was interspersed with Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge and other musical giants from the USA, West African ‘high life’ and calypso from Sparrow and Kitchener… In other words, music with its roots in Africa and the Global African Diaspora. Read the rest of this entry →