Showing posts from June, 2014

The Brasil 2014 World Cup: a family affair

As Ghana limbers up to do some damage in this year’s Brasil (spelt the Portuguese Brasilian way) 2014 World Cup, it got me thinking about how deep the ties between the West African nation and the country that gave us samba and carnival actually are.

I knew of Brasil’s slave past and its strong African connections, and how those ties formed the basis of much of its colourful culture. I am talking about the Angolan martial arts capoeira, Afro-Brasilian music maracatu and the many Brasilian dishes such as acarajé. But until I had stepped onto Brasilian soil in 2005, I didn’t know that some of those African slaves returned home to Ghana.
Tabon According to varying reports, the Tabon people were a group of around 70 to 100 families that bought or won their freedom from slavery on Brasilian plantations and made the arduous journey back to their motherlands. Some of those families returned to Nigeria, Togo and of course Ghana.
Through my education on the slave trade, one central message that …

Belle: a new kind of English rose

With London-born Ghanaian director Amma Asante screening her film 'Belle' this month (June 2014), I thought it was high time I checked out what all the drama was about. I had come across Dido Elizabeth Belle’s story in 18th century England, before and had seen the famous picture of her with her Caucasian cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. But upon reading about her life, I realised there was so much I didn’t know.

In short, Dido (a nickname from her English family) was the product of a union between Admiral Sir John Lindsay who, according to,captured a Spanish ship on which Belle's African mum Maria Belle was held on.

As Maria was a woman in bondage, it is unlikely that this union was consensual and it appears that she had no claim to her daughter apart from naming her. 
From what history suggests, Dido’s father didn’t want to/ was not able to care for her. As a result, she was brought from the West Indies (possibly Jamaica) and raised by her childless g…

Re-writing history with a walk

Walking through the streets of St Paul’s and Bank in London recently I was taken by the concentration of churches, guilds and financial institutions and their impressive architecture.
These buildings, which are nestled within the square mile, are a living and breathing testament to the grit, determination and entrepreneurial spirit that has contributed to London’s wealth and reputation as a world-class city.

 But one cannot tell London’s story without explaining the roots of its wealth. This is why my recent two and a half-hour Black History Walking tour on a rainy bank holiday Monday helped to fill in some of the gaps in my historical knowledge.

I now see areas around St Paul’s and Bank as a tribute to the massive but at times unwitting contributions African peoples made to anchor London as the centre of commerce over the last few hundred years.

These unsung heroes formed the backbone of some of the guilds and companies operating in the London area, and it is this history that has be…