His British-Bashing Letters in The Afro American, 1951
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new”, wrote British poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson, who died in 1892. That was the year a former slave, John H. Murphy, Sr. founded The Afro American newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. 59 years later, in a letter about Iran printed in the legendary black-owned publication, which still carries on today, A.J. Siggins opened his anti-colonial note by invoking Tennyson’s famous line.
The writer was actually professional commentator and author Arthur James Siggins (1880-1970). Born in New Zealand, Siggins was a member of the Rhodesian police force and an expert wildlife handler turned writer. His eleven books include Shooting With Rifle and Camera: Filming the Four Feathers - A Big-Game Thriller (1931), A Prosperity Plan: Great Britain, United States of America and Germany (1932), Man-Killers I Have Known (1933), Just Peace (1946) and Sowing the Wind (1947).
While in Tanzania, on location of the motion picture The Blue Lagoon (1923), he met Irish-American film actress Molly Adair, whom he married and had four children with. Their daughter, Jill Siggins (1930-2008), known after her 1951 marriage as Jill Adams, became a successful model, film and television actress, often billed as "Britain’s Marilyn Monroe."
Siggins and family later returned to New Zealand, then Wales, and eventually London, England. And it was from London, at the height of the oil nationalization dispute, that his harshly critical assessment of British foreign policy in Iran was penned.
Siggins, described in a 1944 ANP newswire article as “a wealthy African historian”, was clearly fixated on the independence and self-sufficiency of third world nations, with a particular focus on British colonialism. He wrote many letters to a variety of publications on this topic. For good measure, we have presented three of his relevant letters published in The Afro American’s “What Our Readers Say...” section in 1951.
The question is, why would an affluent Caucasian, residing in the proverbial belly of the beast, be so worked up over British imperialism? Perhaps what he witnessed in Africa shook his conscience unalterably.
British Blind To New Era In Mid-East — Letter to The Binghamton Press, June 24, 1951
Mossadegh Fights For Oil In Name of Iranian Poor — U.S. News & World Report, July 1951
Minister Louis Farrakhan on the US - Iran Dynamic — “It’s all about oil and power...”
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”