Sunday, March 11, 2007

A book worth reading - Okrafo

Victor Okrafo-Smart began researching his family history, it took him to Africa and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

After taking early retirement Victor Okrafo-Smart embarked on a quest to discover his family history, he went right back to 1807.

His research took him back to the year of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, and it was here that he found that the Okrafo family had had a lucky escape.

Victor discovered through his uncle that despite the Okrafo family coming from a royal household in Nigeria, they were still taken as slaves (by countries not taking part in the Act). Victor explains what happened next...

"They ended up in Sierra Leone because they were already on a slave ship.... Then slavery was abolished.

"One of the conditions of the enforcement of the act was that the British naval crews intercepted the slave boats.

"The human cargos settled in Free Town [Sierra Leone] and they were known as the 'liberated Africans'." 


Victor's late great aunt lived in Sierra Leone. Before she died she told Victor that their family were once missionaries.

Victor's book

Victor went to the Church Missionary archives in Birmingham where he read journals written by his great-grandfather."

"This gave me a lot of information... on an occasion it gave me a vivid description of slavery practiced by the Africans, Africans had slaves before the Europeans had slaves!"

Victor found that his family during the last 200 years have been doctors, lawyers, engineers and nurses - which never would have happened had the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act not been realised.

Victor has written a book about his family.

"I wanted to show that here was one family that was lucky enough not go into slavery and this is what came out of it, they were educated and they gave a lot back..."

To get a copy of Victor's book call him on +44 (0)7710 376754.

The Author

From a background of working in mental health, Victor has always been interested in writing. Whilst a pupil in the Methodist Boys’ High School in Freetown, he wrote poems which were published in one of the local newspapers.

He has always been interested in researching and writing his family history. As a boy in Sierra Leone, he was told stories of his ancestors being rescued from a slave ship from Nigeria, bound for the New World.

Before embarking on his research, he took a two- year course at Nottingham Trent University gaining a Master’s degree in history and gender. Whilst at University, he became very interested in African / Caribbean History. He has paid a high tribute to his Tutor Judith Rowbotham, who encouraged him to write his family history.

Listen to Victor's story (needs Real Player)

Link to BBC - Nottingham - Abolition - A family's journey from 1807