Hidden Histories

A member of the African Choir, 1891
A member of the African Choir, 1891

At Ulwazi we like to keep things local, focusing on KwaZulu-Natal and rarely venturing beyond the borders of South Africa, but today we’re going all the way across to London, England, where a photographic exhibition, Black Chronicles II, has just opened. The exhibition offers a never before seen glimpse into the lives of African people living in Britain in the 19th and early 20th-century. The exhibition, which consists largely of studio portraits, attempts to redress the “persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record” (autograph-abp.co.uk).

As part of Heritage Month SAFM have held a number of discussions on the topic, and their discussion last night which looked at pre-colonial African technology, spoke to the same issue as this exhibition – the whitewashing of parts of African history which up until now have been overlooked, under-researched or simply not recognised as significant, but which are highly relevant to black representational politics and cultural history today.

Incredibly beautiful, but often with an underlying sadness to them, the photos tell the harrowing story of colonial exploitation, but also so much more.

Click here to see some of the incredible images on display, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the UK at the moment, then make your way down to Rivington Place. The exhibition closes on the 29th November 2014.

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