Libmonster ID: UK-1463
Author(s) of the publication: G. A. KARPOV


Candidate of Historical Sciences

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: Great Britain, Africa, migration

Recently, the British authorities and the media have been paying great attention to migration and interethnic relations. Prime Minister David Cameron twice - in an election speech on November 28, 2014,1 and a speech on May 21, 2015,2-declared that the country has built one of the most successful "multi-racial democracies"in the world. Such an uncontroversial statement, against the backdrop of Cameron's recognition of the failure of multiculturalism in February 20113, is self-confident.

The British media did not focus on these words of the Prime Minister. However, one in six of the country's 64.5 million inhabitants today belongs to one or another overseas diaspora. UK domestic politics are already unthinkable

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without taking into account what is happening among ethnic minorities, including African communities.

Africans in the UK began to arrive actively in the second half of the XX century. For the shortest period of time by historical standards since 1951, the number of migrants from African countries, at least doubling every 10 years, by 2015 exceeded 1.2 million people. The largest number of African migrants in the UK born outside the country falls on South Africa (211 thousand), Nigeria (190 thousand), Kenya (133 thousand), Zimbabwe (125 thousand), Somalia (102 thousand), Ghana (80 thousand), Uganda (52 thousand), Zambia (35 thousand).), Tanzania (35 thousand)4.

Africans were traveling to the UK in search of work, education, and political asylum. The majority of African migrants arrived in the 1960s and 1980s. Further growth is mainly due to family reunification and the high birth rate among second-and third-generation Africans.

At least 10 million residents of modern Britain are members of ethnic minorities (mainly migrants and their descendants in the second or third generation, who settled in the country in the last 50-60 years). These include at least 1.4 million Indians, 1.1 million Pakistanis, and more than 1.9 million Africans, along with migrants of Afro-Caribbean origin. At the same time, the number of Englishmen, for example, for 10 years, from 2001 to 2011, decreased by 468 thousand people, and their share in the total population of England decreased from 87% to 79%, respectively.

Migrants from Africa in the UK represent one of the youngest segments of the population. The average age of Africans is 25 years, the tradition of having many children has not been lost among them, 16% of families consist of 5 or more people. This is especially noticeable against the background of the depressing demographic situation among the steadily aging indigenous population, where the birth rate has been below the level of natural reproduction for the last 40 years.5

Current trends include a decrease (absolute and relative) in the share of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in the total flow of visitors to the country. If in 2011 22 thousand people came from this region, then in 2012 - already 19 thousand, and in 2013 - 15 thousand, in 2014-18 thousand. During the same period, the total number of migrants from Europe, due to the EU enlargement, for example, not only did not decrease, but even increased, especially from Bulgaria and Romania.6

In 2014, the British authorities issued 545,000 entry visas for highly sought-after professionals, which is approximately equal to the figures for the previous decade of 2005-2014, when an average of 500-600 thousand entry visas were issued per year. However, the share of Africans (from all countries in Africa) has significantly decreased - from 99 thousand in 2005 to 62 thousand. In 2014.7 this may be due to a decline in the educational level of visitors from African countries, where many skilled workers have already obtained visas earlier.

Total migration to the country is stable at the level of 600-700 thousand people per year. In this migration flow, 15-20 thousand Africans are not very noticeable. However, this does not change the fact that migrants from Africa and their descendants in the UK are active and have a serious impact on almost all spheres of life in British society. The authorities cannot ignore the problems and processes taking place among Africans, especially among young people. Young people of African descent took an active part in the urban riots in August 2011. The problems of unemployment, education, and domestic discrimination remain relevant.


Traditionally, one of the most important criteria for successful integration of migrants and their descendants is their mastery of the host language. Naturally, the Africans of Great Britain, especially the descendants of migrants, those who were born and raised in their new homeland, speak English quite tolerably.

