NANA AKUA: Braverman is right – arrivals must embrace British life

NANA AKUA: Suella Braverman is right – new arrivals must embrace the British way of life as my family did 

I’ll never forget the heat, the sounds and the smells of my first trip to visit family in Ghana at the age of 11. The sun was so bright it hurt my eyes.

My elder brother and I were walking through the outskirts of the African country’s second city, Kumasi. The paved road came to a sudden halt, replaced by a dirt track with deep ditches on either side, both filled with effluent. 

The local children were playing on a stinking rubbish heap and I remember my brother pointing at a man in a pristine white suit, wondering how on earth he kept it so clean in such a filthy place.

One of the local kids shouted at us: ‘Go back where you came from!’

With those words, it suddenly became clear to me where my home really was.

When my parents came to Britain from Ghana, they made a positive decision to embrace everything British. My upbringing in Essex was one of white sliced Mother’s Pride, fish-and-chips and ketchup on everything.

NANA AKUA: When I heard Suella Braverman’s speech this week at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, this memory came flooding back

I wished in that moment I could go home to the green fields, tarmac streets and cooler air of England.

When I heard Suella Braverman’s speech this week at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, this memory came flooding back.

The Home Secretary warned that uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and the failed, misguided dogma of multiculturalism has proved to be a toxic combination for many European countries. 

‘Multiculturalism makes no demands of the incomer to integrate,’ she added. ‘It has failed because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it.’

Unsurprisingly, her speech has sparked fury among the usual suspects – the liberal Lefties for whom ‘multiculturalism’ has long been a fashionable creed. 

NANA AKUA: It suddenly became clear to me where my home really was

Mrs Braverman has been accused of ‘dogwhistle’ racism by those who point out that her parents were ethic Indian immigrants from Mauritius and Kenya and that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s parents also came to this country from East Africa. Surely, they say, both their life stories are triumphs of multicultural Britain.

This ill-informed opprobrium shows just how little the champions of multiculturalism understand of the cause they promote.

Yes, Britain is multicultural, as anyone who walks round with their eyes open can see. But ‘multiculturalism’ is a different thing altogether.

It’s a philosophy of allowing – even encouraging – different ethnic groups to live separately in our towns and cities. It encourages the growth of monocultural areas over integration – and it is profoundly dangerous.

Yes, Suella Braverman’s and Rishi Sunak’s parents came here from other countries, but like my mum and dad they didn’t want their new lives to be corralled in smaller versions of where they came from.

I’m sure my parents – and the Home Secretary and Rishi Sunak’s parents – would have wanted no part in multiculturalism. They engaged with British society on its terms, they soaked up British traditions and lived British lifestyles. They encouraged their children to study hard, work hard and succeed.

All our stories are the very antithesis of multiculturalism, which for nearly 50 years has dictated that immigrant communities should be supported in maintaining their own culture and identities.

The creeping, insidious result of all this has been that Britishness has become a dirty word.

Our country is a patchwork of monocultural pockets where often English is not the first language, where mainstream education and assimilation is not deemed important and where the dominant values can be those of a place many thousands of miles away.

Not only, as Braverman said, is this imperilling the ‘cultural institutions of the West’, it has been a corrosive influence on the peace of our nation – and other European countries.

For perhaps one of the gravest dangers to multi-ethnic harmony is not white racism, though of course that is utterly abhorrent, but imported grievances that fuel tensions between isolated minority communities.

It’s almost impossible to integrate so many people from different cultures into a country in a short period of time. Pictured: A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dover on September 4

This is what we saw in last year’s large-scale public disorder in Leicester, primarily between Hindu and Muslim youths.

Only two weeks ago race-based tribalism reared its ugly head in the South-east London district of Peckham after a physical altercation between a British Asian shopkeeper and a black woman he accused of theft. There were angry demonstrations outside the shop and racist graffiti such as ‘go to hell Patel’ was scrawled on the building. The shopkeeper is still in hiding.

Meanwhile a string of post-industrial midlands and northern English towns and cities continue to struggle with the consequences of ethnic and religious segregation – from Leicester and Birmingham to Blackburn in Lancashire and Dewsbury in Yorkshire.

READ MORE: UN slaps down Suella Braverman telling her the Channel migrant backlog is being caused by ‘not processing asylum seekers FAST enough’ 

Yet it wasn’t always like this. The first wave of immigrants to this country from the Indian sub-continent were, like my parents, anxious to enjoy British life to the full.

Most wore Western clothes, they celebrated Christmas and Easter alongside their own religious festivals and were keen for their children to learn English and pursue professional careers.

This is exactly the model of immigration and integration that Suella Braverman is promoting, suggesting people who come to live here should ’embrace and respect this country’ just as her parents and my parents did.

But from my own experience, I’d suggest that slowing the rate of immigration into this country is a crucial factor, too.

When I was growing up, there were hardly any other black children in my school. Sometimes when I’d go to my friends’ houses, I’d be the first black person their parents had ever met.

I’ve no doubt that some of them might have been knee-jerk racists. I can remember being told more than once that I was ‘all right for a black person’.

But the families I’m still friendly with to this day saw that little Nana was no different from their own daughters. We spoke with the same accent, liked the same things and loved ketchup on our chips. They saw the person, not the skin colour.

But that becomes difficult when Britain has seen such unprecedented levels of migration – levels that threaten to change the fabric of our nation.

A lot of fuss has rightly been made about the more than 45,000 people who crossed the Channel in small boats last year, but their numbers are dwarfed by the same year’s figure of net legal migration of 606,000 people.

It’s almost impossible to integrate so many people from different cultures into a country in a short period of time.

And with the lack of any meaningful plan to encourage this to happen – and no legal requirement for local authorities and other public bodies such as schools and NHS trusts to publish their own strategies for doing so, these newcomers will inevitably gravitate towards their own communities in the inner cities.

So the real question for all these champions of multiculturalism, as well as for a Government that seems happy to allow mass immigration, is this: where do you want British immigrants to consider home?

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