12/52 Ghana – Quobna Ottobah Cugoano

Quobina Ottobah Cugoano, who was also known as John Stuart, was born around 1757 in what is now Ajumako, Ghana. His book Thoughts And Sentiments On The Evil & Wicked Traffic Of The Slavery forms the basis of this episode.

25 March 2019 marks the 212 year anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act being passed by British parliament, which led the way for the slave trade to be completely abolished years later. In light of this important date, I wanted to tell the story of one of the freed slaves who fought for the abolishment of slavery in Britain and the British Empire. I’ve found since living here than the British can be very proud that they outlawed slavery before the Americans. So this story, although about an abolitionist, is not going to focus on his role in that victory, but instead on Britain’s role in him ending up here.

There is plenty of information about Cugoano if you look in the right places, here are some starting points:
The British Library
National Archives
Black History Month
Kwame Selikem Okatakyie’s YT
The BBC

The above image by Richard Cosway (1784) is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Thanks to Blue Dot Sessions for the music in this episode.

11/52 Tuvalu – Suliana Lopati Barber

Suliana is mother to three and “Island Mum” to many more. Her house in Alton has become a second home for many of her children’s Palangi (British) friends, who come in and out as they please, eating the food and learning about Tuvaluan culture by osmosis.

I was lucky to spend a day full of kata and kai (laughter and food) with Suliana, this episode reveals some of that conversation.

British Subjects is produced by Anna Rose Kerr.

10/52 Cameroon – Eliza Anyangwe

Eliza Anyangwe is a journalist, editor, and moderator born in Cameroon, raised across Africa and based in London. She is also the founder of The Nzinga Effect, a media project focused on telling the stories of African and Afro-descendant women and The Nzinga StoryLab, which works with other organisations to tell better stories about Africa and African peoples. Nzinga’s current project Not Yet Satisfied tells the stories of women in Accra and Johannesburg who, despite taboos, patriarchy, repressive traditions and laws, are using blogs, podcasts, poetry and art to talk about sex and sexuality. The upcoming film is with director Adeyemi Michael who’s also featured on the British Subjects podcast!

Before going freelance, Eliza worked for seven years for The Guardian in various roles, including editor of the Global Development Professionals Network, a Guardian site for humanitarians and aid workers. As a freelance journalist, she has written for CNN International, The Independent,The Guardian, The FT, Al Jazeera and Open Democracy, and has appeared on Newsnight, BBC World Service, PRI’s The World, and TRT World, among others. 

As an international speaker and moderator Eliza’s worked for clients ranging from Dell to the Royal African Society and various United Nations agencies. She’s spoken at a range of media, international development, and tech events including SXSW, the Next Einstein Forum, IAM Weekend, D&AD Festival, the International Journalism Festival, Africa Utopia, The Global Media Forum, The Web We Want Festival and TED Global. In 2018 she was a mentor for YouTube’s Creator for Change programme.

Eliza works part-time with the award-winning independent media organisation, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as a community organiser, and is a guest lecturer at IULM in Milan. You can sign up to Eliza’s newsletter, Griot Girl, or follow her on Twitter and instagram; The Nzinga Effect is also on Twitter and Instagram.

British Subjects is produced by Anna Rose Kerr.

09/52 St Lucia – Unknown Prisoner

As the title suggests, this prisoner of war is fairly unknown to us, right now. But this is a very real story about a very real person, so we’ll talk about what we do know. We do know they were captured in St Lucia during the 1793 war between Britain and France in the Caribbean. And they were transported to Portchester Castle, England where they were imprisoned.

We also know their name, or rather we know the names of 2,500 of these unknown prisoners of war. And that is thanks to the research and work of Abigail Coppins. Please go read more of her research on the English Heritage website. There are further interviews about her work on The Guardian, The BBC & The Independent.

British Subjects is produced by Anna Rose Kerr.

08/52 Guyana – Jessica Huntley

On 23rd of February 1927 (164 years to the day since the Berbice Slave Uprising) a new revolutionary is born in Guyana, Jessica Huntley. In this episode I speak to her friend Maureen Roberts at the London Metropolitan Archives about her life and work in the UK.

In Huntley Archives at the LMA include photographs, records and personal letters documenting the London-Caribbean community, the Black Power movement of the 1970s and the Huntley family.

It also includes books from the Huntley’s publishing business Bogle L’ouverture. If you want to buy any of these books, some can still be found at New Beacon Books.

Maureen gave me two pamphlets from the collection, No Colour Bar was an exhibition of Black British art at the Guildhall and there is a really interesting short film on it here. The other two are for the Annual Huntley Conference, which is on this Saturday. You can book tickets for it here.

British Subjects is produced by Anna Rose Kerr.

07/52 Canada – Alma Rattenbury

Alma Rattenbury (nee Packenham, nee Dolling, nee Radcliffe Clarke) was a talented musician, whose loving of men led to her ultimate demise.

