Blackamoores

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Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, their Presence, Status and Origins, written by Onyeka, is a 2013 book about the African population present in England during the Tudor period.[1]

The book was officially launched at the House of Commons on 6 November 2013. Stella Creasy MP, Chi Onwurah MP and Councillor Lester Holloway delivered statements of support.

Campaign[edit]

Published by Narrative Eye, the book was part of an educational reform campaign to petition Education Secretary Michael Gove to implement a more inclusive National Curriculum incorporating the African significance in English history, besides that of slavery.

Following the official launch at the House of Commons in November 2013, Onyeka has delivered a number of lectures on his book throughout the UK.

  • On 20 November 2013, a talk entitled Presence and Perception was presented in Croydon, South London
  • On 27 November 2013, a presentation entitled Bringing History Alive was held at the London Metropolitan Archives.
  • On 11 December 2013, in Tottenham a lecture on the Origins of Africans in Tudor England was given.
  • On 28 December 2013, at the Calabash of Culture in Sydenham, South London, Onyeka delivered a presentation regarding the presence of Africans in Tudor society.
  • On 9 April 2014, two events were held in Nottingham. One at the University of Nottingham and another at Five Leaves Bookshop. Guest speakers Amdani Juma, Director of the African Institute and author Paul Ifayomi Grant were also present.
  • On 30 April 2014, a lecture "The Missing Pages of Tudor England Revealed" was given at Kuumba Centre in Bristol.
  • On 19 June 2014, a lunchtime lecture entitled Imagining Tudor England was given at The National Portrait Gallery, London.
  • On Wednesday 8 October 2014, African Tudors at The Barber Institute, Birmingham.
  • On 16 October 2014, Tudor Lives: African people in Port Towns at MShed Museum, Bristol.
  • On Wednesday 29 October 2014, Blackamoores at The University of Brighton.
  • On Wednesday 5 November 2014, Blackamoores at the University of East Anglia.
  • On Wednesday 3 December 2014, Blackamoores at the Scottish National Gallery: African people in 16th Century Scotland. A forgotten population remembered.
  • In February and October 2015 Onyeka hosted numerous lectures in Atlanta and Tennessee including at Fisk, Vanderbilt, Clark Atlanta and Georgia State Universities.
  • On Thursday 28 May 2015 The Africans of Georgian Britain: Active agents of change at The National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Sunday 28 June 2015, ARISE at the Hideaway Jazz Cafe hosted by DJ Daddy Ernie with actor and director Don Warrington and motivational speaker Sherry Ann Dixon
  • On Sunday 9 August 2015, Is Othello a racist play? The Royal Shakespeare Company Debates at The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon with actors Lucian Msamati and Hugh Quarshie
  • On Thursday 3 September 2015, Past Reflections part 1 at The Black Cultural Archives, Brixton with historians and writers Robin Walker and S.I Martin.
  • On Wednesday 4 November 2015 The Black Georgians at The Library at Willesden Green

Media[edit]

In 2010, Onyeka featured in the BBC Two series History Cold Case, regarding the discovery of the Ipswich Man.

In 2014, Onyeka was interviewed about Blackamoores on Colourful radio by presenter Jacqui Grant and also BBC Radio London by presenter Dotun Adebayo. He has appeared on Russia Today being interviewed by George Galloway MP and has been featured in Mojotu magazine.

Onyeka produced the article Tudor Africans: What’s in a Name? [2] In 2012 for History Today Magazine and in June 2014 the article Black Equestrians [3] was published in History Today.

Findings[edit]

The book argues the presence of African people was prevalent in Tudor England through documents such as personal letters, rare images and written descriptions including references to status and complexion. Onyeka argues that evidence about African peoples’ presence in England at this time largely comes from "personal letters sent between individuals or other correspondence not written for publication." He cites a letter written in 1501 by "Tudor politician Thomas More to his friend John Holt" talking about the African presence in England. (page 39)

The author also claims that Africans came to English cities such as London, Plymouth, Bristol and Southampton from all over continental Europe. He claims "there is evidence that some of the Africans who were present in London at the end of the sixteenth century were from Iberia and congregated in specific areas of the city operating as a self-sufficient community." The book also explains that "some of these Iberian Africans were skilled artisans, and had professions, trades and knowledge which were acknowledged by the royalty of Europe including members of England’s aristocracy." (page 241)

Research[edit]

Research for the book began in 2003 analysing over 250,000 documents and Onyeka asserts that some historical evidence in the book has been discovered by him. For example, the records for the family of Henrie Jetto in Holt, which stretch from the sixteenth-century to the present day, have been made public for the first time in Blackamoores. In addition, the letters written by Casper Van Senden and Thomas Sherley (the drafters of the Proclamation and supporting letters) regarding their attempts to deport Africans from England upon the orders of Elizabeth I, are also made public for the first time in this publication.

Other works from Onyeka include the trilogy of novels:

  • Waiting to Explode – How to Survive (1998, 2003)
  • The Black Prince – Leopards in the Temple (2001)
  • The Phoenix – Misrule in the Land of Nod (2008)

Awards[edit]

Blackamoores was voted runner up in the 2013/2014 Non-Fiction category of the People’s Book Prize.[4] Onyeka was nominated in the National Diversity Awards 2014 in the category of Positive Role Model.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Onyeka Nubia". University of Nottingham. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  2. ^ History Today, Vol 62
  3. ^ History Today, Vol 64
  4. ^ The People Book Prize, 2013/14

References[edit]