The African Oxons Project – An Introduction and a Call to Engage!
The African Oxons Project has been in the pipeline since the beginning of summer 2018 and is ready to launch digitally! The 2018-19 Oxford Africa Society committee has affirmed as one of its mandates this year, to ensure institutional memory of the Society itself and of Africans at Oxford. We also aim to celebrate Pan-Africanism and the importance of purposefully engaging and strengthening each other from all parts of Africa and her Diaspora, in unity. We aspire to create a culture of oneness, of unwavering goodwill and support for each other, towards realizing an African advancement, that is truly remarkable and satisfactory, and realizable in our time.
In ensuring institutional memory of both the Africa Society as an organization, and of the achievements of Africans and the African Diaspora at Oxford, we must boldly publicize, and celebrate intentionally and perpetually, the relatively seldom highlighted lives and contributions of all those who have been here. We will learn about their time at Oxford, their struggles and achievements here, and their remarkable service to humankind outside this most historic city of spires. This, we hope will guide us in our own achievements and contributions to Pan-Africanism and African development.
What Form will the African Oxons Project Take?
Through a series of flash cards, blog and vlog posts, AfriSoc will celebrate the achievements of Africans at Oxford and beyond by looking at important moments in the history of African scholarship at the University of Oxford, launching this October during Black History Month. In the UK, Black History Month was first recognised in 1987, and since then the month of October has been dedicated to celebrating important events and people in the history of Africa and the African Diaspora. While we use Black History Month as a departure point for this project, we will purposefully be highlighting as many African Oxons as possible whose histories we may discover in this project. 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the Oxford Africa Society, and a celebration in June spearheaded efforts to look into the history of Africans in Oxford. We hope to draw attention to scholars and change agents, past and also present, those well-known, and those less-known but have gone on to do remarkable things in their countries and fields of study.
We hope to compile a comprehensive list of scholars of African descent who have studied at the University of Oxford. We are open to receiving names and details of scholars that some of you may know. Tracing the diverse number of African students who have attended Oxford will be useful as it will further encourage applications by Africans to the University- this will be a much-needed source of inspiration, and a great tool to address access issues that continue to impinge applications by Africans.
Archival research in Oxford has generated important documents and photographs of Africans. AfOx in 2017, shared details about notable people of African descent who were awarded degrees at Oxford. There is still a lot to be done, and we are interested in collating various resources ranging from photographs, videoclips and memoranda, that tell of student experiences. Please get in touch if you are interested in searching archives, are willing to share your own material, or can connect the society with past students.
The African Oxons Project was honed by different sources of inspiration. The first, our preparations leading to our 60th anniversary celebrations in June 2018, collecting bulletins and posters and old pictures from Dr. Phyllis Ferguson and Prof. Patricia Daley, and doing archival research at the Pitt Rivers Museum with Ms. Chimwemwe Phiri, our African Oxons Project lead who recently completed her MSc in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology. Further inspiration was drawn from the Black Cantabs series at Cambridge, their curators Njoki Wamai and Surer Mohamed, and friends who would share their amazing work. Ms. Pamela Roberts, a dear friend of AfriSoc, has shared her discovery of the first ever Black Student at Oxford from Sierra Leone, inspiring us to advance this work within our own domain, with a close focus on Africans at Oxford. Mrs. Nana Ayebia Clarke, MBE, also a close friend of AfriSoc and the distinguished editor of the iconic Heinemann African Writers Series, for which she received an honourary MBE, has encouraged us and offered her guidance and direct support in this pursuance. I also acknowledge the various African historians on social media who are using the power of these media to educate, celebrate, and inspire as many as they can reach with their findings on personalities, and places, and occurrences in time, across Africa, whose efforts we also honour through this project.
Finally, I extend our greatest gratitude to Former President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, whose kind donation to the Oxford Africa Society during our 60th anniversary trip to Ghana in September 2018 has made the African Oxons Project possible.
A Call to Engage!
It’s time to celebrate our own as the Oxford Africa Society here at Oxford. I believe, undoubtedly, that we will draw great inspiration from knowing who has been before us, that unearthing their stories will ensure that they remain with us, that their good works, and even their merely being here will remind us; to push on, and to do excellently well for Africa and the world.
I welcome you all to join us in establishing this project as a core part of The Oxford Africa Society’s programming. Please share our posts and do get in touch right away if you would like to be a part of our curation. Thank you!
Papa Kojo Botsio
President, Oxford University Africa Society (AfriSoc),
DPhil Comparative and International Education.
Project Lead, African Oxons Project,
MSc Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology
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