Celebrating Africans and Caribbeans in Sussex Past and Present

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Celebrating Diversity in Sussex. This book was produced by a team of dedicated volunteers as part of Black History Month. It seeks to highlight our shared heritage, and celebrate our differences via the telling and sharing of stories from extraordinary people.

Celebrating African Caribbeans in Sussex past and present.

www.diversitylewes.org.uk diversity lewes @diversity_lewes


Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

2 Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki 3 Sara Forbes Bonetta 4 Irene Abena Adoma Mensah 5 Cuthbert Hugh Williams 6 Shirley Williams 7 Jeroboam Edward Abura 8 Dr. Yaa Asare 9 Grace Nichols 10 John Agard Acknowledgements and Thanks.

1.) Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. (Born 1889 -1978)

Born Kamau Wa Ngengi at Ng'enda village, Gatundu Division, Kiambu in 1889 to Muigai and Wambui, Mzee Jomo, Kenyatta served as the first Prime Minister of Kenya (1963–1964) and President of Kenya (1964–1978). He is the father of the Fourth President of Kenya Uhuru. He authored several books including: Facing Mount Kenya (1938), My People of Kikuyu and The Life of Chief Wangombe (1944) and Suffering Without Bitterness (1968). Kenyatta’s academic journey started in Thogoto, under the tutelage of the Church of Scotland in 1909. He went on to Woodbrooke Quaker College in Birmingham in 1931-1933 and studied Economics in Moscow, 1934. In 1935 enrolled at the University College London, and studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Connection with Sussex: Married Edna Grace Clarke originally from Yarmouth, on 11th May 1942 at Chanctonbury registry office and they lived in Storrington West Sussex where he was employed as a horticulturist in the Linfield Company. They had a child, Peter Muigai Kenyatta who was raised in U.K. ‘’Harambee tu vute Pamoja!’’ Let us pull together!

2.) Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (Xhosa pronunciation: [tʰaɓɔ mbɛːkʼi] (born 18 June 1942 – Present)

Mbeki is a South African politician who served for nine years as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. In 1962, due to the apartheid policies that were being used to oppress the majority Black population and the banning of the African National Congress (ANC), the organisation decided it would be better for Mbeki to go into exile. A group disguised as a football team travelled to Botswana and flew to Tanzania where they acquired passports that enabled them to travel to London. Connection with Sussex? Went to the University of Sussex from December 1963 and graduated in 1966. The Second President of South Africa after Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. On 18 May 1966, Mbeki organised a 24-hour vigil at the Clock Tower in Brighton's central square against the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Rhodesia, suppressing the rights of the Black Majority this regime needed to be exposed.

3.)Sara Forbes Bonnetta (born 1843- 1880)

Originally named "Aina", Sara was born in 1843 at Oke-Odan, an Egbado village. In 1848, Oke-Odan was raided by a Dahomean army, during the attack Sara’s parents were killed and she was sent to the court of King Ghezo as a slave. Intended by her Dahomeyan captors to be a human sacrifice, she was rescued by Captain Frederick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria as a gift. Forbes named her Sara Forbes Bonetta, after his ship the HMS Bonetta. The Queen was impressed by the young princess's exceptional intelligence and had Sara raised as her goddaughter. : In August 1862 Sara Forbes Bonnetta married Captain James Pinson Labulo Davies, a Yoruba businessman from Sierra Leone. The couple married at St. Nicholas Church in Brighton,BN1 3LJ at the junction of Church street and Dyke Road.

4.) Irene Abena Adoma Mensah (born 1963-2013)

Irene grew up in Whittlesey on the edge of the Fenlands, she went to school at Neal Wade Grammar school and went on to study textile and design at Huddersfield Arts College. Irene lived in London and Paris before settling in Brighton were she collaborated with various artists including the Carnival Collective, Snakes and Ladders Theatre Co., Mutter Matter, ArTree and Studio 106. Irene was a passionate and successful artist who also acted and wrote poems. She worked with community groups on various projects including Unfolding Identities (an oral history/film project with Dr.Yaa Asare), Cric-Crac with Mosaic, the Jewish Elders Group and she was also a regular volunteer for the Brighton and Hove Black History Month. Irene was also a human rights activist with the group Women Against Cuts who fight against F.G.M.(Female Genital Mutilation) She was part of the group called Writing our Legacy and Latin Voices and took part in the Saloon Positive Hair day (PHD) Coffee table book that interviewed Brighton locals on handling and identifying with their mixed heritage and Black hair experiences. Artist, Poet, Dancer, Educator and Activist. ‘’ Lets not be dramatic, sometimes,You have to stay still and wait for the tempest to pass, resting from active borrowing Makes the encounter with water a coming together of calm souls "Rest to take water" Vodun.... Job done!’’

