Untold story of 1895 Brighton visit by three African kings to be taught in schools

The largely untold story of a visit to Brighton made by three African kings in 1895 is to be taught at schools.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 12:05 pm
Image provided by Brighton and Hove Black History

Local community group, Brighton and Hove Black History, is creating new teaching resources for primary and secondary schools which focuses on the visit.

The three kings of Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) came to the UK to urge the British Government to stop Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes and his company The British South Africa Company from taking ownership of their country.

Rhodes, a well known racist and brutal employer, also wanted to build a railway across Bechuanaland linking the Cape to Cairo and give all the land 20 miles either side of the railway line to White farmers.

The kings took control of the situation and commissioned a local Brighton man, Charles Willoughby, to organise a tour of Britain for them.

They visited Brighton and Sussex as part of their trip to the UK, making visits to Elm Grove Primary School, Brighton Museum and Union Church on Ship Street.

The aim of the project is to combat racism in schools by providing much needed, high quality resources for teaching Black History and histories of the Empire with a thrilling local angle.

The resources will help schools teach citizenship, history and other parts of the curriculum, as well give local students a rooted connection to Brighton’s history of multicultural diversity during Black History Month.

The project team includes lead historian Suchi Chatterjee, historian Bert Williams MBE, education specialist Gabrielle Rowles and project manager Amy Zamarripa Solis.

The project also aims to address the lack of diverse teaching resources, including anti-racist and Black History.

Brighton and Hove Black History, which was established in 2002, was commissioned by the University of Sussex to produce the resources, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

JoAnn McGregor, Professor of Human Geography, School of Global Studies, at the University of Sussex, said: “I am excited by this collaboration with Brighton and Hove Black History — the project will bring the story of the three African kings’ visit to Britain into classrooms, enabling our schools to teach about Empire and providing new Black History resources that are locally relevant.

“Brighton and Hove Black History have great skill in bringing historical stories to life, as they have done before with the Thomas Highflyer project.

“We hope this leads on to other projects.”

Suchi Chatterjee, Lead Historian, Brighton and Hove Black History, said: “I am so proud to be part of this amazing research.

“It proves what my friend Bert Williams MBE has been saying for years, that Brighton’s diverse history runs deep and long.

“The Three Kings visit to Brighton in 1895 is just one of many secret histories that we are uncovering in Sussex where people of the diaspora are making their presence felt after so many years hidden away.”