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  • Aleja Taddesse

Young Historians at work: Turning the camera onto our story

As we reach a quarter of the way through our current project, 'African Women and the British Health Service 1930 - 2000', two young historians have marked the milestone with a short video charting our progress.

The video, titled 'YHP’s journey so far: Uncovering the History of African women and the British Health Service (1930-2000)' was the result of a creative collaboration between YHP members, Daniella Ekundayo and Jasmine Breinburg, with some help from our friends at The Rainbow Collective.

We debuted the video in a public screening at South London Gallery on 1st June, as part of “Local History Weekend” - an initiative supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the varied stories which make up South London’s history. For attendees who found themselves here on this day of soaring temperatures, the film was followed up with a chance to speak to Daniella and Jasmine about the creative process, and their experiences as YHP volunteers. Both Jasmine and Daniella have an interest in film and the merits of film-making, and for Daniella this interest has driven her to pursue film at university.

The idea for the short film came about initially as a way of conveying the different strands of young historians’ work to date. With interviews and research well underway, film represents a pertinent medium for communicating our work.

Starting against the backdrop of the iconic Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, the film stitches together many elements of YHP’s activities- from the filming and sound recording training undertaken by our volunteers, to the interactive podcast workshop with Muneera Pilgrim of Everyday Muslim. Music is woven throughout the film, creating a layer of story telling which is both evocative and visceral.

We also hear from Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, the UK’s first ever Sickle Cell and Thalassemia specialist. She tells us about how until Black communities and health professionals in various “sickle cell activism hotspots” in Britain fought to bring the lack of services to the fore, the UK health authorities continued to sideline the issue on a national scale. As someone who went to school with a number of students directly affected by this disease, this in particular drives home the significance of the contributions of such women.

To end, I will leave you with a quote from Jasmine, who shares her thoughts on the training opportunities provided through YHP:

“ It gives us avenues to take the history that we have learned and to make it more engaging so other people can learn about it too.”

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