5.) Cuthbert Hugh Williams Born 1944 Bert was born in Manchester, Jamaica where he went to Bryce School & Bryce Church until he left for England at only 16 years old. Bert joined the Royal Air Force and was in the Bomber Command in Lincoln until he was posted to Germany. He continued to serve in the RAF until 1966 when he got married and moved to Brighton and Hove and joined the National Health Service. After 30 years of continued service he retired to enjoy the city he had grown to love. Since retiring, Bert has remained actively involved in the local community and volunteered with ‘Mosaic’ becoming their first Chairperson. He co-founded the Brighton and Hove Black History Project with Sarah Lee in October 2002. Bert is one of the organisers of the Chattri group, and was instrumental in getting a plaque unveiled by the India Gate at the southern entrance to the Royal Pavilion to commemorate the Indian wounded. Bert attended a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II in February 2007 at the Brighton Race Course. In 2011 Bert was awarded the (MBE) Member of the British Empire for his work with the Black & Minority communities of Brighton & Hove, it was presented to him by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. In 2015 & 2016 Bert was nominated as the 100 individuals who are most influential in making Brighton & Hove what it is. Community Leader, Pioneer. "I think if I lived my life over again I would still do the same thing, still marry the same woman, still love to have the same kids. It's just the satisfaction of having the grandkids, you know I think about them all the time. So yeah, I'm quite happy with life, if I have to go, I'm pretty happy."

6.) Shirley Williams Born in 1942

In Guyana, South America to Harry and Betty Prashad who's grandparents emigrated from India. She went to school in Guyana until the age of 18 and then came to England in 1961 to study nursing at the Brighton General Hospital on Elm Grove where she qualified as a nurse and worked for 50 years until her retirement. In 1964 Shirley won an award for her academic achievements in nursing and was featured in a book The History of Brighton General (1980). She qualified as a midwife before meeting her husband and having children. She became the manager of a nursing agency in Brighton which she ran for many years. Shirley is active within the local community and is a member of the Brighton Library Book club which is called READ ALOUD which brings together people of all nationalities to share food, culture and conversations every Thursday for 2 hours and has been going on for 6 years. Connection to Sussex: Shirley met her husband, Jamaican born Bert Williams in Brighton in the 1960s and they have been living in Brighton for 54 years. They have two children and two grandchildren. Qualified Nurse,Administrator. ‘’ Work hard, study hard, play hard as well, that’s important - it's not just about studying in order to achieve your aims in life as a young female growing up.’’

7.) Jeroboam Edward Abura (born 1930 – 1998) Abura was born in the Lango region in a country now known as Uganda. He was born the first grandson of his warrior grandfather and so took his name Abura as was customary. His grandfather was the last generation of warriors. Prior to colonialism, Langi men were renowned fighters, including his great-great-grandfather, Ogwal Abura the Ometo, who led his people to a significant defeat of slave raiders in the late 1860s. J.E.Abura was born in a time of colonialism in a country called the British Protectorate of Uganda during a time of dramatic cultural and religious change. He was amongst the first generation of Langi children who attended school and was taught by missionaries. He was given his biblical names Jeroboam Edward. At age 14 he left his village and went to boarding school and continued his education away from home. He arrived in England in 1954 aged 24 and spent his initial years in Penarth, Wales and then in London before finally settling in Brighton. By this time he had obtained a degree in Civil and Structural Engineering at Brighton Technical College and a post graduate diploma in Hydrology from Newcastle. During this time he met and married a local woman from Whitehawk and they had 3 children together. Following the completion of his studies and after Ugandan Independence he and his family emigrated to Uganda and thereafter he took up his post as Chief Water and Drainage Engineer to the Government of Uganda. In 1971 to 1976 He became Chief Engineer of the East African Harbours Corporation responsible for the development of the ports of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The family returned to live in Brighton and Abura joined a British Company as their managing director in Tanzania until 1987. For his remaining years he was the managing director of his own engineering company Ambicon which was based in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania. He is survived by his wife and children and grandchildren. Civil Engineer, Warrior. ‘’ With self-belief, hard work and self-motivation a person can literally walk barefoot from humble beginnings to achieve anything they want. From the beginning stand out from those around you - be the bull of the crowd.’’

