Dipo Faloyin comes to Gloucester!

The official launch of GlosGeog, Gloucestershire’s local Geographical Association (GA) branch.

GlosGeog

What better way to launch GlosGeog, Gloucestershire’s local Geographical Association (GA) branch, but with a visit from Dipo Faloyin, author of the fantastic book, ‘Africa is Not a Country.

King’s School Gloucester very kindly offered to host this event, ensuring plentiful, complimentary refreshments were available to visitors on arrival as well.

The speaker session was aimed at Key Stage 4 and 5 students and their teachers, plus other GlosGeog members.  More than 130 individuals gathered in situ to listen to Dipo’s inspiring and thought-provoking lecture, whilst 19 schools from across the UK accessed the accompanying live stream that the ICT staff at King’s School had set up or the recording which was later circulated.

Following a formal welcome and registration in the Ivor Gurney Hall, teachers and students were directed to tables around the room where there were details about our logo competition (see below).  Do promote this among your students too.  We are looking forward to perusing all the submissions in due course.  We certainly have some very artistic youngsters in our local primary and secondary schools, so the competition could be quite fierce!

There was also a chance for students to engage in a warm-up activity before we moved into the Main Hall to hear Dipo talk.  It was really interesting to view students’ perceptions of this continent.  There were a huge number of misconceptions apparent, which I knew Dipo would address over the next 45 minutes or so.

Dipo’s lecture focused upon dispelling myths of Africa.  When asked to consider Africa, many individuals cite safaris and poverty.  However, it is far more than that!  Identity and diversity were two aspects that Dipo discussed in depth.  He went back to his roots in Nigeria.  Did you know that Nigeria has around 200 million people, Lagos having more than 20 million alone, and over 500 languages?  Just consider the different identities, communities, cultures, etc. that exist within a single country.  Dipo also referred to colonialism and the impact of the Berlin Conference; Africa was carved up from a distance to create the modern map of Africa with straight-line borders that we are familiar with today (a very different one to that which existed previously), the formation of new states, such as the Congo Free State, and subsequent rise of slavery.  He talked honestly about the chaos, confusion, anger, strife and division that unfolded.

Such a competent and compelling speaker.

Later, Dipo emphasised how the images we see in the media tell a very different story to the one that prevails in Africa.  He gave the example of Band Aid’s song from 1984, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?‘, which was re-released more recently too.  The lyrics have helped to create stereotypes, generalising an entire region.  As this raised much money and other organisations and charities continue to use the same images to, hopefully, have similar financial gains, the myths keep on circulating.  Dipo also mentioned Kony 2012.  The film, centred upon Uganda, was the fastest growing viral video of all time.  Yet, the film is largely inaccurate and portrays an unfair picture of Uganda.

So what were my three takeaways from Dipo’s 45 minute interactive and fascinating talk?  That knowledge is very powerful; the overlap between history and geography – the past is certainly an indication to the present and future; our views of a country are hugely shaped by what we see and hear in the media.

During our time for reflection, individuals were prompted to re-visit their ‘Africa is …’ statements.  Students were encouraged to take a different coloured pen and amend it as they deemed fit; omitting or inserting content.  There was much scribbling over the space of a few minutes, suggesting that Dipo had made them think about this continent in another light.  This was also evident from the show of hands that arose when the audience were asked if their views of Africa had changed after hearing Dipo speak.

Finally, there was time for a Q & A session, involving both those in situ and virtually wherever possible.  Youngsters posed some challenging questions to Dipo, which he answered honestly, enthusiastically, comprehensively and confidently.

Many thanks to Dipo for giving up his precious time to visit us in Gloucester.  We did extensively promote the soon-to-be-launched paperback version of his book in return.  Hopefully, the publisher will receive a profusion of orders over the next few days!  I must also express my thanks to Rebecca Veals, Head of Geography, Alex Smith, Deputy Head (Academic) and the Headmaster, David Morton, at King’s School Gloucester for their impeccable organisation and warm hospitality.

Some ‘concluding comments’ from attendees, both in situ and online, and captured either via a Google Form or e-mail be found below:

Staff voice:

Thank you so much, Emma.  I really enjoyed the talk and the chance to speak with some geographers.  Looking forward to getting involved!

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the opportunity to join and congratulations to you and the school for a fantastic event!  I really enjoyed hearing Dipo speak and the Q&A afterwards was such a fantastic opportunity for the students to ask some really worthwhile questions – they had clearly been inspired by the talk.  I’ll be keeping a close eye out for your future events that may be of interest for teachers and students in our MAT.

I did thoroughly enjoy the talk – thank you for getting Dipo to come to speak to us.

We had about 40 students who also watched live and I have had great feedback so far.

Interesting; informative; necessary!

Interesting.

Inspiring; thought-provoking; informative; confronting.

An awareness of historical influences on Africa today.

A fantastic opportunity to engage with vital issues, but delivered in a calm, measured and accessbile way.  A really worthwhile presentation that encouraged meaningful reflection.

Thought provoking; interesting; relevant; enriching.

What a great day – thank you for organising it.  Looking forward to future events!

Pupil voice:

I really enjoyed that.  Dipo is a fantastic speaker! 

I am looking forward to attending many of the events that we have planned for Terms 5 and 6.  Do view our social media feeds on a regular basis to ensure that you are kept up-to-date and do not miss out on any of these wonderful opportunities.

https://www.facebook.com/GlosGeogGA 

https://twitter.com/Glos_Geog

https://www.instagram.com/glos_geog/

Have an enjoyable and restful Easter break once it arrives.

 

 

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