Vanessa Collingridge and the team answer listener’s historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all ‘make’ history.
23 December 2008
Vanessa Collingridge and the team explore themes from Britain’s past thanks to queries raised by listener’s own historical research.
Making History returns on Tuesday 31st March 2009.
Asian Migration to East Africa
Whilst researching the pre-immigrant history of Southall, Making History discovered that many younger Asian listeners didn’t really understand a key part of their family migration history. These are youngsters from East African Asian families whose parents and grandparents were either kicked out of Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972 or left places such as Tanzania because of land or financial reforms. The question is, however, when did these people move to East Africa and why?
Making History’s Krupa Thakrar spoke to her uncle Dhiru-bhai Davda who told the story of how the menfolk of her family were forces out of the Gujarat by famine in the 1880’s and set up home in Zanzibar and then what became Tanzania. They thrived when the British took over after the First World War but when the country got independence in 1963 the incoming government’s socialist policies were not conducive to their entrepreneurial skills and so they moved to Britain.
Making History also consulted Professor Rachel Dwyer at SOAS University of London who discussed the bigger story of Asian migration to East Africa and how this was largely fuelled by the needs of colonialists in East Africa particularly at the time the railways were arriving from the 1880’s onwards. She explained that the Indian population provided the practical and managerial skills that were needed and the majority moved of their own free will to escape the poverty of their part of India to take up the challenge of the newly expanding East African economies. Despite the challenges of independence in the twentieth century there is still a thriving Asian population in East Africa. However, over half of Britain’s Asian community has family links with East Africa.
Making History wants to hear from Asian listeners who can recall their journey from east Africa to Britain. In particular those who were housed in military camps on arrival. Please email email@example.com if you have a story to share.
A fat history
Making History consulted Dr Elizabeth Hurren at Oxford Brookes University on the history of a topic that now seems to dominate our lives: body-size. When did we start to worry about fat?
Dr Hurren explained that in earlier times fat people were wealthy people (as they could afford to over-indulge) and this was the look that people desired. Further more, men would be more desirous of larger women if they were intent on having children as it was thought that they were more able to survive childbirth. Dr Hurren pointed out that it was the rise in processed foods and sugars that started to promote fat in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In particular industrialisation saw the increasing mechanisation of food production and the demand for better-fed labour.
The modern idea of ‘thin’ being an ideal – particularly for women – came about in the 1920’s. Mrs Simpson said that no one could be ‘too rich or too thin’ and she was the striking example of an almost boyish look. This was the age of the ‘flappers’; hectic social lives and athletic dancing – no wonder people were thin! But, this look – or even ‘ideal’ – sustained itself through the work of designers such as Coco Chanel and then of course the deprivations of war and austerity.
History of Doll’s Houses
Making History listener Edna Flynn recalls a doll’s house her father made for her in the 1920’s – with electric lights! She wondered what the history of doll’s houses is. Making History consulted Halina Pasierbska the author of Dolls' Houses: From the V&A Museum of Childhood.
For more information on gallopers please see the National Fairground Archive. Please note that we will expand details on this topic in the New Year with a sequence of photographs we are putting together.
Vanessa has presented science and current affairs programmes for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery and has presented for BBC Radio 4 & Five Live and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, Scotsman and Sunday Herald.
Contact Making History
Send your comments and questions for future programmes to:
BBC Radio 4
PO Box 3096 Brighton