Nubiart Diary - Skin Bleaching Report

By Kubara Zamani | Mon 11 February 2013

A different perspective on the Afrikan world


~ ‘THE CAUSES & EFFECTS OF SKIN BLEACHING USE’ - KenyaSue Smart [Evelyn Oldfield Charitable Unit & African Education Trust]
This is an initial study into the practice of non-essential skin bleaching / lightening / whitening especially among the Afrikan community in Britain. The overall purposes of the report were: to find out who uses the products; their influences and motivations; to raise awareness and identify diseases caused by bleaching; to explore the ideals of race and beauty, particularly in the media; the role of racism; and to initiate a campaign over public authorities responsibilities and duty of care to protect community from trafficking of illegal substances.

The research was carried out across the three London boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark which also act as a unified health authority. Trading standards departments were approached to help in the study but never took up the offer of collaboration. However, Dr Olajide, from Cares of Life at Maudsley Hospital SLAM, and who features in two documentaries on skin bleaching - Dami Akinusi’s documentary ‘Bleach My Skin White’ and a CNN profile – is interviewed in-depth about the prevalence and damaging effects of bleaching.

The issue has particular significance for us as we have a family member who wanted us to go into one of those ‘plastic / horse / dead hair shops’ because we lived in London to purchase bleaching creams for them. We refused outright to the point where the person got upset and stopped talking to us for a period of time. Asking us was a clear sign of the psychologically damaging effects of bleaching as we at Nubiart are ‘cultural roots from we were born’ and completely denounce the practice unless you are an individual with a genuinely medically diagnosed case of vitiligo.

Bleaching products include mercury and tropical cortisones to remove melanin from the surface of the skin. Hydroquinone is the main ingredient for melanin inhibition. Symptoms of the damage caused by bleaching include: swelling of the face and back, bleached-out (panda) look, large concentrated patches of melanin, ochronisis on surface of skin, acute acne, sun sensitivity, irritability, nervousness, fluid retention, thinning of the skin, bleach burns, cancer, collagen damage, susceptibility to infections, liver damage, organ failure and extreme pain and mental health and psychological problems such as feelings of isolation and self-hate.

The creams, lotions and pills are bought from shops or obtained from friends or online. The report has a list of: Products Containing Tropical Steroids 20*; Skin Lightening / Whitening / Bleaching Products With Mercury; and Skin Lightening / Whitening / Bleaching Products With Steroids.

The role of racism and colonialism is explored. ‘Mulattos’, created in slave households by the rape and sexual predation, received favourable treatment and a higher sale price. The subject cannot be addressed without reference to the outstanding analysis conducted by Frantz Fanon, the late great Afrikan psychiatrist and political activist. He pointed out that to escape or dream of escape from oppression the colonised tends to imitate the coloniser, especially the upwardly mobile who can afford to acquire status symbols what he calls white masks. The Jamaican government launched its ‘Don’t Kill Skin’ campaign in 2007. However, this did not stop the Dancehall DJ Vybes Kartel, who uses Jamaican Blue Soap, launching his brand of bleaching products to a devoted coterie of followers. Scientific racism in anthropology, psychology and eugenics were used to justify colonialism and enslavement. The legacy of these doctrines continues in academic institutions and schools of medicine.

The report found that survey participants who used bleaching products were often embarrassed but frequently rejected offers of advice. The use generally starts as young as 14. Creams are getting stronger and much publicity was given to news of a woman in Zimbabwe who died from taking bleaching pills. Bleaching does mean that tattoos show up clearer on Afrikan skin. The rise in the number of Afrikans getting fashion tattoos as opposed to for traditional spiritual or cultural reasons can often have a symbiotic relationship with those Afrikans who bleach their skin.

Will the bleachers ever be satisfied with their skin colour, ‘tone’, and general outward appearance or is the psychological damage so all-encompassing that they are losing a proper sense of proportion? Michael Jackson unbelievably claimed ‘vitiligo’ was responsible for the lightening of his skin during the 1980s. None of his siblings suffer from the disease although there is much evidence of several of his family members engaging in skin bleaching and plastic surgery. KenyaSue found that overall there was limited research on users’ expectations and the financial, social and employment pressures that bleachers claim make it necessary and worthwhile to engage in this practice.

