A Black soldier of Queen Victoria’s army fighting Ice Warriors on Mars?
It’s more historically accurate than you might imagine. Writer Mark Gatiss delved into a bit of colonial history while writing a recent episode and uncovered the story of Jimmy Durham, a Sudanese boy who was rescued from the River Nile in 1886 and brought up by soldiers of The Durham Light Infantry regiment.
Read the full story here.
But, Jimmy was not the only African child ‘rescued’ during the reign of Queen Victoria.
In 1868, His Imperial Highness Prince Alemayehu of Ethiopia (son of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia) was brought to Britain and introduced to Queen Victoria when he was only seven years old, after the suicide of his father. You can read more about him, and the campaign to return his remains to Ethiopia here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/07/britain-kidnapped-ethiopian-prince
And in 1850, at the age of eight, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a Yoruba royal was brought to England as a “gift” for Queen Victoria. She later attended school in Sierra Leone, but returned to England at the age of twelve, and lived with a Mr and Mrs Schon at Chatham, Kent. She married a successful Yoruba businessman in Brighton in 1862 and the couple moved to Badagry in modern-day Nigeria. She remained in contact with the Queen throughout, even naming her daughter Victoria.
And these are only a couple of the most prominent examples. Many African children spent time in education, training or being fostered in the UK through the 18th and 19th centuries.
More about the history of Black people in Britain:
BBC: 15 great black Britons who made history
The Black Presence in Britain
Black History Month
The Politics and Economics of Decolonization in Africa: The Failed Experiment of the Central African Federation
We are delighted to announce the publication of Andrew Cohen’s latest book, The Politics and Economics of Decolonization in Africa: The Failed Experiment of the Central African Federation
This insightful and erudite intervention into the study of African decolonization sets the end of empire into its international context, using archival material from southern Africa, Europe and the United States.
Andrew is Lecturer in Imperial History at the University of Kent, teaching courses on the history of the United Nations and African resistance to colonial rule.
Download publishers’ leaflet including special launch price (pdf)
The slow collapse of the European colonial empires after 1945 provides one of the great turning points of twentieth century history. With the loss of India however, the British under Harold Macmillan attempted to enforce a ‘second’ colonial occupation – supporting the efforts of Sir Andrew Cohen of the Colonial Office to create a Central African Federation. Drawing on newly released archival material, The Politics and Economics of Decolonization offers a fresh examination of Britain’s central African territories in the late colonial period and provides a detailed assessment of how events in Britain, Africa and the UN shaped the process of decolonization. The author situates the Central African Federation – which consisted of modern day Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi – in its wider international context, shedding light on the Federation’s complex relationships with South Africa, with US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and with the expanding United Nations. The result is an important history of the last days of the British Empire and the beginnings of a more independent African continent.