Award-winning artist George the Poet has revealed he turned down an MBE because of the “pure evil” of the British Empire.
The 28-year-old, real name George Mpanga, said that while he “deeply appreciated” the gesture, he did not want to accept the honour because of “the colonial trauma inflicted on the children of Africa”.
Mpanga, who was born in London but is of Ugandan heritage, added that the empire had committed “rape” against his homeland and that its conduct in the country was “pure evil”.
Speaking on his BBC podcast Have You Heard George’s Podcast?, he said: “Your forefathers grabbed my motherland, pinned her down and took turns.
“They did that every day for a couple hundred years and then left her to treat her own burns.”
He added that he “saw his parents’ faces” when a friend asked if he was going to accept the honour back in May, and that he later felt a “burning sensation in my chest” when he “reflected on my status”.
The acclaimed poet, who was shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice category at the 2015 Brit Awards, said: “I see myself as student, admirer and friend of Britain.
“However the colonial trauma inflicted on children of Africa, entrenched across our geopolitical and macroeconomic realities prevents me from accepting the title Member of the British Empire.
“The gesture is deeply appreciated, the wording is not. It will remain unacceptable to me until Britain takes institutional measures to address inter-generational disruption brought to millions as a result of her colonial exploits.”
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Mpanga said he had “no issue” with other black people who have accepted an MBE, but said he wanted to “encourage future generations to seek the relevant information to make an informed decision”.
He said that while had “love” for Britain, he did so “with transparency”.
Mpanga shared further thoughts on Twitter while sharing a link to the episode, writing: “I don’t hate white people, I don’t think the whole empire is pure evil, I just think rape is, and that’s what the British Empire did to my motherland.
“These are my feelings, you don’t have to take them on. But if you wanna learn more, here u go.”
His podcast won five British Podcast Awards back in May, including podcast of the year prompting the BBC to buy the rights to the second series.
Mpanga has also been elected as a member of the National Council of Arts Council England and has been nominated for an MTV Award.