Survey participants who did not bleach themselves would not report it to the authorities if they knew someone was bleaching their children’s skin. Although one participant did see it as a child protection issue. It was felt that info on law and reporting limited and there was a need for wider health promotion campaign. The Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to be more effective and accountable.

Southwark Council provided lists of traders (mainly Asian) prosecuted but most only received a fine and are still trading. In one of the most notorious cases Yinka and Michael Oloyemi (Yinka Bodyline and Beauty Express) received 9 months suspended jail sentences, a five year ban from business and a £70,000 fine in 2005.

Grace Amey-Obeng, CEO of the FC Group of Companies in Ghana, is one person determined to counter the bleachers’ idea of beauty. She was recently featured on the BBC’s website. BBC World and the World Service radio programme, ‘African Dreams’, which profiles African-based entrepreneurs and innovators.

Having studied Beauty Therapy at Croydon College in London, she returned to Ghana and with $100 started up her business which now has an annual turnover of $8-10m and 95 employees. They have eight branches in Ghana and export to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and Britain. Her FC Group of Companies includes a beauty clinic, a firm that supplies salon equipment and cosmetics, and a college. She currently has 286 hairdressing and beauty therapy trainees and has trained over 5,000 people since opening her FC Beauty College in 1999.

She explained her initial inspiration: “The women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products, and so I saw the need for assisting them to reverse the process because otherwise it would become a social problem. The level of damage - in this climate - bleaching does is irreparable.”

However, Mrs Amey-Obeng soon realised that the imported products they were recommending often proved too expensive for their clients due to currency exchange rate fluctuations so in 1998 she started her own brand, Forever Clair (Clear), which was successful not only because of the products’ prices - $3 to $15 - but also because they were made taking into account Afrikan skins and the West Afrikan climate. Forever Clair refers to light, hope and strength. “Light shows the way. It’s not about complexion, it’s about the heart,” the entrepreneur said.

She has won dozens of accolades and industry awards for her skincare beauty products and marketing and is well-known in Ghana for her philanthropic work, especially through the Grace Amey-Obeng International Foundation.

For copies of the ‘The Causes & Effects of Skin Bleaching Use’ and additional feedback you can e-mail KenyaSue at:

NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.


~ ‘WARATO’O’ – Narasirato [Smash Corporation – Out Now]

“Warato’o is the truth, warato’o is love, warato’o is friendship, warato’o is power, warato’o is working together, warato’o is sincerity, warato’o is present, warato’o is punctual. All these things are warato’o and we live in that, when we play music, when we work in the garden, when we do fishing, when we go hunting in the bush, anything at all, we have warato’o in us, and we live by that.” – Donation Manu’asi, Musical Director and lead panpipes, Narasirato

Narasirato are a group of Are’are farmers and fishermen from the Solomon Islands playing hand-made bamboo drums, panpipes and keyboards. Members of the cultural troupe can trace their lineage back 100 generations. Originally set up in 1991 to give disaffected youth the chance to learn about their Melanesian culture and their unique music which brings peace and gives strength they disbanded in 1999 before reforming in 2007.

This is an excellent album by members of the Afrikan diaspora who travelled east to the Pacific Ocean but maintained their culture through millennia. Some of the standouts include: the title track, ‘Warato’o (Prophetic Words)’, which tells of the Are’are spiritual belief system, their faith in nature and mystical power. ‘Hariharina (Being Enemy)’ relates to the tensions that fractured the Solomon Islands from 1998-2003 leading to the initial break-up of Narasirato and the need to build bridges so people can live peacefully. Our favourite track ‘Horoa Warita (Once Upon A Time)’ tells how the Are’are inherited their music from their ancestors. ‘Totoraha (The Culture)’ is the Are’are word for culture and the traditions they inherited from the ancestors – it is essential to do and be Totoraha. ‘Painaha Ni Are’are (Leadership in Are’are)’ celebrates the leadership roles past down by the ancestors. ‘Roromera (Lullaby)’ is based on a traditional lullaby and gets the dub treatment on the bonus track.

