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25 October 2022

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Black History Month 2022: The Lady Ademola Project

Lady Kofoworola’s daughter, Mrs Demi Ibare-Akinsan, and Siji Sowonola, one of Lady Kofoworola’s grand-nephews visit to St Hugh's pictured with the Development Director and St Hugh's Fellows

The Lady Ademola Project Update by Professor Thomas Cousins, Tutorial Fellow in Human Sciences and Tutor for Equality & Diversity

Kofoworola Ademola (née Moore) (1913–2002) arrived at St Hugh’s College in 1932 to study English and in 1935 became the first Black African woman to achieve a degree at Oxford. Lady Ademola, as Kofoworola would become, was a lifelong advocate for women’s education and social reform. The Lady Ademola project at St Hugh’s College was launched in Hilary Term 2020 to keep her legacy alive in the new millennium.

2021-2022 was a busy year for the project. We were especially honoured and excited to be in contact with the Ademola family in Nigeria. In May 2022, we were delighted to receive a visit from Lady Kofoworola’s daughter, Mrs Demi Ibare-Akinsan, and Siji Sowonola, one of Lady Kofoworola’s grand-nephews (pictured in this photograph). We look forward to hosting Mr Gboyega Ademola, Lady Kofoworola’s son, in College in the near future, and to working with the Ademola family to build on Lady Kofoworola’s legacy in the coming years.

We were delighted to welcome our first Lady Ademola scholarship holder in 2021, Ndume Ibrahimu, who read for a Master of Studies in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, and has now successfully completed the course. Mr Ibrahimu has returned home to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and intends to apply for a doctoral programme. Please click here to read about Ndume’s experience at St Hugh’s.

In June 2022, we were honoured to host Sir Geoff Palmer OBE for the 2021-2022 annual Lady Ademola lecture. The lecture was held virtually, with a large online audience, and was titled “The Education I Nearly Missed”. Sir Geoff gave an inspiring account of how he nearly missed the education that changed his life, which led to his contributions both as an eminent grain scientist and as a human rights activist. In his lecture, Sir Geoff reflected on his arrival from Jamaica in London in 1955 as a boy and his journey to becoming a leading scientist of grains and cereals, inventing the barley abrasion process. He argued that race is an invention and that a diverse society needs diverse management to be fair and efficient. Please click here to read more about Sir Geoff and to view Sir Geoff’s lecture.

St Hugh’s is working closely with the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) to support Visiting Scholars from African universities, as well as fundraising for further student scholarships.



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