Tuesday 28 April 2015

My First Gig as a Historian!

Here's a summary of what my talk will be about:

The West African Student’s Union was a London based group, which existed from 1925 to 1966. The W.A.S.U was born out of a very prosaic need: the need for bed and breakfast. Landladies in the 1920s were not partial to black lodgers so the W.A.S.U’s hostel, founded in 1933, served as a shelter for African students seeking lodging in a hostile city.

Yet, the W.A.S.U’s founder, Chief Ladipọ Ṣolankẹ, also had a vision of the Union as a centre for debate and discussion, a place where student could eat good African home cooking as well as meet with the black icons like Paul Robeson, who was a W.A.S.U patron; a place where these students would begin to think of themselves as future leaders. It wasn’t long before Whitehall began to take note. For as independence movements developed on the African continent, the question arose: who would rule when the British had departed? Who else but these young, eloquent, well dressed, confident young men and women who peopled the rooms of the W.A.S.U hostel in Camden Square.

Catch em’ young, became Whitehall’s strategy. Keep them sweet. The W.A.S.U met with Lords, politicians, intellectuals. Union members dined with the great and good. The hostel’s running costs were subsidised by the Colonial Office and complaints about British policy in West Africa were carefully responded to; you didn’t want the Communists to get them.

And yet, little is known about the W.A.S.U today. The flame of many African independence movements, was kept burning in a now forgotten building in Camden Town. Kwame Nkrumah passed through the W.A.S.U. Jomo Kenyatta was affiliated with the W.A.S.U. They went to lectures. They took the tube. And all the while, a continent was waiting.

Full details below. 


Location: S8.08 Strand Campus
Category: Conference
When: 11 (10.00) – 12/05/2015 (20:00)

If you wish to attend a panel, the entire workshop, and/or the keynote, please email rebecca.simon@kcl.ac.uk.


Monday 11 May, King’s College London, Strand Building, S8.08

Panel 1: 10.00 – 11.30
Patrick Griffith (KCL) and Corey Ellithorpe (UNC-Chapel Hill)

Commentator: Peter Heather

‘The Orchestration of Propaganda and Ideology within the Roman and Post-Imperial Worlds.’

Patrick Griffith: ‘Barbarians and bishops as lawmakers: post-Roman political communities and their relationships with the legal ideology of Empire.’

Corey Ellithorpe: ‘Tokens of Subjugation: The Use of Numismatic Symbolism during the High Empire.’

Panel 2: 12.00 – 13.30
Laura Forster (KCL) and Lindsay Ayling (UNC-Chapel Hill)

Commentator: Richard Vinen

‘Contested Memory: English Positivists, Artistic Polemics, and the Paris Commune of 1871.’

Laura Forster: ‘Forgotten Friends: The English Positivists and the Paris Commune.’

Lindsay Ayling: ‘A People Massacred, A Civilization Destroyed: Artwork and Polemics in Dueling Narratives of the Fall of the Paris Commune.’

Panel 3: 14.30 – 16.00
Chibundu Onuzo (KCL) and Mark Reeves (UNC-Chapel Hill)

Commentator: Vincent Hiribarren

‘The West African Student Union and African Independence.’

Chibundu Onuzo: ‘The West African Students’ Union: An Introduction.’

Mark Reeves: ‘Nnamdi Azikiwe, the West African Students’ Union and the 1943 Press Delegation.’

It'd be lovely to see you there.

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