We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.

~ ‘THE CAUSES & EFFECTS OF SKIN BLEACHING USE’ - KenyaSue Smart [Evelyn Oldfield Charitable Unit & African Education Trust]

Nubiart Diary


- ‘Sisters In The Struggle: Women of the Bus Boycott’. On Mon 11 Feb at 7-9.30pm. Celebrating US Black History Month and the 100 year anniversary of the Birth of Rosa Parks (4 Feb 1913). This presentation will focus on the role of nine women before Rosa Parks who contributed to the desegregation of the transport systems in America.

- ‘Black Couples Who Made World History’. On Wed 13 Feb at 7-9pm. This presentation will focus on royalty, liberators, activists, educators and musicians who have altered the course of history. Clearly there is a need to give a balance against the negative messages and images that surround Afrikan relationships. Can you name 10 Afrikan married couples who have contributed to world history?

- ‘The African Origin of Mathematics’. On Tues 19 Feb at 7-9pm. Mathematican John Matthews will guide you through the ancient Afrikan mathematical systems and show you how you can use these Afrikan mathematical systems today. He will also demonstrate how you can use your inner calculator and how to overcome mathematical phobia.

All events at the PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction, London, SW11 2LN, Adm: £5 / U-16 - Free. E-mail:


- Burundi 1993-2013: Looking back on 20 years of War, Peace-building and Democracy. On Tues 12 Feb at 5-8pm at Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1H 0XG.

Inter-group conflict has been the most salient and lethal hallmark of Burundian politics since the country’s independence in 1962. In June 1993, Burundians seemed poised to enter a new era when they held their first democratic elections. But within months the newly elected Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, had been assassinated, following a coup by the Tutsi-dominated army. More years of Hutu-Tutsi violence ensued. After decades of civil war, peace-building and contested democracy, Burundi is still a fragile state facing the dual task of reviving a shattered economy and forging national unity. This event will take a retrospective look back at the past 20 years, examining Burundi within both the international and regional contexts. Two panels of experts will explore the role of the UN and the AU and their respective interventions; post-conflict reconstruction models, democratisation and power-sharing between Hutus and Tutsis; Burundi’s place in the Great Lakes region; and poverty reduction in rural Burundi within the framework of the MDGs.

Panel 1: ’Burundi from 1993 to 2013’. Speakers: Prof Filip Reyntjens (University of Antwerp); H.E. Bernard Ntahiraja, Chargé d’Affaires in London (TBC). Chair: Dr Harry Verhoeven (University of Oxford)

Panel 2: ’Contextualising Burundi in the Great Lakes Region’. Speakers: Dr Devon Curtis (University of Cambridge; Dr Bert Ingelaere (University of Antwerp). Chair: Dr Aidan Russell (University of Oxford)

- ‘Congo Dreams: Hopes and Possibilities for the Future’. On Tues 12 Feb at 7-9pm at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London. WC1R 4RL. This is a ticketed event - purchases via The Frontline Club. RAS members benefit from a 50% discount. E-mail:
Speakers: Ben Shepherd (Chatham House), Jan-Peter Stellema (Medecins Sans Frontiers, Democratic Republic of Congo Programme), Jean-Roger Kaseki (Associate, Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute (HRSJ), London Metropolitan University)) and Kassim Kayira (BBC World Service); others TBC. Chair: Patrick Smith (Africa Confidential). The recent fighting involving the M23 rebel group that has put eastern DR Congo back on the front pages has reached a fragile ceasefire. But the M23 are just one amongst many rebel groups that regularly attack civilians forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. Is it time for a coordinated international approach to DR Congo?

