Marika Sherwood, Kwame Nkrumah and the Pan-African Congress Archive

By Hattie

Upon the launch of her latest book, Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War, Marika Sherwood spoke yesterday on the topics of colonialism, communism and the importance of researching black history and activism at an event hosted by the AIU Centre. The talk was followed by an engaging Q&A and insightful discussion with members of the audience who shared Marika’s passion for research and black history.

Marika Sherwood speaking to a seated crowd of 15 people in Central Library

Marika Sherwood speaking at Central Library 30/4/19

Marika Sherwood is a Hungarian-born historian, researcher, educator and author now based in the UK. She has worked in New Guinea, studied in Australia, taught in London and a period of work in Harlem in the 1980s confirmed her belief that more research into colonialism, racism and black history was necessary. Since then, she has written multiple important books on these subjects, despite many attempts by institutions and governments to prevent her efforts.

During the event, Marika described the difficulties she has faced over the years to have her research acknowledged as worthwhile. The feeling of dismay when she told of the incredibly small amount of funding she has received to do her research over the years was shared by the whole audience. Nevertheless, Marika has been determined to continue, making incredibly important discoveries on her journey.

A closer shot of Marika Sherwood gesturing while talking

One reason we were particularly excited to host a launch event for Marika’s new book and why the book is especially relevant to our archive, is the role Kwame Nkrumah played in the organising of the Fifth Pan-African Congress that took place in Manchester in 1945. For those who are unfamiliar with Kwame Nkrumah and Marika’s new book, Nkrumah was a Ghanaian politician and revolutionary, who believed in Pan-Africanism and led the Gold Coast to independence from Great Britain. Along with Trinidadian Pan-Africanist George Padmore, Nkrumah organised the Fifth Pan-African Congress.

The front cover of Marika Sherwood's new book, showing a black and white photograph of Kwame Nkrumah aboe the title on a blue background

As you may have seen if you follow our blog or Twitter, our archive holds several Oral History interviews with people who attended, or lived in Manchester at the time of, the Congress. These interviews offer an insight into the lives of black people in post-war Manchester, including their businesses, entertainment and fashion, as well as accounts of the Congress itself. Alongside the interviews, we also have photographs, letters and documents in physical and digital format in our archive.

An old black and white photograph showing 22 seated and standing attendants of the Pan African Congress posing outside

If, like Marika Sherwood, you are passionate and determined to unearth the stories of black lives in Manchester around the time of the Pan-African Congress and the Cold War, please get in touch to access our archives! Many of the interviews can be listened to on our SoundCloud, and to view the other material please call 0161 275 2920 or email rrarchive@manchester.ac.uk to make an appointment.

Please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates! @aiucentre

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