Selected History: Chronicling the Nineteenth-Century Past

Thursday 4th May

A conversation with Manchester-based poet and activist SuAndi and performance extracts from Mary Seacole, the Opera by Margaret Ferguson


“We stand here on the shoulders of so many others…. they all enable us to move forward in our lives. Those who fought in the First and Second World War, enslaved Africans, all our ancestors, the Suffragettes. The list is endless.”

SuAndi OBE, on Receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Manchester Met in 2019

As history is written by the minority, it is not surprising that the majority are not represented. This narrow, often bigoted view of the past, has, in recent times, brought together an army of researchers, novelists, artists and historians determined to bring the achievements and maltreatment of their respective “communities” to the 21st Century public arena.

For we from the Black diaspora the shackles of the slave trade has ignored that we were Africans before we were captured as slaves. Determination is now chronicling the contributions we have made to British society.

SuAndi is well-known for her The Story of M, which is taught at A-Level and focuses on the twentieth century. In this seminar SuAndi will reflect on her experience of chronicling and retelling our nineteenth-century past. She will talk about writing the libretto for Mary Seacole, the Opera (2000). This tells the dramatic story of the pioneering Jamaican healer Mary Seacole daughter of a black Jamiacan mother and a white Scottish father, who travelled to the Crimean War to administer medical care and provide food for the soldiers, against all odds in her encounters with racism.

She will also discuss the permanent installation of her work at Salford Docks, near Manchester and her leading of a poetry project on the triangulation of Manchester/Cottonopolis and responses by Victorian Polymath John Ruskin.

The event will include a performance of selected songs from Mary Seacole, the opera by Margaret Ferguson, African Soprano. For more information, see

An experienced singer and performer, Margaret performs Opera, Oratorio, Musicals Jazz, Spirituals, Gospel throughout the UK, Europe, Africa and the USA.

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