- ‘A Good African Story’. On Tues 19 Feb at 7-9pm at Khalili Lecture Theatre SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1H 0XG. Book launch with Andrew Rugasira, author & CEO of Good African Coffee
Respondent: Professor Christopher Cramer, Head of Development Studies Department, SOAS. Chair: Alex Jakana, Broadcast Journalist, BBC. ‘Good African’ was the first Afrikan-owned coffee brand to be listed in UK supermarkets – this book charts all the obstacles Rugasira and his company faced: from the seemingly impossible task of finding capital, to prejudice and discrimination, to close calls with lions in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. Since its founding in 2003, Good African Coffee has helped thousands of farmers earn a decent living, send their children to school and escape a spiral of debt and dependence. Despite huge inflows of aid, Afrika remains mired in poverty, disease and systematic corruption. In ’A Good African Story’, Andrew Rugasira argues that trade has achieved what years of aid failed to deliver, and has provided a tantalising glimpse of what Afrika could be. This is a book about Afrika taking its destiny in its own hands, and dictating the terms of its future.

- ‘Land Rush: Who owns Africa?’ On Thurs 21 Feb at 7-9pm at Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1H 0XG. Screening and panel discussion in partnership with
Why Poverty? Speakers: Director Hugo Berkeley; Iggy Bassi, Co-founder of GADCO (tbc); Camilla Toulmin, Director, International Institute for Environment & Development; Elizabeth Daley, Core Consultant, Mokoro (tbc). Chair: Anna Locke, Head of Agricultural Development & Policy Programme, Overseas Development Institute. Food security has now become a key global issue and one which is increasingly affecting marginalised Afrikans. Central to this debate is whether large agri-business can benefit regional and national economies without displacing subsistence farmers. The lack of transparency regarding transactions for large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Afrika - otherwise known as land grabs - means that millions of hectares are being sold leaving farmers unaware the land they till is no longer theirs. ‘Land Rush’ is a documentary film which follows an American seeking to develop a sugar plantation, and the Malians who oppose these efforts, seeing them a yet another manifestation of imperialism. Tackling issues of food sovereignty, land ownership and how development is sold to Africa, Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat’s film asks who owns Africa?

- ‘Africa’s Gender Agenda: Reviewing Progress & Challenges As We Look Beyond 2015’. On Mon 25 Feb at 6-9pm at Brunei Suite, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1H 0XG. Africa’s gender agenda, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 framework, needs to address a series of integrated issues if overall gender equality and women’s empowerment is to be achieved. Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), the focus theme of this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, will be central to this debate for two main reasons: a) the original MDGs did not have a dedicated VAWG indicator and b) gender-based violence remains an on-going challenge in the Afrikan continent where women and girls are often subjected to abuse without legal access to justice.

Tel: 020 3073 8337. Web: / / Twitter @RoyAfriSoc

~ TILT IN ASSOCIATION WITH RICH MIX PRESENTS…TILT’S LONDON LIMING: WHERE SPOKEN WORD MEETS CARNIVAL. With: Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze with refreshingly modern twists on love and romance that will enthrall lovers, cynics and the as yet undecided; John Agard. multi-award winning poet and London Liming patron; Jelena Curcic, London based story-teller from the Balkans; Mellow Baku, new British jazz Lyricist and songstress; plus DJ Cliffy. On Thurs 14 Feb at 8pm at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London, E1. Tel: £8 / £6 concs. Web:
~ NOH BUDGET FILMS PRESENT ACTIVE INQUIRY. Do you like being creative? Would you like to be part of a group who solve community problems through performing? ACTive Inquiry are inviting you to join our weekly participatory performance workshops exploring Current Affairs. The AI group carries out sketches, scenes, skits and other social commentary performances to raise awareness about problematic social issues. The stated goal of these performances is to make the public ‘think and ask questions’ and expose the lies around these injustices. Every Thurs at 6.30-9.30pm at Stockwell Park Community Trust, Crowhurst House, 21 Aytoun Place, Stockwell, London, SW9 0TE. Adm: £5. (Suggested donation to help cover room hire costs and refreshments but we would hate cost to be a barrier to participation so please pay what you can afford). Web:

