As a first year law student in October 2018, Wanipa Ndhlovu went along to Cambridge University’s African Caribbean Society Motherland Conference not knowing what to expect.
Fast forward a year and Wanipa is President of ACS, spearheading an expanded event, teaming with familiar faces from music, theatre, the media, business and the public sector.
Among those taking part in Motherland Conference: Heritage on Saturday 19 October are British Grime artist Wretch 32, designer-entrepreneur William Adoasi, journalist Claudia-Liza Armah, George the Poet, theatre director Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Strawberries & Creem festival co-founder Preye Crooks.
Also speaking will be scientist Yewanda Biala, of Love Island fame, lawyers Akima Paul Lambert and Kyle Williams, and public health director Dr Lincoln Sargent.
Ticket sales are up and Wanipa expects the Union Society building will be buzzing come Saturday.
Remembering the conference last year she said:
There was an atmosphere in the room, when we were listening to Ozwald Boateng in particular, I felt so empowered and lucky – and happy – to be where I was. That is what sparked me to run for President.
It’s role Wanipa has dived into, getting involved in a raft of activities and campaigns aimed at supporting black students at Cambridge and encouraging others to apply. She’s enthusiastic and serious.
This year’s Motherland Conference embraces a broader array of perspectives and experiences than the inaugural event, which focused on Africans and the continent.
‘This year we were keen to get some black British narratives because I think it is more realistic to see people like Wretch 32 who have grown up in London and have similar backgrounds to most of our members. There is a need to highlight Caribbean narratives, which have been sidelined historically,’ says Wanipa, who grew up in York and is of Zambian heritage.
ACS now has a Caribbean Officer, whose role is support Caribbean students welfare and celebrate Caribbean culture – and Vice President is Nathania Williams, a Trinity history student in her third year, who comes from Manchester and is of Jamaican heritage.
Asked what she hopes the conference will help achieve, Wanipa said: ‘I hope that it will inspire our current members that regardless of your background, regardless of where you had your start in life, the possibilities are endless.’
When the doors open on Saturday and George the Poet recites a new work written especially for the event, Wanipa hopes the 2019 conference will also be ‘an amazing celebration of Black History Month.’
The 2019 Motherland Conference: Heritage takes place on Saturday 19 October, 9am-3.30pm and is open to any UK student. Tickets are £10 for ACS members and £15 for non members. Book here.