First Encounters  32380

  1. 00:03:00 Cumbrian Village of Burgh by Sands( /ˈbrʌf/ ). 2nd century AD: Roman fortress on western end of Hadrian’s wall at Aballava.[rtoc]
    • Today’s primary school children learning about it in a way Olusoga couldn’t have imagined as a boy
    • 00:04:00 Olusoga having learned about Roman Britain from whitewashed Ladybird books
    • Part of empire stretching to North Africa
    • 00:05:00 Richard Benjamin, archaeologist: from small Yorkshire town, with father from British Guyana. Modern evidence on stone tombs:
      • Victor, from North African provinces, found in South Shields
      • Notitia Dignitatum: mentions forts and individuals on forts
    • Probably mixed unit, but named for it’s core of ‘Moorish’ soldiers.
    • 00:06:45 Installation of plaque in Burgh by Sands. Children sharing their pictures.
    • Stones from wall used in church at Burgh by Sands. Behind church
    • “think about songs that would have been sung and bedtime stories that would have been told … African songs and stories”
    • 00:10:10 Che-Che-Kule song
    • 00:11:20 Some of the Africans didn’t just occupy Britain, but settled here, too.[/rtoc]
  2. 00:11:50 “Beachy Head lady” in East Dean (sub-Saharan)[rtoc]
    • Basement of Eastbourne Hall: remains of 300 unidentified bodies.
    • Joe Seaman: set out to discover who one of them was.
    • Remains found at East Deane near Beachy Head “a century ago”
    • Carbon dating. Roman date – 125-240AD. “Did she come here, or was she from here.” Isotope analysis of teeth: had lived in Eastbourne.
    • “Beachy Head Woman”
    • Forensic pathologist to reconstruct face.
    • 00:14:30 Model of face, sub-Saharan. Afawk, the earliest Black Briton.
    • Afro-Romans not just from North Africa, but also sub-Saharan.
    • “Always a quintessential English village …”
    • 00:16:25 “What would it have been like to grow up as a black African in Roman Britain? That’s the kind of question Mary Beard has been asking for years.
    • Mary Beard: Romans not nice and angelic people: nasty hateful things said about foreigners, including Britons. But no sense that skin colour is the thing that marks you out for your position in culture. Early C3 emperor from Africa – we don’t know what his ethnicity was, whereas President Obama is referred to as “first African American president”. “Murderous lot of thugs, but it wasn’t racist prejudice”.
    • 00:17:50 Plaque in East Dean
    • Olusoga: “It’s quite a challenging idea to us in the 21st century that when it comes to race, the Romans were more liberal than we are now.”
      Beard: “Yeah, I think we live with the kind of myth that somehow we’ve got less and less prejudiced over the centuries. And that’s simply not true. And I think one of the points of looking at the Romans, one of the lessons they’ve got for us is they remind us that some of the prejudices that we hold haven’t been held forever. And there’s something a bit optimistic about that, because it might actually mean that we won’t go on holding them one day. Who knows? Who knows?[/rtoc]
  3. 00:19:35 Exhumations from two Roman sites in York. 10% African origin: there are parts of Roman York which were more multicultural than parts of York today.
  4. Francis Barber: Samuel Johnson’s servant, friend and heir (and former slave)[rtoc]
    • Cedric Barber, great-great-great grandson
    • 00:21:00 Olusoga has visited Samuel Johnson house many times – describes his genius.
    • Centre of Georgian London’s cultural life: club inc Boswell and Joshua Reynolds
    • Reynolds’ portrait ‘A Young Black’; had always been assumed to be Francis Barber, but not now certain.
    • Born in Jamaica, a slave, brought to Britain by one of Johnson’s friends. Became part of household after death of Johnson’s wife, and Johnson became like a father to him.
    • Sheets of paper with Barber practising writing his name, commentary on how typical this is for teenagers.
    • But had been born a slave: could be “bought or sold, whipped or beaten”.
    • “Georgian odd couple” in decade when UK was exporting millions into slavery
    • Went on to marry and have children, but always remained close to him. Johnson left him over £100,000 in today’s money, “lion’s share of his fortune”.[/rtoc]
    • [/rtoc]00:25:20 “going about in camouflage” … Cedric Barber unaware of his heritage for most of his life: Transformation from seeing slavery as something done to others, to something done to “my family, these were real people”.
    • Cedric unveils plaque
    • Possibly 10-15,000 black Georgians, giving possibly 2-3 million people in UK today related to black Georgians
    • as with Romans, black Georgians have disappeared without a trace through inter-marriage
  5. 00:28:45 “Even when there was no visible black presence in Britain, the idea of Africa and Africans burned brightly in the imagination, most vividly in the middle ages”. Nativity play at Our Lady and St Joseph’s Primary in East London. Story of medieval tradition of ? as black.
    • As a child, not accidental that Olusoga was asked to play one of the three kings
    • Medieval time: Went from being African/Black King to being a character.
    • Africa’s place in medieval world
    • Janina Ramirez at Mappa Mundi, historian: see bibliography for Mappa Mundi below.
    • Ramirez: Three Christian Continents: Africa, Europe, Asia become the three wise men in later Christian tradition.


    • music by Traditional West African (probably Ghanaian)
    Total items: 1

    Topics covered by this tv

    1. Mappa Mundi (Hereford) (map) • 00:31:15 • Janina Ramirez: "It doesn't make sense straight on, but if you turn your head to the side it starts to make sense ... Asia, Europe, Africa. Right at the very centre, Jerusalem. So this is a map of Christendom ... Ethiopia, you can see that there is a rather glorious little palace there. This is a place that is being celebrated. It is as beautifully depicted and civilised as these European places." Olusoga: "Beyond the known Christian world, Africa is a place of imagined tribes and mythical beasts."
    2. A Young Black Man (image) • 00:22:10
    3. Julius Caesar and Roman Britain (book) • 00:04:00 • Olusoga's whitewashed introduction to Roman Britain as a child
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                [0] => "19941"*00:04:00|Olusoga's whitewashed introduction to Roman Britain as a child
        [cast] => Array
                [0] => David Olusoga*presenter|Richard Benjamin*archaeologist, Hadrian's Wall|Joe Seaman*archaeologist, Eastbourne|Mary Beard*classicist, the experience of growing up as an African in Roman Britain|Cedric Barber*descendant of Francis Barber|Janina Ramirez*medievalist and art historian|

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