Anorak News | Posh Nigerian Dillibe Onyeama was too black for Eton College

Posh Nigerian Dillibe Onyeama was too black for Eton College

by | 23rd, June 2020

Nigerian Dillibe Onyeama was the first black person to obtain a school-leaving certificate from EtonCollege, graduating in 1969. He arrived in January 1965, aged 14, his name put on the recruitment list at birth by his father, an eminent Oxford-educated Nigerian judge.

Onyeama became persona non grata to the school for toffs when he wrote a book about the racism he experienced there. The school’s great and good asked him such questions as: “Why are you black?”, “How many maggots are there in your hair?” and “Does your mother wear a bone in her nose?” He writes: ““I swung a powerful right-hander at his chin… He dropped to the floor like an inert sack and lay there crying. The happy faces of his friends distorted with shock, and next they were shouting at me with disapproval.”

As a black person, the for vocal and blinkered members of the jeunesse dorée expected him to be sporty but mentally negligible. He scored 7 O’Levels, was decent at games but never did play rugger for England. He says that “colour prejudice was the most outstanding feature of my experiences.”

How this differed from treatment meted tout to black children at other British schools in the 1960s is moot. It was far from abnormal. But Eton is for the elite, land-owning class. These people set the rules at their private clubs and family dos. To date, 20 British prime ministers have attended the school, as did Princes William and Harry, the latter moving on from his days as recreational Nazi who once referred to a mate as “Paki” to marry mixed-race American Meghan Markle.

The school’s current head, Simon Henderson, has apologised for the sins of the past and says he’d like Mr Onyeama to return “to make it clear that he will always be welcome at Eton. We must all speak out and commit to doing better – permanently – and I am determined that we seize this moment as a catalyst for real and sustained change for the better.” Mr Onyeama says the apology “compels the recognition that prejudice on the grounds of colour or race dehumanises its victims in a way that ordinary forms of prejudice do not”.

Posted: 23rd, June 2020 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink