BOOK REVIEW: Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
In a time where race is at the forefront of most topical discussion and debate, it takes a certain type of individual to navigate in such turbulent waters with great care and attention to detail. David Olusoga OBE is one such person, born in 1970 in Lagos, Nigeria before immigrating with his family to North-East England.
In his esteemed publication black and British: A Forgotten History he explains how life had been growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, where he details the level of prejudice he and his family faced during their time there and despite such troubles, he faced in his childhood he managed to translate such experiences in the pursuit of understanding and knowledge, in a way of overcoming adversity.
However, I like to believe that David’s quest for understanding what it means to be black in Britain is fueled by compassion for those that are seeking truths to black history in the UK, where many of my generations identify being British but hailing from Britain's colonial past.
Unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the vast wealth of black history that has shaped British infrastructure, society, literature, art and politics all of which due to subsequent colonial attitudes and ideas have led to gaps in a vital part of history that most are unaware of.
Black and British: A forgotten history is a passionately written publication rich in fundamental lessons in history that have aided in the formation of Great Britain. The archbishop of York had delicately said “A classic in every sense of the word… should be compulsory reading”.
The book rigorously demonstrates the important relationship between the British isles, the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and the colonial islands of the Caribbean.
The book also delves into the existence of black Africans as far back as the Roman Empire detailing the types of roles individuals would have in Roman society, to the Elizabethan era where black Africans had come to be known as “blackmoors” — the first black community during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
A visceral style of writing by David only amplifies the significance it has on today’s issues surrounding race and identity, if I were to be so bold I would argue that the book is praised as one of David's masterpieces and serves as a solid reminder to the contribution black Africans made to Britain throughout the ages.