Of interest is the reverse process, namely, the rapid spread of African languages in the country. British academics and the media drew attention to this phenomenon in the 2000s, when the overwhelming ethnic and, as a result, linguistic diversity among migrants from Africa became apparent. The policy of multiculturalism gives visitors the opportunity to preserve and pass on to the next generations their cultural, religious and ethnic characteristics, including language skills.

There are more than 250 native speakers of African languages in the UK today. According to data from 2008, among students of African and mixed (African-British) origin, English as the language of home communication is common only in about 36.5% of students, the rest prefer to use their native language in everyday life. Somalis are most likely to do this - Somalia ranks 2nd.

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(16.5%) the second most popular language is English. In the 3rd place is Yoruba (6.8%), followed by French (4%), Akan (Fanti and Chwi -2.2%), Shona (2.1%), Arabic (1.8%), Lingala (1.5%), Igbo (1.3%), Portuguese, Danish, German, krio, Amharic*.

If you apply to visitors from specific countries, English as the language of home communication is most often used by students from Sierra Leone (43%), Nigeria (41%), Ghana (35%), much less often - by people from Angola (12%), Sudan (7%) and Somalia (3%)8.

First of all, this is noticeable in large cities, especially in London. As of 2008, for example, up to 20% of school children in Ealing, Hammersmith, Fulham and Brent districts speak Somaliland. The highest concentration (up to 16%) of native Yoruba speakers (Nigerians, first of all) among schoolchildren is observed in the districts of Greenwich, Southwark, Bexley and Hackney. At the same time, students who speak Shona are fairly evenly distributed across London and England, with the overall proportion never exceeding 2.5% 9.

The National Pupil Database10 recorded a steady increase in the proportion of African pupils in the total number of British pupils between 2004 and 2008. In 2004, Africans accounted for 1.9% of all schoolchildren (524,000), in 2005 - 2% (569,000), in 2006 - 2.2% (610,000), in 2007 - 2.3% (650,000), in 2008-2.4% (678,000)11. Thus, the average increase in the number of African school children is 10% per year, which is fully consistent with the trend of doubling the African population every 10 years.

The relationship between receiving social assistance and free meals at school and the language of home communication is interesting. Students who speak Somali (76%) and Lingala (75%) at home are most likely to receive such assistance, much less often - Swahili (51%) and Arabic (49%), very rarely - Igbo (18%), Yoruba (17%) and Shona (9%)..

When assessing the degree of integration of Africans based on data on the languages they use, the bilingualism and multilingualism of many Africans in the UK should be taken into account. The fact that Africans use their native language in everyday life does not mean that they do not speak English well. Where required, Africans speak English. 50% of those who do not speak English at home, in the course of sociological surveys, admitted that they know English at a good level and apply it if necessary.

In Zimbabwe, English is the official language. But only 6% of those who come from this country to the UK speak English at home, 58% called Shona their main language, and 35% called Ndebele, and almost all of them are fluent in English and successful in the labor market, compared, for example, with Somalis. For many Somalis, English is becoming the third or fourth foreign language, after Arabic, Italian and French, and most Somalis have very poor English proficiency.13

It is possible that the decline in the use of English at home in some African communities is due to the desire to preserve their language and traditions, to separate themselves. It is possible that over time, more in-depth and extensive research on this issue will yield different results.

A good command of English increases mobility in the labor market, promotes the development of social ties outside of their communities. Therefore, fluency in English remains one of the hallmarks of successful inclusion in British society. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that the desire of Africans for a separate life may be due not only to their unwillingness to integrate into British society, but also to the desire to receive help and support from their fellow tribesmen. The community can act as a powerful factor of social and moral support for both recent arrivals and those who have been living in the country for a long time.


As we noted above, the UK's African communities are extremely young. In some areas, especially in schools in these areas, the proportion of Africans can reach 30%. The situation in the youth environment of African communities has long been the subject of study by British researchers, the problems of young Africans are actively engaged in social services and charitable organizations of the country.

