January 17, 2020

How can I re-write history?

Jeni Reid, 50

The names were written in 1817. Some lad in a long black coat stood at a candle-lit desk, writing on the paper I’m now holding in my hands. He writes; “A Return of Slaves in the Parish of Saint Elizabeth.” There are two hundred and sixty three names. Slaves in Jamaica owned by a family who lived in my homeland, the county of Angus. The electric light in the archives is bright and I notice that some names have pencil marks beside them. The same cold grey word each time; dead. Nancy aged 40, dead. Bristol aged three, dead. I re-write these names so that my compatriots will know them. I want my friends and neighbours to hear about Bristol and Brave Boy so that they question the history they know and wonder about the histories that haven’t been written yet. I love my country, it’s my home, my inspiration and my solace. I would like Scotland to know Brave Boy and Flora, for their names to be written into the the stories we tell about our nation. As I write, I speak the names out loud. It breaks the silence.

Undiscovered Angus, 2020Photography4x6" postcards and social media