By Steph Ormond
Durham University’s African Caribbean Society was founded in 2015 by first-year students who wished to provide a welcoming space for students to celebrate African and Caribbean culture. Six years on, let us turn to the group’s current President Hashr (Ashley) Buwembo [first left in the photo], a second-year International Relations student from Hatfield, as she discusses Durham ACS and what Black History Month means to her and the society.
Q. What is an ACS and its significance within the university community?
A. “The ACS is a society to come and appreciate African and Caribbean culture which incorporates music, food and games, just the works. It is a place for individuals to meet each other and acts as a safe haven for those who are similar to them.”
Q. How many members do you have?
A. “We have approximately 200 members this year from first-year to postgraduate students which is quite good.”
According to the Student Registry statistics from the 2020-21 academic year, there were approximately just over 400 full-time students of Black and Mixed-race heritage. Compared to the whole student population, that came out to around 2%. Nonetheless, Durham ACS still have their fair share of prominent alumni.
Q. Are there any famous or notable alumni who were members of the ACS? Where are they now?
A. “So I do know of Ifeoluwa Bayo-Oluyamo. She was a previous Vice-President for ACS who graduated in 2020 with a degree in Law, so not too long ago. Now, she is currently an AS Aspire candidate training to be a solicitor.”
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you?
A. “Initially, Black History Month for me is about remembering important historical events and people from the African diaspora who have contributed to how Black history has come about. Including the remembrance of tragedies within this history that have occurred. After that, I think that Black History Month is certainly a month of gratitude – gratitude to ourselves from ourselves about Black excellence. In this month especially, we highlight the appreciation of Black history by other members of society in general. By that, I mean not just by African or Caribbean people, but by people from all backgrounds.”
Q. Do you have a favourite Black figure from history that you can say has inspired you and why?
A. “Like a favourite? I have an Angela Davis poster, typical I know – but yeah, let us start there. She is both a very strong advocate for prison reform whilst being a passionate educator for Black people. I do think that she is one to go the full way in what she does. And I admire that. Likewise, I have got to say Angela Davis is my favourite Black figure from history. In my opinion, things cannot go wrong with her.”
Q. How is Durham ACS celebrating Black History Month this year?
A. “This year, we are doing different tributes to celebrate various people via our stories on our Instagram profile @DurhamACS. Every couple of days, we post about a few people who represent us from different eras of Black History. For example, we had Angela Davis, Malorie Blackman, and Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune was a pioneer for Black education in the United States and fought for education rights for African Americans. Also, we are hosting Black History Month movie nights, so people can vote for the movies that they want to watch to celebrate it. The list features movies directed by Black people, featuring prominent Black figures, famous events from the past. So that’s how Durham ACS is celebrating Black History Month.”
Image credit: Durham ACS via Instagram