Black History Month 2023

AfriStadi is organizing a series of events related to African knowledges and African Diasporas to celebrate Black History Month: film screenings, panel discussions and more! All events are free.

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 as well as in a growing number of countries worldwide. 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 (chairing the discussion), Elina Oinas.

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). The event will be hybrid, and you can join us on Zoom using this link.

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. Screening of Le Havre at l'Institut français

Film screening

Time: October 19, 17:00

Location: French Institute, Yrjönkatu 36


The French Institute of Finland and AfriStadi will screen "Le Havre" (2011), a feature film by Aki Kaurismäki. The film is a dramatic comedy and a Finnish, French and German production. It tells the story of a young boy from Africa, who immigrates to France, and who is helped by locals to evade the police.

The film's dialogues are in French, with subtitles in Finnish. There will be a short introduction to the film in French, Finnish and English.

Book a seat if you wish to attend! More info on the French Institute's website and Facebook page.

4. Celebrating the Black history of Finnish music

Event on Afro-Finnish music: live music & panel discussion (Part of Etnosoi)

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

Location: Oodi, Maijansali

Featuring: Bianca Morales, Menard Mponda, Ismaila Sané, Elina Seye (chair).

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 three musicians of African and Afro-Caribbean descent who have all influenced the Finnish music scene in their own ways. We will talk about their careers and experiences of working in the Finnish music scene, and also outside Finland. We will also discuss their views on the developments that have taken place in Finland and their views for the future.

The event will be opened with live music by Ismaila Sané and musicians from his band, Saïsba.

The panel discussion is chaired by Elina Seye, an ethnomusicologist and dance researcher affiliated with the University of Helsinki.

Entry is free, as for all our events!


About the panelists

Bianca Morales is a Finnish-Cuban jazz vocalist and composer who started her singing career very young in the early 1980s and gained a lot of visibility in Finland after winning the Kevään sävel competition arranged by the Finnish MTV3 channel in 1984. Until today she has been performing jazz music especially with Grani Big Band, but she has also recorded music with other bands and played in several musicals. Apart from being well established in the Finnish jazz scene, she has strong connections to the USA.

Menard Mponda is a Tanzanian musician and dancer who has been living in Finland since 1995. He is best known in Finland as the artistic director of Fest Afrika festival, the oldest festival of African performing arts in Finland, organized in Tampere since 2002. He is also active as a teacher of traditional Tanzanian dances and drumming, which he has been teaching widely to school children. As a musician, he has been involved in several bands, such as Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble and Arnold Chiwalala Band.

Ismaila Sané is a Senegalese musician and dancer who started his career in Dakar, Senegal, moved to Spain in the early 1980s and to Finland in 1999. He is a long-standing percussionist of Piirpauke, a Finnish world music fusion band led by Sakari Kukko, that he joined in the late 1980s when he was living in Tenerife. Both in Spain and in Finland he has collaborated with many local musicians, playing West African styles, reggae, jazz, and many kinds of fusions. He also teaches West African dances and drumming. In recent years, his main focus has been on his own Saïsba band.

5. 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), and online through Zoom

Featuring: Andrea Butcher (University of Helsinki), Amanda Hammar (CAS Copenhagen), Ananya Kabir (King's College London), Jecinta Okumu (Uppsala Forum for Africa Studies), Clementine Nishimwe (University of Johannesburg, Africa Early Career Researcher Mobility Programme, University of Helsinki), Friederike Lüpke (University of Helsinki; chair).

Language: English


European engagement with African multitudes has to be put on new foundations. Europe needs to move away from seeing Africa as the Other, studying an entire continent in a single geographically defined field of study and maintaining a European/Northern canon in all other disciplines, in which knowledges of and contributions by Africans (and Global South researchers more generally) have no or very little space. Such a vantage point erases Africa’s, but also Europe’s, global entanglements and participation in multiple cultural spaces throughout history. The Northern dominance in African Studies and in much research on Africa replicates colonial worldviews and power structures: agendas are set by institutions from the Global North, partnerships are never really at eye level, and Africa is often relegated to a site of data collection, not of theory formation. This continuing colonial inheritance constrains collaboration and severely restricts the quality of science, not just in research and teaching of/on/with Africa, but also in mainstream disciplines, whose geographical, theoretical and epistemological biases limit their validity ​(see for instance Blasi et al. 2022)​. The critiques of this status quo are manifold, yet moves towards transformative partnerships ​(Aboderin et al. 2023)​ and a true pluriversity ​(Mbembe 2016)​ are complicated, slow and challenged by structural hurdles far beyond the control of invididuals.

