August Agbola O'Browne

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August Agbola O'Browne (second name also spelled as Agboola, surname as just Brown) (1895–1976) was a Nigerian jazz musician by profession and is believed to have been the only black participant of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

Biography[edit]

August Agbola O'Browne was born on 22 July 1895 in present-day Nigeria.[1] O'Browne immigrated to Poland in 1922.[1] He lived at Ulica Złota.[1] He was a professional musician, a drummer who worked in clubs in Warsaw.[1] He married a Polish woman; they had two children – Ryszard (Richard) in 1928 and Aleksandra (Alexandra) in 1929.[1]

In 1949, he joined the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy.[2] In the survey, he claimed that he fought in the Polish Defensive War in 1939, defending besieged Warsaw, and in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.[1][3] He stated that in the Uprising his code-name was "Ali" and that he belonged to the unit led by Corporal Aleksander Marciński, code-name "Łabędź" ("Swan").[3] The unit fought in the Śródmieście district of Warsaw. Based on the name of the commander, historians confirmed that battalion "Iwo" did indeed fight in the district of Śródmieście Południowe (Southern Srodmiescie).[4] Mr. Jan Radecki, code-name "Czarny" ("Black"), another participant of the very uprising did claim that he did see a black man at the H.Q. of the battalion "Iwo" at ulica Marszałkowska 74 (74 Marszalkowska Street), possibly in the communication section. Mr. Radecki did not remember the exact personal data of the black insurgent.[4] There are also indications that before the uprising O'Browne was connected with the resistance and distributed illegal, underground newspapers (bibuła).[1]

There is little reliable information on his life after the war.[1] Around 1949 he worked in the Department of Culture and Art of the City of Warsaw; later he continued his musician career, playing in restaurants in Warsaw.[1] August Agbola O'Browne emigrated to Great Britain in 1958. He died there around 1976.[3]

Information about O'Browne's existence was discovered by historian Zbigniew Osiński from the Warsaw Uprising Museum around 2010; another historian Krzysztof Komorowski noted that if the story of his existence and participation in the Uprising as the only documented black insurgent is true, it is quite sensational.[3] Unfortunately, very little evidence remains to corroborate it and most of the witnesses are dead; nonetheless the Polish historians have found enough corroborating evidence to conclude that the existence of O'Browne, and the story of his participation in the Uprising, is very likely true.[3][1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Zbigniew Osiński: Powstaniec z Nigerii. W: Paweł Średziński, Mamadou Diouf: Afryka w Warszawie. Dzieje afrykańskiej diaspory nad Wisłą.. Warszawa: Fundacja "Afryka Inaczej", 2010, p. 97-99. ISBN 978-83-62179-01-5 http://afryka.org/afryka.pdf PDF
  2. ^ "'Ali', czyli jedyny czarnoskóry powstaniec warszawski". Warszawa.gazeta.pl. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Szeregowiec Ali". Wyborcza.pl. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  4. ^ a b "Jest kolejny trop w historii o czarnoskórym powstańcu". Warszawa.gazeta.pl. Retrieved 2013-02-05.