~ ‘QUITTE LE POUVOIR’. A new series of paintings by Ivorian artist Aboudia, in his second solo exhibition at the gallery. The riots that followed the disputed Ivorian presidential election in late 2010 greatly influenced Aboudia’s painting. During this period the artist took refuge in a basement studio and began a body of work responding to the horrors of the country’s devastating political situation. Until Sat 16 Feb at Jack Bell Gallery, 13 Masons Yard, London, SW1Y 6BU. Tel: 020 7930 8999 . Web:


- ‘Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored’. On Sat 16 Feb at 2-5pm. Dir: Tim Reid. Isaac Hayes, Richard Roundtree and Phyllicia Rashad star in Reid’s re-creation of a community in the rural South in the years from 1946 to 1962, as hard-line segregation gradually fell to the assault of the civil rights movement. It is a memory of the close bonds of family, friends and church that grew up to sustain such communities, in a society where an American version of apartheid was the law.

- ‘Chameleon Street’. On Sat 16 Feb at 5.45pm. Dir: Wendell B Harris Jr. Winner of the Grand Prix award at Sundance in 1990, but now relegated to the status of hard-to-find cult film, this is the extraordinary, fictionalised account of real-life Michigan conman William Douglas Street (who posed successfully as a lawyer and a gynaecological surgeon, among other things). Featuring sharp dialogue and a fine performance from writer-director Harris as Street, it’s a complex, witty and often shocking examination of the interplay between race, identity and economics.

Both films at BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1. Adm: £5 each. Box office: Web:

~ AFRICA CENTRE PRESENTS ‘FAAT KINE’. Dir: Ousmane Sembene. A cheerful movie of simple pleasures, ‘Faat-Kine’ stars Venus Seye as the movie’s eponymous heroine. Kine is the successful manager of a gasoline station in Dakar, and an unmarried mother of two, each the product of a failed relationship with a delinquent father. Independent, well-to-do, and equable, Kine flits between the demands of her job, her family and her friends with admirable composure. The movie offers wistful flashbacks that explain Kine’s complex but happy situation. On Sun 17 Feb at 2.30pm at the Africa Centre, 38 King Street, London, WC2. Adm: Free, suggested £3 donation.

~ THE INTERNATIONAL HUNTLEY SYMPOSIUM LECTURE. Professor Sir Hilary Beckles will be speaking on his new book ‘Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide’, the first scholarly work that looks comprehensively at the origins and development of reparations as a regional and international process. Weaving detailed historical data on Caribbean slavery and the transatlantic slave trade together with legal principles and the politics of post-colonialism, Beckles sets out a solid academic analysis of the evidence and concludes that Britain has a case of reparations to answer which the Caribbean should litigate. On Wed 20 Feb at 5-7pm at the London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB. Bookings: 020 7332 3851.

~ THE NUBIAN JAK COMMUNITY TRUST IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE US HIGH COMMISSION IN LONDON PRESENT FREDERICK DOUGLASS BLUE PLAQUE CEREMONY & RECEPTION. A blue heritage plaque will be unveiled in South Kensington to honour the American social reformer and political activist Frederick Douglass on Nell Gwynn House which is the site of the former home of British abolitionist George Thompson, who Frederick Douglass stayed with during 1846, while lecturing in London on the horrors of the slave trade. Organised by the English Heritage approved plaque scheme this will be the first blue plaque unveiled in London in 2013. The installation date for the plaque is also significant coming exactly 118 years to the day Frederick Douglass passed away and the unveiling will be streamed live to the US.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are also supportive of the event, which will include a reception after the unveiling where an exhibition displaying the work of 150 school students from five London schools will be unveiled at the Campbells of London Art Gallery by the Deputy High Commissioner of the United States Embassy, Her Excellency Barbara Stephenson. The schools have been working with Nubian Jak over the last three months in researching the life and times of Frederick Douglass. After the initial showing the exhibition will then go on display at the US Embassy in London until 31 Mar 2013. The tribute forms parts of BHM Celebrations in the US, On Wed 20 Feb. Plaque Ceremony: 12pm at Nell Gwynn House, Whiteheads Grove, South Kensington, SE3 3AX. Plaque Reception: 1-3pm at Campbells of London Art Gallery, 35 Thurloe Street. SW7. Tel: 0800 093 0400 / 07817 331 107. E-mail:

