Eton headmaster apologises to former pupil for racism

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The headmaster of Eton College has reportedly apologised to a black former pupil for the racism he was subjected to during his studies in the 1960s.

Writer Dillibe Onyeama told the BBC he was bullied daily during his four years at the elite fee-paying school.

Fellow students used slurs and asked if he had maggots in his hair, and Onyeama was accused of cheating when he performed well while having any poor performance attributed to his race.

Onyeama, who is Nigerian, detailed his experiences in a book when he finished school in 1969.

Three years later, he received a letter from Eton informing him he was banned from visiting the school.

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Headmaster Simon Henderson said he was “appalled” by the racism Onyeama experienced.

He told the BBC: “Racism has no place in civilised society, then or now.”

He said “significant strides” have been made since Onyeama was at Eton.

He added: “But, as millions of people around the world rightly raise their voices in protest against racial discrimination and inequality, we have to have the institutional and personal humility to acknowledge that we still have more to do.

“We must all speak out and commit to doing better, permanently, and I am determined that we seize this moment as a catalyst for real and sustained change for the better.”

Henderson, who took up the role in 2015, invited Onyeama to meet so he could apologise in person and on behalf of the school, adding that he wished to show the writer would always be welcome.

Boris Johnson
Since 1945, five prime ministers have been educated at Eton, including Boris Johnson (Steve Parsons/PA)

Many educational institutions have come under increased pressure to decolonise the curriculum, tackle racism and boost diversity on campus. This includes the private Norwich School, where over 250 current and former pupils and parents signed a letter detailing a litany of racist incidents involving both staff and pupils over the last five years.

This follows weeks of international Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

Eton College, near Windsor in Berkshire, charges fees of more than £40,000 per year and has been attended by both the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

Since 1945, five prime ministers have been educated at Eton, including Boris Johnson.

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