Saving Mes Aynak


Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ newsletter!

In the UK, not a day goes by without another ‘news story’ about statues, Cecil Rhodes, Edward Colston, the National Trust or ‘cultural wars’.

As for the heritage sector, the Royal Historical Societys ‘Contested Heritage’ article, for instance, emphasises ‘the Haldane Principle’, while the Museum Association prefers to stress the impact of new stringent rules by the government.

I however would like to highlight two films. The first one is the award-winning heritage film Saving Mes Aynak’, which is about a 5,000-year-old Buddhist archaeological site in Afghanistan that is in danger of being destroyed by a Chinese State-owned mining company that seeks to extract $100 billion worth of copper.

The second film is a free short You Tube video that I would recommend watching. It is called Gaza: Arts of Resilience and Hope in the Midst of Despair’.

Stay Safe,

Thushari Perera


A digital resource on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Issues

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Protect campaign calls on civil society to help fix the UK’s whistleblowing law, Protect, 2021

“The UK whistleblowing law – the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) – is out-of-date. Too many people who speak up are ignored or victimised. Too many people are not protected by PIDA.”


Namibia chiefs reject “insulting” German aid offer over colonial killings, Deutsche Welle, 31 May 2021

“The Council of Chiefs, a body representing the Herero and Nama people, have rejected an offer to fund infrastructure projects in Namibia as a means of apologizing for the genocide during Germany’s colonial rule.”


The remarkable story of Harry Edward: Britain’s first black Olympian, The Observer, 16 May 2021

“Harry Edward, who took 100m bronze at the 1920 Antwerp Games, enjoyed an extraordinary running career but he deserves to be far better remembered… When he died, after a heart attack on a trip to visit his sister Irene in Germany in 1973, the New York Times printed a five-paragraph obituary, while the black New York Amsterdam News printed a larger article, alongside a picture of Edward with King George V back in 1922. Not a single line was printed in the British press.”

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India – Reforming Medicine: Dr. Krishnabai Kelavkar, History Workshop, 6 May 2021

“In 1923, Dr Krishnabai Kelavkar – a social reformer and one of the earliest women physicians in India – established the eponymous Kelavkar Medical Centre at Kolhapur. Nearly a century later, the institution stands as a reminder of the early contributions of women physicians to the male dominated field of western medicine in colonial India… Remembering the remarkable lives of the early women physicians points to the potential promise of the unfinished project of social reform for the Indian medical profession and public health more widely, and the need for continued work to challenge intersecting inequities – caste alongside gender.”


Gaming in colour: uncovering video games’ black pioneers, The Guardian, 5 May 2021

“Jerry Lawson led the invention of cartridges, Ed Smith made a hybrid console/PC, and designer Muriel Tramis won France’s highest honour for bringing history into play. How many more names are forgotten?”


A Muslim history of the UK, Al Jazeera, 3 May 2021

“How one woman is creating space for an often untold alternative British history…Britain’s more than 3.3 million-strong Muslim community is heterogeneous. The largest part of the religious group originates from South Asia, but there are also Arab and African communities, Muslims from Southeast Asia, the Balkans and Turkey, as well as those who have converted or are the descendants of converts, all with histories waiting to be told. EMHAI aims to tell these stories and create space in history for a group Ahmed says has largely been “absent from places such as museums and archives”.”



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Video: Gaza: Arts of Resilience and Hope in the Midst of Despair, SIRIUS, 11 May 2021

“What is the role of art and artists in an extreme case of violence such as in Gaza, and what can we learn from Gazan artists about hope and resilience? The form of slow violence in Gaza operated by Israel seems to be forgotten but the people of the Gaza Strip continue to live without free access to the outside world. Years of protracted humanitarian crisis have all but exhausted the resilience of the two million Gazans. In the midst of chaos and despair there remains hope, particularly expressed in Gazan art.”


Puppet of refugee girl to ‘walk’ across Europe along 12-week arts festival trail, The Guardian, 11 May 2021

“A giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee girl is to “walk” from Turkey to the UK through villages, towns and cities for one of the most ambitious and complex public artworks ever attempted. The Walk project…the 5,000 mile (8,000km) journey of Little Amal, from Gaziantep, near the Turkish-Syrian border, to Manchester, will take place over 12 weeks from 27 July.”


African lives in England, The Voice, 12 May 2021

“English Heritage exhibition will take place at six historic sites across the country

Painting our Past: The African Diaspora in England will open on June 9, 2021 (subject to government guidelines, these timings may change – please check the English Heritage website for up-to-date details).”


World Afro Day: The Big Hair Assembly launches its student film competition, ITV News, 3 May 2021

“Winners of the competition will have their film shown to millions of people across the globe in September on what will be the 5th anniversary of World Afro Day… some school rules across the UK still list afro hairstyles as ‘distracting’ and while this is the case, these students are determined to help change that. Aaliyah: “I want to make sure that no other girl has to go through that, no other young black child should ever feel like that because it is such an isolating feeling.””

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UK Disability Arts Alliance 2021 Survey Report – We Shall Not Be Removed

“The UK Disability Arts Alliance is marking the first anniversary of its campaign by revealing the findings of a new survey that highlights significant threats to the continued participation of creative deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people in the cultural sector.”


England rugby star Maro Itoje is showcasing ‘untold’ Black history through an art exhibition, CNN, 21 May 2021

“Celebrating everything from South African jazz to a 20,000-year-old mathematical artifact, “A History Untold” aims to showcase Africa’s diverse contribution to world history.

