26 3 / 2013

"

There was a good mixture of excitement and sort of being a bit slightly terrified at the concept of just entering this entirely new world, this new culture and stuff. We’d come to London on holiday and stuff, so I sort of knew the area, but I wasn’t going to be in London, I would be in Bath.

So yeah, it was quite terrifying; I didn’t really know what to expect. I remember, probably about a day before or couple of days before I left, asking my dad whether I had to – my middle name’s Emmanuel, which is a lot ‘easier’ – I remember going to him and very honestly asking whether I should use ‘Emmanuel’ instead.

He laughed and went, “Obviously you can if you want to. But you’ll soon learn that identity is one of the most important things that you’ve got.” And I think that was when I went, yeah, that’s quite cool. From then, I enjoyed telling people ‘my name’s Dipo’.

"

Dipo F, participant in the Nigerian-British History Project

15 2 / 2013

"

"I think there were three black people in my [boarding] school – a school of 500 – so that was fun. And a lot of kids didn’t even grow up in London, they’d grown up in the provinces around Oxford, so blackness was… novel, I think, is the word that I’m going to use in a polite sense. There were a lot of fights in the first couple of years – I was a… I grew up in Lagos, I was a pretty tough girl, so I just kind of knocked a couple of people back.

I remember, like, going home crying and my mum was like, ‘why are you crying? Some people would die for your opportunity! Do you know how hard we have to work for this money?’ So I promptly went back and, you know, did what I needed to do.”

"

Ade W - participant in the Nigerian-British History Project.

12 2 / 2013

"I’d never said: “this is it, I’m now settled in the UK”, it’s just happened that way. I’ve always harboured the ambition of going back to Nigeria at some point. But obviously, as your career progresses… the need to go back… you sort of start to ask, “well, what is going to take me back?” You’re just not going to go back for going back’s sake. You’re on an international platform, you’re seeing the world from a global perspective. You want to learn enough to be useful to somebody or something if you’re in a different position. So 23 or 24 years later, here I am."

'David W' (pseudonym), a participant in the Nigerian-British History Project.

28 11 / 2012

"I love Bradford, [I’m a] really proud Bradfordian, I love being from Bradford. But… growing up there and having brown skin is just a difficult thing. And for me, growing up there, me and my sisters – we used to go to school [there and] one of our first experiences with racism was when we were four or five."

Lanre Bakare, a participant in the Nigerian-British History Project.

02 10 / 2012

Hullo!

Welcome to the Nigerian-British History Project.

This is a social history project set up and run by me, Bim Adewunmi. I’m a journalist and writer, born in London to Nigerian parents. I’ve lived most of my life in London, England but with substantial stretches in Lagos and Sagamu, Ogun State, where I went to boarding school for five years. 

Nigerians have been in the UK in some capacity for a very long time, and our history, through trade, colonisation and everything else means our existences are intertwined  forever. For better or worse. The project is an attempt to collect the individual (and ultimately, collective) stories of people who are simultaneously British and Nigerian. It is a more social history - like a Geffrye Museum of Nigerian peoples - something I feel tends to get neglected in the grand narrative of Nigerian history (military juntas, Biafra, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ogoniland and oil company exploitation, corruption et al).

I am looking for stories of everyday Nigerian-Brits - how they came to be here in the UK, what they left behind (if anything), what they ate, how and where they lived, their social groups and communities; I want to explore and record the interiority of Nigerian-Brits. The hope is to showcase these stories here, with some audio (and photographs if shared). I am currently meeting and recording people’s stories in London, but the aim is to get out of the capital and meet people from across the UK. I am happy to enter into correspondence with would-be participants - we can collect stories via email, IM, over the phone or even good old-fashioned snail mail. The key thing is that we collect them. Here’s the original post I wrote about the project.

If you would like to talk to me for this project, then I would love to hear from you. Please email me at yorubagirldancing [at]gmail[dot]com or use the ‘Submit' button on this blog (top of the page). You can also find me on Twitter. Please bear in mind that I’m doing this project solo, around other work commitments, and with no funding. So I may be late in getting back to you - but I will. Eventually.

27 9 / 2012

"Na overskill dey kill ninja"

Folk Pidgin saying