On Saturday 24th October, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene of Ghana, honoured with his presence a celebration of twenty years of Mandela studentships in Magdalene College, Cambridge, and looked forward to the foundation of a professorship of African Archaeology.
The Asantehene and his entourage were received by Dr. Rowan Williams, the Master of the College, and leading Cambridge scholars of Africa, who jointly participated in a days discussion of the achievements and prospects of African archaeology.
In his key note speech, the Asantehene drew on deep learning to express his support for the expanded initiatives to bring African students to study in Cambridge, and the importance of the Professorship for developing a history of Africa by Africans.
Professor Cyprian Broodbank, Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, invited Dr. Catherine Namono (University of the Witwatersrand), Professor Adebayo Folorunso(University of Ibadan) and Professor David Phillipson (emeritus Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge) to respond with their vision of African Archaeology for a New Millennium. Catherine Namono drew on her personal experience, indeed her struggle as Uganda’s first female archaeologist, to discuss the transformation of African archaeology, a transformation that reclaims knowledge production for Africans. Adebayo Folorunso not only presented his view that archaeology must become part of the African economy, a commercial archaeology, but also the views of his students, the next generation of African archaeologists. This next generation echoed many themes of the day: sound funding, data collection, training and equipment, and African history for Africans – all aspirations of the funding campaign. Professor David Phillipson, the most recent holder of a chair of African Archaeology in Cambridge, was well placed to outline the role of Cambridge, and celebrated the centrality of Africa for global history, and its deep relevance for current concerns of Africans.
Nelson Mandela gave his blessing some years ago to the idea of a Chair of African Archaeology in Cambridge, recognising, as we all do, that Africa’s pre-colonial past is a rich resource for Africa’s present confidence and future flourishing. The celebrations of 24th October have laid important foundations for achieving that end.
Further details of the campaign for the Mandela Studentships and the Chair in African Archaeology can be received from Corinne Lloyd of Magdalene College Cambridge:firstname.lastname@example.org
For more photos from the day, please see