The Soul of Black Britain - The Black Farmer
Picture this: Dancing like a Zulu warrior in the English countryside whilst carrying aloft the union flag, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, aka The Black Farmer, proudly yet defiantly exclaims: “I am Black Red White and Blue - I am an Englishman”. This is the opening salvo in his new TV commercial for his The Black Farmer food brand that not only breaks the mould in food advertising but challenges the stereotype of what it means to be black and British.
Following in the footsteps of our American cousins October is the month to highlight and celebrate black history and black achievement to the wider white population. It has been argued that before Black History Month was created British history was seen as a totally white affair with blacks only playing bit parts as slaves, victims or an inferior race saved by the white man.
There are just three weeks to go before this month is behind us and everyone will be able to return to business as usual. But business as usual is that Black Britain is still struggling to get equal opportunity and escape the stereotype that has been holding them back for decades.
“The truth is that there is still a lot of confusion about what is Black Britain, what is the correct language to use when referring to a person of colour, and is there true representation of black people in mainstream society. Lift your head for a second and take a look around you and you will find the answer to that last question. All you have to do is travel a mere 20 miles outside any large city and white people will generally refer to people as coloured rather than black. Not out of malice, but in the belief that it is politer than using the word black.
When Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones decided to buy a farm in deepest Devon 15 years ago many of his city friends both black and white thought he was mad. Many Blacks then and now wouldn’t even holiday in rural Britain because they see it as a hostile place akin to the deep south of America. And then when he decided to call his brand The Black Farmer they thought he may as well have painted a target on his back.
“Everything I have done in my life has flown in the face of what is believed to be possible for a black person living in Britain. Black usually equals sportsperson, rap artist, urban ghetto cool. Black Britain has spent decades trying to escape these stereotypes.
Emmanuel-Jones’ credentials point to him being a change maker and defies being pigeonholed. He stood as a Conservative candidate in Chippenham, Wiltshire, an all-white constituency in 2010 and only narrowly got defeated by a burgeoning liberal democrat party. He takes young black inner city kids to his farm so they can experience what it is like to live and work in white rural Britain, and he has the audacity to call his brand The Black Farmer.
To see Emmanuel-Jones dancing up a hill on his farm leading a troupe of Morris dancers is standard fare to him, but it is a cause for some head scratching by those unused to seeing a black person doing this sort of thing. And stereotypes are totally turned on their heads when we see him Flamenco dancing on his farm.
“I just love Flamenco. I also love Morris dancers and the eccentric side of being British. I want to celebrate the traditional side of being British and reclaim the flag to show that nationalism is not just the preserve of the sports field. I want to champion rural Britain.”
Emmanuel-Jones decided that his first advert for his food products would be an opportunity to give the audience a view of what makes him tick. “This is my Soul” is a not only an opportunity for him to make more people aware of his sausage products but for them to see another side of what it means to be black and British.
Not known for doing anything by halves, Emmanuel-Jones decided to set the bar high in looking for the right person to direct his TV commercial. The name Tony Kaye was top of his list. “He changed the face of advertising in the 80s and 90s with adverts for Dunlop, Volvo, Tag Heuer. He is also the much acclaimed Hollywood director of American History X.”
Emmanuel-Jones says: “Tony Kaye has created a piece of work that has broken the mould in food advertising and brings a totally fresh approach to advertising. He has created something truly special. The 2min version is more like a short film celebrating being black, being British and being barking mad. This fantastic piece of work could have some cultural significance for many elements of British society and I hope in some way it goes some way to breaking the stereotype that has been holding Black Britain back for years.”
Notes to editor:
Black History Month: During this month school children are taught about the achievements of black people for example: Mary Seacole whose reputation after the Crimean War (1853-1856) rivalled that of Florence Nightingale. Unlike Nightingale, Seacole also had the challenge to have her skills put to proper use in spite of her being black. A born healer and a woman of driving energy, she overcame official indifference and prejudice. Walter Tull has become the most celebrated black British soldier of the First World War. He enlisted in December 1914, suffered shell shock, returned to action in the battle of the Somme and was decorated with the 1914-15 star and other British war and victory medals. John Kent – the First Black Police Officer – 1837. Known across the city as “Black Kent”, he was clearly a valuable member of the force. His obituaries tell how he was so well known that a generation of Carlisle children were brought up to fear him.
Musuems, art groups, theatre groups etc keen to secure their funding will make some gestures towards celebrating Black History Month. Public sector organisations and large corporate entities will also make the right noise with many a senior manager exclaiming their organisations commitment to diversity.
Tony Kaye, British director of iconic films American History X and Lake of Fire and TV commercials for Dunlop, Tag Heuer, Volvo and more, jumped at the chance to film what he considers to be a fascinating and captivating script to launch The Black Farmer food brand on TV.
Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones was born in Frankfield, Clarendon, Jamaica. He came to the UK at the age of four and was raised in Small Heath, inner city Birmingham. He left school without gaining any qualifications.
For a number of years Wilfred worked as a chef, before pursuing a career in the BBC, becoming a producer/director mainly working on food and drink programmes. He is credited with bringing many of the top celebrity chefs to the small screen including Gordon Ramsay, Antony Worrall-Thompson, Brian Turner and James Martin.
In 1994 during the last recession he founded a food and drink marketing agency in London which went on to launch and run successful marketing campaigns for innovative brands including Loyd Grossman sauces, KETTLE Chips, Plymouth Gin, and Cobra Beer.
In 2000 Wilfred bought a small farm on the Devon/Cornwall border, and ten years ago launched The Black Farmer food brand whose products are now available in all major multiple retailers. The brand markets award winning gluten free sausages – now the leading super premium sausage brand in the UK – as well as bacon, burgers, meatballs, chicken, eggs and cheese. In September 2009 he launched his first The Black Farmer Cookbook published by Simon & Schuster.
In 2011 The University of Plymouth awarded Wilfred an Honorary Doctorate in Business.
Wilfred tours the country giving inspirational talks to entrepreneurs and people starting up businesses. He also mentors young entrepreneurs.
Flavours without Frontiers – the promise offered by his products also goes some way to sum up his personality.