The Africa Institute presents Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return in Sharjah on March 8-10, 2022. Organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Jean Allman, Carina Ray, and Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, this interdisciplinary conference will examine Ghana’s emergence over the last century as a critical node in the making of the modern global African world. From early twentieth-century “Back to Africa” movements and the rise of Pan-Africanism, to more recent waves of heritage tourism, Ghana has long been a nexus for diasporic engagement. From its indispensable place in the history of the African revolution to the forces of creativity and artistic genius that have kept the nation at the center of the continent’s cultural life, Ghana has also played a vital role in forging new African futures.

Through a dynamic mix of scholarly and creative programming, the conference offers audiences in Sharjah and throughout the UAE an opportunity to engage with scholars, writers, artists, and activists, whose work explores the various ways that Ghana has and continues to be a site of departure and a site of return.

Please see below for conference program. For more details, please click here to download conference schedule.

 

Conference program

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Film Screening
Mimesis: African Soldier

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios
Director: John Akomfrah | Duration: 75 mins | Year: 2018


Opening Remarks

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM | Africa Hall

Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of The Africa Institute
Salah M. Hassan, Director of The Africa Institute
Kwasi Ampene, President of Ghana Studies Association
Carina Ray, Brandeis University

 

Panel 1: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Africa Hall
Through strategic cultivation of its cultural heritage tourism sector, Ghana has emerged as the continent’s premier destination for diasporic Africans wishing to “return” home. While the country’s recent “Year of Return” initiative captured global media attention, its success was premised on a much longer history of departure and diasporic return to Ghana and West Africa more broadly. This panel explores the complex history and contemporary aspirations that have made Ghana one of the world’s most important sites of departure and sites of return.

“Fati’s Choice” directed by Fatimah Dadzie, will be available for screening March 08 – 10, 2022. To learn more and to screen the film, CLICK HERE.

Panelists:
Jessica Millward, University of California at Irvine, USA
Kwesi Essel-Blankson, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, Ghana
Ebony Coletu, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Fatimah Dadzie, Filmmaker
Carina Ray, Brandeis University, USA (Moderator)

 

Coffee Break
5:30 PM – 5:40 PM | Africa Hall

Keynote Lecture: El Anatsui’s Metamorphic and Shape-shifting Objects
5:40 PM – 6:30 PM | Africa Hall
Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University, USA
In celebration of the publication of Chika Okeke-Agulu’s and Okwui Enwezor’s El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture, this presentation situates El Anatsui’s iconic artistic practice within the broader context of the mid-twentieth-century cultural ferment of post-independence Ghana, as well as within the intellectual environment of the 1970s Nsukka School in Nigeria. In highlighting the transnational coordinates of El Anatsui’s career, Okeke-Agulu foregrounds the ways in which Ghana has and continues to be a site of departure and site of return for one of the world’s greatest modernist artists.

 

Book Signing by Chika Okeke-Agulu
6:30 PM – 7:00 PM | Africa Hall
Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu. El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture. 2022. Bologna, Italy: Damiani

 

Dinner
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Music Performance by M.anifest
8:30 PM | Africa Hall
The award-winning Ghanaian hip-hop artist and musician, M.anifest, will present his latest album titled ‘Madina to The Universe’ (MTTU) on the evening of March 8th at 8:30 PM GST in the Africa Hall. The 15-track album is a genre-blending afro-fusion in which M.anifest merges the Ghanaian jama soundscapes he grew up on, with his hip-hop foundations and modern afrobeat sensibilities to create a project that is one-of-one among the current global music landscape. Whether it is ‘Clean And Pure’ with Patoranking or ‘E No Easy’ with Tiggs Da Author or the life-affirming album curtain call ‘Blessings’, M.anifest has put together a collection of songs that will stand its own as one of the best African albums of the year.