~ SOAS HISTORY DEPARTMENT, CENTRE FOR MIGRATION AND DIASPORA STUDIES, CENTRE FOR MEDIA AND FILM STUDIES, CENTRE OF AFRICAN STUDIES, IN COOPERATION WITH THE INSTITUTE OF COMMONWEALTH STUDIES, THE EUROPEAN NETWORK OF EURESCL: SLAVE TRADE, SLAVERY, ABOLITION AND THEIR LEGACIES IN EUROPEAN HISTORIES AND IDENTITIES (7THPCRD) AND THE CIRESC ‘CENTRE INTERNATIONAL DE RECHERCHES SUR LES ESCLAVAGES, ACTEURS, SYSTÈMES, REPRESENTATIONS’ PRESENT HISTORY ON FILM: ‘SLAVERY & THE AFRICAN DIASPORA FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE’. Film series and panel discussions with filmmakers to make visible people of Afrikan descent in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Brazil, Benin and along the Swahili Coast in East Afrika. By including films from the South Atlantic World, Indian Ocean World and Africa, we aim to throw light on the points of origin and destination of slaves. Rarely in the history of slavery has it been possible to correlate the trajectories of the home societies of slaves and the slave regime at the destination. Slavery has also been all too often studied in isolation from Africa. The focus has mainly been on the North Atlantic World. Indeed, the cultural dimension of Diasporas has long been observed in the North Atlantic World, but it has received only scant attention within the context of emancipated slave communities elsewhere. By combining the two oceanic worlds, the films and the discussion panels aim at questioning these biases. They examine the processes of integration and assimilation in the different Afrikan Diasporas, and how these communities produced diasporic cultural spheres which today surely constitute memoryscapes of the history of slavery.

- ‘Memorialising African Slavery in Brazil on Film’. Wed 20 Feb. Films: ‘A Present Past: Afro-Brazilian Memories in Rio de Janeiro’ by Hebe Mattos and Martha Abreu (2012, 43 mins); ‘Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê’ by Carolina Moraes-Liu (2012, 20 mins). Followed by a discussion with Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies) Hebe Mattos (University Federal Fluminense / Brazil), Camillia Cowling (University of Edinburgh) and Matthias Röhrig Assunção (University of Essex)

- ‘Transmission of Cultural Heritage of Slavery in the Indian Ocean on Film’. Wed 27 Feb. Films: ‘A Hidden Guarantee: Identity and Gule Wankulu between Mozambique and Somalia’ by Francesca Declich (2008, 17 mins); ‘Sidis of Gujarat: Maintaining Traditions and Building Community’ by Beheroze Shroff (2010, 53 mins); ‘Maldives: African Migration and Bodu Beru (Big Drums)’ (5 mins); and ‘Sri Lanka: Afro-Sri Lankans and their Musical Traditions’ (5 mins). Introduced by Shihan de Silva. Followed by discussion with Marie Rodet (SOAS) and Francesca Declich.

All events at 5pm at SOAS, University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1 0XG. Web:


- “We’re Indian and African”: Sidis of India. Lecture by Dr Shihan de Silva on the diverse circumstances of Afrikan migration to India, their roles and achievements, their current status, issues of identity and belonging. Chair: Dr David Taylor (SOAS & Institute of Commonwealth Studies). The Lecture will be followed by the screening of two documentary films produced by Beheroze Shroff from the University of California, Irvine, USA).

