Black History Month 2023

AfriStadi is organizing a series of events related to the African diaspora to celebrate Black History Month: film screenings, panel discussions and more!

AfriStadi is organising a series of events in October 2023 to celebrate Black History Month. The events provide a platform for disseminating societally relevant Africa research in Finland and the Nordic countries, combating widely held negative stereotypes on Africa through fact-based dissemination events and through showcasing the contributions of African Diaspora members to society and knowledge production in Finland and the Nordic countries.  

BHM is an annual event celebrating African Americans since 1926 in the US, where it is held in February. The festival is also established in the UK and Ireland, where it takes place in October. We are organising a public event series at the University of Helsinki and cultural institutions in Helsinki.

1. Re/presenting the African Diaspora in Finland

Screening of Ima Iduozee's Diaspora Mixtapes vol.1 and After We’re Gone, followed by a panel discussion

Time: October 2, 18:00-20:00

Location: Oodi, Kino Regina

Featuring: Ima Iduozee, Maryan Abdulkarim, Elvis Fuamba, Oulia Makkonen (chair).

Language: Finnish and English


AfriStadi, the Africa Research Forum for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, invites you to the screening of two short films by choreographer and filmmaker Ima Iduozee. The films, Diaspora mixtapes and After we’re gone, picture Diaspora experiences in Finland. They will be followed by a panel discussion. This event opens AfriStadi’s celebration of BHM is an annual event celebrating African Americans since 1926 in the US, where it is held in February. The festival is also established in the UK and Ireland, where it takes place in October. We are celebrating Black History Month in Helsinki this October. Our goal is to showcase the contributions of African Diaspora members to society and knowledge production in Finland and the Nordic countries and to disseminate societally relevant Africa research in Finland and the Nordic countries.  


About the films

Diaspora Mixtapes vol. 1 is the first part of Iduozee's series of works that celebrate the past, present & future of the African Diaspora. In this art-house documentary, artists, activists and entrepreneurs’ around the Diaspora share their story through music, poetry, autobiography and interviews. The first part of the series, vol. 1, was filmed in South Africa, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica and Finland during 2019. The film features Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Yeboyah, Maryan Abdulkarim, Joy Mariama Smith, Isaac Sene and Adri Mena.

After We're Gone. Zena enters an underground shrine to meet the royal priestess. As the ritual begins, she re-imagines the journey of the African Diaspora. Using the narrative conventions of documentary and fiction, the now, the past and the future are rethought to create an ode to those who have paved the way. Unfolding through the lens on Ima Iduozee, the film features archival footage of Lola Odusoga, Rosa Emilia Clay, Donata Pennanen, FESTAC 77, Windrush 1948, Sun Ra, Barbara Ann Teer, Miriam Makeba, Muraina Oyelami and more. After We’re Gone is the second part of Diaspora Mixtapes, a series or works that celebrates the past, present and future of the African Diaspora.


About the speakers

Ima Iduozee is a choreographer, film director and DJ. His debut choreography This is The Title (2012) caught international attention, and he toured in 16 countries to present it. He has worked as a choreographer for the Finnish National Opera, the Finnish National Theater, and the theaters of Helsinki and Stockholm, among others. His short film After We're Gone received its premiere at Kiasma, and its international premiere at film festivals in San Francisco.

Maryan Abdulkarim is a Somali-Finnish screen writer and journalist, and she is based in Helsinki. 

Elvis Fuamba is the chairperson and co-founder of Afrofinns ry, an independent nonprofit association whose mission is to elevate, encourage and support more self-reliance within the community. Elvis is also a photographer, documentarist, and social entrepreneur; he has been an entrepreneur for 20 years in Finland. As a documentarist, Elvis recently completed a documentary called "Cultural Crossroads," which explores Afrofinns' culture, creation and transmission of the Afrofinns' culture to the next generation. This documentary was screened at the Helsinki City Museum as part of the "Being Black" exhibition.

Oulia Makkonen is a film and religious studies scholar with specific focus on African screen media. Beyond religion and film, her research interests encompass film festivals’ curatorial practices and transnational cinematic language within African and African diaspora studies. Presently, Oulia Makkonen is based in Sweden and works as research coordinator for Uppsala University’s Forum for Africa studies.

2. Research on African Diasporas in Finland

Panel discussion

Time: October 12, 16:00-18:00

Location: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24 A), Common Room (3rd floor)

Featuring: Mulki Al-Sharmani, Elina Westinen, Anna Rastas, Tuulikki Pietilä (chair)

Language: English


In this event, three researchers discuss their work among diverse African diaspora communities in Finland.

