Ghanaian drummer invited to teach at York is denied entry to Canada

A university lecturer and musician from Ghana invited through a Canada Council grant to teach at York University and perform has been refused a visitor’s visa, say the people trying to bring him here, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 7.

Francis Kofi Akotuah, a 31-year-old who has taught at the University of Ghana, Legon, for 11 years and is married with two small children, was denied entry because immigration officials concluded he was at risk to stay here, didn’t have strong enough ties to Ghana and didn’t have an adequate travel history or income.

“The government supports us with one hand and takes it away with another,” said Larry Graves, a lecturer and musician in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who won the $3,000 arts grant to create a month of programming around Akotuah. The Ghanaian master drummer was to visit Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Graves, whose band Mr. Something Something has been nominated for a Juno award, met Akotuah while in Africa. He plans to make another appeal to authorities on Akotuah’s behalf, armed with more documents and a letter from NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow. Akotuah has a permanent university job and a return ticket.

Madona Mokbel, spokesperson for the Ontario region of Citzenship and Immigration Canada, said, “Thousands of people each year are admitted to participate in events hosted in Canada. Our visa officers work to ensure that all visitors will leave Canada voluntarily at the end of their authorized stay.”

York hosts first global motherhood conference

It may be a mouthful, but York University is hosting a first-ever global conference this month, wrote the North York Mirror Oct. 6. The Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) at York is organizing the inaugural International Conference on the Motherhood Movement called “You Say You Want a Revolution?: The Motherhood Movement of the 21st Century.”

The seminar is part of ARM’s larger 12th annual Mothering, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice conference, which features 140 reports, 35 sessions and seven keynote panels. The conference runs from Oct. 23 to 26 at York’s McLaughlin College.

Erotica helped liberate disabled grad student

Minority women are creating their own explicit material, wrote The Daily News (Kamloops, BC) Oct. 7 in an article on pornography. Social activist Loree Erickson finds pornography liberating. The disabled PhD student at York University became tired of being defined by her wheelchair.

Erickson’s self-image of hopelessness and undesirability plagued her for decades until she discovered her latent sexuality. It wasn’t until a friend took sexy nude pictures of her that she saw an image of herself that she actually liked. “I like hot, dirty pictures of myself. It was liberating for me.”

Laxer says both McCain and Obama face pressures

The future role of the US isn’t just a matter for Americans, reported CBC News correspondent Adrienne Arsenault in a report Oct. 6. Not surprisingly, a Canadian joins the conversation: James Laxer, political science professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies who, as it happens, has written extensively on the fate of superpowers.

Laxer: I don’t really think it’s going to make much difference whether Obama or McCain gets elected. I think the pressures on both of them are going to be to make the kinds of choices that empires and great powers have had to make in the past and decide to leave places that they can no longer stay in.

On air

  • Robert MacDermid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the federal election on Toronto’s AM640 Radio Oct. 5.
  • Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the federal election on Barrie’s ATV News Oct. 6.