2001 Ben Mussanzi wa Mussangu
In 2001 Ben Mussanzi Wa Mussangi arrived in Bradford, a refugee, fleeing for his life from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ben narrowly escaped being killed by a group of child soldiers caught up in the horrific civil war in that region. After gaining the right to remain in this country and on top of his qualification as a radiologist, Ben gained a degree from Bradford University in Peace Studies and became the president of the Bradford branch of The Centre for Resolution Conflict (CRC). The other branch is in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2020, this organisation won the UNESCO-Prize for Tolerance and Non-Violence, after reaching the incredible milestone of rescuing 1,000 child soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ben Mussanzi wa Mussangu, received the award with these words –‘The CRC that you have honoured today is therefore the result of the hurricane that has (sic) and is still grieving the Congolese nation in the last two decades with an estimated death toll of more than 6,000,000, placing this country at the front row of humanitarian disasters after the 2nd World War’.
After initially hoping to return to his home country, Ben along with his wife Kongosi Onia Mussanzi and his family have made Bradford their home. He continues to work in Bradford in variety of roles in peacebuilding, conflict resolution and supporting refuges form war torn countries.
Ben is also producer and presenter of the Peace Music radio show on Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB). He uses music as a tool to pass peace messages to Bradford, the UK and the world.
2004 Lloyd Thompson
Lloyd Thompson from Bradford created breakdance company Tranquil Productions. Lloyd goes on to teach and perform all over the world. Clean North, Bradford’s hometown team, go on to teach and perform across the UK.
2006 Mary Seacole Court Day Centre and Housing Complex
Mary Seacole Court day centre and housing complex opened in 2006. The site provides, but not exclusively, for older African and Caribbean people living in the Bradford district. It is recognised as a flagship in housing development and a haven for older people in the African and Caribbean Community.
In the 1980’s there were numerous African & African Caribbean elder day care centres in the district including those at Checkpoint BD1, Claremont BD7, the Gulberg Centre in BD5, Dominican Association BD8, the local Black led churches in BD4, BD7 and BD9. However, all groups had valid concerns that their growing number of elders’ social care, housing and health needs were not being fully met.
As a result, a new organisation called Care & Housing for African & Caribbean Elders (CHACE) was formed in 1995 and incorporated in 2001. CHACE worked with a number of partners including Housing 21 to develop a new extra-care housing complex situated in the Little Horton area of Bradford. The day centre supported by the charity Age UK, within the complex provides a safe welcoming social environment and a range of activities such as dance, exercise sessions, yoga, holistic treatments, arts and crafts, computer technology and reminiscence.
The community named the complex Mary Seacole Court which was in honour of a famous and highly celebrated Victorian nurse of Caribbean and Scottish heritage who had worked fearlessly to assist the injured during the Crimean war.
The picture above shows a client at the centre taking part in a craft activity to commemorate WW1.
Photo credit – Bradford Museums & Galleries.
2007 Ruth Igbegbuna
Born in Bradford, award-winning teacher and activist, Ruth Igbegbuna began developing the multi award-winning youth leadership charity RECLAIM and The Roots Programme, a radical new approach to bridging divides between UK communities. Ruth is also the founder of Rekindle School, a unique supplementary school, opening in September 2021.
2010 City of Sanctuary
In 2010 Bradford became the third city in the UK to be formally recognised as a ‘City of Sanctuary’.
A City of Sanctuary is a place of safety and welcome for people who have fled situations of extreme danger in their own countries. Refugees in Bradford have come from all over the world including countries in Africa such as Sudan, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Cameroon and Libya.
Refugees have experienced unbelievable hardship and trauma, they often struggle with feelings of sadness and loss at the same time as having to find a place in a new country and learn a new language. However, refugees often possess a wealth of knowledge and talent that can contribute socially, economically and culturally to shaping communities. Many are highly educated and have left behind high-powered careers and families because of severe religious, political or gender persecution.