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Panel 2: Pan-Africanism Across the Divides
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Africa Hall
Ghana’s independence in 1957 was a transformative moment for Pan-Africanism. The global movement that sought to unite the past, present, and futures of African and Africa-descended peoples found a welcoming home in the new nation and a powerful proponent in its first prime minister and president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.  But as Nkrumah sought to build a United States of Africa, as part and parcel of that Pan African vision, the movement faced a range of divisions, some longstanding and some specific to the geopolitics of a Cold War world.  This panel explores Pan-Africanism across the divides – political, geographic, and gendered – from Ghana’s independence to the present.

Panelists:
Hakim Adi, University of Chichester, UK
Robert Vinson, University of Virginia, USA
Takyiwaa Manuh, University of Ghana, Ghana
Mjiba Frehiwot, University of Ghana, Ghana
Jean Allman, Professor, African and African American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, USA (Moderator)

 

Lunch
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Panel 3: Repatriation, Reparation, Restitution, and Restorative Justice
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM | Africa Hall
The subjects of repatriation, reparations, restitution, and restorative justice remain pertinent for post-colonial states.  Economists and historians have calculated the cost of the exploitation, abuse, and abduction of people from the former Gold Coast, and the pillage of its rich and valuable resources into trillions of US dollars, and yet Ghana has not been at the forefront of the Reparations and Restitutions movement. This panel explores the complex and often contentious debates around questions of apologies, repair, restitution, and return; how past injustices are framed and by whom; what qualifies to be counted and costed; and even who qualifies to participate in these debates.

Panelists:
Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann, Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project, Ghana
De-Valera Botchway, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado, Ghana
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana, Ghana (Moderator)

 

Coffee Break
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Africa Hall

 

Panel 4: Film Discussion – John Akomfrah’s Mimesis: African Soldier
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Africa Hall
This conversation brings together Ghanaian-born filmmaker, John Akomfrah, with historian Carina Ray, and visual studies scholar, Joseph Oduro Frimpong to discuss Akomfrah’s powerful new film Mimesis: African Soldier. An act of remembrance, the film commemorates the millions of African soldiers who fought in World War I. Each soldier’s story represents a point of departure, a place they left behind as they journeyed into a world of violence and upheaval. For many, there was no point of return. Those who survived have been written out of the history of WWI as a European war. Akomfrah’s film returns these soldiers to a history which is incomplete without them.

Panelists:
John Akomfrah, Filmmaker
Joseph Oduro Frimpong, Ashesi University, Ghana
Carina Ray, Brandeis University, USA

 

Tour of Sharjah Art Foundation Spring Exhibitions
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Aref El Rayess | 26 February–7 August 2022 | Sharjah Art Museum
Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Sonic Image | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Galleries 4, 5 and 6, Al Mureijah Art Spaces
CAMP: Passages through Passages | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square
Khalil Rabah: What is not | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Galleries 1, 2 and 3, Al Mureijah Art Spaces

 

Dinner
8:00 PM | Fen Café

 

Thursday, March 10, 2022
Panel 5: Global Ghana’s Sites of Encounter
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Africa Hall
The frenetic movement of people, goods, and ideas in and outside of Ghana by land, sea, and air has long been central to Ghanaian artistic and cultural production. Transnational mobility across diverse cities in our contemporary times, has produced networks linking Accra to Lagos, London, the Bronx, and beyond, and led to an explosion of creative output. This discussion-based panel brings together a dynamic group of creatives to explore how their specific experiences negotiating diverse locales have influenced and inspired their work.

Panelists:
Lesley Lokko, African Futures Institute, Ghana
M.anifest, Hip Hop Artist / Musician
Kwesi Botchway, Impressionist and Portrait Artist
Elisabeth Efua Sutherland, Performance Artist
Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, Ashesi University, Ghana (Moderator)

 

Lunch
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Panel 6: The Point of Return: A Conversation with Sir David Adjaye and Lesley Lokko
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM | Africa Hall

Ghana looms large in conversations about ‘return,’ especially among African descended people in the Americas. Increasingly, though, Ghanaians who have spent much of their lives in other parts of the world are making their way back to Ghana. This conversation brings together two of Ghana’s most prominent architects, David Adjaye and Lesley Lokko, to discuss their return to Ghana and what has inspired them to build new futures for themselves and for others.

