An opportunity to embrace our heritage

A banner reading 'Celebrating Black History Month in Newham'

Joel Davies regularly attends one of Newham’s Ghanaian churches – it keeps him and his family in touch with the faith, culture and heritage of their African roots.

Joel Davies
Joel Davies

My story begins with my great-grandfather, Hastings, who came to England in 1968. He settled in Mitcham where he worked in the rail industry. My grandmother, Angeline, had also left Sierra Leone in 1988, looking for greener pastures. She settled in England with her husband and gave birth to my uncle, Jesse. She is now a lecturer in further education.

Between 1997 and 1999, due to the tensions of the civil war at the time, my mother, Flora, and her sister, Sam, moved between different West African countries such as Guinea and Senegal, before leaving for the UK in December 1999 for a better education.

In December 1999, my mother and aunt finally found sanctuary in London. Here, they began to rebuild their lives and dreams, firmly anchored in the diverse and multicultural community of London.

Today, most of my immediate family reside in England, a testament to their determination to create a safe and prosperous future for themselves and future generations.

One of the most beautiful aspects of my family’s journey is how we have managed to preserve and celebrate our African heritage. Every Sunday, we attend a Ghanaian church in Newham, where we come together with others from various African backgrounds to celebrate our faith, culture, and shared experiences. This connection to our roots reminds us of the strength that resides in our African heritage and the importance of unity in the face of adversity.

For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection and celebration. It is an opportunity to honour the resilience of my family and countless others who have overcome hardships to build better lives. It is a chance to embrace our African, Caribbean, and Melanesian heritage.

As a 16-year-old living in South London, I am proud of my diverse heritage and the sacrifices my family has made to provide me with a brighter future. Their journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit of Black people, and it reminds me of the importance of preserving our shared history, culture, traditions, and contributions to making this nation how it is today.

This Black History Month, let us all take a moment to reflect on our own journeys, the strength of our families, and the rich tapestry of our shared heritage. It is through stories like my family’s, stories of resilience and determination, that we continue to celebrate and honour the legacy of Black individuals and communities across the world.

A small banner reading 'Youth Voices of Newham'