2018 has been such a  year for the world. We seem to be moving ever closer to the edge of disaster. Nevertheless, I have always found that taking the opportunity afforded by the demarcations of time that we fashion permit us to look back at what has been good. Such that our focus is not only on the bad stuff that has happened. So I take this opportunity to recap the main themes of Foluke’s African Skies in 2018.

Decolonisation

This year Foluke’s African Skies was all about decolonisation. So, it was not surprising that the most-read blog was about decolonisation. Questions academics can ask to decolonise their classrooms. Alas it was not one I wrote myself, but republished with permission from The Conversation. It was written by South Africans Morreira and Luckett, who give us a very practical approach to decolonisation. There are 10 questions for teachers to ask when considering decolonising their teaching. Though framed in a South African context it is easily adaptable to any environment, but most especially where there are settler populations.

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But we must not forget that decolonisation is not just about what we teach but is also evidenced by the power and control structures in society. These tensions are explored in an article I wrote titled, The Colonial Origins of the Nigerian Police. In this article, I explore how the introduction, evolutions and remnants of coloniality are evidenced in the origins and current practices of the Nigerian Police.

Nevertheless, while the police can be an exemplar of coloniality as colonial artefact, the ontology of law – the very character and nature of law – maintaining global and national societies – also carries deeply embedded aspects of coloniality. I explained this in two presentations I made at the SLSA annual conference in 2018. I wrote a summary of those presentations in Decolonization, Law, Race & the Legal Curriculum: SLSA 2018

 

As the very origins of the colonial are focused on the creation of racialised hierarchies of power, knowledge and geography. It is imperative to examine the intermingling of law and race. This year in our new unit Dr Yvette Russell and I embarked on a decolonial exploration of the relationship between law and race. In the Why We are Teaching Law & Race at the University of Bristol I explain the reasons why we have chosen to do so.

 

Forever Africa Conference and Events (FACE)

This year was also a good year on Foluke’s African Skies, for other reasons. On June 8th 2018, FACE held its first conference FACE 2018. FACE is a Pan-African initiative brought together by staff and students at the University of Bristol.

It has a decolonial, transdisciplinary, cross-sector, intergenerational, intercommunity, global vision for the Pan-African community. We look forward to seeing you at the next conference. In FACE 2018: Summary, reflections & next steps, I provide an extended summary of the events at the launch conference.

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The next Forever Africa event was during Black History Month, where I gave a talk titled ‘Pan-Africanism, Afrofuturism and Decolonisation.’ I also provided a reading list. I completely believe that we cannot talk freedom without engaging critically with knowledge and knowledges.

 

In Their Own Words Series

In 2018 I also began a series on Pan-African icons. I started with one of my favourite people. Cut down way before his time. Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso. For him I wrote, Thomas Sankara: Daring to Invent a Future Africa. I ask that we learn from his vision and invent the future.

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Next in Patrice Lumumba: May Africa breathe the air of freedom, I wrote about Patrice Lumumba whose brutal assassination is one in a long line of ignominies visited upon the African people. I also wrote about the life and death of Steve Biko in, Steven Biko: Dying for an Idea That Will Live. In writing about Walter Rodney, I went back to one of my starting points for decolonisation way back when – How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. If you have not read it yet, read this article Walter Rodney: Illuminating the road from mental slavery, then read the book.

The series will of course resume in 2019, and we will be focusing on Pan-African women. If you have any ideas for people who should be featured, do let me know.

Africa, My Africa

There was as usual, the main focus of Foluke’s African Skies which is commentary about Africa. My commentary is usually issue or place-specific – Africa not being a country and all that. My most read commentary was on the Benin Bronzes, for which I had intially done a talk for the Bristol Museum. The text of the talk was reproduced here as: Museum Talk: Benin Bronzes – a controversial past and present.

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Earlier in the year, I combined commentary from two (in)famous people, to explain why postcolonial theory is absolutely, absolutely vital to understanding the current state of African nations. Things do not just happen, there is always a reason and a theory to them. The Making of Shitholes.

In the It Happened … A Long Time Ago, I examine the politics of memory, of being asked, nay, pressured to forget terrible histories. Things that happened, will most certainly happen again if we forget them. If we do not remember, what use is theory?