Panelists:
Sir David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates, Ghana (via Zoom)
Lesley Lokko, Africa Futures Institute, Ghana
Salah M. Hassan, The Africa Institute, UAE (Moderator)

 

Closing Conversation
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM | Africa Hall
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana
Jean Allman, Washington University, St. Louis
Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, Ashesi University
Carina Ray, Brandeis University

 

Reception and Exhibition Tour
Gerald Annan-Forson: Revolution and Image-Making in Post-Colonial Ghana (1979-1985)
5:00 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios, Al Hamriya, Sharjah, UAE
Guided tour by exhibition curator, Jesse Weaver Shipley, Dartmouth College

 

Performance by Elisabeth Efua Sutherland
6:00 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios
Elisabeth Efua Sutherland will present an artistic performance titled ‘still Aluta Continua’, on the evening of March 10th at 06:00 PM GST, examining the ideas of legacy and forward movement related to the quest for true African liberation. The performance references and borrows its name from the collection of 6 published Panaf pamphlets by Kwame Nkrumah. It engages with questions of anti-imperialism, neocolonialism, and self-love as they underpin contemporary African economic, political, and daily struggles. It serves as a reminder to the people of the African continent and to our leaders of the words of Kwame Nkrumah – we face neither east nor west, we face forward.

 

Farewell Dinner
7:00 PM

The Africa Institute presents Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return in Sharjah on March 8-10, 2022. Organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Jean Allman, Carina Ray, and Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, this interdisciplinary conference will examine Ghana’s emergence over the last century as a critical node in the making of the modern global African world. From early twentieth-century “Back to Africa” movements and the rise of Pan-Africanism, to more recent waves of heritage tourism, Ghana has long been a nexus for diasporic engagement. From its indispensable place in the history of the African revolution to the forces of creativity and artistic genius that have kept the nation at the center of the continent’s cultural life, Ghana has also played a vital role in forging new African futures.

The Africa Institute presents Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return in Sharjah on March 8-10, 2022. Organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Jean Allman, Carina Ray, and Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, this interdisciplinary conference will examine Ghana’s emergence over the last century as a critical node in the making of the modern global African world. From early twentieth-century “Back to Africa” movements and the rise of Pan-Africanism, to more recent waves of heritage tourism, Ghana has long been a nexus for diasporic engagement. From its indispensable place in the history of the African revolution to the forces of creativity and artistic genius that have kept the nation at the center of the continent’s cultural life, Ghana has also played a vital role in forging new African futures.

Through a dynamic mix of scholarly and creative programming, the conference offers audiences in Sharjah and throughout the UAE an opportunity to engage with scholars, writers, artists, and activists, whose work explores the various ways that Ghana has and continues to be a site of departure and a site of return.

Please see below for conference program. For more details, please click here to download conference schedule.

 

Conference program

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Film Screening
Mimesis: African Soldier

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios
Director: John Akomfrah | Duration: 75 mins | Year: 2018


Opening Remarks

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM | Africa Hall

Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of The Africa Institute
Salah M. Hassan, Director of The Africa Institute
Kwasi Ampene, President of Ghana Studies Association
Carina Ray, Brandeis University

 

Panel 1: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Africa Hall
Through strategic cultivation of its cultural heritage tourism sector, Ghana has emerged as the continent’s premier destination for diasporic Africans wishing to “return” home. While the country’s recent “Year of Return” initiative captured global media attention, its success was premised on a much longer history of departure and diasporic return to Ghana and West Africa more broadly. This panel explores the complex history and contemporary aspirations that have made Ghana one of the world’s most important sites of departure and sites of return.

