Excerpts from the transcript “A Kaleidoscope of Efik migration to the UK” presented at the Black History Month at the House of Parliament on 27/10/2016 by Richard Duke

“If history were taught in the form of stories it would never be forgotten”
Rudyard Kipling

•A little background into this presentation is that it’s part of my unpublished research work titled “The Slave Kings of Calabar, Liverpool and London”.

•As part of the Black History Month we should be able to update our knowledge about events that shaped our destiny. Many of the stories about Black History have been from a Westerners perspective but over the past decades (with the availability of digitally archived resources) Black historians have been able to tell their own story. Koomla Dumor the late BBC Africa reporter once said in a TEDx talk that “if the hunted fails to tell its own story, the story will always glorify the hunter”. This is the story of the migration of the Efik people of Calabar to the UK. 1767. Hold the thought there.

•How many of us here have never been to Africa before? Awesome!
Calabar is a coastal city in West Africa and was the capital of pre-colonial Nigeria. It was also a major slave trading port. Around 2 million out of the 10 million slaves shipped out from West Africa came from the region of Calabar (1/5th). Anyone from Jamaica in the house? In Jamaica there is a Calabar High School, I learnt it’s the best school in Jamaica. It’s named after a place called Calabar in Jamaica where ex-slaves from Calabar settled and named the place after their origin.

•If I am able to provide a short narrative about how one of the earliest African ethnic groups pioneered the migration of Africans to UK would that be a good use of our time?

•Black History Month gives us the opportunity to learn the stories of those we may not have known much about until now. So, in the
interest of deepening our well of historical knowledge, let me share with you a brief narrative about the migration of Africans from the Efik tribe of Calabar to the UK.

•The migration of Efik people to the UK had been in various waves. The first set of migrants were children of Efik Chiefs brought to the UK in the 18th century by various British slave trade ship captains as part of commercial trade arrangements to train the children in U.K. schools for a couple of years.

•The next wave of migration to the U.K. by the Efiks was in the 19th century. Lots of children of the middle class and elite in Calabar migrated to the UK in large numbers by ship from Calabar and Apapa ports. Most of them went in pursuit of education and many of them settled in U.K. without returning back. According to the shipping records archived by Ancestry.co.uk, there were over 800 travellers by sea from Calabar port to Liverpool and Bristol between 1835 and 1935, 90% were Efik migrants.

•The final wave of Efik migration took place in the 1950’s-1960’s by lots of educated Efik young adults who were looking for the next step in higher education and out of resilience took the 21 day trip by sea on the Elder Dempster ship to Liverpool.

•In 1767 seven Captains of English vessels ( 3 from Liverpool 3 from Bristol and 1 from London) berthed their ships at the shores of Old Calabar in West Africa and massacred 450 Efik people in order to double-cross their slave business partner. They also took away 500 slaves on discount and kidnapped 3 family members of the slave trading Chief.

In 1767 these 3 Efik princes were taken on a long journey through 3 different continents and finally landed in the UK, against their will. The story has been recently captured in the book ‘The Two Princes of Calabar’ by Professor Randy Sparks.

•If you don’t learn from history, history will end up teaching you a lesson. The lessons of history are not about blood, sweat and tears, it’s about learning the lessons and not allowing history to repeat itself on your watch.

•On our watch the history of migration to the UK is repeating itself again. Migrants from Africa are taking the perilous journey from Northern Africa to Europe by sea on a daily basis and are also dying at sea on a daily basis. No one in the media is talking about it, it’s our responsibility to highlight the self-enforced plight of our brothers who may never make it by sea.

•It’s time to reflect and ask ourselves if we have done enough to be part of the solution rather than complain about the problem.

•History is a social mirror which we use to project the image of the past into the future. If you don’t like what you are seeing in the mirror, as a change agent, you can realign the spectrum and impose your societal ideas.

I like playing Chess since I was 6 years old. On the Chess board, the white player always moves first. The white player always has the advantage. On a balance of probability, the White player should always win a game of chess. The White player controls the game. For the black chess player to win, they need to be more strategic and have positional awareness. The odds are stacked against them.

When you are a black player on a chess board, black is black. In the mind of the public policy makers in United Kingdom there is no Black African or Black Caribbean. To them you are just an IC3, a black crime statistic.

However, when they want to divide us, they will bring out education statistics and state that Black Africans perform better at schools than Black Caribbeans.

•You can’t compete with someone who is always one step ahead of you but you can position yourself to take advantage of your opponents situation and turn things around.

•Black History Month is always a good time to reflect and see how many pieces you have left on the chess board.

•Don’t pressurise your children by telling them that they have to work twice as hard as their white counterparts in order to get to where they are. That’s what our parents used to tell us.

•When it’s their move on the chess board teach them how to strategise, position themselves dominate their environment.

•Because when a people don’t learn the lessons from history, history has a way of teaching people lessons. May the Black History Month teach you a positive lesson and thank you very much for listening.




About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
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