Prof. Martin Lynn

Chair of African History

Martin Lynn was born in 1951 in Nigeria. He studied at King’s College London and SOAS. After a stint at the University of Ilorin, he was recruited at Queen’s in 1980. He taught there British and Imperial history and, with time, African and Chinese history. He was the first to teach a course on African history at Queen’s.

His area of academic interest was the economic history of West Africa. His first monograph was Commerce and Economic Change in West Africa: the Palm Oil Trade in the 19th century (Cambridge University Press, 1997). The book was very well received and it established Lynn in the field at once. He published extensively on cognate subjects as well, in the very best journals of his field (Journal of African History, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, African Economic History, etc. – see a full bibliography here). In 2001, he edited two volumes of the famed British Documents on End of Empire Project on Nigeria (Part I: Managing Political Reform. 1943-53, cix 643 pp.; Part II: Moving to Independence. 1953-60).

Martin Lynn was promoted to a professorship in African History in 2002, after more than 20 years in Belfast. He thus became the first (and so far the only) chair of African history in Ireland. He remained modest and dedicated to his teaching nonetheless, something he was much appreciated, if not envied for. Prof. Richard Rathbone recently remembered Martin Lynn for his “collegiality, his kindness, his unnecessary modesty, [and] his personal and scholarly integrity”. Professor Martin Lynn passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2005. The second African Studies in Ireland Network colloquium was dedicated to his memory.


Colloquium 2018

00001“African Studies in Ireland 2018”

In memoriam Professor Martin Lynn

Friday 25 May (1-6pm) – Saturday 26 May 2018 (9am-5pm)
Queen’s University Belfast, Senate Room


         FRIDAY 25 May 2018
Africa Day

1pm Welcome

Peter Gray, director of the Institute of Irish Studies
Eric Morier-Genoud, organiser

I. Africa, Ireland and Queen’s University, 1,30-3,00pm

  • Nini Rodgers (QUB) – “At Queens: African students, Martin Lynn and me, 1959-2005”.
  • Eric Morier-Genoud (QUB) – “Queen’s University and Africa, 1900s-1970s”.
  • Emmet O’Connor (Ulster) – “Belfast labour and ‘Chinese slavery’ in South Africa, 1904-47”.

         3,00-3,30pm coffee

II. History and Historiography of Africa, 3,30-5,00pm

  • Donal Lowry (Oxford) – “A mirror to Ireland’s face: colonial echoes and analogies in Rhodesia-Zimbabwe ca.1890-1990’.
  • Laura S. Brown (Maynooth) – “Class, culture and historiography in Egypt and the Sudan 1899-1956”.
  • Robert McNamara (Ulster) – “Pearls and perils in the documentary record”.

III. KEYNOTE, 5,00-6,00pm

  • Richard Rathbone (SOAS) – “Reading, thinking and writing about sources on the ending of colonial rule in West Africa”.


SATURDAY 26 May 2018

IV. Ireland, Africa and Art, 9,30- 11,00

  • Jonathan Wright (Maynooth) – “Agency and abolition: Africans in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Ulster”.
  • Fiona Loughnane (NCAD) – “A Shamrock-Shaped Image of Africa: The Photographic Encounters of Catholic Sisters in Uganda”.
  • Bill Hart (Ulster) – “The Afro-Portuguese Ivories, 1988-2018”.

V. Conflict resolution, Peacekeeping and Culture, 11,00-12,30

  • Tom Lodge (Limerick) – “Conflict-Resolution in Nigeria after the Biafran War”
  • Walt Kilroy (DCU) – “The impossible mandate? Protection of civilians by UN peacekeepers in Africa”.
  • Laura Basell (QUB) – “Shihrazad’s Baths: 1001 Tales of Zanzibar Nights”.

12,30-14,00 lunch

VI. Hunters and Music in West Africa, 14,00-15,00

  • Theodoris Konkouris (QUB) – “Heroes or Villains: The Social Status of Hunters & Their Musicians in Malian Imaginary: An Ethnographic Approach”.
  • Joseph Hellweg (Florida State) – “‘Playing the Hunters’ Qur’an’: Performing Islam and the Hunt in West Africa”.