But our remembering must be accurate, because what is the use of remembering and theorising and building policies and laws on an inaccurate history? In ‘Nigeria’ was never colonised I argue that our understanding of the colonisation of Nigeria is based on faulty premises.

If we theorise about a past remembered… accurately, we must then write Africa ‘s present and future differently. We are constantly being written into darkness. So we must intentionally write ourselves out of that darkness. I explore that possibility in Writing ‘Africa’

But that writing must begin with us dreaming impossible dreams of a very different Africa from the one that has been imagined for us. In We Must Dream Different African Day-Dreams, I call us into audacious imagination and action. Let us dream new African dreams. Let us dream them now. Let us dream them with open eyes.

Film and TV Reviews

This was also a year many movie, documentary, and television reviews on Foluke’s African Skies. I wrote What Black Panther & Wakanda Mean to Foluke in 2 hours, the day after I watched it. It is, I suspect, my fastest blog post ever. Some of my thoughts have evolved on Black Panther. And I have probably moved away from my initial thoughts. We are all constantly evolving creature of vision and sight.

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In preparing my Law Race & Literature lectures for our unit on Law and Race, I reviewed the movies ‘Loving’ and ‘A United Kingdom’ in Loving A United Kingdom. In this article, I explored how similar themes are depicted in a cinematic medium and lens. How the political and personal intersect with law and power in our imagination.
Another movie which I reviewed, and I think people should watch, if for nothing other than the fact that it is set in colonial Africa, and we can see clearly the similarities between the practices of slavery and colonisation – Palm Trees in the Snow. The movie while being very beautiful completely ignores the effect of power differentials in any story presumably about love. I called it Palm Trees in the Snow: Or the true meaning of love and the importance of its context

In The Law and Race Film Club I list 20 movies and documentaries I think anyone with an interest in exploring the cinematic depiction of the relationship between Law and Race should watch. Again any recommendations for additions are much welcome.

I must not forget the brilliant performance of Micaela Coel and the rest of the cast in ‘Black Earth Rising’. I wrote a thematic review, called Black Earth Rising: Home, truth and pyromaniacs which apparently Micaela herself read and commented on! Read it yourself and let me know what you think.

Poetry/Spoken (Written) Word

2018 was a good year for writing my specific style of poetry. Some pieces were born out of a place of pain and rage and grief. I wrote Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Will they let her rest? when the coverage of the death of Mama Winnie aimed to cast her as ‘controversial.’ I still don’t get how freedom fighters are often cast as more controversial than freedom takers.

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I wrote The Middle Passage: or what we lost to the waters in a crowded and noisy lobby on the back of crumpled receipts and then rewrote it with heartbreak, very close to tears. It still brings me pain.

I wrote Acceptable Traumas or How We Measure (A) Violence for Epigram, the university of Bristol’s Newspaper. They had a week with special focus on MicroAggressions. I felt that talking about microaggressions in an academic piece would not do as much justice to my feelings around it as a heartfelt written word piece would. I have been told by people that it spoke to their experiences. In that sense I achieved the aim of writing it. But still sad that such painful experiences are being had.

In May 2018, I performed a piece I wrote specifically for Sister’s with Voices hosted by Ujima Radio. In line with the theme of the night, it was called African Queens: A Medley

Quizzes

I introduced quizzes to Foluke’s African Skies.

The first one was on African capitals: Quiz 1: African States and Capitals

The second one was on flags: Quiz 2: African Flags
Both had 10 questions each and suspect are quite difficult. If you haven’t taken them yet, please take them and tell us if you are an Africa ‘expert’ or an Africa is a country-ian.

2019

Finally, FACE 2019 will be happening in June 2019. Deo volente. The theme for FACE 2019 is ‘Building the Pan-African Inspired Multiversity.’ Read FACE 2019 and You to find out how you can get in involved.

Thank you for visiting African Skies in 2018 and recapping it with me.

Salaamna

Awurade nhyira

Rabbigu ha ku barakeeyo

በረከት

ọtụtụ ngọzi

albarka

Ipade ayo ni 2019.

See you in 2019.

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African woman, lawyer, teacher, poet and researcher. Singer of songs, writer of words, very occasional dancer of dances. I seek new ways of interpreting the African experience within our consciousness to challenge static ideology.

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