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Dotun-Adebayo
'Our ancestors deserve better in history month'

BLACK HISTORY Month is upon us again, I hear you groan. Yes, all together now... Groan! For even though there is a lot for us to be proud of in our history, there is little about Black History Month itself (as it is ‘organised and ‘executed’ here in Britain) that gives us a sense of pride. 

Let’s face it, it’s a shambles. It’s 31 days of ad hoc, last minute, low budget, arbitrary events that tick the politically correct boxes of the councils that even bother to pay it any mind. 

But what does UK Black History Month actually achieve? Can someone tell me that? Other than a good P-A-R-T-Y, what does it achieve?

And, boy, do we know how to P-A-R-T-Y, we Afro-Saxons.

Don’t get me wrong, every boy and girl and some of us ‘wotless’ adults need to know our African history. But we shouldn’t all have to forego an opportunity for a right old ‘knees-up’ just because YOU haven’t done your homework.

That is the fundamental problem with Black History Month. It sounds and acts like WE don’t even know our own history and that all we want to do is P-A-R-T-Y.

SCREENINGS

The town of Cheltenham is celebrating its first ever Black History Month with storytelling, drumming an R&B/hip hop/reggae concert, gospel singing and screenings of 12 Years A Slave and The Butler. Black history is a song and dance with a little bit of slavery and racism - for the people of Cheltenham, anyway.

Leicester’s Black History Month also focuses on the singing and the dancing with a performance of Othello and a dinner and a fashion show thrown in.

Now you know already that I love my Shakespeare. But how and why is Othello Black History? Surely that is British or Italian history?

I could go on and on and on, but if you bother to check out your local Black History Month celebrations (which you should) you will see what I mean. There is no grasp of Black History Month if we’re going to simply have a P-A-R-T-Y or a gig or do the okey-cokey. 

Why are there no rules? Why is there no context? Why is there no unity and unanimity to the themes of Black History Month as there is at carnival? Why do we not OWN Black History Month, why has nobody copyrighted ‘Black History Month UK’? Why has no one registered the domain names www.ukblackhistory.com or www.ukblackhistory.co.uk? Can we claim that we really care for Black History Month if we don’t sort these issues out?

I don’t have a problem with a P-A-R-T-Y if that is what Black History Month means to us. Ain’t nothing wrong with celebrating the fact that we survived that chequered history and we are here to tell the tale. But maybe the P-A-R-T-Y should be left to the last weekend of October. And it should definitely be in context of our history or with relevance. We don’t need ‘Get Up and Shake Your Booty’ music.

We need so-called negro spirituals like Wade In The Water that tell the story of our struggle, or Gary Byrd’s The Crown that gives you a potted history of our ancestral kings and queens. And anything by Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey album. If we’re going to P-A-R-T-Y, that’s how we should do it in Black History Month.

Most of all we need a central committee of elders and youngers who are able to build an annual framework to Black History Month that inculcates a theme which the whole country buys into. 

We need to do things proper. At the moment Black History Month is amateurish and our ancestors deserve better. But while you ruminate on that thought, please check out your local Black History Month events and let me know if any of them were something to be proud of so that this newspaper can give out an annual ‘Best of Black History Month’ award - as chosen by you the people for the best Black History Month event of the year. 

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