Claudia Jones was born in Trinidad, grew up in the States and ended up in Britain when she was deported for being a communist. In this episode we visit five spots around London where you can learn more about her enormous contributions to the city – which include starting Notting Hill Carnival.
Captain Robert Laurence Nairac GC was born in Mauritius, and served as a British Army officer in Northern Ireland where he was abducted and assassinated by the Provisional IRA. In this episode I speak to Geoff Knupfer, lead forensic investigator at the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains.
If you have any information which may be helpful with the case, you can anonymously contact ICLVR:
Britain and Ireland 00800 – 55585500
International +353 1 602 8655
ICLVR, PO BOX 10827, Dublin 2, Ireland
Captain Nairac has been accused of involvement in the Miami Showband Massacre, the murder of an IRA member and collusion with local paramilitaries. In this interview with the Irish Times, Knupfer disputes Nairac’s involvement.
The 2007 show ‘Meet the Natives’ brought five men, including Jimmy Joseph, from Vanuatu to learn about the native culture of… England.
But of course, what the show really teaches us is about their culture. And their religion! Villagers on Tanna believe that the son of god is Prince Philip. For more on that, check the ‘Prince Philip Movement’ Wikipedia entry.
“Intriguing documentary that turns traditional anthropology on its head. Five tribesmen from a South Pacific island travel 10,000 miles to observe the natives of a strange and exotic land – Britain.”
Peter Lobengula to the UK from South Africa as part of Frank Fillis’ circus in 1889. Many centuries before Beyonce’s Lion King album this was considered the largest ever showing of “African culture”, and it was large with 16,000 visitors a day When the show opened, Peter said: ‘My first thought was that the whole world was white men, and that they had all come to England to meet me!’
This episode included audio from Salford TV:
“If you never change your mind, why have one?” asked Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono, a Maltese physician and psychologist known as the father of lateral thinking.
Here are some of the resources I used to create this episode:
Evana Morris shares her story of coming to England from Grenada as part of Evewright’s Caribbean Takeaway Takeover.
“The Caribbean takeaway is an important cultural meeting place in the Caribbean community. A home from home, the kitchen is where meals are prepared, but also where stories are exchanged and shared. Going back to African roots, cooking and the Dutch pot or cooking pot was the central place for the family activity. The takeaway has just as much cultural importance as the barbershop and the hairdressing salon for black communities living and working in the UK.
For one month, the Breathing Space Café at the Migration Museum will be taken over, repurposed and transformed into an art installation featuring limited-edition photo etchings of 12 Windrush generation elders produced by EVEWRIGHT, along with audio interviews and sound recordings of these Windrush Pioneers compiled by his team at Evewright Arts Foundation (EAF).”Migration Museum
Visit the exhibition at:
Migration Museum at The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London, SE1 7AG
31 May– 28 July
The interview with Evana Morris was recorded by Evewright Arts Foundation (EAF) in 2017. The recording and Evena’s portrait are copyright EAF. Read more about the recording and listen to more on Essex Archives Online:
The interview with Professor Tony Kushner was recorded at Southampton University by Anna Rose Kerr for British Subjects. Kushner’s brilliant book ‘The battle of Britishness; Migrant journeys, 1685 to the present’ is available from Manchester University Press.
Lindka Cierach was born in Lesotho to Polish-British parents, and is best known for designing Sarah Ferguson’s wedding dress.
This is her lovely Kensington apartment which she sold last year.
