Most immigrants to the UK have to take a Life in The UK test at some point. I have often heard about the experience of the other 3 nations leading to the forced marriage called the United Kingdom. The test study material is slightly “cleaned up” and leaves a lot unsaid about how much the nations suffered before surrendering to the English but still is a difficult read. The surprising thing is that the test questions cannot be spontaneously answered by a lot of indigenous British citizens.
My mum sometimes tells me stories of the Biafran war in Nigeria. She was a child herself but she has vague recollections of how much the Ibos suffered. They were killed, starved and held captive in their quest for secession.
Schools in England get a dampened version of the British role in colonialism and slavery. How many are aware that not only was mass kidnapping once legal, when it was abolished, the slave owners were paid a compensation for their loss! Who paid? Tax payers. It was a scheme championed by the British empire called Compensated emancipation. It’s interesting to note that the slaves were not compensated and slave owners were never punished…well, as said above, they were “compensated” for the inconvenience of letting their human goods go.
The problem with experiences like these is that the anguish and resentment is passed on by the sufferers who are determined that their sacrifices and loss must not be forgotten. They would often attempt to pass on to their descendants, the passion with which the fought for the cause and the pain that accompanied their defeat or triumph
How much do the other tribes in Nigeria know about the Biafran war? Is it being taught in schools? Is there a war museum?
How much of Britain’s role in colonialism is taught in schools?
The problem with a cleaned up version is that it does a disservice to the sufferers’ pain. Choosing what aspect of the story to pass on to the next generation runs the risk of deleting aspects of history considered vital by the oppressed and their descendants.
We often complain about the depths of emotion expressed by the victims.
Why are they always so angry? We cannot connect or understand their emotions. The watered down version we have been served does not sound so bad afterall. So what’s their problem?
Racism, slavery, colonialism etc. These are all subjects that we would rather not discuss. They are difficult topics.
However, despite the accompanying feelings of indigestion, these topics must be discussed. It should be taught on both sides that have emerged if they are to get rid of the big dark shadow cast upon their relationship by history.
So when you wonder why a certain group keep pushing for a referendum or secession, pause and do some reading. Find a reliable library and get educated about their journey. You don’t have to agree with their fight but at least seek to understand it.
-Written in Toronto on this fine day 08/10/21 while Nana keeps Nabil entertained- both drunkenly in love.