Newham Heritage Month: Manor Park man shares research on grandfather and other BAME seafarers

Manor Park man Asif Shakoor has researched the story of his grandfather Mahomed Gama and other Bame

Manor Park man Asif Shakoor has researched the story of his grandfather Mahomed Gama and other Bame seafarers in Newham. Picture: Asif Shakoor - Credit: Archant

A Manor Park man is sharing his research on BAME seafarers for Newham Heritage Month.

Independent researcher Asif Shakoor will discuss his grandfather Mahomed Gama and early arrivals of BAME seafarers to the borough in an online event on Friday, June 26 from 3pm-4pm.

He will hold a live Zoom conversation with Dr Georgie Wemyss, co-director of the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London.

Growing up in Newham, Mr Shakoor had no idea his grandfather had worked on British Merchant Navy ships in World War I.

During a visit to Pakistan, he discovered documents which led to him researching the ships his grandfather worked on, the ports where he docked and the war medals he was awarded.

Through their conversation, Mr Shakoor and Dr Wemyss hope to encourage other east Londoners to track down the routes and roots of their Asian and African seafarer ancestors.

Mr Shakoor said: “It is an honour to bring the story home in Newham for the first time.

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“Newham Heritage Month has always been very interesting, and you always learn something new.”

Mr Shakoor has dedicated almost a decade to research, which he has presented at the University of Portsmouth, The National Archives, an international conference at the National Maritime Museum and other events.

He was also invited to represent his grandfather at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance.

Mr Shakoor has contributed research for a booklet on BAME seafarers in World War I by the Maritime Archaeology Trust and for the University of Portsmouth’s Port Towns and Urban Cultures website.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms said the story of Mr Shakoor’s grandfather gave an insight into how much people like him gave for the peace and prosperity of Britain.

He said: “I hope this talk will help remind a new generation, at a time of peril in our country’s history, of the roots of the diversity which marks Britain’s communities today.

“Asif’s stories remind us of the history we share and should make us all feel proud.”

Visit to register for the talk, which is free.