TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION: University of Leeds
UNEARTHING THE history of Africa in Leeds may appear to be a bit of an anomaly, but that’s exactly what youngsters will be doing during a fun, fact-finding mission around the city’s university campus.
The Children’s Black Heritage Walk is a special full-day event during the summer to explore the African influences around the University of Leeds site.
The walk has been organised by community group Unity Does MAATer (UDM) in partnership with Heritage Corner, giving children from the age of six onwards an insight into how African architecture has influenced the buildings on the university’s city centre site.
Joe Williams, founder and director of Heritage Corner, said: “It is important for children to understand that they have a rich heritage and a legacy. So, we are reclaiming that for young people.”
He goes on to quote African- American statesman Frederick Douglass, one of the leaders of the abolitionist movement: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Williams added: “I learnt all of this information when I was in my 40s and I definitely feel it’s something we should have learned when we were younger. We want to build stronger children who are able to benefit from what their ancestors created for them.
“We are able to offer a history that has more depth than what is taught in schools or portrayed by the media at the moment.”
Heritage Corner is a local project founded to address the absence of the African presence in the heritage industry. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the mission is to engage in activities that examine the African presence through history, particularly in Yorkshire.
The project builds partnerships with museums, li- braries, community groups and the University of Leeds to encourage discourse and support empowerment through African narratives.
During the course of the day participants will learn about Prince Alamayu, an Abyssinian prince who died in Leeds in 1879 and the significant details of how his father, Emperor Tewodros II, united Ethiopia.
Symbols of African architecture will be exposed in the pyramids, obelisks and columns shown during the two- hour tour, revealing at least 500 years of African history.
“Their ancestors were a part of the foundation of these elitist establishments. They may be under the impression, for example, that the tall impressive columns that they see on their walk are culturally influenced by Greece or Rome.
“But I tell them that they are in fact Nubian, and we then take them into the 25th Dynasty and they learn about Nubian heritage. The assumption is that all things great point to Europe, so it’s important for African children to understand their contribution was fundamental to the development of European civilisation.”
Wiliams is leading a similar walk for adults on the first Saturday of every month until October, but the children’s walk ties in perfectly with the aims of UDM. The community group has been working in the Chapel-town area of Leeds since 2015 and is passionate about raising
the aspirations of young people.
Founding member Minton Goodison said: “We have to teach our young people that there is more to growing up than music and fashion.
“We want to make them see that they come from a great culture that can enrich their lives. We put events on that target the young and open their eyes so that they see more than what they are being taught in school. We are teaching them their roots.”
The walk takes place on August 16. For further details and/or tickets visit Eventbrite or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Search for ‘UnityDoesMAATer’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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