David Livingstone Birthplace to host free storytelling weekend

In October, David Livingstone Birthplace museum in Blantyre will host a free weekend of storytelling by artists from the Scottish African diaspora

Article by Jamie Dunn | 16 Sep 2022
  • The Gig Group

Storytelling brings people together. Over the weekend of 22 to 23 October, the David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre will be doing just that by inviting a host of creative practitioners from the Scottish African diaspora to the museum for two days of storytelling through spoken word, dance, music and workshops.

Titled Our Stories Between the Myths and Memories, the free weekender has been programmed by Scottish-Zimbabwean artist and researcher Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, in partnership with The Skinny. "I’m really excited to be able to bring together so many brilliant creative practitioners from the Scottish African diaspora to one space and to celebrate their contributions to the creative sector,” says Ruwona. “This project speaks to our past, present, and potential futures that examine Black Scottish history, culture, and identity. It is also a timely event that will spotlight the work that the David Livingstone Birthplace are doing as they consider the role of museums within truthful storytelling, by asking important questions about legacy and memory."

A panel from Beats of War, showing a selection of Black superhero figures.Monochrome portrait photo of Tomiwa Folorunso
Beats of War; Tomiwa Folorunso

Throughout Saturday’s programme of events, the focus is stories, storytelling and communities. The day kicks off with a discussion looking at storytelling across different cultures and communities led by Nigerian-Scottish writer, editor and creative producer Tomiwa Folorunso. Glasgow-based filmmaker and comic book writer Etienne Kubwabo, the mastermind behind Beats of War, the celebrated comic featuring Scotland's first Black superhero, will also be in Blantyre to deliver a workshop and discuss his work. The night comes to a close with a dance party featuring the DJs at Jambo! Radio, Scotland’s only radio station dedicated to African and Caribbean music.

Sunday’s lineup is concerned with the legacy of David Livingstone and centres on decolonisation. The subject will be explored through several workshops and discussions, including one in which the staff at David Livingstone Birthplace present a panel on decolonising its collection and object handling. There’ll also be live music from the Congolese Gig Group, a band of musicians playing Afro-Congo pop, reggae, seben/rumba and Afrobeat. The weekender will be brought to a glorious close by An Exercise in Exorcism, by multi-disciplinary artist Ashanti Harris. It's a piece utilising dance, performance and installation to reimagine historical narratives from a Caribbean diasporic perspective.

A scene from Ashanti Harris' An Exercise in Exorcism. A man runs across a hall, while a woman arranges a selection of blocky objects in the background.
Ashanti Harris' An Exercise in Exorcism, at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art.

This is just a taster of what will be on offer, with more events still to be announced. The weekender will also be an excellent opportunity to explore David Livingstone Birthplace if you haven’t already. The museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the fabled Scottish explorer, medical missionary and abolitionist David Livingstone by re-examining his work within the complex and painful realities of slavery, colonialism and 19th-century European attitudes towards African people and community groups. Throughout the weekend, there will be an opportunity to engage with the museum’s collection, and hear more about how the museum is examining David Livingstone’s legacy.

“We are delighted to be hosting one of Scotland’s first Afro-Caribbean storytelling festivals, providing a showcase for creatives in Scotland,” says Grant Mackenzie, director at David Livingstone Birthplace. “This event builds on from a major refurbishment of the historic site, where our brand new museum has recontextualised Livingstone’s story and how it connects with Scotland’s colonial history, slavery and contemporary issues such as racism."

Tickets to Our Stories Between the Myths and Memories are free: book tickets for Saturday 22 October here; book tickets for Sunday 23 October here