Yoruba is a Yoruba language spoken mainly in southwestern Nigeria, as well as in the surrounding areas of West Africa. Akan (Fanti and Chwi dialects) is one of the languages of the Akan people, spoken in central and southern Ghana, as well as in eastern Ivory Coast. Shona belongs to the Bantu language group, the main language of the population of Zimbabwe, found in other countries of South Africa. Lingala is also a Bantu language spoken primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Igbo is the language of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. Krio is the national language of Sierra Leone. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and is also spoken in neighboring countries (Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan).

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The difficulties faced by young Africans in the UK can be divided into two groups. The first category includes the problems of most of the country's young people, including Africans. The second group of problems is mainly or only found in African youth.

For young Britons of all ethnic groups, the problem of employment is relevant. According to the situation in 2012, there were about 500 thousand vacant places in the country at 2.5 million. unemployed people 14. A significant proportion of the unemployed are young people, with about 1 million unemployed among young people aged 16 to 24 years 15.

For Africans, the situation is compounded by the fact that at the age of 24, almost half (44%) of young Africans do not receive education and additional professional skills, which is significantly more than among British youth of the same age, where the proportion of such young people does not exceed 25% 16.

In general, the behavior of young Africans in the UK is hardly exemplary. Among them, the cult of power and behavioral patterns focused on cruelty, masculinity, disregard for dangers, and ganging up are quite common, as one of the mandatory stages of growing up.

The choice between peer respect and good grades at school is not always made in favor of the latter. African teenagers are more likely than British teenagers to experience bullying and violence at school, not to mention racial discrimination, especially at the domestic level, in everyday life, including when communicating with classmates.

African teenagers are 3 times more likely to go to prison in England and Wales than their British peers, and up to 6 times more likely to go to prison in deprived urban areas. The proportion of Africans in British prisons in relation to their share in the total population of the country exceeds the share of Britons by 5 times, which is even higher than in the United States17.

According to a 2009 London Police report, Africans account for 54% of street crimes, 59% of robberies, and 69% of gun offences.18

The ethnic and gender composition of teachers and students in British schools is completely different, 84% of teachers in primary school and 54% in secondary school are women of British origin. In this regard, one of the attempts to destroy the destructive stereotypes of "correct male" behavior that are widespread among African youth was the active involvement of teachers with African descent in schools (especially in the 1980s) as ordinary teachers, lower and middle-level managers, as a demonstration of successful career examples to African schoolchildren by their representatives. own diasporas.

However, these measures did not lead to the desired result. In a series of surveys of teachers and students, it was found that there is no direct relationship between the ethnic composition of teachers and the behavior and academic performance of students. Not all teachers are generally ready, in addition to their direct duties, to be models of behavior (social, moral) for students 19.

Totally unacceptable cultural practices from Africa have also become widespread in the UK. These include, in particular, belief in magic and witchcraft with manifestations of ill-treatment of people, especially children.

The study of this problem is actively engaged in the British researcher and public figure Prosper Tedam. She draws the attention of the British public and media to the spread of magic and witchcraft practices among Africans in the UK, the belief that children possessed by evil spirits can harm their relatives and friends. Such a worldview often implies the use of physical punishments, isolation from society, torture, and deprivation of food and water, even to the point of death.

British authorities and social services are currently dealing with second-and third-generation migrants from Africa. These generations are more numerous than the first generation, they are more difficult to deal with, and they have higher levels of unemployment, crime, and gang violence. The fourth generation is already on the way, which will be even more numerous, it is already clear that it will not be easier with them, we can only hope that it will not become much more difficult. However, after the emergence of magic and witchcraft practices in the UK, it is almost impossible to predict in advance what else Africans can surprise, especially since it is almost impossible to prevent it.


The UK's African communities are not entirely made up of marginals, and they are certainly not considered the" bottom " of British society. Migrants from Africa take an active part in the daily life of the UK-

page 62

However, they are visible in politics, economics, social sphere, and sports.

