Timeline 1900 – 2017

‘Muslim Community: Everyday Life in Butetown, Cardiff, Wales, 1943’

The Ministry of Information was a British government department responsible for publicity and propaganda during World War II and, in 1943, commissioned as series of photographs depicting everyday life in the Muslim Community of Butetown, Cardiff. Many of the images depict interracial couples and families going about their daily business. Butetown - also known as Tiger Bay - had long been home to mixed race families, many of whom, such as Ali and Olive Salaman who ran the Cairo Cafe, had Yemeni and British roots.

During the 1930s, the British government realised how the effective use made by the Nazis of the German press, radio, exhibitions, posters, theatre and cinema. The Ministry of Information was consequently set up on 5 September 1939 to cover news and press censorship, home publicity and overseas publicity in allied and neutral Countries. It is likely these photographs of Butetown Muslim families as an ordinary, integrated part of British life were produced to rally support amongst Britain’s colonial Muslim subjects. The suggestion was that, in order to maintain a way of life where all peoples and traditions were respected, the war was not just Britain’s fight but one in which all colonial subjects had a stake.