Who tells our ancestral histories?

Tue 20 Oct 2020 - 2:00-3:30pm BST

Speakers: Dr Gameli Tordzro (UofG), Prof Kofi Anyidoho (University of Ghana) and Kojo Yankah (African University College) 

Abstract: 

“It Is Time To Tell Our Own Story!” But who qualifies to tell the African Story and how must it be told?

Africa’s history goes far beyond the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its colonial history. There is evidence that many contributions to language, technological invention, modern inventions and the resistance to slavery and colonialism have been wrote out of the history books. But now, there is a growing call and a need to write and tell Africa’s story in full. The question though is who qualifies to tell Africa’s Histories?

Join Gameli Tordzro as he hosts a conversation between Prof Kofi Anyidoho and Kojo Yankah, two of Ghana’s prominent academics, whose work has a particular focus on Africa and its heritage.

Biographies:

Kojo Yankah

Kojo Acquah Yankah is the founder of the Pan African Heritage World Museum. He a former Member of Parliament in Ghana. He also served as a Minister of State in the Rawlings government. He is the founder and President of the African University College of Communications and is also a former editor of the Daily Graphic, the widest circulation newspaper in Ghana.

Prof Kofi Anyidoho

Distinguished poet, literary scholar, educator, and cultural activist Kofi Anyidoho is Professor of Literature and Director of the CODESRIA African Humanities Institute Programme at University of Ghana, where he has also served as 1st Occupant of the Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, Director of the School of Performing Arts and Head of the Department of English. He has been a visiting professor, guest lecturer and external examiner at various universities across the world. Outside the university, he is deeply involved in various initiatives designed to promote African culture and history, among them Ghana Television's African Heritage Series, for which he was host and executive producer. Well-known for his unique style of performance-poetry and CD recordings of his poetry in English and Ewe, Anyidoho has published several books of poetry, numerous journal articles and book chapters and has edited a number of major books on African literature and the humanities. He was President of the African Literature Association, based in the United States, and has served on various boards, including the Executive Committee of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa [CODESRIA]-Dakar, the National Commission on Culture, and the University of Ghana Council. He has been a member of the Sponsoring Committee for UNESCO’s special project devoted to the ideals of Tagore, Neruda, and Cesaire (three of the greatest poets of the 20th Century). He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Film &Television Institute [NAFTI] and Chairman of the founding Governing Council of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho [UHAS].

He has won many prizes for his poetry, including the Valco Fund Literary Award, the Fania Kruger Fellowship for Poetry of Social Vision, the Langston Hughes Prize, the Davidson Nichol Prize, the BBC “Arts and Africa” Poetry Award, Le grand Prix de poesie en langue nationale [in Togo, for his poetry in Ewe], and the 2015 Millennium Excellence Award (Literature Prize). He has also author of Akpokplo (a play in Ewe and Engilsh) and GhanaNya and Agbenoxevi, CD & Cassette recordings of his poetry in Ewe. GhanaNya presents Kofi Anyidoho as a singer-poet whose voice alternates with that of his late mother, Abla Adidi Anyidoho, herself a poet-cantor in the Ewe oral tradition.

He holds a B.A. Honours in English & Linguistics [University of Ghana-Legon], an M.A. in Folklore [Indiana University-Bloomington] and a PhD in Comparative Literature [University of Texas at Austin]. He is a Fellow & current Vice President (Arts) of Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr Gameli Tordzro

Dr Gameli Tordzro is a Ghanaian multiple arts professional and a Creative Arts (CA) researcher, consultant and lecturer in Glasgow. He is Artist in Residence with UNESCO RILA, and a Research Associate on The MiDEQ Hub. His research is in creative arts and translating cultures, language and education with a focus on African diaspora music, video film production, story and storytelling.

Gameli is founder, composer and Creative Director of Ha Orchestra and the AdinkraLinks Poetry Network. In 2015 he received the Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) Music and Sound for his role in Kai Fischer's Last Dream (On Earth).

Textiles: Our Ancestral Stories

Weds 21 Oct 2020 - 2:00-3:30pm BST

Speakers: Naa Densua Tordzro (UofG) and Chandra Brooks (currently studying at UofG)

Abstract:

Join Naa Densua Tordzro and Chandra Brooks in a fun discussion and shared stories on textiles and quilting. We will learn about fabrics, patterns, migration, connections and the importance to Africans through migration in the global south, and its significance to Black American and Africans in the Diaspora in the global north. Come and be part of oral stories of migration and decolonisation of textiles and quilts, as told by their ancestors.

Biographies:

Naa Densua Tordzro

Naa Densua Tordzro currently works at the University of Glasgow as Research Assistant on MIDEQ (Migration for Equality and Development), and is an MPhil reserach student in the School of Education. She holds a BA in Fashion Technology from the Heriot Watt University in Galashiels, Scotland.

