How would YOU re-imagine Cole?

In collaboration with Black Oxford Untold Stories, The Africa Centre is presenting ‘How would you re-imagine Cole?’ This is an evening of performance, presentation and debate exploring the imagery of Christian Cole, the first Black scholar at the University of Oxford in 1873.

Christian Cole went on to become the first Black African to practise law in the English Courts, and yet, unlike his peers and near contemporaries, no photograph or ‘true’ memorial of him exists. All that remains are a couple of cartoon-like illustrations which are very much products of the prevailing attitudes of the day – in one he is depicted as a minstrel, with a banjo in another he is in a grass skirt surrounded with bananas.

‘How would you re-imagine Cole?’ is a dramatised performance, written and produced by Pamela Roberts, delivered by two professional actors. The performance illustrates the relationship between Christian Cole and fellow student, Renner Maxwell, both Sierra Leonean students at the University of Oxford in 1876. Maxwell has his image captured professionally; Cole depicted only as a caricature. 


The piece will depict a fictionalised meeting demonstrating their intense conflict, rivalry and spirited exchanges, interweaving the themes and issues of heritage, identity, class, social mobility, colourism, belonging and acceptance, the outsider within the establishment. A discussion will follow to debate the question ‘How would you re-imagine Cole?’

Funded by Arts Council England and supported by The Africa Centre, the event builds on last year ‘Re-Imagining Cole’ symposium, held in association with the Bodleian Library.

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE said, ‘Following on from the Re-imagining Cole symposium, where I was honoured to be the keynote speaker,  I am really delighted to be able to continue the conversation with a London audience, and in the setting of The Africa Centre.’

Pamela Roberts FRSA, the award-winning Founder and Director of Black Oxford Untold Stories, said: “Cole’s story is not just an Oxford story – it’s national and global. ‘How would you re-imagine Cole’ takes his story outside of Oxford and present him to a broader audience. I am interested in exploring how a London demographic and history will produce different voices and responses to Cole’s story.”

The event takes place on Tuesday 22nd October from 7.00 – 9.00pm at The Africa Centre, Gallery, Arch 28, 66 Great Suffolk Street, Southwark, London, SE1 0BL.

Tickets are free.

To book a place visit this link


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