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My Grandparents’ War: Emeli Sandé (S2EP3 Channel 4 Thursday 29 September 2022)

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Emeli Sandé: The Grammy-winning musician Emeli Sandé delves into the extraordinary war tales of her grandparents, which cover World War II, the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, and the struggle for independence in Zambia. Emeli describes how the politics of empire divided nations and communities and how the racism it gave rise to is still present today in this intensely personal film. Emeli learns that Bob and Betty Wood, her maternal grandparents, fought to defend the British Empire.

In the meantime, Saka Sandé, her grandfather on her father’s side, became involved in the conflict to topple it. Emeli’s film provides an emotional insight into the human cost of the end of empire by dividing grandparents across fault lines. Emeli discovers that Bob and Betty were deployed with the British Army into a violent insurrection while retracing her grandparents’ steps in Kenya.

When Emeli learns that her grandfather was told to shoot his own kids if Mau Mau rebels ever broke into the British army base, she is horrified. Mau Mau members are introduced to Emeli. She finds it upsetting to learn that some Kenyans were tortured while others were held in detention facilities without being tried.

Emeli, who is angry about how the British Empire treated Kenyans and endangered her own grandparents’ lives, is proud to be both British and African. When Emeli visits Zambia, she learns that Saka Sandé, her grandfather on her father’s side, fought against British rule and the apartheid system. When Emeli visits Saka’s house again, she is horrified to see how he was treated like a slave.

Dir: Tom McCarthy; Prod: Rebecca Fairbank; Exec Prods: Tom Anstiss, Samantha Anstiss; Prod Co: Wonderhood Studios

Airdate: Thursday 29 September 2022 at 20:00 on Channel 4

Season 2 Episode 3

Four celebrates actors take deeply personal and immersive journeys to uncover what happened to their grandparents during the Second World War.