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tv   Empire and Me  BBC News  July 19, 2022 2:30am-2:59am BST

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this is bbc news. i'm david eades. the headlines: europe's scorching heatwave brings wildfires to countries across the continent. france is the worst affected where 30,000 people have been forced from their homes. britain's braced to break a heat record on tuesday —
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wales recording its hottest day ever on momday. the temperature reached 37.1 celsius in flintshire. the heat is a particular challenge for farmers trying to keep their livestock cool. hywel griffith reports. if you're feeling hot and bothered, spare a thought for this highland cow farfrom home at the royal welsh show. chloe's hoping she can keep her cool for the competition. they're coping all right at the minute, touch wood. i mean, hopefully it just stays like this. there's a nice breeze coming through now, but fingers crossed it all goes well. good luck. thank you. this is britain's biggest
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agricultural show, but it feels like some people have stayed away to avoid the heat. staying in the shade seems to have been the solution.
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the new fans in the sheep sheds helped, too. it's just too hot, but it's not so bad. like, they've put the new fans in, and there is a breeze, but it's just... it's just not quite enough. after a day of record temperatures in wales, tomorrow should bring cooler, if not quite balmy, weather. and for chloe, at least, the heat of the contest ended with a win. hywel griffith, bbc news. now on bbc news, the bbc�*s de—graft mensah travels to ghana, the country of his family's heritage, to find out about the legacy of the british empire on the country and its people. i'm de—graft mensah — podcaster, presenter and proud british ghanaian. i'm going to be leaving behind my dayjob and heading to west africa for the first time since i was nine. the murder of george floyd and the anti—racism protests that followed led people to start to question britain's history, as well as its actions
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abroad when it had an empire. and it led me to want to find out more. i know that ghana used to be part of the british empire, so i want to discover what that meant for the country. i want to learn why britain made ghana part of its empire, how it affected the ghanaian people, and what impact it had on my own family. i've made the 3,000 mile journey to accra, the capital of ghana, somewhere i've not been since i was a kid. you know what? it feels so... it feels comforting because i'm seeing people that look like me,
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that talk like my family and i'm seeing just, like, loads of people on the roadsides, selling, it's vibrant. but, ultimately, the goal is finding out what the british empire was all about. as i travel through accra, i don't have to look far before seeing a physical reminder of the legacy of empire. right here is this, the freedom and justice arch, and it was built as a massive celebration for the ghanaians to remind them of their independence from the british empire. so, when it comes to my personal knowledge of the british empire, i know as much as i was taught in school. i know that we had an empire, it ruled countries all around the world but, growing up, it was sort of told to me as something to be celebrated. i want to know whether the empire is something to be proud of and what living under the empire was like for everyday ghanaian people, like my own family. so, to get started, i'm heading
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away from accra and travelling to a rural community along the coast. it's where a lot of my family were born and it's where my gran still lives today. if i am exploring the british empire and how it's affected ghana, i, in a sense, am right in the middle of that story. i've got the british side to me and i've got the ghanaian side to me, so what better way to explore the ghanaian side to me than to actually meet one of my family members who was around at that time, but also who i directly come from? it's weird because i haven't seen her in the flesh since i was a little kid and now, like, i'm a full—grown person, so i'm really excited. i'm really excited. sings. hello, grandma! hello.
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i'll be chatting to my grandma with the help of a translator. and first, she wants to know about myjob. i work for the bbc as a journalist and i present a tv programme. i'm still quite young, so i'm not thinking about marriage. so, when you were younger, what were the attitudes from people in ghana towards the british? did people like being ruled under them, or were people sort of resentful against them?
