Comedian uses family connections to explore Aberdeen’s links to the slave trade

He is well known for his routines with irreverent presentations of traditional Scottish history and culture.

But now standup comedian Bruce Fummey is using his own family connections to explore Aberdeen’s links to the slave trade.

During the Covid lockdowns the comedian turned his attention to YouTube filmmaking, creating popular Scottish History Tours videos.

The films offer Bruce’s take on the nation’s past from Tam O’Shanter, the Jacobites and Robert the Bruce to the independence debate and the best castles in Scotland.

And Bruce, a former school teacher who gave up a career in finance to become an entertainer, has now amassed nearly 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. 

He will be appearing at the University of Aberdeen on 2 October to discuss his latest film which highlight the links between the university and the north-east of Scotland’s links with the slave trade.

Bruce said the film, which he will showcase at a special event in Aberdeen, shows that these connections are ‘much messier than we often think’ – and sometimes personal.

During the film he introduces his sister Comfort, an associate member of staff at the University, and brother-in-law Ben to places they encounter in their day-to-day lives but had not previously considered as having connections to the slave trade. 

Showing them how much those living in Scotland today benefit from this legacy, and how the compensation paid to enslavers for the loss of the people they ‘owned’ following the abolition of slavery was spent, brings into focus how widely this history is still felt today.

‘The revelations I gained from looking at Aberdeen University’s story opened my eyes to so many connections,’ Bruce said.

‘The big question I want to address now is: What does it mean today?’

Neil Curtis, Head of Museums & Special Collections, who assisted Bruce with locations and items from the University’s collections for the film, said: ‘The story that Bruce tells in his video powerfully shows how entangled all our lives are in the legacies of transatlantic slavery.

‘It was a great privilege to see behind the camera as his video was filmed, seeing how he brought together so many complex stories into a powerful argument.’

Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages. 

Plus, don’t miss the October issue of Scottish Field magazine.