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Trailblazing Bristol poet urges everyone to join pioneering Africa-led mission to ‘make the world a fairer, better place for all’

Dr Lawrence Hoo receiving his honorary Doctor of Letters University of Bristol

Press release issued: 30 October 2023

Acclaimed versifier, activist and educator Dr Lawrence Hoo is poised to present a compelling poem calling on people across the city and beyond to embark on a journey of “fairness and respect” to tackle systemic discrimination, advance social justice, and recognise Africa as a leading knowledge powerhouse.

He will read the poem at an event on Tuesday, 31 October to raise awareness and enlist support for a transformative mission set to champion anti-racism and decolonisation, and restore Africa’s rightful place at the forefront of research to help address the most pressing global challenges.

Dr Hoo, who received an honorary degree from the University of Bristol for his pioneering work to educate school children about African and African diaspora history, accepted the commission because it represents his passionate beliefs.

He said: “I have to really believe in what I write and this gave me an opportunity to voice what people have told me occurs over many years, but don’t feel able to speak out. It took me a few weeks to write, including research, and the idea we’re all going on a journey came to me in the car. So I pulled over and wrote some of the opening lines on my phone.”

The poem, called A Journey Of Discovery, highlights “Africa is the cradle of civilisation the birthplace of humanity That continues to deliver so much yet there is this disparity…” It explores how countries of the Global North have exploited and undervalued Africa’s key contributions and introduces The Africa Charter as a vital and long overdue movement to redress these entrenched power imbalances. The Charter is described as a: “great opportunity to put effective practices and policies in place That can help to reverse the prejudices caused through the creation of race.”

The father-of-four, who lives in St Pauls, said: “The challenges and issues aren’t new, but this feels truly collaborative and a real opportunity for change to happen. We need this now more than ever and everybody should want to be on board because it will create a fairer, better place for us all to live and work.”  

The event, at the M Shed, unites University of Bristol researchers, including specialists in decolonisation, Africa, anti-racism, and inclusivity in research, with representatives from communities across the city and the Higher Education sector. It aims to capture The Charter’s local relevance and implications, establishing Bristol as a model and champion for its principles and objectives. Pressing issues which affect local and international communities alike, including climate change, pandemics and poverty, will be addressed more effectively if Africa is able to take a more prominent role in global transdisciplinary research.

The ambitious African Charter for Transformative Research Collaborations, launched in July, has been co-created by Africa’s major higher education bodies and facilitated by the Perivoli Africa Research Centre (PARC) at the University of Bristol in partnership with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of South Africa (UNISA). Its far-reaching ambitions seek to overturn historic disparities in order to rebalance and enrich the science and research ecosystem. This in turn will create a level playing field, supercharging equal opportunity and international scholarship.

Discussions will consider Bristol perspectives on the Charter, which has so far been endorsed by more than 100 institutions globally, comprising higher education bodies, research funders, governments, publishers including Bristol University Press, and policy makers.

Event co-host Peninah Achieng-Kindberg, representing the African Voices Forum, said: “The launch of the Charter has come at a very instrumental moment when we are considering wider issues such as restorative futures - an acknowledgement of the journey that is now needed to repair the damage that has been done to the continent. The Charter has the potential to act as a crucial vehicle in increasing connections and partnership working across the two globes to address issues of inequality in research.”

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “We are very grateful to Dr Hoo for writing such a thought-provoking and inspirational poem. Its call to action captures the bold spirit of the Africa Charter, which is an essential movement to advance social justice and reset the entire research ecosystem, acknowledging Africa as a central leader.

“This is very much a global endeavour but the voices of local people and organisations, as well as researchers from all fields, are absolutely vital. We want to capture their views, insights and expertise to help shape and progress the goals and plan of action. In Bristol and the wider world there is still much to do to advance equity and inclusion. The Charter is part of our clear commitment to work closely with both international and civic partners to overcome obstructive, unjust legacies and make positive change for all.”


Further information

About the Africa Charter

The Charter is an Africa-centred framework for advancing a transformative mode of research collaborations that will serve to advance and uphold the continent’s place in the global production of scientific knowledge. It was co-created by Africa’s major higher education constituencies, including the Association of African Universities (AAU)African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)African Academy of Sciences (AAS)CODESRIA and International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA) among others.

About PARC

The Perivoli Africa Research Centre (PARC) represents the University of Bristol’s commitment to championing transformation in interdisciplinary research partnerships with Africa, as well as its wider culture of alternative thought and spearheading social justice. By rebalancing the global science and research ecosystem, African scholars, institutions and knowledge will be able to claim their rightful place in international scientific endeavour and status. Funded by the Perivoli Foundation, since its inception in 2020 PARC has been modelling this ethos both through its co-facilitation of the Africa Charter and by providing funding to support research that is Africa-led with a focus on national or regional priorities.




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