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White and Black Sinclairs

There were Africans in America long before Columbus ever set foot on San 
(he never set foot on the Continent of North America) as the Kings of Ghana 
crossing between West Africa and Brazil centuries earlier.  The huge 
carvings of
African heads in Brazil is indelible proof of this.

True, slaves were brought in from West Africa for the cotton plantations 
just as the
Scots were forced to seek a new life in the "Colonies" because of the infamous
Highland Clearances when they were driven out of their homes by having them 
to the ground by the 'storm-troopers' brought in by (in the main) English 
landlords who
had acquired vast Scottish Estates with industrial money.

The lot of the slaves and the early Scottish 'settlers' had much in 
common.  The
conditions aboard the ships were universally appalling.  Africans and Scots 
alike had
been forced out of their homes.  This is probably why there has always been 
a high
level of 'empathy' between Scots and people of African origin.  We also 
the tribal system because it was similar to the Clan system.  (This was the 
reason why the majority of officers serving with African troops during the 
war came
from Scottish Regiments.  I was one of them.)

Just as many of the 'udalers' in Orkney and Shetland took the Sinclair name 
Prince Henry became 'jarl' of Orkney so those African people working on 
Estates (mainly in Barbados and Hawaii) took the Sinclair name because it gave
them an 'identity' which would be immediately recognisable rather giving 
their family
name which might have been Oleyaken, Awodipe, Awosoji, Adefioye, Ogunfidodo,
Omisore, Ayoola etc.etc.  These names are  unpronounceable and certainly
unmemorable to the average European.  Even my own nephew (who has a Polish
father)gave up trying to spell his name every time he answered the 'phone, 
so he
uses Sinclair instead.

Our Clan genealogist is Nicholas Cram- Sinclairs who hails from Jamaica but 
who is
now resident in Edinburgh.  He probably knows more about the Sinclair 
family history
than any of his white name-sakes.

So, whether you are black or white, be proud of your Sinclair name.  My own 
were crofters and, yet, the family has produced some outstanding 
individuals with, at
least, three millionaires.  My elder brother has received the CBE for 
services to agriculture.
His daughter received the MBE for cancer research (Tragicalls, she died 
from cancer).
On the African side of the family, we have equally noteworthy members  e.g. 
Bob Marley's
mother was a Sinclair and one of our premier league footballers, is Frank 
Sinclair who
carries his name with pride.

Names are often an accident of geography and history.  If Hrolf 'the 
Ganger' had not signed his
Treaty with Charles 'the Simple' , the King of France, at a place called 
Castle St Clair-sur-Epte
we might have had a completely different name!!

I hope we will have some African Sinclairs at our Millennium Gathering this 
year.  They will
be warmly welcomed because they, too, are part of our history.  Let us 
embrace them.

For the best tune on a piano, we need the black and the white keys.  So it 
is with people.

Niven Sinclair

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