VII. Contemporary African issues, 15,00-17,00

  • John Brewer (QUB) – “African Universities as agents of social change”.
  • Stefan Andreasson (QUB) – “The 21st Century transformation of global energy markets: impact of the US shale revolution on African oil and gas producing states”.
  • John J. Hogan (Limerick) – “Analysis of negotiations to design the African Peace and Security Architecture”.

Conclusion, 17,00-17,30

Free entry. Please register in advance (for catering purposes) on:

T. Jack Thompson

JackThompsonHistory of Christianity in Africa

Born in Belfast in 1943, T. Jack Thompson read modern history at Queen’s University before going to Edinburgh for postgraduate studies and a Ph.D. He worked as a missionary in Malawi for 13 years, after which he went to work as a lecturer at Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. In 1993 he became a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh where he taught African Christianity and eventually became the director of the Center for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World.

An superb historian, Thompson wrote 3 books on Christianity in Malawi (Christianity in Northern Malawi: Donald Fraser’s Missionary Methods and Ngoni Culture, 1995; Touching the heart: Xhosa Missionaries to Malawi, 1876-1888, 2000; and Ngoni, Xhosa and Scot: Religious and Cultural Interactions in Malawi, 2007). His last volume was a particularly well-received volume entitled Light on Darkness: Missionary Photography in Africa in the 19th C and early 20th C (2012).

Thompson passed away in August 2017. Two years before, he contacted me to see whether he could apply for a Queen’s Higher Doctorate.  This was possible and we discussed procedure. Somehow Jack did not follow it up. I presume his health got in the way. It was a great pity for this would have been a perfect closing act for a unique student from Queen’s who went on to have a distinguished academic career “across the water” in the history of Africa.

Workshop: “Sounding Violence in West Africa”

Dr Mohomodou Houssouba
Dr Mohomodou Houssouba

“Sounding violence. Music, Ritual &  Poetry in Contemporary West Africa”

Workshop organised by Dr Theodore Konkouris & Dr Eric Morier-Genoud, Queen’s University Belfast, 27 October 2017


Session I. Ambiguity, Aggression and Presentation in Hunters’ Brotherhoods
(Chair: Dr Eric Morier-Genoud)
10:00-11:00 Dr. Theodore Konkouris (QUB)
“I am sorry that we made you bleed”: Locality and Apprenticeship among the Mande Hunters in Mali’

11:00-12:00 Dr. Lorenzo Ferrarini (Manchester)
‘Re-sounding hierarchies: music, visual display and aggression at donso hunter gatherings in Burkina Faso’

Session II: Poetry and Conflict
(Chair: Dr. Theodore Konkouris)
13:00-14:00 Dr. Mohomodou Houssouba (University of Basel)
‘Conflict in writing: the poetics of lyrics in Songhoy Blues’

14:00-16:30 FILM projection: ‘They will have to kill us first’ (2015, 1h 45m)
Introduction by Dr Alexander Fisher


Joshua A. Alokan

btyFirst African student in History at QUB

Born in Ekiti state in 1921, Nigerian student Joshua Adeware Alokan arrived at Queen’s University in 1957. He was the first African student in the departement of History, coming with a Nigerian Federal Scholarship. He graduated in 1961 and chose not to continue with graduate studies. Instead he chose (in spite of available funding) to return to Nigeria to work for his church. He developped thereafter a most successful carreer as a pastor for the Christ Apostolic Church in Nigeria and as a lecturer in several Teacher Colleges – becoming the principal of the Divisional Teachers’ College in Oye Ekiti and Erifun for 22 years. He passed away in 2015. Attached is the cover of the celebration book for his funeral (courtesy of his son, Dr Olusegun P.  Alokan, senior lecturer at Joseph Ayo Babaloal University, Nigeria). Joshua Alokan wrote several books, among which Idasile ati Idagba soke Ijo CAC Nilu Efon (1975); The Christ Apostolic Church, 1928-88 (1991), Church Worship (1996); The Origin, Growth and Development of Efon-Alaaye Kingdom (2004); Christ Apostolic Church at 90 (2010); and Medaiyese: A Patriarch and Promoter of Pentecostalism in Nigeria (2014). He also wrote his own memoirs entitled Cradle and Beyond: an autobiography (2000). For more on his life, see his obituary on Queen’s website:—all/obits—joshua-adeware

