Preserving our Own: Celebrating Black History Month at Green Templeton

This year’s Black History Month was curated around the theme Preserving our Own – celebrating Black excellence in the field of health and beauty. It was marked with a range of events during the month, including an Academic Talk, College Diversity Dinner, BHM Movie Night and Pub Quiz.

Bhm Picture With Mike

Josephine Agyeman-Duah (fifth from left), Black Students Society President and GCR Black Students Representative reports on the activities in college during Black History Month: 

Academic Talk

The guest speakers at the event were Olivia Umererwa Ruazibwa, Professor of Human Rights and Politics at the London School of Economics, and Chukwumeka Godwin Nwangele, President of Oxford Africa Society. In their speeches, they elaborated on the theme expressing the importance of fostering community support for peculiar and reliable challenges in the spirit of ubuntu (humanity to others). This culminated in reflections and interactions among participants. The evening ended with a drink’s reception and light refreshments.

Black Ally Group

To mark the first anniversary of the formal launch of the Black Students Society (BSS), the GCR Black Students Representative (BSR) and President of the Society, Josephine Agyeman-Duah, highlighted some of the activities and projects the Society had organised over the period, including the flagship Black Mentorship Programme, cultural events, and a Charity Project which is underway. With much interest expressed in learning more about the Black community and participating in some of the projects of the Society, the BSS committee considered expanding the membership of the BSS to include other members of the college and university who may not identify as Black and or not members of GTC, while preserving the core BSS as a safe space for interactions among Black student members of GTC.

The Black Ally Group is an initiative to welcome members of the college and university community interested in promoting diversity and supporting the objectives of Black and minority ethnic groups. Launching the Black Ally Group, the Principal of Green Templeton College, Sir Michael Dixon, said that he was honoured to be the first member of the Group to support the brilliant idea and reaffirmed the college’s dedication to supporting and promoting its commitment to diversity and equality:

‘I would be delighted to support this initiative and I would be honoured to join that initiative myself because I think I can learn more; I can learn a lot….it won’t only be an opportunity to learn but it will be an honour to be amongst the first to be an ally of the Black students’ Society. And let me say, of course, the resources at college are at your disposal to promote the new allies of the Black Students’ Society and I will work with you and the communications team will work with you in making it happen.’

Diversity Dinner

Bhm Picture In Common Room 2The college upholds a tradition of celebrating different groups each year during the Diversity Formal Dinner. This year’s was the first dinner to celebrate Black community members and to coincide with BHM. With support from the college events team, the Black Students Society organised an evening of delicious delicacies with menus carefully selected from different Black communities: samosa and vegetable pilau from South and East Africa; fried plantain and yam and grilled tilapia from West Africa; Jamaican goat curry with rice and kachumbari from the Caribbean; Sudanese Baseema and African fruit salad.

The dress code for the evening was traditional or colourful. The night also celebrated languages to showcase diversity among the Black community. Giving a welcome in Swahili, Gloria Ngaiza, Vice President of the BSS, said, ‘Habari za jioni, tunashukuru kwa kujumuika nasi siku ya leo. Tunatumaini mmefurahia sherehe hii. Nyinyi ni marafiki zetu na tunajivunia kuwa nasi.’ which translates in English as ‘Good evening, thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed this celebration. You are our friends, and we are proud to have you.’

Greeting in Yoruba, Taiwo Olawole said ‘ę-kaale’ which means good evening (plural or respectful form) and participants all responded ‘ę-kaale’. Yaw Agyiri Danso started with Char-lé’, a famous greeting in Twi, and everyone can be called Char-le in Ghana. The richness of our languages can be seen in the parables people use in everyday expressions. He said, ‘ahafuo ne ahafuo nka a, patakuo na ewi wonnam’ which means that if two siblings argue over a piece of meat, they don’t invite the fox to come and share the meat between them (otherwise, the fox in an attempt to share the meat between the two, will end up eating part of their meat) which means when close relations have problems, they have to settle it amicably, emphasising the essence of togetherness.

Bhm Picture In Observatory

Pub Quiz

Differentequal Flag Flying At Front Entrance October 2022One of the GCR pub quiz nights was dedicated to the BHM with a theme of Afro-Caribbean night. Students had a fun quiz that tested their knowledge about famous black heroes and popular musicians, such as Agologo by Angelique Cudjoe, Umqombothi by Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and I Feel Good by James Brown. The pub quiz is a weekly GCR event which provides an avenue for students to come together to unwind after a long day’s work, meet new faces and interact with friends.

The month-long celebration was also marked with the #DifferentEqual physical signage, such as the #DifferentEqual flag, hoisted at the College entrance throughout October and the #DifferentEqual bunting in the college Stables Bar. The paraphernalia ‘reminds us of our diversity and yet our oneness as a college community’, said Marwa Elbasheer, the Charity Project Co-Lead, of the BSS.

Outlook for next year

I am proud of all the efforts at college from the senior-level management through the Governing Body, student leadership, staff and the entire college community to promote Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and make students feel at home at GTC. With a new BSS leadership taking over the helm of affairs, we look forward to a renewed energy to carry on the brilliant initiatives that have been started. I am hopeful that the college will continue to support and sustain the BLM Taskforce action agenda items as I said in my closing remark of the BHM month-long celebrations.


The month-long celebration was possible through the immense support of the Black Students Society Committee and members, college staff in the events and hospitality teams, Communications, the Principal’s office, Lodge team and Academic Projects. We would also like to acknowledge the immense support from the Oxford Africa Society, Africa Oxford Initiative, and Oxford University Students Union. Funding support was made with thanks to the GTC Academic Grants provision and Annual Fund donors.

Black Students Society

BSS Committee members 2022-2023

President: Josephine Agyeman-Duah
Vice President: Gloria Ngaiza
Organising Secretary: Makafui Tunde Adebayo
Webmaster: Kayomavua Akpobaro
Mentorship Programme Co-Lead: Adeola Bamisaiye
Charity Project Co-Leads: Marwa Elbasheer and Godwin Mark
Advisor: Acheampong Atta-Boateng, past GCR President.

Created: 17 November 2022