Heritage trail for festival

A MONTH-long series of events celebrating African history is set to get underway on Monday.The annual African History Month will see events ranging from lectures to theatre productions, comedy, music and workshops.

A MONTH-long series of events celebrating African history is set to get underway on Monday.

The annual African History Month will see events ranging from lectures to theatre productions, comedy, music and workshops. HELEN JOHNS looks ahead to what will be happening this year.

A cultural festival which is now an essential part of Ipswich's events calendar, is now in its fifth year.

African History Month sees a series of shows, exhibitions and more, to encourage people to learn about all aspects of African history - and the role it has played in shaping the past and it's influences on our present and future.

The Evening Star has always supported these events, including running a Stamp Out Racism campaign.

Ipswich is just one of many places around the world that celebrates African History Month and events will be happening around the globe during the next month. In Ipswich, the events are co-ordinated by the Nia Project, an organisation set up to teach people about the place of black people in Ipswich's history.

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Del White spokeswoman for the Nia Project, said African History Month has been designed to attract people from all parts of Suffolk: “We like to think we have the month in Suffolk because we have such a diverse community.

“There is not one event that is exclusive to black people, every event that is listed is for people to come and experience. It is like a festival, but one that has specific look at African culture and history, it is not an offering just for one group of the community.”

The theme for this year's month has been called B4We - which has been designed to encourage people to think about others who have gone before us, people we are surrounded by and others who are yet to come.

The Ipswich celebrations will begin on Monday with the annual Nia Memorial Lecture, which will take place at the New Wolsey Theatre.

Started as a tribute to the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, the lecture has featured a variety of speakers over the years and has sought to recognise the talents and success of people who, unlike Stephen, have been able to live out their ambitions.

Guest speaker this year will be newspaper editor Michael Eboda, who will speak about the impact the press can have when used to advocate social justice.

Artist Anna Mudeka and poet Adisa will also be at the lecture, along with a performance by gospel singer Emma Johnson.

While the lecture will only happen once, other things will be taking place throughout October, such as the African Heritage Trail.

The first of its kind in East Anglia, the trail is designed to be a chance to find out more about the historical and contemporary connection of Ipswich with Africa. Two-hour walks will be held each Monday and Saturday throughout October and will leave from the Tourist Information Centre in St Stephens Lane.

Two exhibitions will be held throughout October, one is a display of African art and artefacts in Ipswich Central Library and the other is the ICE Project, which will be on show at Ipswich Museum.

The ICE Project focuses on migration from the Caribbean to Ipswich during the 1950s and sixties and uses interactive records and people's memories of that time.

Other exhibitions held at different times during the month will include poetry on display in specialist black hair salons in Ipswich and a collaboration between Suffolk Constabulary and the Sankofa Youth Group focusing on the role of black police officers that will be on show at Tower Ramparts Mall and Endeavour House.

Drama, music and comedy will all play their parts in the month and will start with comedy night Mek Mi Laugh at the New Wolsey on October 1, will move through to music with the Missile Family and Jamaican performer Stone Love at Zest Nightclub and African singer Anna Mudeka at the Old Hall Chapel in East Bergholt, both on October 6.

Other musical performances will include Jazz Jamaica at the New Wolsey on October 15, Gospel Power Praise at the Ipswich International Church on October 27 and a music and dance workshop at Palace House Mews in Newmarket on October 27.

Dramtic performances include the hardhitting play Township Stories at the New Wolsey from October 10 and a poetry evening at The Sanctuary Café in Cutler Street on October 20.

The chance to explore African ancestory will be on offer at the Ipswich Record Office on October 14 and a lecture looking at the controversial Black Panther movement of the 1960s will be held at Ipswich Central Library on October 11.

The events will come to an end on November 25 with a Black Books and Craft Fair at Ipswich Town Hall.


For more information about African History Month contact the Nia Project on 01473 221715.

The roots of African History Month date back to 1926 when Dr Carter G Woodson, an African American author and scholar established Negro History Week, which later evolved into the establishment in 1976 of Black History Month.

SOURCE: www.africanhistorymonth.org

A JAMAICAN woman called Amelia Bowman was the head cook at Christchurch Mansion during the 1870s, and the African Heritage Trail walks will end there in her memory, with tea and cakes in the mansion's parlour.

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