- Botswana – Ear of Sorghum and Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
- Cameroon – Red Stinkwood (Prunus africana)
- Gambia – White Variety Orchid
- Ghana – Caladium (Caladium)
- Kenya – The Tropical Orchid
- Lesotho – Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla)
- Malawi – Lotus (Nymphea lotus)
- Mauritius – Trochetia Boutoniana
- Mozambique – Maroon Bell Bean (Markhamia zanzibarica)
- Namibia – Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis)
- Nigeria – Yellow Trumpet (Costus spectabilis)
- Rwanda – Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria)
- Seychelles – Tropicbird orchid (Angraecum eburnum)
- Sierra Leone – Scadoxus (Scadoxus cinnabarinus)
- South Africa – Protea (Protea cynaroides)
- Swaziland – Fire Heath (Erica cerinthoides)
- Uganda – Desert rose (Adenium obesum)
- United Republic of Tanzania – African violet (Saintpaulia)
- Zambia – Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea)
- Bangladesh – White Water Lily ( Sada shapla)
- Brunei Darussalam – Simpor (Dillenia suffruticosa)
- India – Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifers gaertn)
- Malaysia – Bunga Raya Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis)
- Pakistan – Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
- Singapore – Vanda miss Joaquim Orchid (Miss Joaquim)
- Sri Lanka – Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali)
CARIBBEAN & AMERICAS:
- Antigua and Barbuda – Agave (Agave karatto)
- Bahamas – Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans)
- Barbados – The pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
- Belize – The Black Orchid (Encyclia cochleata)
- Canada – Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
- Dominica – Carib Wood (Sabinea carinalis)
- Grenada – Bougainvillea (Nyctaginaceae)
- Guyana – Victoria Regia Water Lily (Victoria amazonica)
- Jamaica – Lignum Vitae (Guiacum officinale)
- Saint Lucia – The rose and the marguerite
- St Kitts and Nevis – Poinciana (Delonix regia)
- St Vincent & the Grenadines – Soufriere Tree (Spachea perforatais)
- Trinidad & Tobago – Chaconia (Warszewiczia coccinea)
- Cyprus – Cyclamen Cyprium (Cyclamen cyprium)
- Malta – Maltese centaury (Cheirolophus crassifolius
- England – Rose
- Wales – Daffodil (Narcissus)
- Northern Ireland – Flax flower
- Scotland – Thistle
- Australia – Golden wattles (Acacia pycnantha)
- Fiji – Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei)
- Kiribati – Bidens Kiribatiensis
- Nauru – Calophyllum
- New Zealand – Kowhai (Sophora microphylla)
- Papua – Sepik Blue Orchid (Dendrobium lasianthera)
- Samoa – Teuila (Alpinia purpurata)
- Solomon Islands – Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
- Tonga – Heilala (Garcinia sessilis)
- Tuvalu – Plumeria (Plumeria frangipans)
- Vanuatu – Anthurium (Anthurium)
I was introduced to Dulani’s work through her contribution to the Hidden Sussex Anthology. Her piece tells the story of the Chattri, a monument in Brighton to 53 Indian soldiers who died in WWI. In this episode she speaks about her family history, her work and the importance of teaching her daughters about belonging.
Dulani Kulasinghe was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and now lives in Brighton with her family. She has a BA in English from Bryn Mawr College and an MA in Education from the University of New Mexico, where she wrote her MA dissertation on studying and writing poetry with young children.
While in Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2008, Dulani worked on the Law & Society Trust Annual Report on human rights, and Domains, the scholarly journal of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies. She also participated in field work in Sri Lanka, writing about human rights and reporting to the UN on human rights abuses related to the ethnic conflict in the country at that time.
In Brighton, Dulani earned a postgraduate diploma in law at the University of Sussex and worked in immigration law in London. She later co-founded Banyan Tree Theatre Group and helped adapt old and new folktales for children’s theatre, performing in Brighton Fringe, Black History Month and other local events since 2009.
Across teaching, law, activism and theatre making, storytelling has been at the heart of Dulani’s work.– Writing Our Legacy
Lisa Monks steps in with this minisode about Al Bowlly, once described as ‘Europe’s Most Popular Crooner and Famous Radio and Record Star’.
His Blue Plaque can be seen at 26 Charring Cross Rd.
The book mentioned is Your 48 page pictorial story souvenir of Al Bowlly, 1975 by Ray Pallett.
And the music in this episode is his own, you can find plenty more of it on Youtube.
