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West Africans in Britain

By Hakim Adi

West Africans in Britain 1900-1960 tells the story of the struggles of West African students in Britain, and their battle for coherent, anti-colonial politics.

It documents the emergence of the West African Students Union (WASU), and its alliances with political organisations in Britain – including both the CPGB and the Labour Party – as well as with organisations in Africa. WASU was an immensely vibrant organisation, and its members helped to pave the way for the successful independence movements later to influence so many African states.

Hakim Adi charts the achievements of the student movement in combating racism and the ‘colour bar’ in Britain and shows how the hostility of British society served only to create a sense of unity amongst the students. This allowed WASU the ideological and political space to form its critique of colonial rule.

Based on extensive research, the book is valuable for the light it sheds on the lives of black people living in Britain before the second world war. But the book is more than a simple account of Africans within the context of British society – it shows the influence these pioneers have had on a world scale.

Prof. Hakim Adi is Professor of the History of Africa and the African Diaspora at the University of Chichester. Hakim was the first historian of African heritage to become a professor of history in Britain. He has appeared in many documentary films, on TV and on radio and has written widely on the history of Africa and the African Diaspora, including three history books for children.

His most recent books are Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Africa World Press, 2013), Pan-Africanism: A History (Bloomsbury Press, 2018) and Black British History: New Perspectives (Zed, 2019) . He is currently writing a book on the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain to be published by Penguin.

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