BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Africans in Great Britain
Coming to Great BritainIn 1544, five Africans sailed from Africa to Great Britain with Captain John Lok. They were brought to England to train as interpreters and to help develop trade relationships between Africa and Britain. As Great Britain's involvement in the slave trade grew, more blacks came to the country and the interactions between Africans and Britains became motivated by prejudice and racism. By 1596, a number of African slaves and free blacks were living in Britain. This prompted the queen, Elizabeth I, to order that all Africans be expelled from England in 1601 because she blamed them for creating social problems. The attempt to rid England of blacks did not work because blacks had become a part of English society. Many were free people, and many of those who were slaves were owned by wealthy families who wanted to keep their servants.
World War II (1939-1945)More blacks came to Great Britain with the outbreak of World War II. They came looking for work in the factories and as soldiers and sailors. In the book Behind the Frontlines by Ferdinand Dennis, the author describes his interactions with one of these migrants, a man named Holy Joe. Holy Joe was an African immigrant from Sierra Leone who claimed to be 108 years old at the time that he spoke to the author of the book. Below is an excerpt.
That was the first of his miraculous escapes from death. Others happened in the Second World War. His most memorable one occurred when he was hired as head cook in a new battleship. He took the job reluctantly. Two previous cooks had been dismissed for excessive drinking, and Joe, a teetotaller ( a person who does not drink alcohol), was recommended. With nine cooks, all white, in his charge he had never held such a responsible post. His fears that they wouldn't obey his orders soon proved groundless. It was the navy and they were bound to follow his command....
Holy Joe claimed that the spirits of his parents saved him on numerous occasions from certain death. And for this reason he was a devout Christian. His godfearing ways, he believed, were responsible for his long life."