The Future for Black History in Wales
We held two sessions - one in north Wales and one in the south - to bring together people from various organisations to discuss how to share Black history in Wales in the future.
Organisations represented included:
- Arts Council Cymru
- Learning Links International
- National Museum Wales
- North Wales Jamaica Society
- Prince's Trust
- Race Council Cymru
- Welsh Assembly Government
- Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen
Each day began with an overview of how Black history is shared in Wales now. The delegates then discussed how this could be improved.
North Wales event
We provided an overview of events that had happened across North Wales during October. This included the very successful Irie Pesda Festival, run by the North Wales Jamaica Society, which was held in Bethesda, on the outskirts of Bangor. This week of activities included:
- Formal lectures on Black history in Wales by Dr Marian Gwyn;
- An evening of 'Irie Bards', which brought together the national poet of Wales Ifor ap Glyn, Jamaican dub poet and edutainer Yasus Afari, Welsh poet Carol Owen, Jamaican poet Natalie Fagan-Brown, and Welsh poet Rhys Trimble;
- A Jamaican reggae evening with Count Ozzie tribute band The Sons of Africa, drumming from Welsh band Bloc o Swn, and a performance by Yasus Afari
- Drumming and dance workshops to share Jamaican cultural activities
- A Jamaican eisteddfod. A fun event showing how Jamaicans celebrate the eisteddfod. An eisteddfod is a traditional event originating in Wales where people compete in cultural competitions; until recently they were commonplace in Jamaica.
Contributions to the day included:
- Yasus Afari spoke to the group of his work in promoting Black history through poetry.
- Uzo Iwobi, CEO of Race Council Cymru (RCC), emphasised how, with little formal acknowledgement of Black history in Wales, personal involvement was vital to anything that currently happens. She personally thanked all involved for their efforts in moving this work forward.
- Jendayi Sarwah, a consultant who is currently working on a five-year management plan for bringing Black history in Wales to the public through the arts, stressed the importance of finding out how Black people want their story told.
- Dr Marian Gwyn ended the day by showing a video of Wales's role in Atlantic slavery. Everyone agreed that there were limited opportunities to find out more about this history and how important it was for this to be more publicly available.
South Wales event
Leanne Rahman of Arts Council Wales outlined how funding from her organisation supported many Black history events, which told the story using a range of artistic media. We worked on a timeline of events that had occured this year.
Uzo Iwobi, CEO of Race Council Cymru (RCC), outlined how RCC had managed as manager of Black History Month Wales for the first time in 2016. The delegates broke into groups to discuss what had worked well and what needed addressing in the future.
Jendayi Sarwah (pictured right) asked the group to focus on the core priorities for promoting Black history in Wales into the future. Delegates were particularly interested in the aims of this project, which are:
- To celebrate the achievements of Black people in Wales
- To challenge racism
- To promote the history of Black people in Wales, along with the history of Wales's involvement in Atlantic colonialism
Feedback from both days was very positive, with delegates saying how much they enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different perspectives on Black history and to be part of the process of improving how it is shared in Wales.