Childhoods at a Cross Roads in Ghana: Growing up in the Shadow of Colonialism

Festival of the Mind logoDr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh is working together with a local musician to create an exhibition focusing on her latest research into Ghanaian childhoods, to be presented at Sheffield's annual Festival of the Mind this September.

As part of a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship award, Afua, Lecturer in the Sociology of Childhood, is exploring how the notion of a ‘proper’ childhood for all was exported from Britain to the Gold Coast (presently known as Ghana), West Africa, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Through archival research conducted both in the UK and Ghana and life history interviews in Ghana with individuals who were born and completed their education during the colonial period, Afua is exploring the implications of these encounters for how we understand, and discuss, contemporary childhoods in Ghana.

Afua was awarded internal funding to work with Kweku Sackey - the front man of the 9-piece Sheffield-based West African ensemble K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade, who have played Glastonbury’s main stages, as well as many other UK and European festivals and venues – to organise an event during Sheffield’s annual Festival of the Mind in September 2018.

The event, ‘Childhoods at a Cross Roads in Ghana: Growing up in the Shadow of Colonialism’, begins with a solo spoken word performance from Kweku, based on Afua’s research findings, followed by a discussion between Afua and Kweku. Both were born in Ghana to middle-class professional parents whose child-rearing approaches were influenced by not only local culture, but also the legacy of British colonial rule and the impact of European missionaries who had been operating in the area now known as Ghana since before the colonial period.

“Kweku and I both actually lived in the same neighbourhood in Ghana, but not at the same time, and we both ended up here in Sheffield, so I think there is a really interesting story to be told,” said Afua.

“We’re going to be sharing our experiences of growing up in a post-colonial environment with parents who had grown up as products of colonialism, and show how colonialism creates a connection between Ghana and the UK, with a legacy that continues today.”

The Festival of the Mind will take place at the University of Sheffield from 20 to 30 September 2018. More details about the events taking place throughout the Festival will follow in due course. In the meantime, you can follow Festival updates on the web pages here.