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Asafo Flags: Stitches Through Time

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Gus Casely-Hayford traces the history of Asafo Flags, unique textiles from Ghana. He draws upon his own personal and historical perspectives to help us understand the lasting relevance of these cultural artefacts.

Featuring national symbols alongside local motifs, Asafo Flags conjure a vibrant past. Whilst flagging familial identity, they also served to signal existing military allegiances with arriving European forces in the 16th century. In 'a glorious defiance against time,' these flags provide 'a visual metaphor for what community could mean.'

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British historian Gus Casely-Hayford writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on African culture. He is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and a member of its Centre of African Studies Council. He also sits on the Board of the Caine Prize for African literature.

Born in London, Casely-Hayford was educated at SOAS, where he received his doctorate in African history and was later awarded an honorary fellowship. As director of 'Africa 05', he organized the largest African arts season in Britain with more than 150 venues hosting 1,000 events.

He has presented two series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC and wrote the companion book (2012). In 2017 Casely-Hayford wrote and presented a six-part television series for Sky Arts called Tate Britain: Great British Walks. He also advised on a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet, worked on a British Library exhibition about the African intellectual tradition and consulted on Tate Britain's 'Artist and Empire' exhibition. In the same year he delivered a Ted Global Talk on pre-colonial Africa.

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