The exhibition is presented by England rugby player Maro Itoje whose love of African art was formed by regular trips to Nigeria, the country of his parents’ birth. Itoje grew up in London but has always felt a strong connection to his Nigerian ancestry.”


Ladi Ladebo: A pioneer of Nigerian cinema, BBC News, 23 May 2021

“Filmmaker Ladi Ladebo, who has died aged 78, was one of the pioneers of Nigerian cinema in the celluloid-era optimism of the 1970s, and wrote the screenplay for one of the most important black films ever made. His death in London came nearly 20 years after his last directorial effort, Heritage. The film had its UK premiere at the Khalili Theatre of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in 2004. Centred on the trade in African artefacts fuelled by the international art market, the film feels prescient in light of the current debate about the restitution of African art treasures from museums of the West.”


Black experience of Britain since 1940s charted in ICA exhibition, ICA, 1 June 2021

“Ten years on from the UK-wide riots sparked by the police killing of Mark Duggan, the story of frontline black communities’ resistance to institutional racism and UK policing is the focus of a unique exhibition…War Inna Babylon: The Community’s Struggle for Truths and Rights is at the ICA from 6 July – 26 September 2021. Further details available at”


The Uneasy History of Swimming and Race, as Relayed Through Art, Hyperallergic, 26 May 2021

“Swimming has been racialized for 3,000 years, but for most of that time it was Africans who were good swimmers, and Europeans who tried to keep up.”




Saving Mes Aynak Film

Video: Saving Mes Aynak

“The award-winning film SAVING MES AYNAK follows archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races against time to save a 5,000-year-old Buddhist archeological site in Afghanistan from imminent demolition by a Chinese State-owned mining company, who plan to destroy Mes Aynak to mine for $100 billion worth of copper.”


House of One’: Berlin lays first stone for multi-faith worship centre, The Guardian, 27 May 2021

“Muslims, Jews and Christians are to be united for worship under one roof in Berlin in a groundbreaking project called ‘House of One’. The cornerstone of the multi-denominational temple was laid in the German capital on Thursday with supporters saying they hoped it would forge greater understanding between the three religions. A mosque, a synagogue and a church will be combined on the site on Leipziger Strasse…”


New Bath Abbey exhibition to reveal links with colonialism and slave trade, Bath Echo, 20 May 2021

“The ‘Monuments, Empire and Slavery’ exhibition, which will run from 24th May to 4th September, will focus on a number of the Abbey’s memorials that reveal the relationships between those commemorated in the Abbey, the city of Bath, the British Empire, and the slave trade in the 1700 and 1800s…Alongside the exhibition, Bath Abbey is hosting a panel discussion to explore the Abbey’s historical connections with slavery and empire, and how the public can learn from the past to shape the future. The event will be held on 25th June, 7.00-8.30pm via Zoom in front of a live virtual audience.”


Climate change is destroying the oldest cave paintings in the world, Euronews, 26 May 2021

“The recently published study states that one of the factors putting these ancient Indonesian paintings in danger is that they are located in the tropics, where global warming can be up to three times higher than in Europe.”


Pioneering civil engineer Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia honoured with blue plaque, Asian Image, 19 May 2021

“He was at the forefront of introducing new inventions to Bombay (now Mumbai), including gaslight, photography, electro-plating and the sewing machine. He first visited London in 1839 and soon after was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society – the first south Asian to receive that distinction. We are delighted to honour him with a blue plaque, at the Richmond home where he settled in later life.”


Scotland and the Caribbean, National Museum of Scotland, May 2021

“What do museum collections reveal about Britain’s and Scotland’s role in the Transatlantic slave system and the experiences of enslaved people? In this specially commissioned piece of work, Lisa Williams, Director of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association, explores these themes through some of the objects on display at the National Museum of Scotland”


Cecil Rhodes statue will not be removed by Oxford College, BBC News, 20 May 2021

“Lord Mendoza, provost of Oriel College, said the college was “fully aware of the impact our decision is likely to have in the UK and further afield”. “We understand this nuanced conclusion will be disappointing to some, but we are now focused on the delivery of practical actions aimed at improving outreach and the day-to-day experience of BME students”…The governing body said it agreed to a virtual exhibition to “provide an arena for contextualisation and explanation of the Rhodes legacy”…A report had been due to be published in January but it was delayed twice…”

Book From Wulfstan to Colston

Colston Events & Resources, M-Shed, Bristol Museums, June 2021

3 June 2021: From Wulfstan to Colston: Book launch and panel discussion

4 June—5 September 2021: The Colston statue: What next? Exhibition

8 June 2021: The Colston Statue: What next? – developing the museum display


Epic Iran, Victoria and Albert Museum, 29 May – 12 September 2021, ArtFund, 2021

“The UK’s first major exhibition on Iranian art and culture in more than 90 years, bringing together 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. Epic Iran (V&A site) will explore 5,000 years of art, design and culture, from 3000 BCE to the present day. From sculpture, ceramics and carpets, to textiles, photography and film, the exhibition will comprise rarely seen objects from the V&A alongside international loans and significant private collections, including The Sarikhani Collection.”

Previous Issues of the Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ here

Image Credits: Pixabay, Saving Mes Aynak DVD, Saving Mes Aynak Film Poster, From Wulfstan to Colston Book Cover.

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