Blue Plaque for James Viscount Bryce

Blue Plaque for James Viscount Bryce
Unveiling the plaque to James Viscount Bryce at 13 Chichester Street, Belfast on Friday 10 May 2013

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Blue plaque for Dr Raphael Ernest Grail Armattoe

Date: 28 September 2012
Location: 7 Northland Road, Londonderry
Time: 12 noon

The weather cleared and the sun shone on the family and friends of Dr Armattoe. They had gathered to honour his life and achievements.

Gathering for the ceremony
Sean Nolan, Secretary of the Ulster History Circle, welcomed Mayor Kevin Campbell, MP Mark Durkan and other guests to this celebration of the life and remarkable achievements of Dr Armattoe. Dr Armattoe's son, Stanley Armattoe, had come from London to be present as had other members and representatives of the African and Caribbean communities. He thanked Philippa Robinson for proposing the plaque and working closely with the Circle in planning the event and Garvan O'Doherty for allowing the plaque to be erected on the headquarters of his Company and for his contribution towards the cost of the plaque and hosting the reception later.

Cllr. Kevin Campbell, Mayor
Cllr. Kevin Campbell, Mayor of Derry City, having welcomed everyone to the City gave a brief resume of Dr Armattoe's life and commended his work in his adopted City as well as his literary and international efforts. He thanked the Ulster History Circle and Philippa Robinson for their work in honouring Dr. Armattoe and adding his story to "the rich and varied history of our city". 

Philippa Robinson spoke of the broad sweep of Dr. Armattoe's interests and concerns, encompassing all of humanity. It was fitting that the plaque was erected in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth. 

Stanley Armattoe unveils his father's plaque
After James King had read one of Dr Armattoe's poems, Requiem, Stanley Armattoe thanked the Circle for this tribute to his father. He said the plaque was a remarkable acknowledgement of his father's impact on the people of Derry and of the positive part played by African people in the life and culture of the City and of Northern Ireland.

Later, at a reception in Da Vinci's Hotel there was an opportunity for further contributions about Dr Armattoe's achievements.

Alfred Abolarin
Alfred Abolarin
Alfred Abolarin, Manager of the African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland, said that this was a significant and symbolic milestone in the history of the Irish African community in Northern Ireland. The life and work of Dr. Armattoe proved that Africans can and have contributed to civic society in the Province. For too long the perception of African people had been one of negativity. However, today the Ulster History Circle, by this plaque, was sending a different message; a message of equality and protection of human rights, a message of inclusivity, of hope and of positive change.

Elly Omondi Odhiambo
Elly Omondi Odhiambo said that his first encounter with the famous name of Armattoe was when he had been doing research at Magee and had difficulty finding anything about African people in the West of the province. There had been anti-slavery Africans who visited Ireland, such as Frederick Douglas and Olaudah Equiano. Armattoe was trying to defeat discrimination through his writing and his great book about West African civilisation in which he had set out to refute the Western view that African art and culture was simplistic. It was a pity that his work was not taken seriously because he died at such a young age. It was gratifying to note however that a lot of people were now interested in writing about him. 

Felicia Okoriji
Felicia Okoroji, read two of Armattoe's poems, 'Our God is Black' and 'They Say'
Rachel Naylor
Rachel Naylor, based in the University of Ulster at Magee said that she had done quite a lot of work in the area where Armattoe was born. She was sure that people in that part of Ghana and across the border in Togo would be very proud that this honour had been given to a person from that area and she hoped that they would get to know about it.

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