Dignitaries, community leaders, veterans and local residents braved the brisk autumnal weather yesterday to attend the unveiling of the UK’s first African and Caribbean War Memorial at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.
Countries across the Caribbean and Africa were profoundly affected during the world wars, sending manpower, materials, and funds to aid the war effort.
Although over 165,000 troops from the African continent alone died during the conflicts, their contribution and service has gone widely unrecognised in Britain.
Jak Beula, chair of the Nubian Jak Commemorative Plaque Scheme, said:
“The efforts of military contribution to both World Wars by African and Caribbean peoples have for too long remained overlooked and unheralded.
This memorial will correct that omission and give justice and dignity to the hundreds of thousands of African and Caribbean servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for the mother country.
Whilst commemorating the past, the organisers also placed great importance on the future legacy and youth education. During his speech, Innocent Opia, Consular at the Uganda High Commission, commented:
Let us not forget nor focus on the wrongs of the past, but build a strong and united future for the next generation.
This theme of past and future continued as two local school children laid a wreath at the foot of the monument, while Sam King MBE and WW2 Veteran also paid his respects.
Other noted guests included Cllr Adedamola Aminu, Mayor of Lambeth, Arthur Torrington CBE, and the acting High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Tedwin Herbert.
With characteristic Caribbean flair, the ceremony ended with a passionate performance by calypsonian Alexander D Great.
His song entitled “Don’t Forget Us” was written several years ago, after the musician had noticed the lack of representation of servicemen and women from the African and Caribbean regiments during the Remembrance Sunday processions.
Now temporarily residing in the BCA courtyard, the future as to where the two and a half ton monument will finally be laid to rest is uncertain.
Project Organisers Nubian Jak and project supporters Heritage Lottery Fund are still raising the additional funds needed to permanently house the monument in Windrush Square.
For more information on how to support the project, please visit the Nubian Jak Community Trust Website.
Author Shez Chung Blake also writes for thebrixtonhousewife.com.