Oral History Interview - Frank & Kome Owuasu

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Oral History Interview - Frank & Kome Owuasu

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Audio recording of an oral history interview with Frank Owuasu (born 1956 in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria - died 23 October 2018) and Kome Owuasu (born 1967 in Southern Nigeria).

Frank and Kome are married. Frank came to Hackney in 1967 as a political refugee.

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Photographs copyright Emma Davies.



"I came to Hackney in 1967 during the height of the Biafran civil war as a political refugee. That was a genocide that I will never forget, that remains under my skin. When we came here we witnessed aspects of underlying racism but I came here out of a war situation, seeing all kinds of horrific things where our own people treated us just as badly.

Home is England. Our children were born here. We work here, our friends are here. So for us Hackney and the African Community School is Africa. You don’t have to go far to feel African. It’s all around us and that’s what makes Hackney so unique.

It’s crucially important that we interact with other communities. Culture is transitional; if we stay locked in our culture we have to forego progress. We have a culture that segregates sexes, well I’d like to see that banished. If I picture how my mother tied me to her back and took me as a baby to the market place, I wouldn’t want my wife to do that. If you take that kind of culture, when the women do the bulk of the work, well that to me is unacceptable. What I like so much about England is equality, openness. Some of those traditional African cultures are a hindrance to our own development. I’ve seen the infighting amongst Black youths and it’s very frightening. We need to face this so if it means change, we must do it otherwise it will keep on imploding.

The key to all this is education. Everyone has a right to that. For us it’s the school here – Princess May and the African School. We are proud of it, the fact that we can draw in here all sorts of different groups.

We need a strong faith in ourselves, in our community. We need a clear mind, clear thoughts. We need to be open to everybody and not judge them and most important we must be willing to listen."

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