Eton apologises to Nigerian ex-student Onyeama for racism

The headmaster of Eton College, Simon Henderson has expressed his shock over the racism experienced by the first black person to complete his studies at the prestigious British public school.

Nigerian writer, Dillibe Onyeama obtained his school-leaving certificate from Eton in 1969. He wrote a book about the racism he experienced at the school and was subsequently banned from visiting.

Speaking to BBC, the headmaster who said he is ‘appalled by Onyeama’s traumatic experience said, “We have made significant strides since”. But he acknowledged that there was “more to do”.

The headmaster said that he would invite Onyeama to meet him in order to apologise in person and “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,” he added.

Onyeama who after leaving the school detailed these experiences in a memoir, in 1972 had received an official letter informing him that he was banned from visiting Eton.

He told the BBC that the apology was not necessary and did not change his view of Eton, which on the whole was positive. He added however, that 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”.

Founded by King Henry VI in 1440, Over the years Eton has a reputation for educating some of the highest ranking members of British society, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the 20th British prime minister to have attended the school, as did Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and both the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

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