“Fati’s Choice” directed by Fatimah Dadzie, will be available for screening March 08 – 10, 2022. To learn more and to screen the film, CLICK HERE.

Panelists:
Jessica Millward, University of California at Irvine, USA
Kwesi Essel-Blankson, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, Ghana
Ebony Coletu, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Fatimah Dadzie, Filmmaker
Carina Ray, Brandeis University, USA (Moderator)

 

Coffee Break
5:30 PM – 5:40 PM | Africa Hall

Keynote Lecture: El Anatsui’s Metamorphic and Shape-shifting Objects
5:40 PM – 6:30 PM | Africa Hall
Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University, USA
In celebration of the publication of Chika Okeke-Agulu’s and Okwui Enwezor’s El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture, this presentation situates El Anatsui’s iconic artistic practice within the broader context of the mid-twentieth-century cultural ferment of post-independence Ghana, as well as within the intellectual environment of the 1970s Nsukka School in Nigeria. In highlighting the transnational coordinates of El Anatsui’s career, Okeke-Agulu foregrounds the ways in which Ghana has and continues to be a site of departure and site of return for one of the world’s greatest modernist artists.

 

Book Signing by Chika Okeke-Agulu
6:30 PM – 7:00 PM | Africa Hall
Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu. El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture. 2022. Bologna, Italy: Damiani

 

Dinner
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Music Performance by M.anifest
8:30 PM | Africa Hall
The award-winning Ghanaian hip-hop artist and musician, M.anifest, will present his latest album titled ‘Madina to The Universe’ (MTTU) on the evening of March 8th at 8:30 PM GST in the Africa Hall. The 15-track album is a genre-blending afro-fusion in which M.anifest merges the Ghanaian jama soundscapes he grew up on, with his hip-hop foundations and modern afrobeat sensibilities to create a project that is one-of-one among the current global music landscape. Whether it is ‘Clean And Pure’ with Patoranking or ‘E No Easy’ with Tiggs Da Author or the life-affirming album curtain call ‘Blessings’, M.anifest has put together a collection of songs that will stand its own as one of the best African albums of the year.

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Panel 2: Pan-Africanism Across the Divides
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Africa Hall
Ghana’s independence in 1957 was a transformative moment for Pan-Africanism. The global movement that sought to unite the past, present, and futures of African and Africa-descended peoples found a welcoming home in the new nation and a powerful proponent in its first prime minister and president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.  But as Nkrumah sought to build a United States of Africa, as part and parcel of that Pan African vision, the movement faced a range of divisions, some longstanding and some specific to the geopolitics of a Cold War world.  This panel explores Pan-Africanism across the divides – political, geographic, and gendered – from Ghana’s independence to the present.

Panelists:
Hakim Adi, University of Chichester, UK
Robert Vinson, University of Virginia, USA
Takyiwaa Manuh, University of Ghana, Ghana
Mjiba Frehiwot, University of Ghana, Ghana
Jean Allman, Professor, African and African American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, USA (Moderator)

 

Lunch
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Panel 3: Repatriation, Reparation, Restitution, and Restorative Justice
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM | Africa Hall
The subjects of repatriation, reparations, restitution, and restorative justice remain pertinent for post-colonial states.  Economists and historians have calculated the cost of the exploitation, abuse, and abduction of people from the former Gold Coast, and the pillage of its rich and valuable resources into trillions of US dollars, and yet Ghana has not been at the forefront of the Reparations and Restitutions movement. This panel explores the complex and often contentious debates around questions of apologies, repair, restitution, and return; how past injustices are framed and by whom; what qualifies to be counted and costed; and even who qualifies to participate in these debates.

