by Norma Gregory
BELONG, a Nottingham based BME organisation, has successfully been awarded a National Heritage Lottery Grant to present the life of George Africanus. The grant of £69,000 was awarded for the 18 month project titled, ‘George Africanus-From Slavery to Freedom and Citizenship,’ and focuses on presenting George Africanus in relation to Nottingham’s history.
Belong is led by Jean-Didier Mualaba and aims to provide valuable integration support for individuals through a variety of support, advice, guidance, training and job-search related activities. The University of Nottingham, Nottingham News Centre, Nottinghamshire Archives, volunteers and members of the Belong team are part of a steering group to support the successful delivery of the community project.
Rosanna Ottewell, Project Coordinator stated:
“This project is about an African man who, by virtue of his extraordinary life, would hold a prominent position in any role of honour of Nottingham’s ancestors. He was stolen at the age of 3 from West Africa, robbed of his language, his culture, his community, his home and his family and sold into a life of servitude - yet he went on to become Nottingham’s first Black entrepreneur, owning property, running businesses and taking his place in Civil life by voting in elections and helping to police outbreaks of public disorder.
Our intention is to ensure that people come to know the name of George Africanus and the story of his life and that they take him to their heart as the exceptional man from our local history that he is. As well as conducting further research into the life of George Africanus, the project’s purpose is to create a website, a touring exhibition, and literature and learning materials. Members of the community are encouraged to get involved. Training and support will be provided including IT training and assistance to build the project’s website and undertake research at the National Archives, Wolverhampton Archives and the British Library. The Nottingham News Centre will host a series of George Africanus Journalism workshops to train volunteers in magazine article writing, print and broadcast interviewing skills and the opportunity to create a professional portfolio. Selected pieces of writing will be featured in a future edition of Mojatu Magazine.”
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