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do you think that the british being in control of ghana, do you think that was a good thing that happened or a bad thing? what were other members of ourfamily doing? what kind ofjobs did people have? it was great to see my grandma
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again, and i have learnt loads. that my family have farmed here for as long as anyone can remember. although helping my cousin george on the farm has shown me that i've not picked up the farming gene. hey, guys, move! i'm trying to feed you! i've learned that my grandma is pretty positive about the british, but i thought it was really interesting that my grandma also raised the topic of slavery. my family live near the coast and i know that trade in enslaved people did go on here, so i want to know more. nearby, historian kweku has information for me about the relationship between the people living in this area, known as the fantes, and visiting europeans. so, kweku, i wanted to chat to you to get a greater understanding of what was happening in ghana during the empire, but also what my family were doing, and apparently you have all the knowledge. so fill me in, what's going on? so within this area, it was what we call the british domain. 0h, 0k! so, the british were occupying here. what?
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in this very area? in this very area. 0k! so let me get this straight, then, because how i always envisioned the empire — i envisioned that the british came over and just captured everything and said, "this is ours." so let me correct an impression here. the europeans didn't come and then grab everything. first, they signed agreements with the locals. 0k. so, it was not that they came and just grabbed. yeah. so, i guess that answers how the british became in control of certain areas of ghana but i still don't quite understand where my family fits into all of this. yeah, so back in the day, mostly they were engaged in farming and then fishing because the fantes do two things — fishing and farming, and then sell it to the british. ah, 0k. but whilst europeans had first arrived in the area to trade in goods like gold or foodstuffs, over time, trade became far more sinister through the buying and selling of enslaved human beings — something known as the transatlantic slave trade.
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i have a document here of the young man you see. yeah. his name is 0ttobah cugoano. this gentleman was from ajumako, which is close to your home town in enyan abaasa. enyan abaasa, yeah. amazingly, 0ttobah wrote about his experience, and i'm holding a copy of his first—hand account. this is heartbreaking. i didn't want to go to the forest. i was worried that something bad might happen to us there. after a couple of hours, we were approached by a group of men. they pretended they meant us no harm. but before too long, they used weapons and kidnapped us. i was taken on a long journey, away from my home and family. eventually, my captors took me to a castle on the coast. i can't remember its name. i asked a man why i was here, and he replies, "to learn the ways of the white man".
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he handed me over to the guards from the castle. in return, he was given a gun, a piece of cloth and some lead. this made me cry bitterly, and i was taken to a prison for three days, where i could just hear the cries and moans of other prisoners. a vessel arrived to take us. it was the most horrible scene. there was nothing to be heard but the rattling of chains, smacking of whips and the gruesome cries of our fellow men. i was brought from a state of innocence and freedom and converted to a state of horror and slavery. reading this...
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across the atlantic. inside, i'm going to be shown around by essie. so, essie, where are we right now? ok, so this right here was a male slave courtyard. this is where they bought and sold the slaves. what, as in, like, right here? right here. wow. so, right here, we have the largest female slave dungeon. it held about 150 of the female slaves. 150? yes. once they got in here, this is the floor they slept on — the same floor they had to urinate. the food was poured onto the dirty floor and they had to eat from the dirty floor. because of that, a lot of the female slaves — the male slaves as well —
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died, because this place was very, very dirty. it takes... for me, hearing all of that, for somebody to do that to somebody else, that's just plain... it's evil. so, i'm assuming that when you're in a space like this, you must... you must be in this space thinking, "i might not leave "here alive at all, cos everywhere i look, "there are many different ways i could die"? yes. down this corridor is a door of no return. through it, slaves were forced onto ships ready for transportation. it's almost as if... if suffering here wasn't bad enough, once you leave past that door, you'rejust going to suffer some more. so you're going to end up at a plantation, and your suffering doesn't end here. did the slaves know that?
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i don't think they knew. i don't. when i've learned about slavery in the past, it felt distant. it sort of felt like, "this is something that "happened to people that looked like me, but not necessarily "people who were just like me." if i was born in that time, i easily could have been in that situation, and that's something that... i don't even know how a human goes through that and survives. it's thought that over three million africans were purchased and transported across the atlantic on british ships, with those on board facing a life of working without pay in inhumane conditions. 0ttobah, like many of those transported by the british, was sent to work on a caribbean sugar plantation. but unlike most, his story has a positive ending. 0ttobah was purchased
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by a merchant who took him to britain, where he learned to read and write and was eventually freed. 0ttobah was able to record his story in writing, and it went on to help convince the british people of the evils of the slave trade. by 1807, britain — a country which had been one of the world's largest slaving nations — became one of the first to outlaw the trading of enslaved people, meaning people could no longer be forcibly transported from africa. so, i know there'll be some people who think that because britain was leading in the abolition movement, that that clears them of everything. and it's like, "you know what? "yeah, they did terrible things, but they did "help to free the slaves." you can think like that... ..but i don't always think rights clear your wrongs. sometimes the wrongs that you do are so wrong that your rights...
