Ellah P. Wakatama: The 2021 Harriet Martineau Lecture

The Harriet Martineau Lecture celebrates the legacy of a remarkable, world-changing woman by inviting globally-renowned radical speakers to respond to her life and work. This year the National Centre for Writing welcomed Ellah P. Wakatama, literary critic and Editor-at-large for Canongate.

Ellah’s piece, titled “None but Ourselves,” takes you on a personal journey of self-discovery through reading and storytelling. Beginning in secondary school in 1980, the year Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, she interweaves the works of Doris Lessing, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Toni Morrison to explore the impact that the words and ideas of women writers have had on her life.

Ellah’s lecture will be accompanied by a stunning visual score from film-maker, visual artist and poet Julianknxx.

The first Harriet Martineau Lecture was delivered by Ali Smith in May 2013 and featured a call to draw Harriet Martineau’s face onto £5 notes in protest at the decision to remove Elizabeth Fry from the same note. Since then the likes of Kate Mosse, Masha Gessen, Linton Kwesi-Johnson, and Sarah Perry have given the lecture, variously exploring Martineau’s internationalism, inspiration for feminism, and role in the abolition of slavery.

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