Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:12 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
Before “Great”- as if by a universal decision- was dropped as a prefix of “Great Britain,” that country carried its nose in the air all over the place like a supercilious camel. It strutted with the aplomb of a peacock, believing in its invincibility in the comity of nations. This was depicted in, Invasion 1897, a 2014 Nigerian movie produced and directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, which re-enacted the historical overthrow of Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi.
Trouble started when two men among the British-led party under Acting Consul General James Philips were ambushed and killed by some Benin soldiers. To punish the “natives”, the Benin Expedition of 1897 was raised under Admiral Sir Harry Rawson. It was a battle that gave no quarter! They ravaged the kingdom and sent the Oba to exile. After the conquest, the British soldiers sang with gusto:
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Apart from this song, Britain was regarded as “The Empire on which the sun never sets”. This is because the British Empire was so vast that at any one time there was daylight in one of the territories like New England (now, the United States), India, Australia, Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Papua New Guinea and others…That was what gave the cigar-smoking, face contorting but charismatic Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, to say in 1942, : “We mean to hold our own. I have not become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”
At a point, the Roman empire carried itself with such arrogance before it started suffering disintegration from its Byzantine end. Rome regarded countries around it as nose-picking and anus- scratching primitive people. Thus, it waved off nations like the Huns, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, and Visigoths (Goths), Germania, Britannia, Gaul, Spanniads, Phoenicians, North Africans as Barbarians. As recorded in penfield.edu: “The fall of Rome is an example of the domino effect. The domino effect comes from the idea of placing dominoes on their sides, one next to another, and then intentionally knocking the first one in the line over into its neighboring domino. This creates a chain reaction and all of the dominoes fall down, one after another. For the fall of Rome, it was the Huns invading from the east that caused the domino effect, they invaded (pushed into) the Goths, who then invaded (pushed into) the Roman Empire.”
Like the invasion of Rome by the Barbarians, something is happening in Britain. A Nigerian commentator put it this way: “Rule Britannia! The sun never set on the British empire. The chickens have come home to roost! Is this what Trump is trying to preempt? I’ m afraid it is too late – with almost a century of bloody interference in other countries internal affairs.” Beyond the liquidation of the empire by way of independence to the colonial territories in the past, there is a revolution happening inside the belly of the empire right now. The country is run by immigrants who are in charge of four most strategic offices of government: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is the grandson of Osman Ali Kemal (Turkish); First Minister and Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab is the son of Peter Raab (Czech Jewish); Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid is the son of Abdul Ghani-Javid (Pakistani); and Home Secretary, Priti Patel is the daughter of Sushil Patel (Indian).
First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the grandson of Osman Ali Kemal, Ottoman Turkish, (1867 – 6 November 1922). He was a journalist, newspaper editor, poet and a politician of liberal signature, who, according to some historians, was for some three months Minister of the Interior in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
Kemal’s father, Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi, was, as historians were quoted in Wikipedia, an Ottoman Turk from the village of Kalfat in Çankiri, whilst his mother was a Circassian, reputedly of slave origin. Kemal was a journalist who traveled widely and took his holidays in other countries. On one of several visits to Switzerland, he met and fell in love with an Anglo-Swiss girl, Winifred Brun, the daughter of Frank Brun by his marriage to Margaret Johnson. They were married in Paddington, London, Middlesex, on 11 September 1903.
The narrative has it more: “Early in his life, Kemal had acquired strong liberal democratic convictions, which caused him to be exiled from the Ottoman Empire under Abdul Hamid II, but immediately after the end of the Sultan’s personal rule in July 1908, he became one of the most prominent figures in Ottoman journalistic and political life. Because of his opposition to the Young Turks who had made the revolution, he spent most of the following decade in opposition.
He was at one time editor of the liberal Ikdam newspaper and a leading member of the Liberal Union.
