Black History Month: Natty Mark Samuels

I was born in London, of Caribbean parentage, but our ancestry is Ghanaian – of the Ashanti people and I’ve been in Oxford for 20 years. Black History Month is a chance to promote awareness of the contribution that we’ve made to art and culture, and to this word called civilisation. We all need to have our culture, knowledge upgraded. Black History Month, for me, gives me a chance to fill in some of those gaps and add some balance. There should be provision around Asian studies and Irish studies and East European studies but that’s for other people to promote and teach my one is African studies because of my ancestry. I’ve delivered workshops at the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind; at My Life, My Choice; in four secondary schools; and five youth projects. So we are starting to break down certain doors, but there’s still a long way to go. So I’m willing to go wherever people want to learn. My style of teaching is very interactive, so I use various participatory aids and that generates a lot of enjoyment, and people tend to leave the workshops that I deliver on a kind of high. For a lot of people, African studies
is an unknown entity; it’s an alien concept. People think it might be around slavery or
colonialism, but I look at the pre-colonial era. I’ve been teaching African studies for
the last eight years; I’m just going to keep going. I don’t think there are any specific challenges here which aren’t in any other town or city. What I will say is: there is support here for cultural education. People need to come to the Cowley Road, they need to come to Blackbird Leys Road. There is a lot of diversity of provision. But if they’re going to stay in central Oxford, they’re not going to find it. But if they could introduce some of those projects – if I can share some of that positivity then that aspect of community cohesion can come a bit closer, and a bit soon as well.

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