Homelands exhibition touring Sierra Leone throughout 2024

People across Sierra Leone will be able to visit the ground-breaking Homelands exhibition as it tours the country this year.

The co-produced photography exhibition examines the shared homelands of British service personnel and Sierra Leoneans during the upheaval of the Second World War. Exploring Sierra Leone's rich culture and challenging negative perceptions of Hull's twin city, Corporal Fred Birden's wartime photography was reinterpreted by local members of the Hull Afro-Caribbean Association (HACA). Members of the association were either born, lived or had worked in West Africa.

The project is part of a collaboration between HACA, Hull Museums and the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute to increase the visibility of Hull's African and Afro-Caribbean community. The project has developed into the Wilberforce Museum Advisory Group, which meets four times per year to guide the exhibition and engagement work of the museum and help make heritage more inclusive.

Officially launched by Mr Foday Jallo, Director of Culture in Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the tour will visit several sites across Sierra Leone this year. Attended by civic dignitaries from Freetown and Hull, alongside the Deputy British High Commissioner, the launch showcased the exciting work to make heritage more inclusive in both countries. Also attending were representatives of the Hull Society in Freetown and local school children.

Dr Nick Evans, Senior Lecturer in Diaspora History, said: “We are thrilled by the positive response to the opening of the Homelands exhibition at the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum. Through our friends we can share, for the first time, images captured by Corporal Fred Birden 80 years ago.

“Through the energies of the Hull Society in Freetown, pupils from schools twinned with Hull can see how the mutual ties between our cities endure. Such partnership work shows how teamwork is a vital tool in using education to bring communities together around the world.”

Siddi Maju, part of the Freetown Society in Hull, added: “This year, Freetown and Hull will have been twinned for over 45 years. This exhibition is a timely reminder of the strong connections between our cities which continue to enrich this partnership.

“The newly formed Matturi and Wilberforce Community Centre looks forward to ensuring people from across Sierra Leone engage with this exhibition. As a Sierra Leonean living in Hull, I was proud to play a leading role in this exciting project.”

Recognising the success and significance of this collaboration, the Homelands partnership was named joint winner of the PraxisAuril KE Awards for Supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion through Knowledge Exchange. This follows previous awards success secured by the team at the 2023 Museums Association ‘Museums Change Lives’ Awards.

In addition, the University of Hull has been recognised nationally for its work to promote economic growth and regeneration in the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), published by Research England. The results reveal the university has been classed as having ‘Very High Engagement’, the highest ranking in this category.

Find out more about Homelands and the University of Hull’s other ground-breaking Knowledge Exchange projects.

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