Oxford University Africa Society 60th Anniversary: Pan Africanism, Learning from the Past, Looking to the Futureby Temitope Ajileye, DPhil Computer Science, Wolfson College
In the evening of June 3rd, 1958, Lord Hailey gave the address of the Oxford University Africa Society. 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.
In occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Society, celebrated on the 2nd of June of this year at St. Antony’s College, the Oxford Africa Society sought to bring together past and current members. Among the alumni who responded to their call were Prof. Patricia Daley, professor of Human Geography and the first black lecturer at Oxford University, Ambassador Busia, a pioneer in Black Feminist studies, Dr. Tunde Oseni, from the department of Politics in Ibadan, Nigeria and who graduated from the MSc in African studies, just like the newly appointed Prof. Simukai Chigudu, poised to take on the role left by the late Prof. Raufu Mustapha. The four of them, together with Dr. Phyllis Ferguson, former Senior Member of the Society and, briefly, Prof. Kole Omotoso, on a skype connection from Nigeria, helped them achieve the objective they set for themselves in organizing this event.
The Oxford Africa Society took advantage of the occasion to reﬂect on the shared history of the Society within Oxford University, and the history of the past decades of the African continent. Secondly, they re-asserted their presence in the University and their importance in the academic landscape. Finally, and most importantly, they were able to gather new ideas to reposition themselves in an environment where African voices and Afro-centric institutions are slowly but steadily increasing, to build a framework and a community that can help future generations of African students and to find inspiration for the way forward.
Notable were the invitation to connect with and appreciate the experiences of the African Diaspora, extended by Prof. Daley, the appeal to be present to our duties of care to each other, brought by Dr. Ferguson, the exhortation not to shy away from being political in academia, given by Prof. Chigudu, the proposal to Pan Africanise the Global and Globalise the Pan African, made by Dr. Oseni and the inspiration, embodied by ambassador Busia with her poetry and personal life, to consider new perspectives in history and literature.