The UK census of 2001 indicates 1,148,738 of Black British recorded as living in the country at the time. The figure does not include people of mixed Black and another ethnicity. It appears among the group Black Africans now outnumber Afro-Caribbeans in the UK. Largest subgroups of the Black British community are Nigerians, Jamaicans, Ghanaians and Zimbabweans.
Although that census showed only 1.1 million Black British people, there were an estimated 1.4 million Black people in England alone in 2007, some community estimates suggest the figure to be much higher (with the possibility of up to 3 million Nigerians and 1.5 million Ghanaians in the UK). In other European countries, Black people have big communities, particularly in France, Germany, and Italy. For example, Senegalese and Malians are the most represented national groups, especially in France.
There are other African nationalities less visible in European statistics: Somalis, Kenyans, Ugandans, or Rwandans. All these communities moved to Europe for multiple and sometime complex reasons. One particular case is of Rwandans after the 1994 genocide in their country. A number of years have passed since the tragedy that country encountered. Tim Whewell’s film, ‘What is the true price of Rwanda’s recovery’, which passed on Newsnight on Wednesday 31/3/10 at 10.30 pm on BBC Two, portrays among other things a picture of Rwanda today including strong ties between the country and Britain. The British government, as Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor, donates about £50m ($75m) a year in aid, most of which goes straight into central government coffers.
However, for the last 16 years, Paul Kagame’s government has suppressed most human rights the West takes for granted. ‘There is practically no freedom of expression, political space for any kind of opposition is extremely limited, and anyone trying to criticise or challenge the government is subject to intimidation or threats or worse,” says Carina Tertsakian from Human Rights Watch.
Rwanda has in the past been accused by UN experts of interfering in his neighbours’ affairs, by supporting militias, namely CNDP of ex chef rebel Nkunda, to illegally exploiting mineral resources of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and cause mayhem in Eastern Congo. This involvement in looting other countries’ wealth resulted in some Rwanda’s partners for development suspending or reducing their financial support.
Further to the tally of millions of lives which has been lost in the Great Lakes region for the last 15 years, this because of the violent policies of the duo Paul Kagame/ Kaguta Museveni, for example British Africans who come from that region would like to see a change in the unconditional support that Britain gives to these two criminal regimes.
In the mentioned film, Tim Whewell concludes saying that whoever between Labour and Tories British political parties will win the general elections, support to Paul Kagame’s regime would remain. What if the Liberal Democrats get a substantial fraction of Westminster power? Will such waste of British taxpayers’ money go on strengthening criminal dictatorships in Rwanda and Uganda?
“We have a situation where British money is serving to prop up a (Rwandan) government that is routinely violating the rights of its citizens,’ says Carina Tertsakian from Human Rights Watch.
British Africans, who are from the Great Lakes region in particular and eligible to vote in UK, have opted to vote neither Labour nor Conservatives, because of current UK ties with Rwanda and Uganda regimes. They would rather for example vote for Liberal Democrats if this party could pledge significant change in UK foreign policy towards the two countries and put more pressure for more democracy and respect of human rights.
UK voters from that region have started campaigning on above issues among their communities.