Women on Aeroplanes Public Programme

Conceived by Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa and historian and ethnographer Dr. Nydia A. Swaby.

The Showroom
63 Penfold Street

Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December

The Women on Aeroplanes programme aims to collectively develop and elaborate on new and existing historical knowledges. Writers, researchers, critics and artists will be considering the activism of women - and in particular women of colour – during the struggles for African independence from colonial rule in the 20th century. Each event looks at how and why the immense achievements of so many women have come to be marginalised within the official narratives of liberation struggles. What do these erasures teach us about the workings and priorities of western forms of historical representation? In these events, speakers, participants and attendees work together to develop alternative strategies for narrating these women’s lives.

Women in the Pan African Movement
Marika Sherwood in Conversation with Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa
Saturday 8 December 2018
10.30 - 13.30
Tickets £3 Limited capacity,
booking essential.

The first talk in the public programme focuses upon the critical roles played by women such as Amy Ashwood Garvey, the revolutionary Pan-Africanist whose life and work provides the starting point for Carrying Yours and Standing Between You, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa’s new installation at The Showroom.

By inviting renowned historian Marika Sherwood to The Showroom, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa continues her ongoing preoccupation with the challenges encountered by generations of historians whose research aims at redressing women’s representation within the historiographies and hagiographies of black internationalism.

In books such as The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress Revisited with Hakim Adi, 1995, and Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile, 2000, author and educator Marika Sherwood has devoted her working life to researching black radical internation alisms. Sherwood will conduct a personal tour of the Ashwood Garvey archive created by Wolukau-Wanambwa and will draw connections with some of the women whose interventions constitute a political geography of struggles for emancipation.

Women in the Pan African Movement
Margaret Busby in Conversation Ellah Watakama Allfrey
Saturday 8 December 2018
15.00 - 16.30
Tickets £3, book here.

The Otolith Collective and The Showroom are delighted to welcome writer, editor and broadcaster Ellah Wakatama Allfrey and renowned editor, broadcaster and publisher Margaret Busby to The Showroom. In anticipation of New Daughters of Africa, Margaret Busby’s long awaited sequel to her pioneering 1992 volume Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present, Wakatama Allfrey and Busby will engage in a wide-ranging and informal conversation on the ways in which writings by women of African descent have reshaped the aesthetics of black internationalisms.

Along the way, Wakatama Allfrey and Busby will touch upon Exalt B. H., Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s new work, which responds to the landscapes of Serowe, Botswana, that are evoked in the writings of the avant-garde novelist Bessie Head. In the course of her reading, Sunstrum encountered a short text written by Bessie Head in 1985, one year before her death, that informed the conception of Exalt B.H. In response to Libération’s question Why Do I Write? Head’s statement concluded with her cosmic vision: ‘I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.’

Black Herstory Archives
Sunday 9 December 2018
13.00 - 16.00
Free, limited capacity, booking essential

Led by Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Yula Burin, and Nydia A. Swaby, this workshop explores the importance of documenting and preserving black women’s herstories, as well as developing a black feminist archival consciousness. The workshop designed to foster a black feminist archival task force. Attendees will be asked to read material which will be circulated in advance and should come prepared to discuss their own archival practice.


Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski
Ahaiwe Sowinski is a Minneapolis based, mixed-media artist/designer, archivist and organiser. Sowinski investigates archives in relation to Black and minority ethnic histories and experiences in Britain and throughout the Diaspora, theorising and sharing her ideas on archives as spaces of therapy. Her current research focuses on the synergies between feminist, queer and (self)archiving as curatorial and artistic practice.

Yula Burin
Yula Burin researches black women's herstory, is involved in decolonial environmental politics as a member of Decolonizing Environmentalism and the Marikana Solidarity Collective. Her other interest is looking at space, place and time and their impact on the black female self and psyche, and developing a psychogeography that is rooted in the black female experience. She is a former member of the Feminist Library Collective.

Margaret Busby
Writer, critic editor, and broadcaster Margaret Busby OBE co-founded Allison & Busby Publishers in 1967. As Editorial Director at Allison & Busby, Margaret Busby championed the writing of C.L.R. James, Buchi Emecheta, Ishmael Reed and Val Wilmer among many others before becoming Editorial Director at Earthscan Publications. Her publications include No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990, 2018, co-edited with Beverley Mason FRSA, Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival, 2014, co-authored with Ishamel Balgrove and And Still I Rise: Seeking Justice for Stephen, 2006, Doreen Lawrence with Margaret Busby. Busby has judged numerous literary awards including Africa 39, 2014, and the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012 and is an Advisory Board Member of English PEN and Wasafiri:International Contemporary Writing magazine. In 2017, Margaret Busby became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Nydia A. Swaby
Nydia A. Swaby is a historian and ethnographer working at the intersection of black feminism, archives, and contemporary culture. She has a PhD in gender studies and specialises in theories of race/racialisation, migration and diasporas, and queer theory of color. Nydia’s research explores the feminist futures of the black diaspora, with a particular focus on black feminism in the UK. She is a member of The Politics of Pleasure, a multidisciplinary black feminist collective investigating how black women engage in pleasure as a politics of refusal. Nydia is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS, University of London. She is also a member of the editorial collective for the journal Feminist Review.

Marika Sherwood
Marika Sherwood is a Hungarian-born (1937) UK-based historian, researcher, educator and author. She has a desk, but is not on the staff of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. In 1991 with Hakim Adi and other colleagues she founded what is now known as the Black and Asian Studies Association, in order to encourage research and disseminate information, and to campaign on education issues. Her first book, The British Honduran Forestry Unit in Scotland, was published in 1982. She has published many books and articles since then. Recent publications include: After Abolition: Britain and the Slave Trade Since 1807 (2007); The Life and Times of Albert Makaula-White: an African Farmer in Kent 1904-1937 (2012); World War II: Colonies and Colonials (2013); (with) Hakim Adi, Dan Lyndon and Martin Spafford, OCR GCSE History Explaining the Modern World: Migration, Empire and the Historic Environment (2016). Pluto Press is about to publish her next book, Kwame Nkrumah, the West African National Secretariat and the Cold War 1945-48.

In 2010 Marika was invited to contribute to the Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Colloquium in Accra, convened by the African Union and the Government of Ghana.

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey
Critic, editor, educator and broadcaster Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE is the founding Publishing Director of The Indigo Press and was proviously Assistant Editor at Penguin, Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House and Deputy Editor at Granta magazine. She has commissioned and presented stories for BBC Radio 4 and NPR and has written for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Observer. Wakatama Allfrey was Chair of the Judging Panel for the 2014 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize and served as 2015 Judge for the Man Booker Prize. She is a Trustee of the Caine Prize for African Writing and Jalada Collective and the Royal Literary Fund.

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa
Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (b. Scotland) studied Literature at Cambridge University and Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. She is a Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Bergen, Norway and Convener of the Africa Cluster of the Another Roadmap School. She works in a wide range of media, formats and contexts. Selected recent and forthcoming exhibitions include Bergen Assembly 2019, Bergen, Norway; We Don’t Need Another Hero, 10th Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany, 2018; A Thousand Roaring Beasts: Display Devices for a Critical Modernity, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo-CAAC, Seville, Spain; Museum Matters, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany, both 2017; You Must Make Your Death Public, De Appel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2016; and Kabbo Ka Muwala, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Makerere University Art Gallery, Uganda & Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, 2015. Her essay, ‘Margaret Trowell’s School of Art or How to Keep the Children’s Work Really African’ will be published later this year in the Palgrave Handbook on Race and the Arts in Education