Black Voices: British citizens seek awareness of African culture during Black History Month

As you descend the stairs of the British Museum to the African exhibit, the walls feature colorful tapestries and paintings. Through the glass doors, visitors get a glimpse of some of the greatest artifacts of the African Empire.

Visitors like Hannah Aliyu strolled to view plays, discuss controversial topics and learn about African culture during UK Black History Month.

When Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, head of special projects at the Greater London Council, visited the United States in the 1970s, he said he worked on the creation of a Black History Month for British citizens and, ultimately, the UK’s first BHM was opened in October 1987.

While the UK’s BHM has been established for almost 34 years, Aliyu, a 30-year-old half-Nigerian woman, said she remembers learning nothing about her heritage or the history of the country. Africa during his primary and secondary studies.

– Nothing, she said. “It has never been taught. You were just taught English history.

Years later, Aliyu said she actively seeks to better understand and help others in recognizing African heritage. She slowly walked through the exhibit with her friend, Donny Moore, stopping very often to show him some of her favorite pieces in the museum.

There have been discussions and demands to add more African history to primary and secondary school curricula in the UK. After the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, many British citizens called for black history to be integrated into all school subjects. According to an article by The Guardian, the government believes that there is already flexibility and freedom in the curriculum for studying black history.

Aliyu believes she has seen a change in the teaching of black history since she went to school. Her mother is a teacher and she tells Aliyu that the school adds more black history to all subjects.

Parents Philip Udeh and Jamie Scheair-Udeh were at the museum not only to learn more about their culture, but to create a more Afro-centered program for their 5-year-old daughter to learn.

“The history and education our daughter receives is very Eurocentric, and black people are really seen as an afterthought,” said Scheair-Udeh. “We want to create an environment where she really feels rooted and as if she belongs and to a certain extent has a certain right.”

To celebrate Black History Month, schools show black films in the campus theater, show black books to people in the library, and advertise some of the black-led events on campus. The University of Kent in Canterbury, England has a public exhibition of famous black figures.

On the way to class, students can view portraits of famous black figures such as Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and Muhammad Ali, as well as view their accomplishments in the Keynes College lounge.

Udeh believes that there is still a long way to go in the education of UK students to create a more comfortable and inclusive experience for black students.

“In our education system here, there is not much about ancient Africa that shows the level of civilization, the level of creativity, the level of art,” Udeh said.

For Udeh, it starts by adding more information about ancient African civilizations into the curriculum to show people of African descent that their history does not begin with slavery.

Katy F. Molnar