“We’re Indian and African”: Voices of the Sidis (22 mins). This film explores the lives of the Sidis in Gujarat. Sidi men and women speak about the challenges they face as caretakers of the shrine of their ancestral saint Bava Gor. The Sidis also discuss their sacred Goma-Dhammal dance performed for devotees and spectators. The film also gives a glimpse into the spiritual legacy of the Sidis through the Parsi devotees of Bava Gor in Bombay.

Voices of the Sidis: Ancestral Links (26 mins). In this engaging portrait of an urban Sidi family in Bombay (Maharashtra), Babubhai traces his ancestry to Zanzibar. He also reminisces about his work as a stuntman in Bollywood films. Babubhai’s wife, Fatimaben, narrates her grandmother’s work in a Hindu royal court. Their daughter, Heena, speaks about issues of identity in contemporary India. On Fri 22 Feb at 5.30-7pm in Rm G51, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Square, London, WC2. Tel: 020 7898 4892 / 3. E-mail:

~ NUBIAN JAK ACADEMY AND THE AFRICA CENTRE PRESENTS ‘AFRICAN HERITAGE MONTH INTERNATIONAL (AHMI): A NEW WAY FORWARD FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH?’ This event aims to bring together practitioners who work in Afrikan history, politics, culture and arts, whether you are an organisation, individual, small business or if you have an interest in the way that Afrikan heritage is portrayed, celebrated, commemorated and written and spoken about. It aims to build upon the good work started by Akyaaba Addai Sebbo and other activists in 1987 who set up Black History Month as a month long activity each October and to consider new directions for Black History Month which will build links, foster collaboration, maximize promotion and publicity for Afrikan heritage, and offer up ways and initiatives forward. Two sessions offer a chance to take part and have your say: discussion and break out groups on Afrikan Heritage themes from 2–5.30pm; and an evening programme of presentations by guest speakers, public debate that offers ways forward, and entertainment from 6.30–9pm. On Fri 22 Feb at the Africa Centre, 38 King Street, London, WC2.


- ‘Black Women In Academia: Success, Secrets And Coping Strategies’. On Sat 23 Feb at 6-9pm. This second of twelve Queen Nzinga lectures features three generations of African women who have achieved PhDs speaking about their experiences as well as a Q and A with all three to expand on their revelations. Speakers include: Dr Ama Biney who has lectured at Middlesex University and Birkbeck College, University of London, as well as in the further education sector in the UK for over 15 years and is a trustee of the Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem Educational Trust; Dr Michelle Asantewa is an English and Creative Writing lecturer at London Metropolitan University. She has also curated several Afrikan history film events at the university and spoke on women’s resistance in 18th century literature at the first Queen Nzinga Lecture last year; and Nathalie Montlouis, PhD, who has just completed her doctorate in cultural studies and is now editing a book on Afrikan culture and western stereotypes. She is the Programme Manager for the French / Caribbean dance group Ziloka and is the co-creator of ‘Performing Black Bodies in White Spaces’.

- ‘Mary Seacole Fights Back!’ On Sun 3 Mar at 3-6pm. This third lectures features: Antoinette Kwegan a Phd student at Queen Mary University and managing consultant at Genesis Youth and Community Ltd. ( speaking on how the third sector raises educational achievement; and Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, PhD CBE FRCN, formerly head of the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice (Faculty of Health and Human Sciences at Thames Valley University). She is also vice-chairperson of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal. Prof Anionwu will speak on: The real history of Mary Seacole; Her relevance to history,education and nursing; The facts behind the recent controversy; The status of the statue appeal; and The institutional attack on black history and how it can be resisted.

