Blacks' place in British history

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The Independent Online
From Mr A. D. C. Hyland

Sir: Tom Sutcliffe's teasing mockery (Weekend, 22 July) of the board game Nubian Jak is misplaced because the young British blacks, for whom Nubian Jak was invented, do need positive role models, and need to know, too, that blacks have been players on the stage of British history for thousands of years.

I can't speak about Queen Charlotte Sophia, but Beethoven's part-African ancestry is well docu- mented, as is that of his Russian contemporary Pushkin. And who does Mr Sutcliffe suppose built Stonehenge? It was certainly before the Celts and their Druids arrived, presumably by the original "ancient Britons", who were the first people to resettle these islands after the last Ice Age. Who were they, and where did they come from?

Having recently returned from the Gambia, where I visited many of the prehistoric stone circles in that remote part of West Africa, I find no difficulty in believing, with generations of British scholars and ethnologists, that they, and the great swathe of megalithic monuments that extend through west and north-west Africa, through north-west Spain and Britanny, and the western peripheries of these islands, as far as the Orkneys, including Stonehenge, were built by the Berbers.

Does believing that belittle British history? No, of course it doesn't. The Hamitic, Berber, Iberian, Celtic, Roman, Germanic, Viking, Sephardic, Huguenot and more recent roots of our ancestry make British history all the richer.

Yours, etc,

A. D. C. Hyland