Naa Densua is Ghanaian, a fashion designer, dressmaker and African (Ga) music composer and singer with knowledge and research interest in ancient West African Adinkra symbols that were printed on traditional fabrics. Her current research focus is on decolonising textiles and fashion education in the contexts of the global south.

As a designer and African textile artist, she has spent time researching the value of African textiles culture of the Ghanaian living in the diaspora. She is also looking at how African textiles and clothing is interpreted when worn or used by people other than Africans. Naa Densua has created numerous items of clothing for wear, in Ghana and Scotland. She currently has a gown entitled ‘Obaa Sima’ Virtuous Woman on display at Kelvingrove Museum and Arts Gallery.

Chandra Brooks

Bio: Chandra Brooks is the founder of The Universal Fairytale, a 501c3 non-profits organization for which she is currently developing a Berlin-based research project. A research project which pushes the boundaries of sustainability based on concepts she began developing during her time in the Netherlands as Guest Artist for the department of Image & Sound, a collaboration between their Royal College of Art & Design and their Royal Conservatoire. Through her research with the MIT FabLab prototypes at Mediamatic Art Center and Waag Society for Technology & Culture in Amsterdam, Chandra Brooks developed the preliminary basis for her workshops. Workshops which make handcraft accessible as technology for teaching cultural understanding through Book Arts. Chandra Brooks has studied at Parsons School of Design in New York. She received an MRes from the Glasgow School of Art and is currently conducting autoethnographical research in Theology and Creative Practice at Glasgow University.

Chandra Brooks’ work focuses on storytelling, printed matter, creating biodiverse substrates and narrating the plight Black people and refugees who have been forced to leave their homes based on violence and politics. Current projects include creating bio textiles through fermentation processes as well as developing non-toxic screen-printing inks. In Berlin, she is working with recycled shipping containers and “primitive” technology for creating plans for opensource incinerating toilets. Her design and artwork are housed in private collections around the world.

Martin Plaut on Dr Abdurahman and anti-racism in South Africa - a book discussion

Thu 22 Oct 2020 - 2:00-3:30pm BST

Speakers: Martin Plaut (former Chief Correspondent, BBC World Service, Africa, Senior Research Fellow at Institute for Commonwealth Studies), Prof Alison Phipps (UofG), Tawona Sitholé (UofG) and student representatives (names TBC).

Abstract:

As President of the African Political (later People's) Organisation (1905-1940) Abdullah Abdurahman was a leading political voice among South Africa's 'coloured' community and a tireless campaigner against segregation. Though civil, social and political equality was not achieved in his lifetime, he made an important contribution to the case against white supremacism, and for improvements in education, the welfare of the Cape poor, and public health. A medical graduate of Glasgow University (MB CM 1893) he ran a successful multi-racial practice in Cape Town. https://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH10083&type=P

This conversation marks this important figure in the history of University of Glasgow and also the launch of a new book on Dr Abdurahman by Martin Plaut, a journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, and former Africa Editor for BBC World Service News.

Biographies:

Martin Plaut

Born in South Africa in May 1950, Martin Plaut received his first degree in Social Science from the University of Cape Town, and an Honours degree in Industrial Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand, before going on to do an MA at the University of Warwick. In 1978 he worked for a year as an Industrial Relations officer with Mobil Oil before joining the British Labour Party as secretary on Africa and the Middle East.

In 1984 he joined the BBC, working primarily on Africa. He has reported from many parts of the continent but specialises in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa. He is formerly editor for BBC World Service News. Martin Plaut has advised the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US State Department. For two years he was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, leading their Africa research programme and continues to be an active member.

His previous publications include: Power! Black workers, their unions and the struggle for freedom in South Africa (Spokesman Press, 1984, with Denis MacShane and David Ward); South Africa: Out of the Laager? Fabian Society (1991); War in the Horn Royal Institute of International Affairs (1999, with Patrick Gilkes); Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at War (Red Sea Press, 2005); Ethiopia and Eritrea: Allergic to persuasion (Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2007, with Sally Healy); Fighting for Britain: African soldiers in the Second World War (2010, James Currey, by David Killingray, with Martin Plaut); The Hamster of Hampstead Heath (2007, self-published).

Website: https://martinplaut.com/

Alison Phipps

Alison Phipps holds the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET). She is Co-Chair of the AHRC GCRF Advisory board and recipient of a number of GCRF grants as both PI and Co I working in Zimbabwe, Gaza, Ghana, Uganda and with refugees in the UK. Most recently she was appointed Co-Director and Co-I for the £20 million UKRI GCRF South South Migration Inequality and Development Hub.