In The Times dated 9 March 1909, on speculating that he would contest the seat of the late Minister of Justice Refik Bey, Kemal was described as amongst the “leading men of letters in Turkey, an excellent speaker, and personally very popular”. Kemal was unanimously adopted as the candidate to represent the parliamentary constituency of Stambul at a meeting of the Liberal Union on 9 March 1909.
After the murder of the editor-in-chief of the Serbestî newspaper, Hasan Fehmi, in April 1909, Kemal stated that he had warned Ismail Qemali and Rifsat, the assistant editor of Serbestî that they had been condemned by extremists in Salonica. A media storm between the liberal paper Ikdam and the conservative Tanin followed, with Ikdam accusing Ahmet Riza Bey of having been in favour of enlightened absolutism, and Tanin, the organ of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) accusing the Liberal Union of being a subversive body, conspiring with Armenians. At that time Kemal accused Rahmi Bey and Dr Nazim Bey of the Committee of Union and Progress of proposing his murder. These events became known as the 31 March Incident and were followed by the counter coup of 1909, an effort to dismantle the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire and replace it with an autocracy under Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Soldiers from Salonica deposed Abdul Hamid on 27 April 1909 and his brother Reshad Efendi was proclaimed as Sultan Mehmed V.
Kemal fled to exile in England, where in late 1909, his wife Winifred gave birth to a son, Osman Wilfred Kemal, at Bournemouth. Shortly after giving birth his wife died of puerperal fever. They already had a daughter named Selma. Kemal stayed with his mother-in-law Margaret Brun (née Johnson) and with his children, first in Christchurch, near Bournemouth, and then in Wimbledon, London until 1912, when he returned to the Ottoman Empire, soon marrying again. His second wife was Sabiha Hanim, the daughter of an Ottoman pasha. They had one son, Zeki Kuneralp, who was born in October 1914.
On his return from exile, Kemal made a speech in favour of a war against the Balkan League in Stambul on 3 October 1912. Montenegro started the First Balkan War by declaring war against the Ottomans on 8 October 1912.
On a report dated 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day) speculating on the successor to Ahmed Izzet Pasha, The Times reported that Kemal was backing Ahmet Tevfik Pasha to be grand vizier, with the support of the Naval and Khoja parties. A later report in The Times dated 19 May 1919, stated that Kemal had been appointed Minister of the Interior in the cabinet of Damat Ferid Pasha, replacing Mehmet Ali Bey who had retired. Kemal was one of the members of the Ottoman delegation to the Paris peace conference in June 1919. In an article dated 25 June 1919, The Times reported that Kemal had accused agents of the Committee of Union and Progress of impeding the restoration of order in the Ottoman provinces, specifically accusing Talat Pasha of organizing Albanian brigand bands in the Izmit and Enver Pasha of doing the same in the Panderma, Balikesir, and Karasi districts. He also alleged that the CUP had £700,000 of party funds available for propaganda as well as numerous fortunes made by profiteering during the Great War. In fact, Kemal had resigned between the filing of the report and its publication in The Times on 3 July 1919.
With unequaled passion, Kemal condemned the attacks on and massacres of the empire’s Armenians during the First World War and inveighed against the Ittihadist chieftains as the authors of that crime, relentlessly demanding their prosecution and punishment. In an 18 July 1919 issue of the Alemdar newspaper, Ali Kemal Bey wrote: “… our Minister of Justice has opened the doors of prisons. Don’t let us try to throw the blame on the Armenians; we must not flatter ourselves that the world is filled with idiots. We have plundered the possessions of the men whom we deported and massacred; we have sanctioned theft in our Chamber and our Senate. Let us prove that we have sufficient national energy to put the law into force against the heads of these bands who have trampled justice underfoot and dragged our honor and our national life through the dust.”
In a 28 January 1919 issue of the Sabah newspaper, Kemal Bey wrote, “Four or five years ago a historically singular crime has been perpetrated, a crime before which the world shudders. Given its dimensions and standards, its authors do not number in the fives, or tens, but in the hundreds of thousands. In fact, it has already been demonstrated that this tragedy was planned on the basis of a decision reached by the Central Committee of Ittihad.”
