This unedited interview was conducted during the Covid-19 lockdown and took place at The Classic Banqueting Suite in Tooting Bec, London on Sunday, 30th May 2020. The interviewee, George Edward Mangar MBE, had recently recovered from a period of ill health, and asked to be interviewed in person albeit social-distanced, rather than via phone or video call. George was born in Georgetown, British Guyana (now Guyana) in 1937. He was brought up by a father of indentured-Indian heritage who converted to Christianity from Hinduism and mother who was a staunch Muslim of mixed Indentured-Indian and Irish heritage. George’s seven siblings were all well-educated and brought up in a home that was open to cultural, religious and ethnic difference: his sisters became Muslim and his brothers, like him, Christians. He worked as a police officer in British Guiana before moving to England in 1959 to further his education. Having been awarded a military scholarship he joined the Royal Army Medical Corp (RAMC) and gave active service in Malaya between end-1959 and 1961. He completed his medical training on return to the UK and spent the bulk of his career working at Guy’s Hospital.
This interview with George is wonderful for the vivid, detailed recollections he has of the various stages of his journey from British Guiana, via Trinidad and Venezuela; to a stop-over in Tenerife, a train journey from Genoa to Calais, the ferry journey from Calais to Dover and train from Dover to Victoria Station. Amongst many other recollections he also offers fascinating insights into the importance of the West Indies cricket team to the Caribbean community settled in Britain. He nevertheless notes: “We were more British” than the British. When asked how he would describe himself now he noted: “I feel very much British but my ethnic origin is Guyanese. I use the word very stringently. I don’t want to be categorised as Indo-Caribbean, or nothing else.” Race categorisations are, for him, divisive: “We need to move on from that”.
George worked, later in life, in various capacities for the Commission for Racial Equality. In 2004 George Mangar received an MBE in recognition of his service to the Independent Monitoring Board, HM Prison Brixton in London.