Alison chairs the New Scots Core Group for Refugee Integration in partnership with Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council; She Co-Chairs AHRC GCRF Advisory Board and she is an Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council

She is author of numerous academic books and articles and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster, including most recently, Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate, with Multilingual Matters. Her first collection of poetry, Through Wood was published in 2009, with a further collection - The Warriors who do not Fight was published in 2018, with co-author Tawona Sitholé.

In 2018 she was awarded the De Carle Visiting Professorship at Otago University, 2017 she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Auckland University of Technology. In 2016 she was appointed ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the EU Hawke Centre at University of South Australia. She was the Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013, and is Adjunct Professor of Tourism. In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. In 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2019 she was awarded the Minerva medal by the Royal Society of Philosophy. She is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Tawona Sitholé

Tawona Sitholé is Artist in Residence with the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, at the University of Glasgow, School of Education. He is a poet, playwright, mbira musician, educator and facilitator. His ancestral family name, Ganyamatope, is a reminder of his heritage, which inspires him to make connections with other people through creativity, and the natural outlook to learn. As co-founder of Seeds of Thought arts group, Tawona’s work involves supporting and facilitating access to the creative arts. Tawona is Poet in Residence for GRAMNet and works in a variety of settings and institutions. As he continues to write, teach and perform, mostly he appreciates his work for the many inspiring people it allows him to meet.

UNESCO World Heritage sites in Zimbabwe: Protecting Heritage and the Heritage Returned from Colonial Acquisitiveness. Lessons for the global North.

Thu 22 Oct 2020 - 5.00 - 6:30pm BST

Speakers: Tawona Sitholé (UofG), Prof Alison Phipps (UofG) and Stephen Chinhuwo (Great Zimbabwe) + TBC

Abstract: 

Join us for an afternoon of discussion around UNESCO World Heritage Site Great Zimbabwe near Masvingo. We will be discussing the relevance of the UNESCO designation for the local community and the ways in which UNESCO’s work and research helps to correct colonial assumptions about important sites and civilizations. We will learn from a site that has been a significant place of guarding and disseminating knowledge of people who are now largely displaced. We also expect to be joined by academic and heritage experts and directors from Zimbabwe.

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe – the capital of the Queen of Sheba, according to an age-old legend – are a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the Shona between the 11th and 15th centuries. The city, which covers an area of nearly 80 ha, was an important trading centre and was renowned from the Middle Ages onwards.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument is approximately 30 km from Masvingo and located in the lowveld at an altitude of some 1100 m in a sparsely populated region of the Bantu/Shona people. The property, built between 1100 and 1450 AD, extends over almost 800 ha and is divided into three groups: the Hill Ruins, the Great Enclosure and the Valley Ruins.

The site has been legally protected since 1893 and is currently protected under the National Museum & Monuments Act Chapter 25:11 (1976) which provides for the legal protection of the resources within the property.

 

Biographies:

Tawona Sitholé

Tawona Sitholé is Artist in Residence with the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, at the University of Glasgow, School of Education. He is a poet, playwright, mbira musician, educator and facilitator. His ancestral family name, Ganyamatope, is a reminder of his heritage, which inspires him to make connections with other people through creativity, and the natural outlook to learn. As co-founder of Seeds of Thought arts group, Tawona’s work involves supporting and facilitating access to the creative arts. Tawona is Poet in Residence for GRAMNet and works in a variety of settings and institutions. As he continues to write, teach and perform, mostly he appreciates his work for the many inspiring people it allows him to meet.

Stephen Chinhuwo

Stephen Chinhuwo works at the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. He is a tour guide at Great Zimbabwe and the fount of all knowledge where Great Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean heritage is concerned.

Alison Phipps

Alison Phipps holds the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET). She is Co-Chair of the AHRC GCRF Advisory board and recipient of a number of GCRF grants as both PI and Co I working in Zimbabwe, Gaza, Ghana, Uganda and with refugees in the UK. Most recently she was appointed Co-Director and Co-I for the £20 million UKRI GCRF South South Migration Inequality and Development Hub.

Alison chairs the New Scots Core Group for Refugee Integration in partnership with Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council; She Co-Chairs AHRC GCRF Advisory Board and she is an Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council

She is author of numerous academic books and articles and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster, including most recently, Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate, with Multilingual Matters. Her first collection of poetry, Through Wood was published in 2009, with a further collection - The Warriors who do not Fight was published in 2018, with co-author Tawona Sitholé.

In 2018 she was awarded the De Carle Visiting Professorship at Otago University, 2017 she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Auckland University of Technology. In 2016 she was appointed ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the EU Hawke Centre at University of South Australia. She was the Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013, and is Adjunct Professor of Tourism. In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. In 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2019 she was awarded the Minerva medal by the Royal Society of Philosophy. She is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.