Posts Tagged ‘Christian Aid’

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008 On Sunday 22 June 2008 I photographed two events celebrating anniversaries in London as well as a protest supporting Czech hunger strikers who – like 70% of the Czech people – were opposing the building of an American radar base near Prague – part of the US Missile Defence system.


Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary – Clapham Common

Sixty years previously, on June 22, 1948, the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 492 Caribbeans – many of who had served in the British armed forces during the war – from Jamaica to start a new life in England. They had paid £28 10s (£28.50) for the passage and were the first large group of settlers from the Empire to come to live in the ‘Mother Country’.

The events celebrating this in 2008 now seem very low key and that at the bandstand close to the Clapham South deep level shelter on the edge of Clapham Common where many of them were given temporary housing was one of several organised by Christian Aid, together with the Windrush Trust and Churches Together in South London.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary and it will be interesting to see how this is celebrated. The years since 2008 have been marked by revelations about the terrible treatment by our government of the Windrush generation and their families, suffering from the hostile environment, deportations and racism promoted by the Home Office. Whatever celebrations there are will I think be rather more political, and probably better attended.

In 2008 the event celebrated the great contribution made by the Caribbean community to life in this country, and were reminded of the contribution of Clapham to the fight against slavery, but began with relatively little about the racist treatment they had received here, and which was about to be ratcheted up officially when the Tories came to power.

This changed towards the end of the event when Mark Sturge, former director of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, talked about the contribution black majority churches had made in the UK. He reminded us that Black immigrants were faced with discrimination at almost every turn, with notices “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs” and other insults. Many came from religious backgrounds and turned to the largely white churches, and also found they were seldom welcome there. They became the pioneers of black-led churches, which provided an important support, not just religion, but also in education and other areas of life, helping them to face up to and fight against discrimination.

We had also got a taste of how it had been when Jacqueline Walker, who arrived in Britain as a young child a few years later in 1959, gave us an insight into what arriving in the country felt like, with readings from her book ‘Pilgrim State’.

Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary


40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London – Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Two men carry Jagannatha from the car to the chariot.

The day was also the 40th annual Rathayatra Chariots Festival in London, which saw Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother carried on huge chariots pulled through the streets of London by Hare Krishna devotees.

The effigy of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lifted onto one of the chariots.

You can see more pictures from another year in other posts on My London Diary and here in the recent post Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths.

40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London


No to US Missile Defence – Support Czech Hunger Strike – Downing St

Although I condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine both in 2014 when the war there began and its escalation since February, activities by the West including the setting up of an American radar base near Prague as a part of the US Missile Defence system do provide some explanation for the Russian fears that have led to the current terrible situation.

70% of the Czech people apparently were against the building of the radar base, and some had gone on a hunger strike against it. CND held a rally and all-day fast on Whitehall opposite Downing Street to show their support. They included well-known peace campaigners such as CND chair Kate Hudson and veteran protester Pat Arrowsmith.

No to US Missile Defence


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30 Sept 2007 – Two Religious Events

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Martydom of Ali

On Sunday 30th September 2007 I photographed two events in London connected with religion, the first Muslim and the second organised by Christian Aid.

Shia Muslims hold a large parade every year mourn the martydom of Ali, a cousin who grew up the the house of the prophet Muhammad and was one of the first to profess his belief when the prophet disclosed his divine revelation when Ali was around ten years old. Later he married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and was a great warrior and leader and one of the foremost Islamic scholars.

Ali was elected as the fourth Caliph at a time when civil wars were taking place between Muslims following the death of his predecessor, and he fought in a number of battles, eventually being assassinated in 661 CE by a member of a group who regarded him as a heretic while praying in the mosque at Kufa, now in Iraq. Many of the details of events around this time are disputed.

Ali is one of the central figures of Shia Islam and they regard him as having been the rightful successor to Muhammad while Sunni Muslims supported the father-in-law of Muhammad, Abu Bakr who became the first Caliph. The split led to various battles but only became a schism almost 20 years after Ali’s death, when Ali’s son Husayn and family were killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.

The ceremonies which involve a procession with an elaborate flower-decorated coffin, and tall banners about Ali, began at Marble Arch with a long period of mourning. There was much beating of breasts and then a procession moving very slowly down Park Lane with much continued mourning and beating of breasts. The men march in one group and then the women behind them, the two groups separated by the bier. Many of the men are stripped to the waist and their bodies become reddened by their powerful beating.

It’s an impressive event which I photographed on several occasions. The stewards at the event have sometimes told me “We do not photograph the ladies” but I’ve also had emails from some of the women thanking me for recording their participation in the ceremony.

Cut the Carbon

An event of a very different nature was taking place at St Mary’s Battersea, a church with fine views across the River Thames that Turner sat at window above the entrance to record – and a window inside remembers him, with another for William Blake, along with some splendid monuments, one with a relief illustrating Edward Wynter’s feats of crushing a tiger to death and overcoming 60 mounted moors.

I was there with others to photograph the arrival of Christian Aid’s ‘cut the carbon’ march, arriving in London at the end of a thousand mile journey from Bangor in Northern Ireland via Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle On Tyne, Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff to London – including a detour to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth. The following day they were going on to City Hall and then to finish at St Paul’s Cathedral.

This was a march 14 years ago with an international perspective on climate change, with walkers from Brazil, El Salvador, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Congo and elsewhere. When I photographed it the following day in front of Tower Bridge it was led by marchers from Brazil representing an organisation of landless farm workers – and I was very pleased a few months later to include picture of them in my show on environment protests as a part of Foto Arte 2007 in Brasilia.

More at:
Mourning the Martydom of Ali
Cut the Carbon march

and on October 1st 2007
Christian aid Cut the Carbon march – final mile


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.