Remembering Emeritus Professor Lalage Bown, OBE
By CEID Blogger, on 4 January 2022
Emerita Professor Lalage Bown OBE died on December 17th, 2021, aged 94, after a fall at her home in Shrewsbury. Lalage was known to us in CEID in many ways. She was a regular speaker at EID events and joined us as a Visiting Fellow during the 1997/98 academic year. During that year she presented a special EID lecture on Literacy, Gender and Development. The lecture, described as ‘analytical and inspiring’ by Miriam Mutesva, one of our MA students, provoked much discussion about power hierarchies and language (see page 21). Over the years, Lalage was an external examiner of the work of our MA and PhD students and a critical friend to staff and students alike.
As the many tributes to her long life and work attest, her influence extended well beyond our Institute. 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.
Angela W Little
Professor Emerita, CEID