He campaigned also against the Kemalist movement. Along with other conservatives serving under the Sultan in Istanbul, Kemal also set up an organisation known as the Ingiliz Muhipler Cemiyeti (“The Anglophile Society”), which advocated British protectorate status for Turkey. This, combined with his past opposition to the Committee of Union and Progress, made him anathema to the nationalist movement gathering strength in Ankara and fighting the Turkish War of Independence against the attempts between Greece and the Entente Powers to partition Anatolia.
On 4 November 1922, Kemal was kidnapped from a barber shop at Tokatliyan Hotel in Istanbul, and was carried to the Anatolian side of the city by a motor boat en route to Ankara for a trial on charges of treason. On 6 November 1922, the party was intercepted at Izmit by General Nureddin Pasha, then the Commander of the First Army, which was aligned with Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Kemal was attacked and lynched by a mob set up by Nureddin with sticks, stones and knives, and hanged from a tree. His head was smashed by cudgels and he was stoned to death.
During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was one of the Central Powers allied with the German Empire, and Kemal’s son and daughter living in England adopted their maternal grandmother’s maiden name of Johnson. His son Osman also began to use his middle name of Wilfred as his first name. (Osman) Wilfred Johnson later married Irene Williams (the daughter of Stanley F. Williams of Bromley, Kent, by his marriage to Marie Luise, Freiin von Pfeffel, born in 1882 and their son Stanley Johnson became an expert on the environment and population studies and a member of the European Parliament representing the Conservative Party. His son Boris Johnson, Kemal’s great-grandson, was editor of The Spectator and a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and now Prime Minister.”
Also, the First Minister and Foreign Secretary Dominic, Raab is the son of Peter Raab (Czech Jewish). According to m.jpost.com: when he vied for the post of Primi Minister after the exit of Theresa May, Dominic narrated his family background: “Eighty years ago in 1938, Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. The lucky few fled, some of them to Britain. One Jewish family arrived in England with a little boy called Peter. He was six years old and he spoke no English. That little boy grew up knowing that his grandmother, his grandfather, most of his relatives, the loved ones left behind, had been systematically murdered for no other reason than that they were Jews,” Raab said.
“ That little boy learned English. He got into a grammar school. He grasped the opportunities and embraced the tolerance that our great country has to offer. He became food manager at Marks & Spencer. He married a clothes buyer, Church of England girl from Bromley. But he never forgot what happened to his family. That little boy was my father. I will honor his memory by fighting the scourge of antisemitism and racism until my last breath…My father came to Britain as a refugee, a Czech Jew. He married my mother, an English Protestant.
I married a Brazilian Catholic. When we have children, I’ve got no idea which box they should tick on the diversity questionnaires. I hope they’ve been scrapped by then. Because I want my children to grow up in a metocratic society, where they are judged as individuals – blind to race, religion, gender and sexuality.”
Another immigrant occupying a critical position is Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, the son of Abdul Ghani-Javid, a Pakistani bus driver who became Britain’s home secretary. What links Sajid Javid (Britain’s first Muslim-heritage home secretary), Sadiq Khan (London’s first Muslim mayor), and Sayeeda Warsi (the first Muslim to sit in the British cabinet)? They’re all, according to a report by theconversation.com, the children of post-war Pakistani immigrants who came to the UK in the 1960s in search of a better life. And all three had fathers who were bus drivers. Javid, Khan and Warsi, the bus-driver-kid crew, have driven hard and fast to achieve high political office.
The report has it further: “Javid’s is a story of rags to riches to political power. With a “£1 note in his pocket”, his father, Abdul Ghani, settled in Rochdale, working in a cotton mill and then on the buses – and nicknamed “Mr Night and Day because he used to work every hour God sent his way”. Eventually the family moved to Bristol, and Javid, like his heroine Margaret Thatcher (he once revealed he had a poster of her on his office wall), lived in a flat above a shop. And though his school career adviser told him “Stapleton Road kids don’t go to university”, Javid went on to read economics and politics at Exeter. He was the first in his family to graduate.
