Early in May, our research team had a meeting to discuss the future of the project. Due to the short time frame – with June fast approaching – we decided to turn our idea for the short film into a zine instead, as this was the best way to showcase our work in a creative manner and in time for the seminar on the 16 of June.
While the idea for the short film had been scrapped, we still very much wanted a first-person narrative to be included in our creative output. We all felt very passionately about this, as, in all our research, we often felt that the individual stories of these Lascars were overlooked and they were all lumped into one big group.
We managed to set up an interview with Asif Shakoor, an independent researcher based in England whose grandfather had served as a Lascar during the First World War. He provided us with the perfect story – the legacy of his grandfather, Mahomed Gama. This interview is included in the zine and details the life of Mahomed Gama, his journey as a Lascar, and the important role he played in the First World War.
We decided to name our magazine ‘Yatra’ – translating to journey. We felt that this perfectly encapsulated our research journey as well as the journey undertaken by the Lascar sailors.
We decided to take 6 pages each to fill with content. Malini wrote a raw and honest reflective piece about her research process and the emotional toll it took. Her piece details the bravery and self-reflection required to face the delicate task of telling the stories that don’t belong to us. Aqsa presented her visual poetry, with bold, colourful photography to match. She is also currently in the process of editing her short film of spoken word poetry, which will hopefully be available soon on the OSCH website, along with other resources for further reading. My pages included the interview with Asif Shakoor, as mentioned earlier, and some detailed insight into the plaque that started this whole project.
Our next task is to get the finalised layout sent to the printer in time for the seminar on the 18th of June, where we will present our research and the zine!
If you’re looking to learn more about Lascars in the meantime, here are some resources we recommend!
Our migration story – reading time: 8 mins
Photographic collage featuring lascars – reading time: 3 mins
Advertisement for P&O and British India Lines steamliners – reading time: 2 mins
Lascar sailors – reading time: 10 mins
Seafarers of WW1 – reading time: 5 mins
The Hinds family – reading time: 5 mins
Image of SS Khiva – reading time: 2 mins
Images from top to bottom:
Lascars at the Royal Albert Dock in London, Port of London Authority,1936 - Port of London Authority Magazine,1936
Three lascar crew of the P&O liner RMS Viceroy of India, Marine Photo Service, 1930-1939
Additional images courtesy of Changemakers.