Both events in Rm B36, Birkbeck University, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HX. Adm: Free / Donations, Web: and

~ ‘IS THIS THE OLDEST LIVING CIVILISATION?’ The oldest relations to the first human beings are still living today in central and east Afrika. There is strong suggestion that the Ancient Egyptians were descended from this civilisation. London-based cultural researcher and writer Felicity Heywood travelled to Uganda earlier this year to hear and record some of their stories. Come and hear her reports of the Batwa, a people who are landless, and trying hard to keep their original culture alive amidst external pressure to conform. On Thurs 28 Feb at 5.15pm at Rm 4421, University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1 0XG. Adm: Free. Web:

~ ‘MIGRATION ACROSS THE OCEANIC WORLDS: DIASPORAS & DISCOURSES’. This event explores the drivers of commerce and migration and the knock on effects of diasporas on the local cultural scene through historical narratives, oral accounts and the voices of the migrants themselves and those affected by transculturation and postcolonial innovations. Chair: Dr Michael Kandiah (King’s College London)

5.45-6.15pm. ‘A War of Words: Discourses of Slavery and Abolition in French Writing on the Indian ‘Mutiny’ (1857-58)’. Dr Nicola Frith (University of Bangor, Wales)

6.15–6.45pm. ‘Ancestral Links: Voices of the Sidis’. Film & discussion with producer Beheroze Shroff (University of California, Irvine, USA).

6.45–7.15pm. ‘Ballads and Bailas: Postcolonial Innovations in Sri Lankan Popular Music’. Dr Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies).

7.15–7.30pm ‘Ceylonese Dances: Kaffrinha Music’ Piano Recital with Natasha Senanayake (King’s College London)

On Thurs 28 February at 5.45-7.30pm at Room G22/24, Ground Floor, South Block, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. Adm: Free. RSVP to: Web:

~ INTERIM NATIONAL AFRIKAN PEOPLE’S PARLIAMENT ‘NATIONAL BLACK PEOPLE’S DAY OF ACTION: REBIRTH OF A NATION’. Speakers: Ekua Stanford-Xiosei, Co-Chair, iNAPP; Jendayi Serwah, vice-chair, iNAPP; and iNAPP Youth Core. Artists: Mikel Ameen, Native Sun and Maskelah. On Sat 2 Mar. March assembles at 9am at the Moonshot Centre, Fordham Park, Angus Street, London, SE14 6LU. Convention at 1pm at JK Banqueting Hall, 15a Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London, SE23 2NE. Tel: 020 8539 2154 / 07908 814 152. E-mail: Web:

~ NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK SATURDAY SCHOOLS AND BLACK HISTORY WALKS PRESENT 1834 SLAVERY COMPENSATION: WHO GOT THE 20 MILLION POUNDS? In 1834 when the British abolished slavery in the Caribbean the government paid 20 million pounds in compensation to the owners of the enslaved Afrikans. The Afrikans got nothing. Many people have wondered who exactly got that money and what they did with it. Which islands and plantations benefited? What houses were built? What institutions were established? What was the cultural and economic legacy of this massive payout? Can it be identified and quantified? A team of scholars from UCL have been researching exactly these questions and more. Over the last 3 years they have collated research on several thousand beneficiaries and created a searchable, user-friendly website that covers: Which individuals received monies; How much they received; Which houses they lived in; What they bought with the money; Which cultural / educational institutions they established or supported with the money; What islands/plantations/ individuals in the Caribbean were compensated; Exactly how banks and financial institutions used the money to further the needs of empire; The role of slave-owners as writers and historians; The connections between the compensation, finance companies and political parties; Physical legacies; buildings, statues, parks, docks, railways, bridges, libraries; and how to use the website to expand your own personal or professional or genealogical research

Professor Catherine Hall, Dr Nick Draper, Keith McClelland, Kate Donnington and Rachel Lang will share their research, demonstrate how to use the website and take extended questions on both topics. On Sat 2 Mar at 2-6pm at Room B36, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HX. Adm: Free. Web: / /

~ THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL GALLERY (IZIKO MUSEUMS OF SOUTH AFRICA) AND INIVA PRESENTS ‘WIND BLOWING ON THE CAPE FLATS’. A major retrospective and first substantial exhibition in the UK of the internationally acclaimed artist, Peter Clarke. Curated by Tessa Jackson (Iniva) and Riason Naidoo (ISANG). Until Sat Mar 9 at Iniva, Rivington Street, London, EC2.

Contact: Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: Web:

Afrikan Quest International

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Afrikan Quest International

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