According to surveys, African youth set high life standards and far-reaching goals. 65% of African students want to succeed in the same professions as their British classmates. 70% of students in schools with mixed ethnic composition see education as the most important factor in their future success 20.

In the 1990s, the British authorities set a goal to improve the educational level of the population by ensuring that at least 50% of young people have a higher education by the age of 30. As a result, among the British population itself, by 2001 - 2002, this figure was only 38%, and among Africans it was 71%.

Since the 2000s, African diasporas have been leading in terms of continuing education. About 84% of African adults (aged 16-64) receive some form of education, which is even higher than the national average (78%), and among highly qualified Africans in managerial positions, the figure is 94% 21.

Professional sports are very popular among African youth, which helps many of them achieve a high position in society. In this sense, boxing, football and athletics are leading the way. Up to a quarter of professional English footballers are of African descent, including such famous players as Paul Ince, Sol Campbell, John Barnes, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole. Boxers Len Johnson, Frank Bruno and Lenox Lewis have achieved worldwide fame.

It's not just about sports. The life of poor young people in British cities is accompanied by music of African origin-rap, hip-hop, dubstep, jungle and other trends.

However, even in the British establishment, Africans are no longer a rarity. In the media industry, it is worth noting the outstanding British television reporter Sir Trevor MacDonald, as well as the popular BBC presenter Rene Carayol. A native of London, Terry Jervis became a department manager at the BBC and launched several youth programs on the air.

Sudanese entrepreneur and billionaire philanthropist Mo Ibrahim founded CELTEL, a telecommunications company with over 24 million users in 14 African countries. He is the initiator of the creation of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation charitable foundation and the founder of the annual Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, awarded in African countries.

Public service and community service are also not alien to Africans. Baroness Valerie Amos was a long-time head of the Equal Opportunities Commission and served as Minister for International Development. After Gordon Brown came to power, she resigned from the Cabinet of Ministers, and since 2010 has held the post of UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. She is considered an internationally recognized expert on human rights, racial equality, and gender equality.22

Verna Wilkins founded Tamarind Books in 1987, a publishing house that specializes in publishing products for children with disabilities and the younger generation of Afro-Asian migrants in the UK. This publishing house was bought in 2007 by the leading British publishing house Random House.

It's hard to find an area of British life where Africans don't make a mark. Despite the continuing precedents of discrimination against Africans when applying for a job and interacting with law enforcement agencies, it is hardly possible to say that in modern Britain discrimination has remained a serious obstacle for Africans in their successful career. The House of Lords, a symbol of British political tradition, now has three peers of African-Caribbean descent, something that would have been impossible 50 years ago.


Four years have passed since Cameron acknowledged the failure of multiculturalism in February 2011, but no major changes in the migration policy of the British authorities have taken place. The Conservatives, who have been in power since 2010, acknowledged in the fall of 2014 the failure of their migration policy aimed at reducing migration. None of the laws aimed at implementing the principles of multiculturalism has been repealed or amended 23.

Promotion of tolerance, protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and nationality, the ability of ethnic minorities to preserve their cultural traditions and norms of behavior, and to learn and use the languages of the countries of origin in everyday life are still at the forefront. The only significant change is-

page 63

The new term "multi-racial democracy" and the "success" of this new kind of democracy have become a reflection.

For the analysis of any process, criteria for evaluating the result are necessary. Yes, Africans are equally involved in British society, from sports and music to the media and the House of Lords. Many of them, especially those of the second and third generation, consider themselves British, and it would seem that they are quite integrated.

However, is this really the case? Is it wishful thinking?

Identification must be mutual. If up to half of Africans, according to surveys, identify themselves as Britons24, then it is fair to ask the British themselves, do they consider Africans identical to themselves? What is it like for the older generation to see an African in government and parliament? What should British parents do if English has become a minority language at school? Maybe it makes sense to send children to Igbo or Somali courses?

The answers are obvious, so there are no sociological studies with such a statement of the question.

