The statement alone suggests that the programme first aired in the mid 1970s should be remembered as a one off! Yes it was 30 years ago when the programme / mini-series Roots first aired. Amongst, the Queen’s Silver jubilee and the rise of Punk, we saw the reality of deep inhumanity. My view is that the history Roots showed the world, something that should never be forgotten. Yet, there is lots of history that is still hidden?
Why is it that humans can be so cruel to each other, conducing genocide after genocide? Africa, Germany, India – the list goes on. Cruelty morphs itself into many different guises. Today it is not the colonial elements that influence but greedy corporations naively supporting an environment of slavery. For example, cocoa workers and clothing manufacturers. Workers are trapped by the trust that local agents misguide and abuse.
On Monday 22nd October 2007, too late for what I consider peak viewing, the BBC1 aired the documentary, ‘Roots Remembered’. This could be described as typical ethnic viewing hours or was it just a scheduling issue?
The programme covered the typical format of comments from journalists, actors and a change from the normal format, people I’d actually heard of. Interjections of selective parts of Alex Haley’s Roots television series brought home a reminder of the brutality of what happened.
It was interesting to note that before Roots, history lessons skimmed over what actually happened. Alex reawakened this undocumented and probably intentionally lost history. Was it shame that stopped historians logging what happened or political? The rich history of Africa had been blocked from public view. Many may argue that it still is. How did the Dutch and Nigerian connection take place?
This blocking from the public eye continues today. We are trapped in our day-to-day survival tactics but our luxuries have no reference or standing compared to a child in poverty. Our view of the world is controlled heavily by what is considered newsworthy.
Today the world suffers and it is like listening to someone but not acknowledging what has been said. We see the situation but grant ourselves powerless to speak against it. We know that justice can prevail but leave it to others to fight for their rights.
British history and other histories are hidden from public view. For example, how was General Dyer shot at Caxton Hall? How was Dileep Singh torn away from his kingdom or how were the early immigrants to the UK treated in the 1950s?
Roots remembered was a late night documentary yet the true essence of what the series brought us was a chance to reconsider how those scars occurred in the first place.
There is an opportunity for us to shout louder for more knowledge about what happened in the past in an accessible way, not skimmed but with openness to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes again. Write to the BBC, we pay for it!
Sadly we do not learn from our past, maybe because we are intentionally made ignorant of it or are we just too busy to try to learn about it ourselves.