Language performer takes students on cultural journey

A language and chant performer based in the USA was invited to speak to new students about cultural heritage as part of Black History Month Celebrations.

Amarachi Attamah, based in New York but hailing from Nigeria, is a performer and advocate for the sustainability of language and culture, particularly focused on the southeastern Nigerian language of Igbo.

She was invited by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) to share a presentation on ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ with new first year students across two days and facilitate some workshops surrounding the topic to include performative elements. These workshops begun the University’s schedule of events to celebrate Black History this month.

In the ever-changing landscape of the modern world, ‘Culture’ is a dynamic concept that gives meaning to peoples all over the planet. Amarachi asked students to consider how we can use art and performance to explore heritage, identity and what culture means to individuals.

Through exercises in drawing ‘what home meant to them’, moving their artworks and their bodies through the space, letting go and allowing artworks to change hands, new BA Fine Art students explored each other’s and their own cultures on the first day of their undergraduate degree.

Amarachi then worked with students of BA Advocacy, BA Sociology and MA Equity and Diversity in Society, engaging the students in interesting topical discussions and getting attendees to consider cultural heritage in the way they think about their studies moving forwards.

All students witnessed a powerful performance of Amarachi’s chanted Igbo poetry, which brought the room to a hushed silence and gave the audience goosebumps.

Caroline Thraves, Academic Director of Art and Media at UWTSD said: “At Swansea College of Art we take pride in providing students with diverse and varied learning opportunities, so we were delighted to welcome Amarachi from the United States in celebration of Black History Month in collaboration with Race Council Cymru.

“Amarachi’s work is highly significant, and as such, she has lectured at top American universities including Yale and Harvard. Swansea College of Art is ranked 1st in Wales and top ten in the UK for many of our programmes in the Guardian League Tables 2024 – an exceptional accolade which is achievable through providing students with memorable and thought-provoking experiences like this one. Thanks for sharing your culture with us, Amarachi.”

Professor Uzo Iwobi CBE, Vice President of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Professor of Practice at UWTSD said: “We were absolutely delighted to invite the brilliant, renown Igbo Chant Performer Amarachi Attamah to UWTSD, to share her unique and remarkable artistic and creative experiences with students.

“Recently, Amarachi completed a four-month performance fellowship with the British Royal National Theatre in the UK, performing in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and America. I’m delighted that Amarachi inspired the students with passion for creative expression in her native language Igbo, which will have a ripple effect into their own understanding of other languages and cultures.”