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We join BAME Rep Nathan on the Slavery Trade History Tour in Glasgow
This year Nathan Epemolu, Strath Union BAME Rep, has been working in collaboration with CRER, the Coalition of Racial Equality & Rights, to arrange Slavery Trade History Tours for Strathclyde students and last week we followed the tour for an insight into Glasgow's history and connections to it.
We met up at the David Livingstone Statue in Cathedral Square where Nathan gave an introduction the excellent tour guides Nelson and Yasmin who led us from Cathedral Square to The Duke of Wellington Statue at Royal Exchange Square via High Street and George Square for a highly informative and interactive walk. Along the way we took closer looks at statues and memorials we walk past every day in the city and heard about the lives of those they are dedicated to.
After the tour we spoke with Nathan about working with CRER to bring this opportunity for Strath Students to learn more about Glasgow.
What inspired you to collaborate with CRER on this project?
I’d taken one of their tours in 2017 in my first year of uni. At that time, I knew of the vague connections between Glasgow and the transatlantic slave trade, but not the specifics and it really was an informative tour. By the time I started as BAME Rep last April I had a much clearer idea of what had taken place in Glasgow’s past and the present hallmarks of that past in the street names and architecture of many of the city centre buildings. One of my manifesto points was to make this part of Glasgow’s past and present accessible to all students, year-round. Until this point you could only take the CRER tour during black history month in October. I wanted to change that, I saw working with the CRER as key to make this goal more of a reality.
What is the purpose of the tour for those who have no or little knowledge about Glasgow’s mercantile past?
The purpose of the tour is to take you from knowing little to knowing a lot about Glasgow’s connections to the transatlantic slave trade in a little under 2 hours. This tour is taken by the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, who dedicate their work to the advancement of equal rights in Scotland and the UK. So they have studied this topic extensively. It’ll help you see Glasgow in a new light – one of improved understanding of the progress Glasgow has made, but correctly juxtaposed with the inhumanity of the acts some of the “mercantile fathers” of Glasgow participated in. The city we’re calling home played a large role in acts we now right describe as racist, inhumane and debasing. And I think it’s important to be able to recognise that.
How important is it that this tour is accessible to Strathclyde students all year round?
It is very important to me that Strathclyde Students can access this tour all year round. In addition to these tours now we are already arranging more tours during Freshers 2022 and I harbour plans to have us pay a production company to produce a high-quality video/audio guide of this tour so the knowledge can be given to students in an accessible way, come rain or shine – let’s be real, here it’ll more likely be raining!
How do the tours continue the focus on creating lasting change all year round from Strath Union’s 2021 Black History Month?
The tours will do a couple things to promote lasting change all year round. Firstly, we’ll clearly see how much of the present-day Glasgow still bears scars and homage to this troubling time in the city’s past. Our street names, statues, buildings, and establishments bear witness to this past. So, by increasing our awareness and knowledge of what came before, we’ll be far better informed to shape our future. Also, I want to attach Strathclyde more closely as the place of “useful learning” to learning about the social and historical context in which Strathclyde itself sits. Between the tours, the decolonise the curriculum initiative, the Graham Hills Mural and more. I want students of colour to look at Strathclyde and see that at last efforts are being made to ensure those who study here not only become intelligent, capable participants in the future, but also cognisant, thoughtful, socially adept learners of the past.
Keep an eye on our Freshers page for details of tours running again in September 2022!