What is "Black Orpheus"?

Black Orpheus is a "journal of African and Afro-American literature that began publication in Nigeria in 1957". Students of the University of Leeds found the archives of Nigerian literature during their research and invited Heritage Crew to take part in the reading and response of some of the poetry they found within the archives. The students wanted to focus on poetry written about the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War ("war between Nigeria's federal government and the secessionist state Biafra that lasted from 1967 to 1970.")



"I am a creative coordinator for Heritage Crew, a newly established organisation that focuses on creative engagement and the development of artistic skills for young people. Research, Response, and Representation is our structure, how we research this history, respond creatively, and represent or relay that work back into society so that we can create continuity.

I was given the task of working with my colleague, Cara-Mia, on the Black Orpheus Archives, a series of literary journals by Ullie Biere. The journal featured prominent Nigerian writers such as Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, and Biere himself; the writings focused on the Nigerian-Biafran War.

I found it insightful to read and research these archives and was particularly drawn to Christopher Okigbo’s poem, Come Thunder. The piece explores the themes of Loss and Nature and gives the reader a sense of foreshadowing as the writer is prophesising what is to come.

Come Thunder, inspired me to focus on the emotions behind the war but I also felt inclined to explore joy, hope, and ‘freedom’". 

Read Ginalda's response "The Sun and its Army" Here:

"We were invited by the liberal arts students to deliver a response to the materials and it was a joy working with Hannah and Ellie. There was a clear structure on how we were to delve into the poems and deliver, it was a pleasure to be part of the reading that evening.

If I could choose a word to describe my experience I would say it felt spiritual as I felt connected to the history and guided to do further investigation.

To any young person out there who would like to connect with archive material and merge their creativity, I would advise them to do so! There is so much that a creative outlet can add to uncovering these narratives and unpicking what has been left behind by these writers. The world is ours and ‘knowledge has a beginning, but no end’(Geeta Lyengar) so keep on learning, expanding, and using your skills to relay those stories so they live on and on."


What people are saying...

  • Really worthwhile and full of information. Love the use of performance to portray characters and bring history to life.
  • A brilliant walk which shares (African) history in a well-researched, knowledgeable way. We need more of this input in our schools.
  • This is the second time I've attended the walk and feel there is so much more to learn. Joe’s knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm mean I could easily stay for the whole day.
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