2010 Marcia Hutchinson MBE
Born in Bradford, the daughter of Windrush generation parents, Marcia Hutchinson was awarded an MBE for services to Cultural Diversity in 2010. Marcia was the first person from her comprehensive school in Bradford to go to Oxford University to study Law and has gone on to work as a lawyer, political activist, writer, founder of Primary Colours, director of Migrant’s Union and manager of Windrush Wonders.
2017 Windrush Scandal
The Windrush scandal began to surface in 2017 after it emerged that hundreds of black British citizens, originally from the Caribbean and part of the ‘Windrush’ generation, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights. Many had lost their jobs and homes and were denied medical treatment in the National Health Service that they and their parents had worked in and help build.
The victims of this scandal were people who had the right to stay in the UK on arrival in the 1960s and early 70s as children but were not given documents to prove this. Having lived, worked and paid taxes in the in the UK for decades they were suddenly stripped of their British citizenship and in some cases forced to live in countries they had not set foot in since they were tiny children.
Many black Britons had their lives destroyed by a flawed immigration system which failed to recognise them as British citizens and forced them through a devastating and terrifying ordeal, sometimes over several years. This was part of the ‘hostile environment’ policy set up in 2012 by the British government and the then-Home Secretary Theresa May to deter illegal immigrants from settling in the UK.
In 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May apologised for this treatment of Windrush citizens and a compensation scheme was established. However, the scandal continues. Many people who endured this shocking treatment are elderly and have health conditions, worsened by the stress they have lived through. The length of time it has taken to deliver compensation means that 21 people have died before receiving any compensation and over 500 have waited more than a year to have their claim processed.
2018 Windrush Generations events
To mark the 70th anniversary of the Windrush ships arrival in the UK, a group in Bradford called Windrush Generations was formed to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of their elders both past and present.
A series of public engagements and commemorative events to raise awareness of the Windrush experience was delivered. This work, led by Nigel Guy working with Charles Dacres, Jerry Crawford, Byron Francis, Bobsie Robinson, Basil Richards and many volunteers, also involved defending these communities from the devastating effects of the Windrush Scandal. Bradford’s local Windrush organisation worked with other similar organisations around the UK to actively lobby government and protect people from unjust policies and mistreatment.
Windrush Generations continues to hold annual events such as the popular Carnival of Roots and Culture held at Centenary Square, the Windrush Generations Awards and numerous inter-generational projects.
2019 The Windrush Flag
Nigel Guy, inspired by the ancestral journeys and by the Windrush story, designed a Windrush Flag.
The flag was first raised in Centenary Square Bradford in June 2019 jointly by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Doreen Lee, and Deacon King, a respected 87-year old 1st generation church and community leader, accompanied by the 5 generations of his Bradfordian family, including his great-great grandchild. They read a pledge of unity in commemoration of the journey and contributions of the Windrush Generation and of hope for a positive future for all generations.
This Windrush flag, designed in Bradford, has been adopted across the UK, and raised in many locations including Southampton, Bristol, Luton, Peterborough, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Nottingham, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, Salford, Preston, Lancaster and Newcastle. It has also been raised abroad in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. The flag continues to generate more interest.
2020 Black Lives Matter Protests
On Sunday June 7th 2020 Bradford community activist Jerry Crawford organised a peaceful protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in Centenary Square. This was one of three protests that took place took place in Bradford following the death of George Floyd.
Hundreds of Bradfordians turned out to show solidarity with those across the world to protest against racism and police brutality, following the murder of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white policeman in the US. Due to the Covid pandemic at that time, the event had to be carefully organised with social distancing and mask wearing to prevent the spread of the virus.
You can view this event here – https://youtu.be/xzhdm_v8h3o
2021 Memorial for George Floyd
In 2021 Jerry Crawford organised a further event in Bradford city centre – a memorial event for George Floyd, a year after his murder to commemorate and celebrate his life.
This included speeches which highlighted the need to continue the fight against racism in all its forms. Some of the speakers and Jerry are pictured below.