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Olney & Africa Week



Charities, schools and churches in Olney marked Black History Month with a special series of events under the title: "Olney & Africa - Past and present".

There was a host of activities to mark over 200 years of links with Africa as part of the national Black History month.

Activities in the town included: 

  • A month long exhibition at the Three Hares Gallery exploring the links between Olney and Africa past and present
  • The opportunity to learn more about Fair trade and the critical role of water in Africa at Words Bookshop 
  • A photographic exhibition in Olney library and a showcase of work from schoolchildren in Olney and Sierra Leone. 
  • A free screening of the film Amazing Grace which charts the abolition of slavery held at Olney Sutcliffe Baptist Church.

It was well over 200 years ago that the Rev John Newton took up the position of curate in Olney. This reformed slave trader and supporter of the Abolitionists wrote several hymns including the world famous ‘Amazing Grace’. The impact of reformers such as Newton was both profound and dramatic and still reverberates around the world today.

Olney and Africa past and present was co-ordinated by local charity Olney Newton Link, which was formed to foster this connection and to assist with development in Sierra Leone. In particular, it helps the area of Newton named after Olney’s famous curate. Also involved was Olney based Advantage Africa which supports projects in Kenya and Uganda.

Rachael Lintern, organiser of the event said: "The fact that this small town has had such an impact on communities in Africa underlines that the fact that we are all global citizens."