Panelists:
Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann, Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project, Ghana
De-Valera Botchway, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado, Ghana
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana, Ghana (Moderator)

 

Coffee Break
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Africa Hall

 

Panel 4: Film Discussion – John Akomfrah’s Mimesis: African Soldier
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Africa Hall
This conversation brings together Ghanaian-born filmmaker, John Akomfrah, with historian Carina Ray, and visual studies scholar, Joseph Oduro Frimpong to discuss Akomfrah’s powerful new film Mimesis: African Soldier. An act of remembrance, the film commemorates the millions of African soldiers who fought in World War I. Each soldier’s story represents a point of departure, a place they left behind as they journeyed into a world of violence and upheaval. For many, there was no point of return. Those who survived have been written out of the history of WWI as a European war. Akomfrah’s film returns these soldiers to a history which is incomplete without them.

Panelists:
John Akomfrah, Filmmaker
Joseph Oduro Frimpong, Ashesi University, Ghana
Carina Ray, Brandeis University, USA

 

Tour of Sharjah Art Foundation Spring Exhibitions
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Aref El Rayess | 26 February–7 August 2022 | Sharjah Art Museum
Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Sonic Image | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Galleries 4, 5 and 6, Al Mureijah Art Spaces
CAMP: Passages through Passages | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square
Khalil Rabah: What is not | 4 March–4 July 2022 | Galleries 1, 2 and 3, Al Mureijah Art Spaces

 

Dinner
8:00 PM | Fen Café

 

Thursday, March 10, 2022
Panel 5: Global Ghana’s Sites of Encounter
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Africa Hall
The frenetic movement of people, goods, and ideas in and outside of Ghana by land, sea, and air has long been central to Ghanaian artistic and cultural production. Transnational mobility across diverse cities in our contemporary times, has produced networks linking Accra to Lagos, London, the Bronx, and beyond, and led to an explosion of creative output. This discussion-based panel brings together a dynamic group of creatives to explore how their specific experiences negotiating diverse locales have influenced and inspired their work.

Panelists:
Lesley Lokko, African Futures Institute, Ghana
M.anifest, Hip Hop Artist / Musician
Kwesi Botchway, Impressionist and Portrait Artist
Elisabeth Efua Sutherland, Performance Artist
Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, Ashesi University, Ghana (Moderator)

 

Lunch
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Abayomi Café & Restaurant, Al Qasimiya School

 

Panel 6: The Point of Return: A Conversation with Sir David Adjaye and Lesley Lokko
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM | Africa Hall

Ghana looms large in conversations about ‘return,’ especially among African descended people in the Americas. Increasingly, though, Ghanaians who have spent much of their lives in other parts of the world are making their way back to Ghana. This conversation brings together two of Ghana’s most prominent architects, David Adjaye and Lesley Lokko, to discuss their return to Ghana and what has inspired them to build new futures for themselves and for others.

Panelists:
Sir David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates, Ghana (via Zoom)
Lesley Lokko, Africa Futures Institute, Ghana
Salah M. Hassan, The Africa Institute, UAE (Moderator)

 

Closing Conversation
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM | Africa Hall
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana
Jean Allman, Washington University, St. Louis
Joseph Oduro-Frimpong, Ashesi University
Carina Ray, Brandeis University

 

Reception and Exhibition Tour
Gerald Annan-Forson: Revolution and Image-Making in Post-Colonial Ghana (1979-1985)
5:00 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios, Al Hamriya, Sharjah, UAE
Guided tour by exhibition curator, Jesse Weaver Shipley, Dartmouth College

 

Performance by Elisabeth Efua Sutherland
6:00 PM | Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Hamriya Studios
Elisabeth Efua Sutherland will present an artistic performance titled ‘still Aluta Continua’, on the evening of March 10th at 06:00 PM GST, examining the ideas of legacy and forward movement related to the quest for true African liberation. The performance references and borrows its name from the collection of 6 published Panaf pamphlets by Kwame Nkrumah. It engages with questions of anti-imperialism, neocolonialism, and self-love as they underpin contemporary African economic, political, and daily struggles. It serves as a reminder to the people of the African continent and to our leaders of the words of Kwame Nkrumah – we face neither east nor west, we face forward.

 

Farewell Dinner
7:00 PM

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