She was born in British Columbia, Canada and played piano and violin as well as writing her own music. Here she is playing a composition she wrote:

Alma was shunned from Victoria after she married the architect of the city’s famous Empress Hotel (who happened to be 30 years her senior).

The couple left Canada and settled in Bournemouth, England. Where she would meet the fourth great love of her life, George Stoner, their eighteen year old chauffeur. Jealous of the marriage, Alma’s young lover kills her husband with a mallet. The trial at London’s Old Bailey is one of the most sensational trials of the 1930s, and while she is found innocent, Stoner is sentenced to hang.

Distraught about losing them both Alma dies four days later, of a self inflicted broken heart.

There is so much information about Alma out there if you look in the right places, and even a film about the court case featuring Helen Mirren.

British Subjects is produced by Anna Rose Kerr.

06/52 Fiji – Naibuka Qarau

In the 1960s Her Majesty’s Armed Forces recruited 12 women, and 200 men from Fiji, Naibuka Qarau was one of them. In this episode we learn how he’s made Hackney home and he’s completed the circle of early Methodist missionaries.

There are at least two books written about Naibuka’s years of service, 212 Solider for the Queen by David Tough and In the Steps of Stanely by John Blashford-Snell.

Communities Fiji Britain is the charity through which Naibuka welcomes Fijians of all races and walks of life into the UK.

You can also find him every Sunday at Welsey’s Chapel near Old Street station. The service begins at 11am, and hung inside this very historically important building you’ll find flags from all over the Commonwealth. Each one represents members of the congregation and their diverse hometowns.

Underneath the church is the Museum of Methodism, and next to it John Wesley’s chapel and grave. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am – 4pm.

This episode was the work of many. Thank you of course to Naibuka for your generosity, and your service to country and church. To Chris to inviting me to the PISUKI event where we met, and to Mo who introduced us. For Saane Sunshine and Emily for being so warm and welcoming, and Beatrice for the cake we ate while recording this.

05/52 Kiribati – Rotee Walsh

Somewhere in rural Wales you’ll find the Kiribati Honorary Consulate, and there you’ll find Rotee Walsh. In this episode we learn about her life, and how she’s raised her family with an appreciation of both cultures.

You can read more about their home and the work of the Kiribati Consulate in this BBC article. I also encourage you to read up about Object Lessons, the project Kiribati Tungaru Association did with the British Museum.

A correction from Michael:
We did not in fact visit Waikiki beach on our honeymoon (we went to Samoa, Tonga and New Caledonia, and then to Australia and Singapore on the way back to Ireland).  We went to Hawaii on a later trip back (although still before Cordelia was born).

04/52 Australia – Alice Procter

Alice Procter is an art historian who immigrated from Australia, she runs Uncomfortable Art Tours in major British museums examining how we “curate historical trauma and national identity”.

Her work has been featured in The GuardianAl Jazeera and even the Daily Mail!

You can book tickets for Uncomfortable Art Tours here, or follow The Exhibitionist on Facebook to learn when the next tour is. You can also find Alice on Twitter and Instagram.

British Subjects is a podcast created and produced by @annarosekerr.

02/52 India – Srinivasa Ramanujan

Against the wishes of his mother and his religion, Srinivasa Ramanujan immigrated to the UK from India in 1914 to become one of the most prolific mathematicians to work at Cambridge University.

In this episode Dr Sarah Meikeljohn tells us the story of her favourite mathematician, and also reads out every taxi cab number currently known to man.

The film ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity‘ tells a dramatised story of Ramanujan’s life, and you can watch it on Netflix.

To learn more about Ramanujan’s work you may enjoy this BBC programme or this article.

British Subjects is a podcast created and produced by @annarosekerr.

01/52 Dominica – Baroness Patricia Scotland

From Dominica to Marlborough House, Baroness Scotland has gone where no woman has gone before. Learn about her story and her current role as Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Thank you to Julian Rogers for letting me use audio from his interview with the Baroness, you can listen to the full show on Soundcloud.

The book I reference at is Baroness Scotland of Asthal by Sue Adler.

You can learn more about the Commonwealth at their website.

British Subjects is a podcast created and produced by @annarosekerr.

 

00/52 An Introduction

Over the next 52 episodes we’re going to learn the stories of 52 first generation immigrants.

Technically there are 53 Commonwealth countries, but the United Kingdom features in the stories of all these individuals, as it’s where they all end up living.

In this introduction episode you’ll learn a little more about me, and why I’m interested in the concept of Britishness.

This episode references a 2005 study into what people in the UK define as Britishness, commissioned from ETHNOS Research and Consultancy by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in 2005.

I also reference a speech by Gordon Brown in July 2004 which you can read in entirety here, and a letter written by Amos Olalekau in 1950.

Two books which I highly recommend reading on the topic of Britishness, and which helped me to form this episode are The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys, 1685 to the Present by Tony Kushner and Britishness: Perspectives on the British Question edited by Andrew Gamble and Tony Wright.

You might also be interested in Benedict Anderson’s theories on Imagined Communities.