"Benkum dware nifa, nifa dware benkum”*: Strategies for Sustainable Familial Intellectual Engagement*Akan proverb: lit. the left (hand) washes the right; the right (hand) washes the left hand.
This Akan proverb calls us to remember our interconnectedness, both at the instrumental or pragmatic level, as well as due to our spiritual connectedness. The proverb reminds us that what we share with each other, despite our diversity, is our humanity. It asserts that we come with different strengths, gifts, opportunities as well as disadvantages and struggles—some divinely endowed, others born of our privilege, others’ unfair treatment, or the simple fact that the world is not fair. In Akan cosmology, while there is an emphasis on hard work, productivity and progress, there is also a recognition that “times change” and one’s fortunes are not guaranteed. Hence, there is a need to be a generous giver but also a humble receiver, no matter how fortunate one’s current personal circumstances might be: who knows tomorrow? What should such a reminder mean for us in today’s world of knowledge production? Especially when African knowledge has been devalued, disrespected, sometimes even stolen and sold back to us in new clothes? How might we view knowledge recognition and valorization, and knowledge sharing and “democratization”, especially in a context where some knowledge has a much higher monetary value than others? What about questions of ownership and who gets to decide which knowledge must be safeguarded? When does sharing become appropriation? How can barriers built from centuries of cynicism and mistrust be removed? This talk hopes to activate a deeper discussion about collaborative engagement (or not) for our shared global wellbeing by sharing from examples of pain but also of hope.
Akosua Adomako Ampofo
Adomako Ampofo is Professor of African and Gender Studies at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana (UG). She describes herself as an activist scholar and at the heart of her work are questions of identity and power—within families, political and religious spaces, and the knowledge industry. Her areas of interest include African Knowledge systems; Higher education; Race and Identity Politics; Gender relations; Masculinities; and Popular Culture. In 2005 she became the foundation Director of the University’s Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy and from 2010-2015 she was the Director of the Institute of African Studies. Adomako Ampofo is President of the African Studies Association of Africa; an honorary Professor at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Birmingham; and a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Scienc-es. She is Editor-in-Chief, Contemporary Journal of African Studies and Co-Editor, Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa blog. Her recent book co-edited with Jo-sephine Beoku-Betts is titled Producing Inclusive Feminist Knowledge: Positionalities and Discourses in the Global South (Bingley: Emerald Publishing 2021). She co-produced the documentary When Women Speak with Kate Skinner (directed by Aseye Tamakloe, 2022) as part of a project titled, an “Archive of Activism: Gender and Public History in Postcolonial Ghana”. The goal of this project is to constitute a publicly accessible ar-chive of, and documentary on gender activism and “political women” in postcolonial Ghana. Adomako Ampofo’s work has been variously recognized and in 2010 she was awarded the Feminist Activism Award by Sociologists for Women and Society (SWS)
Chaired by Andreas Mehler, Arnold Bergstraesser Institute