Prof. John Blacking

African ethnomusicology

John Blacking was Professor of anthroplogly at Queen’s University between 1969 and 2000.  After a BA degree under Prof. Meyer Fortes at King College and Cambridge, he moved to South Africa to work with the famous Prof. Hugh Tracey.  He did there a PhD (with a dissertation on Venda music), then obtained a lectureship and eventually a professorship at the University of Witwatersrand.

BlackingIn 1969, after problems with the Apartheid administration, he moved to Queen’s University Belfast to take up the first chair of Anthropology in Ireland. He remained there until his passing away in 2000, supervising tens of students, many of whom Africans who subsequently returned to their country to develop musicology there (e.g. Prof. Joshua Uzoigwe).

For more on Blacking, see:

Nelson Mandela

Honoris Causa

NELSON MANDELA was bestowed a degree “Honoris Causa” by Queen’s University Belfast in July 2008 “for distinction in public service”. Because Mandela not well, he could not attend the ceremony in Belfast. A Queen’s representative flew to South Africa to hand him the degree while he, on his side, recorded a message which was broadcasted at the ceremony in Belfast. Details below.

Here is a picture of the handing of his degree
by Anthony O’Reilly in South Africa:       

Mandela QUB

Here is Mandela’s acceptance speech – video recorded and projected on the day in Belfast (from minute 3,25):

Here is what the Belfast Telegraph wrote at the time:

Ahtletic Club, 1959

QUB Athletic Club 1959

© Queen’s University Athletic Club
More photographs on the University’s Flickr page:

  • John Riverson (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1960 and won in the 100 Yards in 10.4.
  • Michael Ekue (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1960 and won the Pole Vault with 3.66 and again in 1963 with 3.50.
  • George Deh (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1961 and won with a Discuss throw of 40.40.

Prof. Akin O. Adesola

Akin Adesola came to Belfast in 1953 to study medicine. He graduated in 1956, did a year of  academic surgery at the Royal Hospital, then a postgraduate course between Belfast and London. In Belfast he stayed with the Gardiner family; his mentors were Prof Harold Rodgers and Prof. Richard Welbourn; his co-students were Sam Meshida (engineering) and George Johnston (medicine).

After returning to Nigeria, Akin Adesola became a lecturer at the University College Hospital Ibadan, then at the University of Lagos Medical School where he became Professor and head of Department in 1967. Followed a most successful national and international carreer which led him to become, among others, the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Ilorin and of the University of Lagos. Over the years he received many awards, one of which was an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast in 1989 – the first such doctorate for an African. In his later days, Prof. Adesola wrote his autobiography entitled A Bridge Endowed.

Graduation Gardiners   Adesol and the Gardiners

History of Africans in NI

WORKSHOP, Queen’s University Belfast

Auditorium, McClay Library, 17 June 2017, 1pm-5p

History: “History of Africans in Northern Ireland”, 1pm

Bill Hart (Ulster University), “Africans in 18th and 19th C. Northern Ireland”

Philippa Robinson, “The Irishman from West Africa. Dr Armattoe in Derry, 1938-50”

Eric Morier-Genoud (Queen’s University), “Africans at Queen’s University, 1942-68”

Rountable: “The Black Children of Ulster”, 3pm

Tim Brannigan, author of “Where are you really from?” (2010)

Annie Yellowe Palma, author of “For the Love of a mother” (2017)

Book launch, 4,30pm

        8321226         9781909465565  


Please register (free) for catering purposes on:

All welcome. Tea and coffee served between the panels.

With the support of the School of History, Anthropology, Politics & Philosophy