8.) Dr.Yaa Asare

German mother, Irmgard Pollack, came to England on a cycling tour in Yorkshire in the late 1950s where she met and fell in love with Yaa’s father, Andrew Kwasi Asare in Leeds. Connection to Sussex - Yaa grew up in South London and later moved with her mother to the Pestalozzi International Children’s Village in Sedlescombe, in rural Sussex. Yaa studied sociology at Sussex University, after which she worked in Brixton, Hastings and Brighton as a community development worker and Race Equality Officer. She co-produced a film for service providers called ‘Race, it’s not an issue here’ (1995). Her MA in ‘Race Culture and Difference’ took her deeper into her field of expertise and a specific interest in promoting cultural diversity in education. She also co-produced the film ‘One of Us’ (2004). She later completed her doctorate at Brighton University where she now works as a lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science and the School of Education. She has worked in Ghana for a year (2012) at the University of Education, Winneba and now teaches university students in Brighton about race and ethnicity and also about cultural and comparative perspectives in international education. University Lecturer and Community Development Worker. ‘’ Learn all that you can from good teachers that you trust, but also learn to recognise the wisdom and power of your own intuition. Learn to trust this above everything.’’

9.) Grace Nichols. Was born and educated in Guyana. She has been living in Britain since 1977 and since then has written many books for both adults and children. Her first poetry collection, 'I Is A Long-Memoried Woman,' (Karnak House) won the 1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize. A film adaptation won the gold medal in the International Film and Television Festival in New York. Her other books include the popular, 'The Fat Black Woman’s Poems'; 'Sunris' (winner of the Guyana Poetry Prize) and 'Startling The Flying Fish', all published by Virago who also published her first novel set in Guyana; 'Whole Of A Morning Sky'(1986) Her latest collections are, 'Picasso, I Want My Face Back' and 'I Have Crossed An Ocean' and soon to be published, 'The Insomnia Poems' (all by Bloodaxe Books). Among her children's books of poetry are: 'The Poet Cat'(2000),'Everybody Got A Gift'; 'Sun-Time, Snow-Time' and 'Paint Me A Poem' (2004)which was awarded the Children's Poetry Bookshelf Best Children's Author collection. Her children's collection, 'Cosmic Disco' (2013) was chosen as a 'Power of reading text' in primary schools. She also won a CLPE award for the anthology; 'Over the Sea and under the Moon' edited with John Agard. She was poet-in-residence at the Tate Gallery, London (1999 – 2000). She received a Cholmondeley Award for her work in 2001 and more recently an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hull. She is among the poets on the current GCSE syllabus and is a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature. Poet,Novelist and Playwright. ‘'I would advise young people to make reading a part of their lives. Reading not only educates you and enriches your life and your use of language, but it widens your whole outlook. You learn a lot about yourself and human nature in general. I think it's one of the best gifts you can give yourself'.'’

10. John Agard

John was born and educated in Guyana and moved to the UK in 1977. He has written several collections for children and adults, and he is one of the poets on the current GCSE curriculum. His collections for young readers include The Young Inferno , a teenage spin on Dante's Inferno and Goldilocks On CCTV, inspired by fairy tales (both published by Frances-Lincoln Publishers ,and Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths and Hello H20, both illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura and published by Hodder Children's Books. His collections, published by Bloodaxe Books include Alternative Anthem (selected poems); From The Devil's Pulpit; We Brits; Clever Backbone; Travel Light Travel Dark; and his latest Playing The Ghost Of Maimonides. His first non-fiction, entitled BOOK, tells the history of the book in the voice of the book. His awards include the Casa de las Americas Poetry Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Award, the Guyana Prize and the 2012 Queen's Gold Medal for poetry . He lives in Sussex with his wife, the poet Grace Nichols, and their daughter. Poet, Novelist and Playwright. "Nurture a multi- story mind, open to the simple truth that all cultures have a story to tell. Free up yourself from the one story mind set, as they say, history is usually told from the conquerors’ perspective, not until the lion writes his own history, will we get a different view from that of the hunter"

Acknowledgements and Thanks Jenny Abura Volunteer Josef Cabey Artistic and Creative input/Volunteer Soraya Cotwal Volunteer Dolmen Domikles Volunteer Tara Gould Editing Tony Kalume Coordinator/Volunteer Edward Kibosek Volunteer Patricia Knight Volunteer Riah Knight Proofreader /Volunteer Sarah Naomi Lee BME Network Coordinator Dr. Jess Moriarty Lecturer/Volunteer Anita Nuckhir Volunteer Zelma Player Volunteer Amy Solis Volunteer

Produced by The Lewes Print Centre - 01273 472710