Facing this impasse, what can we do, as researchers and teachers, in our individual work and in our institutions, beyond voicing the critique? This panel discussion invites panelists to dream big, through sharing their visions for more convivial spaces ​(Nyamnjoh 2017)​ in research and teaching, apt also at overcoming the artificiality of studying and teaching Africas as a separate entity. In addition to big ideas, we also welcome the sharing of small, practical, real-life steps towards this goal. Beyond engaging with the ’usual suspects’, those whose engagement with Africas is part of their (academic) identities, we aim at making this panel discussion relevant to all those who interested in making their research and teaching practices more global and inclusive. 


About the speakers

Andrea Butcher is a University Researcher in Sociology at the University of Helsinki with expertise in the social study of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Since 2018, she has worked with multidisciplinary teams in Benin and Burkina Faso to produce sociological and microbiological data on the pathways, hotspots and drivers of resistance, in order to better understand and manage the AMR challenge. She is particularly interested in how histories and economies of global development influence these resistance profiles, and in strengthening the capacities of West African social sciences to produce such knowledge.

Amanda Hammar is Professor of African Studies at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen. She is also President of the European African Studies Association (2019 to the present).  A Zimbabwean in exile, she has gradually embraced a trans-African sensibility that increasingly appreciates the comparative, or at least conversations across frontiers. She currently leads a large, multi-layered collaborative research project on the forms and implications of changing national identification regimes (ID systems) together with colleagues in Ghana and Uganda. She has previously worked mostly in Zimbabwe and published on questions of agrarian change, the Zimbabwe crisis, political economies of displacement, and urban politics and resettlement – almost always involving questions of state making and citizen making – as well as on ID certification more broadly and on African Studies.

Ananya Kabir is Professor of English Literature at King’s College London. Her research connects the cultural histories of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds through the concept of transoceanic creolisation, the methods of critical philology, and analysis of literary, material, and embodied cultural expressions. Between 2013-2018, she directed the ERC Advanced Grant funded project, ‘Modern Moves’, which investigated the history and global popularity of African diasporic social dances. Ananya has been awarded India’s Infosys Prize in the Humanities and Germany’s Humboldt Research Prize, and, in July 2023, elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Her new project, ‘Fort Creole’, examines Portuguese-Dutch fortified enclaves in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds and their postcolonial heritagization.

Jecinta Okumu holds a Ph.D. degree in medical Sociology from the university of Northumbria, (Newcastle,UK) and a Master’s degree in Sustainable development (Uppsala University, Sweden). Her research interests include young people, chronic illnesses, sex and sexuality; migration, globalisation, HIV/AIDS, SHRH, ethics in research and qualitative research methodologies in General. She currently works administratively as a research co-ordinator at the forum for Africa Studies - Uppsala University.

Dr. Clementine Nishimwe is a lecturer in the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Her academic specialization centers on Christian studies, with a research focus that spans migration, gender dynamics, the Anglican church, and Pentecostal churches. Driven by her commitment to amplifying the voices and perspectives of African migrants, particularly women, in theological conversations, her research framework is deeply rooted in African women's theologies. Furthermore, she maintains an interest in subjects related to conflict resolution and interreligious dialogue. Her research methodology comprises empirical approaches, with an emphasis on ethnographic theologies.

6. Decoloniality in teaching - launch of two study tracks

An afternoon packed with presentations on the theme of decoloniality in teaching, and inaugurating two new study tracks in the Language programme, will take place on November 2. Find out more here!

Register by October 26 if you are planning to attend. You are welcome to attend if you can't register in time, as well!