The Oxford University Africa Society Celebrates its 60th Anniversary

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In the evening of June 3rd, 1958, the Oxford University Africa Society met for its inaugural meeting. Since, the Society has become the foremost platform for African issues and a vibrant and supportive community for many African students. It brings together Africans and non-Africans alike, from an assortment of backgrounds, creeds, cultures, and ethnicities who share a desire for positive change in Africa.

Long before the African Studies Centre was established in 2006, the Society contributed majorly to scholarship from and related to Africa in Oxford, as testified by the weekly lectures, seminars and discussion groups in our term cards. Some of our alumni continued to transform academia in Britain, like Prof. Patricia Daley, the first black lecturer at Oxford University, and in their home countries, like Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Nigerian political scientist and former minister. Many became major actors in African life and politics, and we can find two examples in Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and Constantine Bereng Seeiso, later known as King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho. Others, like Kenyan philanthropist Adhiambo Odaga and the South African Kumi Naidoo, first African to lead Greenpeace and next Secretary General for Amnesty international, added their contributions to the U.N and other non-governmental organizations. These are amongst many other African Oxford alumni.

2018 will mark our 60th anniversary. There are three main reasons that compel us to remember and celebrate this occurrence. First, we would like to take advantage of the occasion to reflect on our shared history, both the history of the Society within Oxford University, and the history of the past decades of the African continent, through the themes the society has dealt with, the movements it has participated in and the people it has talked to. Secondly, we would like to re-assert our presence in the University and our importance in the academic landscape. That we exist is not a given and we believe it is becoming more and more important to show that our piece of African history is intertwined with the history of the University, albeit for a short segment of it, and thus we have a legitimate perspective of its current affairs. Finally, and most importantly, we would like to gather new ideas to reposition ourselves in an environment where African voices and Afrocentric institutions are slowly but steadily increasing, to build a framework and a community that can help future generations of African students and find inspiration for the way forward.

Please watch this space and our website for more information on the projects and events we are preparing, in addition to our regular activities. We would like to involve as many in our community as possible. If you are a current member of the university and would like to help us out, please get in touch with us personally or at africa.society@studentclubs.ox.ac.uk.  If you are a past member, be sure you are registered with us here, so that we can reach you. If you have documents or other resources to share with us, do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Book

We are doing archive research and conducting interviews to create a small book of the history of the society. The book will use documents, original images and quotes as primary sources. Our reporting and commentary on them will aim to become a reliable secondary source. The Africa Society should serve as a focus, not a boundary, of the investigation. As such, every relevant experience of the African students in Oxford in the period 1930 -  present should be included. major running themes that will be analyzed include: decolonization, scholarship, and pan-Africanism.

Funds will be used to:

  • Cover the cost of archive research
  • Acquire rights over photographic and documented material where they are not provided to us free of charge
  • Subsidise partially or totally copies of the books for our current members 

The Anniversary Day

The main event of the anniversary day will be structured in three moments which will look into the past, present, and future. In each moment, we will look at the development of the society and of the sociopolitical phenomena it engaged within the continent. Current and past members of the society, representatives of our institutional partners and distinguished guests will take part in the event.

Funds will be used to:

  • Subsidise accommodation and travel expenses for alumni invited to the panel discussion
  • Cover accommodation and travel expenses for a keynote speaker
  • Venue and catering
  • Art exhibition and/or live performances 

Fundraising

We are hoping to raise £5000 pounds to cover the cost of realizing and printing the book, to book and cater the venues for the anniversary days and to facilitate as many alumni as possible to attend the event. If you are able to, please consider contributing to our fundraising by visiting our official campaign on GoFundMe, using the ‘donate button’ on our website or contacting us directly for a bank transfer.