At 25, Javid became the youngest vice-president at Chase Manhattan Bank. His reputation for success led him to be headhunted by Deutsche Bank where, as the head of credit trading, he earned £3m.
Javid entered politics as MP for Bromsgrove (Worcestershire) in 2010 – a move which reportedly saw him take a 98% pay cut. He enjoyed a close relationship with George Osborne and worked under the then chancellor as treasury minister in 2012. He got his first cabinet post in 2014 as the secretary of state for culture, media and sport. He has also held the office of secretary of state for business, innovation and skills and secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.
Now Javid has taken one of the very top jobs, following the resignation of Amber Rudd as home secretary. Her departure was, on the surface, tied to her “inadvertently” misleading MPs over the use of deportation targets in her department. But her downfall came after weeks of pressure over the way the government has treated the Windrush generation, who came to the UK in 1948 aboard the Empire Windrush, and now face having their rights curtailed because they cannot formally prove their right to stay.
Identity once didn’t seem to matter much to Javid (when asked about his background) he used to state “I don’t think about it” but that seems to have changed recently. His immigrant background has coloured his response to the Windrush crisis. Asked about the situation before joining the Home Office, he said: “I’m a second-generation migrant, my parents came to this country from Pakistan, just like the Windrush generation, obviously a different part of the world, from South Asia not the Caribbean, but other than that, similar in almost every way.”
Javid and Theresa May are known to have their differences. He was highly critical of the prime minister’s ill-fated 2017 election campaign. Although, had that all turned out differently, with May being resoundingly re-elected, it could have finished off Javid’s political rise and led him to backbench oblivion.”
The other immigrant holding a critical posi
tion is Home Secretary Priti Patel, the daughter of Sushil Patel, an Indian. Her ancestry is recorded in Indianexpress.com. Priti Patel, Britain’s first Home Secretary of Indian origin, has her roots in Tarapur in Gujarat’s Anand district, from where her father Sushil Patel’s family comes. Priti, Britain’s new Home Secretary, will be in charge of immigration, crime and policing, counter-terrorism and drugs policy. She is an old Eurosceptic and a powerful backer of Brexit, and one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s main supporters within the Conservative Party. She also has a hard-right record and has thrown her weight behind a tougher asylum regime and a stricter immigration policy.
According to the report: “Born in London in March 1972 to Sushil and Anjana Patel, she went to school in Watford. She studied economics at Keele University, before completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex. The family was a victim of the expulsion of Ugandan Asian minorities that was ordered by Idi Amin, the former President of Uganda, in 1970s, her relatives said.
‘It was in the 1950s that my father and Priti’s grandfather moved to Uganda. They ran a convenience store there. We were all born in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) and grew up there until the Amin regime expelled us,” Kiran Patel, Priti’s father’s cousin, a resident of Vidyanagar and vice-president of Charusat Kelvani Mandal said. While Priti’s grandfather Kantibhai thought it was best to move to United Kingdom, my father decided to come back to India. Priti was born in Britain,” he added.
Their families were farmers until they moved to Uganda, Kiran, who is now a British national, said. “Sushil’s family was very well settled in Tarapur as farmers and also in Uganda, where they ran their store. After moving to the UK, they took up jobs in that country. The British government helped all migrants a lot,” he said. The landowning Patels, most of whom are NRIs, get the name “Charotari Patels” from central Gujarat’s Charotar region, where they have their roots.
Kiran said that although Sushil and his younger brother Kirit regularly visit their homes in Gujarat, Priti has not visited Tarapur. Her visit to Gujarat in the past has been limited to representing the UK at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, he added.
‘We are not in direct touch with her or her family. However, I am in very close contact with her uncle Kirit, and her parents also regularly visit India every couple of years. It’s a matter of pride for us that she is one of our family, and has achieved so much,’ Kiran said.”’