Sam Martinez was born 10 February 1918 in Honduras, now known as Belize. He came to Scotland in 1942 to help with the war effort as a lumberjack. He lived until the age of 106 having many careers and children, and becoming a dedicated fan of local football team the Hibs.
Thank you to Sana Bilgrami for putting us in touch.
Chao is a digital heritage specialist and overall history geek. After starting a history blog in 2012, she realised that the history she was taught growing up had significant gaps, was impersonal and had no room for personal stories and memories. Since then, she been doing various projects to document history/ culture through digital media.
You can find her project preserving Kenya’s antique railway stations at savetherailway.com
Hulda Kamboi Ngatjikare (married name Shipanga) was born on 28 October 1926 in Aminuis, South-West Africa (now known as Namibia). She came to the UK to study and qualifed as a theatre nurse and specialising in paediatrics and orthopaedics.
In this episode I share the little we know about her incredible life story. If anyone is interesting in researching her further, you could try looking in the archives of The National Archives, Wellcome Library for records of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, London Metropolitan Archives for records of London training schools for nurses. Please get in touch if you find anything!
Altab Ali was a textiles worker who moved to London from Bangladesh, with his uncle in 1969. When he was murdered by racists on May the 4th 1978 his death sparked a protest of thousands of Bengali people and supporters. In this episode I speak to Rafique Ullah, who was a teenager at the time, about life before and after this murder.
You can listen to more of Ullah’s story on the Ideas Store website, including a harrowing account of his first day at school which I couldn’t fit in this episode.
New Zealand-born Nancy Wake loved a good drink and handsome men, and hated nothing more than the Nazis.
Working as a freelance journalist in 1933, Wake travelled to Vienna to interview the German Chancellor, a man named Adolf Hitler. She saw Nazi brutality first hand, and developed a deep, deep hatred for the party, vowing to take them down. When World War Two broke out she joined the French Resistance as a Spy. One of her colleagues remarked “She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts. Then she is like five men.”
Wake earned the nickname “White Mouse” for her ability to evade capture, and was at one time the Gestapo’s most wanted person. She flirted with border guards, slipped poison into enemy drinks and smuggled many jews and allied airman out of France.
I interview Dr Jean Smith, a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow, about the migration of Commonwealth troops and Nancy Wake’s contribution to the war. In addition to the work she’s done, if you’re interested in migration history during WWII Jean recommends
Ashley Jackson, who she works with at Kings College.
And finally, I had the great pleasure of speaking to Sumitra Tikaram, who served in the FANY Corps. Sumi was a personal friend of Nancy Wake, and hosted her when she moved to London.
For a Hollywood version of this story you could watch Charlotte Grey (I haven’t). If you really want the real story, the best thing to read is Nancy Wake’s own account, The White Mouse, there is a documentary of the same name which includes interviews with her:
And this dramatised documentary:
Bryon Chan considers himself a citizen of the world, and of nowhere. The first third of his life was spent in Malaysia, the second third in New Zealand, he now lives in London where he works as a software developer and volunteers with Good Gym.
Myrtilla was brought from Nevis to Warwickshire. When she died in 1706 her grave was given a headstone, thought to be one of the earliest in England commemorating a person of African descent.
To begin your own research on Myrtilla here are some resources:
You may also be interested in the story of Pero another slave from Nevis, who was brought to Bristol and now has a bridge named after him.
Fatmata came to the UK to further her education, with the intention of eventually going back to Sierra Leone to develop her nation of birth. But while living here she’s actively involved in many initiatives developing Tower Hamlets, where she lives.
At the time of writing this, there are three countries that sit both in the Commonwealth and the European Union – United Kingdom, Malta and Cyrpus. On the week Brexit is supposed to be delivered Cyprus-born Maria Skarlatou talks about how this intersection has impacted her identity and home country.
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 and Commerce of the Human Species 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
Black History Month
Kwame Selikem Okatakyie’s YT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
British Subjects is a podcast created and produced by @annarosekerr.
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.
British Subjects is a podcast created and produced by @annarosekerr.
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.
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.
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.