Event preview: African History+@Croydon, Saturday 22nd November at Matthews Yard

By - Monday 10th November, 2014

Kwaku introduces the upcoming African History+ event, which will explore music, race and other societal issues in Croydon

Kwaku confers with Keith Vaz MP at the Houses of Parliament.
Photo by African History+ @ Croydon, used with permission.

One of the events of this year’s Croydon Heritage Festival was the ‘Look How Far We’ve Come’ community talk, co-organised by Croydon Radical History Network (CRHN) and African Histories Revisited (AHR). It consisted of the screening of the ‘Look How Far We’ve Come: Commentaries On British Society And Racism’ vox pop documentary with contributors from diverse backgrounds – academics, politicians, lawyers, nurses, equality and community activists. These included the likes of Professor Gus John, David Lammy MP, Diane Abbott MP and Lee Jasper, giving their views on how far Britain has come in dealing with racism and race equality issues.

This will be a whole day event aimed at young people, adults and families

The initial response to the festival programme at Matthews Yard, which included a post-screening discussion on racism and other societal issues, was so encouraging that an enhanced programme, including issues local to Croydon, is being organised at the same venue on Saturday 22nd November.

Look Conference audience with Harrow Mayoress and Mayor. Photo author’s own

Dubbed African History+@Croydon, it’s a whole day event starting at 12:30 pm, aimed at young people, adults and families, and includes film screenings, presentations, recorded and live music, plus a small books and DVDs stall.

Seeking input from local stakeholders, I organised a planning meeting with the assistance of one of our partners, Croydon BME Forum. It was decided that the day’s discussions would be focused through ‘How Does Racism Manifest Itself In Croydon?’ workshops covering the council, police, health service, education and employment.”

The event will appeal to a diverse inter-generational audience

It is hoped that some of the ‘Look…’ documentary contributors with local ties, such as Waveney Bushell, an educational psychologist who worked with the earliest supplementary schools in Croydon, journalist and political activist Marc Wadsworth, and 2010 North Croydon Respect candidate Lee Jasper, will attend. The key points of the workshops will be fed back on the day by local social historian and CRHN organiser Sean Creighton.

Look’s Marc Wadsworth and KB Asante.
Photo author’s own.

The subject and form of delivery will be varied in order to appeal to a diverse inter-generational audience, drawn from families, schools, youth and community organisations, the public sector and elected representatives.

There will be audio-visual presentations on the late Croydon composer Samuel Coleridge-TaylorJohn Archer, who was Mayor of Battersea a century ago, and record producer Neil ‘Mad Professor’ Fraser, whose Croydon-based Ariwa Sounds has been in business for thirty-five years.

As I’m also a music industry consultant and founder of BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress, British black music history will be highlighted.

Many feel race has fallen off the agenda of policy-making

The day will start with the screening of the ‘Britain’s Contribution To The Development Of Reggae’ and ‘Talking Heads: London & Black Music’ documentaries, followed by post-screening discussions.

Look How Far WIP Audience at Houses of Parliament.
Photo author’s own.

There will also be the opportunity to listen to records that speak to Garveyite themes, and hear local act Pauline Thomas & Band close the evening with a live music set entitled ‘Bob Marley: Songs Of Love, Sufferation, Redemption & Emancipation’, to mark a hundred years since Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League (UNIA).

The Community Talk section will be an opportunity to voice views on local issues, with an emphasis on racism, which many feel has fallen off the agenda of policy-making.

The organisers hope that young people in Croydon will recognise the wealth of black musical tradition and history here, from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a pan-Africanist who infused classical music with African sensibilities, to lovers’ rock, an internationally-admired blend of reggae developed in London that doesn’t only focus on love but also on socio-political issues.”

Entry to the event is £5 and can be booked via AfricanHistoryPlus.eventbrite.com. ‘Look How Far We’ve Come: Race/Racism Primer’ is priced at £8 and is available here.



Kwaku is a music industry and history consultant. He’s BTWSC’s OCN accredited Overview Of African History course tutor, and author/editor of ‘Look How Far We’ve Come: The Race/Racism Primer’, ‘African Voices: Quotations By People Of African Descent’, ‘Brent Black Music History Project’ and ‘NARM Highlighting African British Male Role Models 1907 – 2007’. He co-ordinates history resource project African Histories Revisited, and is founder BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress, a forum focused on domestic black music and music industry education.

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