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..theyjust don't cut it. i now know that the trade in human beings was key to britain's arrival on these shores, but i want to know what kept britain here once slavery had been abolished and why they ended up expanding their power. so i'm heading north, following the path the british took to kumasi. it's ghana's second largest city and is home to the people of the asante tribe. first stop, i'm going to a farm on the outskirts which grows cocoa, used to produce chocolate. i'm meeting historian 0sei bonsu to tell me what they were up to. here, we have the cocoa bean... yeah. the pod. and i guess the most important question is, can i try some of that? you can. it feels very, like, gooey. he laughs yeah, suck on it. hmm! it tastes quite sweet!
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laughing: yes. so, we know when the british stopped trading in slaves, they didn't just leave ghana. in fact, their growth in ghana continued, and they moved to different regions. why was that the case? so when slavery had ended, they had to move to other areas where they could make money. such as cocoa, i believe? yeah. cocoa... yeah. ..kola nuts, gold. they also traded in coffee. why did the british find so much value in products like this? they were selling overseas. it was giving the british government a lot of money, so they institutionalised the cocoa farming. so, the british saw things like cocoa beans, they decided, "wait, we can make quite a bit of money "off of farming these beans. "let's make the production even bigger and even faster "so we can make more money." is that essentially what happened? yes. maximise profit.
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expansion north led to violent clashes with the ruling asante people. britain wanted control in the region, to be able to make money through the likes of cocoa and gold. but britain tried to justify their violence by claiming that they wanted to stop the asante, who were believed to be keeping slaves and carrying out religious killing known as human sacrifice. just outside kumasi, at a workshop he helped set up weaving african fabrics called kente, 0sei bonsu wants to show me just how far britain went to protect its interests here. so what exactly did the british do to the people of the asante community? they engaged them in a number of wars. any time they defeated the asantes, they took more of their lands and added it to theirs. the british did not stop there. they moved into the capital and then burnt down the capital. british soldiers burnt kumasi to the ground and sent a brutal statement of power to the asante people.
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0sei bonsu has a document that he wants to share with me. it is important to note... yeah. ..that the british used local people to fight the asante. britain ordered that the fante people from the south of the country had to support the british in their wars. as many as 20,000 men were forced to help. so, reading this, "every able—bodied man not already "engaged in the service of this country is immediately "to present himself for that service." and then it goes on to say that every able—bodied man refusing to do it without a proper excuse is to be arrested and made to work without pay. does that suggest that, at this point in history, my family would have been used to help fight against...? yes, that is true. wow! i am somebody who, i've always said, "i'm proud to be british. "i'm british through and through." but at the same time, i'm very much so ghanaian, and i'm very much so fante.