African diasporas, of course, face difficulties - there is unemployment, crime, and youth problems. However, these difficulties are not fatal. Africans in the UK have a future growing up in kindergartens and schools. The British, in the current state of affairs, have no future. The country's indigenous population has been aging and shrinking for several decades in a row.

If we consider the option that replacing the British with migrants with a parallel dissolution of language and culture is the goal of the British authorities, then everything is done correctly and strategically correctly, with an eye to the long term.

A more plausible version is that the British authorities simply lost control over the state of affairs in the field of migration and interethnic relations. Political rhetoric simply adapts to the current situation, when it is necessary, there are words about failure, when it is necessary-about success.

In any case, current trends are leading to the fact that in a few decades, Africans and other migrants can be called indigenous people of a new, completely different from the usual UK. Because it is naive to believe that after such an ethnic and racial replacement of the population, the country will remain the same. UK schoolchildren, who now speak dozens of languages, do not leave any hope in this regard.

It is no coincidence that in a speech on November 28, 2014, David Cameron, without saying a word about demographic problems among the British, said that the country needs migrants, and migration itself was called an inevitable process by the Prime Minister.25

1 David Cameron's EU speech, 28.11.2014

2 PM speech on immigration, 21.05.2015 -

3 State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron, 05.02.2011 -

4 Population by Country of Birth and Nationality Datasheets January 2011 to December 2011 // Office for National Statistics (ONS) - and+Nationality+Datasheets+January+2011+to+December+2011

Karpov G. A. 5 Great Britain: Demography against Migration and Multiculturalism. 2014, N 3. (Karpov G.A. 2014. Velikobritaniya: demografiya protiv migratsii i multikulturalizma // Sovremennaya Yevropa. N 3) (in Russian)

6 Citizenship by main reason for migration (new citizenship groupings) // Office for National Statistics - rovisional-estimates-of-ltim-year-ending-dec-2014.xls

7 Entry clearance visas granted (excluding visitor and transit visas), by world area, UK, 2005 to Year Ending March 2015// Office for National Statistics - figure-2 - 3.xls

Mitton L. 8 The Languages of Black Africans in England // Journal of Intercultural Studies. 2011. Vol. 32. Issue 2, p. 157 - 161.

9 Ibidem.

10 National Pupil Database -

11 NPD Ethnicity Coding 2004 - 2008 // National Pupil Database - http://nationalpupildatabase.wikispaces.coni/Ethnicity

Mitton L. 12 Op. cit., p. 166.

13 Ibid.

14 UK: Migrants // Migration News, July 2013. Vol. 20. N 3.

15 UK: Population, Tiers // Migration News, January 2012. Vol. 19. N 1.

Law I., Finney S., Swann S.J. 16 Searching for autonomy: young black men, schooling and aspirations // Race Ethnicity and Education. 2014. Vol. 17, N 4. P. 569.

Law I., Finney S., Swann S.J. 17 Op. cit.

Alderson A. 18 Violent Inner-City Crime, the Figures, and a Question of Race // The Telegraph, 26.06.2010.

Maylor U. 19 'They do not relate to Black people like us': Black teachers as role models for Black pupils // Journal of Education Policy, January 2009. Vol. 24, N 1, p. 1 - 21.

Law I 20., Finney S., Swann S.J. Op. cit., p. 574 - 576.

21 Africans lead UK learners, 16.05.2003 -

E. 22 Baroness Valerie Amos: I admire people who stay true to their beliefs! stayutsya-vernymi-svoim-ubezhdeniyam.html

Karpov G. A. 23 British multiculturalism: a time bomb? // Asia and Africa today. 2012, N 5. (Karpov G.A. 2012. Britanskiy multikulturalizm: mina zamedlennogo deystviya? // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. N 5) (in Russian)

Gill Ch. 24 Ethnic Minorities Feel More British Than the Whites // Daily Mail (London), 19.02.2007.

25 David Cameron's EU speech, 28.11.2014...


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