“Adult educationist whose anthology Two Centuries of African English helped transform approaches to literature in the continent.” Lyn Innes, The Guardian
It is with great sadness that the UKFIET community learned of the peaceful passing of Lalage Bown OBE, who died on 17 December 2021 aged 94, after a fall at her home.
Professor Emerita Angela Little, University College London (UCL) and UKFIET Trustee summarised her life achievements in a recent UCL article, Remembering Professor Emerita Lalage Bown, OBE:
Between 1949 and 1980 she lived and worked in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia, where she established programmes in adult and continuing education. She taught courses on African Arts and Literature and contributed greatly to the Africanisation of the curriculum, not least through the publication of her 1973 book ‘Two Centuries of African English’. She worked long and hard for the empowerment of women through the improvement of literacy opportunities in Africa and around the world. On her return to England in 1980 she took up a Visiting Fellowship at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex before her appointment to the University of Glasgow as Professor and Head of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, a position she held until her retirement in 1992.
However, ‘retirement’ was not a word that Lalage understood as something that might apply to herself. She continued to work tirelessly on local, national and international fronts until the very end of her life. She gave seminars world-wide even when ‘on holiday’. She maintained a keen interest in, inter alia, the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC), UKFIET and BAICE, was always pleased to help students and was especially delighted to be interviewed by them as part of their fieldwork. She shared her wisdom in a wholly supportive way. During the COVID lockdown, when she continued to live alone, she mastered ‘Zoom’ and engaged regularly in seminars and meetings. She entertained and impressed the many who conversed with her – her knowledge of world affairs was encyclopaedic, her love for books unabated and her support for others unstinted. She leaves a devoted family in Nigeria and England and a wide network of friends and colleagues.
Professor Angela Little and Professor Keith Lewin – who worked closely with Lalage across her career – have described her as “an indomitable spirit” who “shared her wisdom in a wholly supportive way”.
BAICE Chair Dr Tejendra Pherali and BAICE Vice-Chair Dr Alison Buckler commented in a BAICE article celebrating the life of Lalage:
She commanded attention when she spoke – most memorably for us when she sang the praises of the then BAICE President Professor Anna Robinson-Pant’s creative and interactive keynote at the 2019 UKFIET conference. Lalage demanded forcefully that the field of international and comparative education listen to Anna and pay more attention to issues of life-long-learning. This passion was one she had held for over 70 years, stemming from her early teaching experiences in West Africa where she became interested in women’s literacy.
Lalage’s family describe her as “a giant amongst women” and have set up an online page to share memories and photos.
Other extensive personal tributes have been added to the article from the Centre for Research & Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL), University of Glasgow.
Lalage will be missed at future UKFIET conferences.