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Who should the Empire Honour?

The England Project reports on someone I have never heard of - Elsie Owusu - who is threatning to return her OBE because:

"One (reason) is the jingoistic reaction in the press regarding the English (not British) rugby victory. The idea of a vainglorious parade is exclusive of the whole ethnic-minority population of this island and redolent of Anglo-Saxon imperialism. This rugby jolly has already cost ĢI0m that should have been spent on relieving poverty for the black urban underclass, or perhaps funding sports facilities for those impoverished nations forced to compete on such unfair terms. Sports such as rugby must be privately funded by the wealthy few."

I hope the Palace sends her an SAE so she can return it ASAP - I'm sure Jason Robinson amongst others has a better claim on it - and is far better role model for the "black urban underclass".

Born in Chapeltown, Leeds, 29 years ago, Robinson is the son of a beloved white mother and a Jamaican father he never met. His surname comes from a stepfather who drank and beat his family. One of his two brothers has served time for dealing heroin. When he rose to fame as a uncatchable winger with the all-conquering Wigan rugby league side, he found the temptations too strong. The consequences are detailed in his remarkable new autobiography, the best of its kind since Lance Armstrong's It's Not About The Bike. The book also describes the change that overtook his life when he was approached one morning eight years ago by his Wigan team-mate, the great Va'aiga Tuigamala, a born-again Christian whose life seemed so much at variance with Robinson's own.

Inga the Winger told Robinson that in a dream he had seen him standing on top of the world, which suddenly crumbled beneath his feet. It was what Robinson needed to hear. At the time, two girls were expecting his children. One of them, the one he was serious about, had told him that unless he changed his ways, she was no longer interested in him.

Tuigamala's words prompted him to change his life. He became a born-again Christian, stopped drinking, married the girl and committed himself to a family that now includes two sons and a daughter. He has since worked with the homeless and his children are home-educated.

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Saturday December 20, 2003
The Guardian

Elsie Owusu OBE: An Apology

A letter purporting to be from Elsie Owusu, who was awarded an OBE earlier this year for her services to architecture, was published on our Letters page (page 27, December 2 2003). The letter was in fact a forgery and should never have been published. It was not written by Ms Owusu and she does not hold any of the views expressed in it. The letter falsely alleged that Ms Owusu was considering returning her "honour" because of what she saw as English disregard for black concerns. It said that unless she was persuaded that her OBE was a symbol of hope for young black women, she would shortly be returning it. Ms Owusu has no intention of returning her OBE which she was honoured to receive. We apologise to Ms Owusu for any distress and embarrassment caused by our genuine mistake in publishing this letter.

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