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and knowing that the british went through any means that they could to manipulate the fante people and other ghanaian communities, and inflict such harsh punishment, that's not easy news to hear at all. to think, what, you would do all of that just for money? and you would do all of that to become this great empire that we've learned so much about? for the asante, the hurt of what happened still lives on — in part because british soldiers looted precious items, many of them made of gold, like these still on display in kumasi — and took them to britain, where they remain today. to find out more, i'm heading into the city to meet one of the leaders of the asante community, chief agyemang—bonsu. but before i can chat to the chief, tradition calls for me to dance for him. drum music
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dance over, and it looks like he's happy. so i know byjust looking at appearance alone that gold is very important to not only the ghanaian culture, but specifically the asante culture. butjust how important is gold to you guys? gold is very important, because it's a sign for us not only of wealth, but also of authority. during this journey, i've learned that there was a point in history where the british actually looted from this culture and took it to the uk. how do the current asante community feel towards the british and all the things that they've still got in the uk? that actually had... ..a devastating blow to our kingdom, because, for us, it's not just an artefact. it is the soul of the kingdom. and to have taken those items
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from us, robbed us of those important historical relics — i mean, we would have loved to have had them here. for the current and the future generation, we want to have them back. so far, i've heard some pretty difficult things about britain's history in ghana, but i want to look at another side to the legacy of the empire. and i'm off to church. christianity is the largest religion in ghana and was introduced by the british. for loads of ghanaians, like those here in church today, that's something to be thankful for. singing i know that other ghanaians also think positively about some of the things britain created here — things such as building schools, advances in medicine and the creation of roads,
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railways and ports. in 1957 ghana became one of the first african countries to achieve independence from the british empire, a fact i know ghanaians are fiercely proud of. for me it is difficult to look beyond britain was make exploitation of ghana for people and profit. we need to remember what happened here and in britain's otherformer happened here and in britain's other former colonies and learn from it. britain and ghana will always be connected by a shared history. because of that, millions of people here see britain positively, and view it as a home away from home. like my family did when they moved to britain all those years ago. in order to know who you are,
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you've got to know where you come from. yeah, i might not be entirely proud of the history that underpins both sides of me. but it's made me who i am. and it's made my life what it is today. so maybe, just maybe, i am de—graft because of the empire. hello there. monday's heat was extraordinary, not least because it covered a really wide area. 38.2 celsius the highest temperature recorded at santon downham in suffolk, very close to the all—time uk record. jersey had its hottest day on record. wales had its hottest day on record as well, and with this met office red warning for extreme heat still in force through tuesday, some places could see temperatures get even
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higher than that. because we start tuesday morning in a wedge of exceptionally hot air. this is actually the air overhead. the hottest it will have been throughout the whole of this heatwave period. so as the sun gets to work on that, after starting temperatures like these, well, those values will really start to rise very quickly as we go through the morning where we hold onto sunshine. most of us will have a sunny start. the further east you are, you can expect to keep sunshine through into the afternoon, potentially one or two showers, but for northern ireland, for wales, the southwest of england, we are going to see more cloud, maybe some showers and thunderstorms working in here, cloud bringing some rain into western parts of scotland as well. for western parts, a little bit cooler than it has been, but for the east, still some extremely high temperatures. maybe middle 30s across parts of southern scotland. and for some of these central and eastern parts of england, temperatures could climb to 40—10 celsius. so that would be unprecedented.
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through tuesday night, we will see some rain across northern scotland and some showers and thunderstorms elsewhere. it starts to turn a little bit fresher from the west, so by the end of the night, temperatures in glasgow and belfast will be around 14 degrees. still very warm across central and eastern parts of england, still in the midst of this very warm air. but we do see these cooler conditions pushing in from the west as we get into wednesday. so a different feel to the weather on wednesday. we will see some showers around, maybe some thunderstorms popping up, perhaps most especially across central and eastern parts of england as we go through the afternoon. some spells of sunshine as well, but temperatures much lower. still 28—29 celsius across eastern england, more like 19 celsius for northern ireland and the western side of scotland. we stick with those cooler conditions for the rest of the week. there will be some sunny spells, but some bursts of rain at times. some of that rain could be heavy, possibly thundery. bye for now.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm david eades. our top stories: wildfires tear through european countries — france is now the worst affected with 30 thousand people forced from their homes. up in the woods, you can see guys tackling the fires. there is a huge amount of activity down here, and it is hot, it is smoky — just look at the haze in the trees. sentencing begins for the parkland school gunman, who killed 17 people in 2018. ajury in florida will decide if it's the death penalty or a life sentence. a chinese filmmaker appears in court in malawi charged with child exploitation, following an investigation by the bbc, and here in the uk, it's whittled down to four in the race to replace
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borisjoohnson as the uk's next prime minister and leader of the conservative party.


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