For me the best part of living and working in Birmingham through the last two decades has been the sense of being in a genuinely multi-cultural city which, at all sorts of levels, celebrates and cherishes that cultural diversity. Few other cities in Europe have embraced the fact of such an ethnic, linguistic, religious and more broadly cultural encounter with such enthusiasm and panache.
It is particularly appropriate that there should be a focus on African Studies in a city like Birmingham, and all of us working here try to contribute, in our various ways, to the celebration and critical contextualisation of the African and Caribbean aspects of the city’s cultural heritage.
I have always thought of my role as being, essentially, to ‘spread the word’ about a body of literary work – African and Caribbean fiction and poetry – that until relatively recently has not had much attention paid to it. All my teaching, critical writing, making of anthologies, public speaking, organising of conferences and performances, etc. is essentially just spreading the word and sharing the good fortune of being able to access, discuss and engage with this exciting and challenging body of literature.