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'An Evening with Jackie Kay' - Arrogance and Disdain

This is my own opinion.

I am employed at the university at which Jackie Kay, the Scottish poet is Chancellor. The Chancellor of a British university is a kind of figurehead, who agrees to represent the university throughout the world. Past chancellors of my university include The Duke of Edinburgh in the 1980s, and, until 2014, Irene Khan, the activist who heads Amnesty International.

I attended 'An Evening with Jackie Kay', put on for donors to the university, on 22 February 2015. Jackie read some poetry, and then proceeded to tell us the story of visiting her birth father. He is a Nigerian, and had organised a traditional celebration of several hours' dancing for his daughter.

She reported some of his conversation with her, in which he asked her about her Lesbian beliefs and lifestyle, while at the same time expressing his own belief in a God who provides for people. I believe that his questions, though 'inappropriate' by British standards, arose from his genuine interest and desire to find out things.

I was appalled to hear her laugh publicly at the African customs, and at his questions and his belief in God, which are typical of Sub-Saharan Africa. It was not the laughter of fun, but laughter of arrogant disdain. She also raised derogatory laughs from among the audience, the majority of whom were LGBs. I believe that, as an experienced poet and performer, she knew what she was doing.

How it came across to me: Jackie Kay was Laughing at Africans, as rather simple, untutored people with funny customs and antiquated beliefs -- and she was inviting her audience to do the same.

When I was in Uganda, I found people whom I greatly admired, people who are good thinkers with sharp minds, great wisdom and unfeigned generosity.

I will not have Africans laughed at and used to get cheap laughs, in the way Jackie Kay did. Why should African faith in a God who provides be mocked? I expect her birth father has many faults - but should he be derided in public like Jackie Kay did? I was disgusted and walked out.

I do not mind our Chancellor swearing in public ("fucking brilliant!"), because I dislike stuffiness. But I do mind our Chancellor having an arrogant attitude that sneers at African people, their customs and their beliefs.

I don't believe a chancellor of a British university should have an arrogant attitude. I don't believe that a person with an arrogant attitude should be chancellor of a British university.

Andrew Basden (Professor).



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About This Page

This is an Opinion Page put up by Andrew Basden that aim to stimulate ideas for discussion. Contact details.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all the dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 22 February 2015, Last updates: 26 July 2015.