Thursday , 17 October 2019

Forgotten Black History comes alive in new BBC Series

Is it conceivable that black people are new to Britain? Or, are there no black people entrenched in British history? Apparently not. Going by the new series we are about to find out more about black people in British history. Black history comes alive in two new BBC online series; Alt History and Black to Life.

The clamor for inclusive history is finally paying off. In the past, historical figures of British and European ancestry dominated blacks and other minority ethnic communities. Minority ethnicities were so relegated in the stories of Europe that it was easy to be misrepresented. Sometimes, underrepresentation occurred.

BBC Series under the Microscope

Alt History tries to understudy the cause of neglect of black people from the history books. It reveals the reality that there have been many black people living in the UK for centuries.

Black to life zooms into the lives of forgotten black British people. So, while Alt History employs a macroscopic outlook, Back to Life favors a microscopic approach.

Let’s take a look at a number of figures that appear in the series. It’s possible that you’ve heard about none.

Dido (Belle) Elizabeth Lindsey


Dido was born in 1761 to British Naval officer working in the Caribbean but her mother was from West Africa. She was born when slave trade through the transatlantic was rampant.

After being taken from her mother, Dido was raised by relatives on her father’s side in Kenwood House. Despite her mixed ancestry, she made it into the upper echelon of society and became an aristocrat. Time and again, Dido was not accorded the respect due  her because she was not fully white.

Historians even recorded that despite the love her family bore her, she wasn’t always shown to guests that visited their estate. Regardless, she is seen as the first black aristocrat. Her portrait still hangs in Kenwood House, North London.

Edward Swarthye


Edward Swarthye was a well-respected porter during the Tudor period. Porters carried luggage for people among other duties. He was under the employ of Sir Edward Wynter of Gloucester, England.

Sir Edward at one time asked him to punish a white worker. This aberration was because at the time black people could in no way be seen to wield more authority than white folks.

Omoba Aina Forbes-Bonetta


Aina arrived Britain after the death of her parents who were captured as slaves. The name “Omoba” is interpreted from Yoruba to mean “child of the king”. Meaning she was a princess. The princess was given as a gift to Queen Victoria and consequently had to discard her Yoruba identity.

Omoba was presented as a gift to Queen Victoria. The Yoruba princess, took on the name Sarah Forbes-Bonetta for her to be accepted into the British society.

It is on record that The Queen took care of her. She paid for her education and arranged people to take care of her.

Eventually, Omoba had a child who became Queen Victoria’s goddaughter.

Mary Fillis


Mary Fillis was a Moroccan who arrived England between the years 1583-1584 at six years of age. She was so creative in her designs she became a respected dressmaker.

A Moslem by birth, Mary converted to Christianity after being baptized. History shows she was baptized to enable her fit into society.


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About Olutomi Akinsanya

Olutomi Akinsanya

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