The speakers will shed light on their research participants’ ways of settling in and transcending the Finnish society by creating trusted networks, spaces, and belongingness as well as by making differences.

After the short presentations by the researchers, we will invite the audience to participate in discussing and reflecting on the matters they have brought up. The presentations are described below.


Reflections on Transnationalism and African Diasporas: The Case of Somali Diaspora (talk by Mulki Al-Sharmani)

In this presentation I reflect on how the daily lives of Finnish Somalis, their aspirations, resources, life choices, and challenges are embedded in their close ties and interdependent relations with networks of relatives living in multiple countries. These relationships and ties are not given but rather are reproduced anew, sustained, or shifted through practices entailing material and immaterial resources. The transnational kinning is enabled by unequal access to resources and hence unequal decision-making power among family members. On the other hand, it is part and parcel of strategies of confronting racial, economic, and legal marginalization. Transnational kinning of diasporic Somalis, I argue, highlights the interconnectedness of the political and personal. My presentation is informed by past research undertaken in Finland and elsewhere.

Mulki Al-Sharmani is Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at University of Helsinki. She was the first lecturer of Islamic theology at the university. Trained as an anthropologist at Johns Hopkins University, Mulki works on: Muslim modern family laws and their relationships with classical Islamic jurisprudence; Muslim marriage and divorce norms and practices in Finland and Egypt; Qur'anic ethics and Islamic feminist hermeneutics; modern diasporas and transnational families with focus on Somali diasporas.  


“Always been here” – Ethnicity, Identity and (Non)belonging in Finnish Hip Hop Culture (talk by Elina Westinen)

In this presentation, I discuss ethnicity, identity and (non)belonging from the perspective of Finnish hip hop culture, relating the discussion also to wider societal structures and Finnish popular culture. In particular, I will focus on Finnish rappers of different (African) backgrounds and their life stories, experiences and networks. I will also refer to my recently published book Aina ollu tääl – Suomiräp 4.0, highlighting the rappers’ own voices.

Elina Westinen, PhD, is Academy Fellow at Finnish Youth Research Network. Previously, she has worked at University of Jyväskylä, in different projects related to youth cultures, music, identity and social media. In her research, she is interested in questions of race/ethnicity, belonging, youth and popular culture – and hip hop culture, in particular. She is the chair of Finnish hip hop research network.


Doing Research on, and with, African Diaspora Communities (talk by Anna Rastas)

This presentation is a concise introduction to my earlier research projects on racism, the African diaspora and academic knowledge production, in which collaboration and dialogue with various African diaspora communities has been central. I will also introduce my on-going book project, to be co-authored with Professor Leila Koivunen (University of Turku), on the history of Africans in Finland up to the 1990s, when the number of African communities in Finland began to grow rapidly. Like some of my earlier projects, this book will emphasize the diversity within and between African diaspora communities, the activities of Finns of African background in different fields, and their various contributions to Finnish society and culture.

Anna Rastas (Dr. Soc.Sc.) is Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor (docent) of Social Anthropology at Tampere University and Adjunct Professor of European ethnology at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include racism and anti-racism, racialized and ethnic relations, knowledge production of minorities and marginalized communities, diaspora studies (African diaspora in particular), transnationalism, intersectionality in knowledge production and as different practices, museums, cultural production, and critical heritage studies. For more information on her research projects and publications, please visit her website:

3. Celebrating Black history of Finnish music

Event on Afro-Finnish music, including musical performances! (Part of Etnosoi)

Time: October 29, 16:00-18:00

Location: Oodi, Maijansali

Featuring: Four panelists, and musical performers

Language: Finnish and English


In recent years, Finland has seen a rise of young AfroFinnish artists, especially in rap/hip hop, but musicians of African descent have actually been around and influential in Finnish music much longer. And, of course, many styles of “Black music” such as jazz, rock, soul and hip hop, have been played also by white Finnish musicians. We are taking a look at this Black history of Finnish music with a panel discussion that includes four musicians of African descent that work with different musical genres and have all influenced the Finnish music scene in their own ways. The audience is also welcome to participate in the discussion. In addition to the discussion, there will be some live music.

4. Engaging with Africas in teaching and research at the University of Helsinki and beyond

Panel discussion

Time: November 1, 18:00-20:00

Location: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24 A), Common Room (3rd floor)

Featuring: Amanda Hammar (CAS Copenhagen), Ananya Kabir (King's College London), Jecinta Okumu (Uppsala Forum for Africa Studies), Clémentine Nishimwe (University of Johannesburg, Africa Early Career Researcher Mobility Programme, University of Helsinki). (Additional panelists to be confirmed.)

Language: English