Nana’s legacy is profound. Given his contribution and role in workers rights in the UK, his work in youth and community development and in promoting Pan Africanism, he has left behind a platform for raising black people’s consciousness of African history and culture as well as developing programmes and institutions for our children and generations to come.
Throughout his life he fought hard for the struggles of African Caribbean people and inspired many people. His long involvement with the African Liberation Movement made him well known throughout the UK and internationally. He was a man on a crusade, fighting tirelessly for equality and respect for his community, history and culture.
Nana was passionate about legacy. His message was clear: we have a duty to pass on culture and creativity to our young people and the next generation. He would emphasise the need to preserve the memories, history and events of African Caribbean people. Thus he was always with his camera to capture the changes in the lives of his community landscape.
Nana was about encouraging change. For him change had to come from within and needed to help the individual realise who he/she is and could be. His vision for the community was a place where constructive activities were taking place and reflecting an African Caribbean way of life. For him, change begins in your mind and he would constantly quote one of his favourite authors Diop, who talked about decolonising our minds to bring about tangible benefits for our community.
Nana worked tirelessly and challenged many to educate the black community about the importance of being of African descent as well as how to use the African political and cultural memory to inspire others.
Through the projects he developed and guided, he skilfully introduced a range of African teachings and practices. In carrying out his projects he literally took the high road and moved ahead with these as life itself, not withholding anything, to ensure the task at hand was accomplished.
He inspired with startling fearlessness, believing that no world issues, questions and challenges were beyond men and women’s ability to overcome.
He has given the African Caribbean and other communities a shining example of working in the most difficult circumstances, even with those who did not share his beliefs to secure meaningful change. It took courage to believe that struggle against institutions is still worthwhile and from this many draw courage from Nana Bonsu’s life and work.
Nana was instrumental in establishing one of the first Supplementary Saturday schools for African Caribbean children in Manchester and the UK in 1966. This school continues to operate at the West Indian Centre, Carmoor Road.
Nana supported a number of community organizations and projects to create employment and services for African Caribbean people. e.g. Cariocca Enterprises, the African Caribbean Mental Health Service and the African Caribbean Care Group for the elderly.
Youth and Community Work
Nana advocated for young people in schools and in court against a range of discrimination. He developed many programmes and activities for them. Nana worked with Colleges to develop training programmes in subjects such as motor mechanics, and TV repair. His eldest son Beresford Jnr. went on to set up his own television and repair shop.
Labour and Employment Rights
From his own personal triumph, standing up for his right to work and representing a large number of people at employment tribunal cases, Nana showed us how to challenge institutional racism. The successful case against the SOGAT trade union in 1967 changed the face of the British working and employment environment.
Nana demonstrated how to engage in educational and political agendas by advocating equality and human rights whilst remaining loyal to his cultural identity and race.
Nana established and promoted programmes and activities which allowed African Caribbean people to express their African culture in an uncompromising manner.