Dr. Robin Edward Poulton, author, international mediator, and founder of the Virginia Friends of Mali (VFOM) spoke with some of Ms. Surat’s, Ms. Dwelle’s, and Dr. Ericson’s classes on Friday, October 1. Dr. Poulton lectured in preparation for the visit by a Malian Delegation for Friday, October 8. At that time, he will serve as a translator.
A citizen of the international community, Dr. Poulton was reared in Nigeria and Mali, attended boarding school in the UK, and now maintains a residence in Mali. Intent on creating a realistic picture of Mali and of Africa in general, Dr. Poulton provided a rich overview of Malian history from the Kingdom of Sundiata ( the real “Lion King”) in 1235 CE to the present time. His talk also included a discussion of current triumphs and challenges for the culture and the ties between Mali and Richmond from slavery to today.
Dr. Poulton began the VFOM in order to strengthen the connections between Segou, Mali and its sister city of Richmond. Articulate and engaging, he brought history to life when he mentioned landmarks within walking distance of the Maggie Walker Governor’s School. For example, Virginia Union University’s land was once home to a community of freed slaves who named the space “Goree” after the island that was the last bit of their homeland seen before being taken as slaves to America. Another example was the Virginia Commonwealth University parking lot at Broad and Fifteenth Streets that had once been a sacred burial ground for slaves, many of whom came from Mali.
On October 10, Sunday, Dr. Poulton, the Mayor of Mali, and others in the delegation will conduct a prayer service at the VCU parking lot to acknowledge those ancestors, many of whom have descendants living in Richmond today. All are invited. Please contact Ms. Surat for details (firstname.lastname@example.org).