Monday 9 October 2017

Back from the Western Front: African Soldiers of the Great War in Britain - Launch 18th October Willesden Green Library

They Also Served from RVS Film:Edit:Encode:Broadcast on Vimeo.

Launch event 6-7.30pm on 18th October 2017 and Exhibition running until 8th January 2018 at 12am, Exhibition Space, Willesden Library Centre, 95 High Rd, London 

Brent Museum and Archives and Learning through the Arts are working together on ‘Back from the Western Front: African Soldiers of the Great War in Britain’ – an exciting community research and exhibition project which will explore the legacy of African soldiers in the First World War.

The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will explore the heritage, sacrifices and contributions of soldiers of African origin at The Western Front as well as the challenges of resettlement, for these soldiers returning to Britain in the immediate aftermath of the war between 1918-19.

Angelina Osborne and Yewande Okuleye are Sankofa Rising, a project collaboration where they have a shared interest in recovering "untold stories" about Afro-Caribbean and African histories. The focus on WW1 commemoration has presented opportunities for both historians to curate community exhibitions.

Angelina curated They Also Served exhibition

Yewande  worked with volunteers at the Brent Museum and curated Back from the Western Front .

They are asking for support from anyone interested for their next project. They will visit Littlehampton Cemeteryin West Sussex where three members of the South African Labour Corps are buried.  The men were on the SS Mendi which sank on the 21st February. At the ceremony on November 4th at the cemetery they will perform a reading and lay wreaths and commemorate those men buried far away from home.

If you would like to take part in this initiative contact Yewande There is no funding for the project. A return ticket from London to Littlehampton is about £30 but cheaper options may be available.


Trevor said...

I am a Black British man and it really doesn't matter to me whether a soldier that fought in the 1st world war was black/African.
My opinion is that we should all try to focus less on the exterior/race and put more emphasis on what 'we are doing' to make our country more inclusive and more favorable to peace not war.

Philip Grant said...

Dear Trevor,

I am a "white British" man, and I agree with you that we need to show, through our actions and attitudes, that we are all just ordinary human beings, sharing a world that would be a much better place if we lived in peace, rather than countries or cultures seeking to impose their own views on others through violence and warfare.

However, I think it is useful that projects such as "African soldiers of the Great War" share information and images which help to show everyone the part played in our country's history by people from a variety of backgrounds.

50 years ago, I studied history at school, and was given the impression that it was "white British" Tommies on the Western Front in WW1, and white British and Commonwealth pilots in the RAF in WW2.

In recent years, talks at Wembley History Society have enlightened me about "Sikhs in the trenches" and "Pilots of the Caribbean". Now, through this exhibition, I will learn more about the contribution by soldiers from Africa in WW1.

I think that having a better understanding of the wider picture, which may have been ignored in the past, can help to make our country more inclusive.