The EBASI Ghana Eclipse Conference: March 27 - 31, 2006


The EBASI Ghana Eclipse Conference brought together scholars, students, and teachers interested in the cultural astronomy of Africans. Cultural astronomy is the study of people and the sky in the broadest sense, more familiar terms may be archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy. The focus of cultural astronomy research is first people and then the sky. Whereas astronomy focuses solely on the sky.

What was so special about the conference? It was the first conference focused exclusively on African cultural astronomy. It had a unique format that included the training of students and workshops for K12 educators. It coincided with a total solar eclipse. The conference was the results of a collaboration between Africans and African American scientists mostly physicists and astronomers, members of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and the Edward Bouchet Abdus Salam Institute (EBASI).

University of Cape Coast announced the reinstatement of astronomy during the conference see the Accra Mail article through Lexus Nexus. Reuter's reporter Orla Ryan interviewed Felix Chami and others about the eclipse. See her article: Eyes to the Sky. Most of the other articles take quotes from her's. Many of the conference participants were interviewed by Globe Trekker's Michael Rubens, which aired on the Discovery Channel. Eclipse Chasers: Ghana In addition, one of our participants, Nana O. Ayim, created a film about her experience Crossover.

The Eclipse Film

Morehouse College and CNN created a film on the day of the eclipse showing the total solar eclipse and the response of the crowd at the University of Cape Coast. These days nearly every total eclipse is captured on film and steamed live back to audiences in the United States. The Exploratorium in San Francisco and NASA's Sun Earth Connect are the big boys in this area. You can see their eclipse broadcasts at Solar Eclipse and at Eclipse in a Different Light. These films are created and edited live. We were unable to stream live but uploaded the film to CNN the same day of the eclipse. The Ghana Eclipse Film is not very polished but it is groundbreaking. Comparing our film to other eclipse coverage in Africa we include a woman host (me), African and African American scientists, and cultural astronomy researchers. Dr. Herbert Charles of Morehouse College's Media Arts is the visionary behind the film and the primary host. He includes interviews that he did with fishermen in Elmina in the film. I reedited the film to include some of the speakers names as subtitles.

The webcast sponsored by Morehouse College and CNN: Eclipse Movie . Smaller Size .

What is Next?

We have finished a book on African Cultural Astronomy. It blurs the line between textbook and edited volume because it includes lessons on what a beginning student needs to know to do cultural astronomy research in Africa and includes the research papers presented at the conference. It is in publication and should be available in 2008. The book contributes to our current understanding of African indigenous science, anthropology of science, and is ideal for those interested in African and African American history. It is now available to pre-order on!!!

Through the generosity of one of our sponsors, the entire conference was filmed and we are currently raising funds to complete the editing to create a DVD box set. Also, we are fundraising for the African Cultural Astronomy Project. This project supports the research of scholars and students, and will support their travel to international conferences. See .

Johnson Urama and Felix Chami are planning the next conference to be held in Tanzania. No date has been set, yet. The scholars are working to provide more opportunities for students to receive training in doing cultural astronomy research in Africa.

The Final Program Schedule

Monday, March 27, 2006

9:00 am Official Welcome
9:30 am Opening Paper: Overview of the History of African Cultural Astronomy Research-Jarita Holbrook, NSBP and The University of Arizona
10:30 am Coffee Break
11:00 am Workshop I & II
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm The Qibla and Urban Morphology: Alignments in Muslim North Africa-Michael Bonine, University of Arizona
3:00 pm Astronomy and Culture of Nigeria-Johnson Urama, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:30 pm The Astronomy of the Nabta Playa-Kim Malville, University of Colorado; Presented by Clive Ruggles
5:30 pm Cosmic Africa - A film produced by Anne Roger

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

9:00 am Workshop I & II
12:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Evidence for Ancient African Beliefs in Celestial Bodies-Felix Chami, University of Dar es Salaam
3:00 pm The Timbuctu Science Project-Thebe Medupe, University of Cape Town
4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:30 pm The Borana and Mursi Calendars-Clive Ruggles, University of Leicester
5:30 pm Walking Backwards-A film by Caroline Deeds, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Total Solar Eclipse

1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Welcome and Purpose-Hakeem Oluseyi, University of Alabama, Huntsville.
2:15 pm Opportunities in Solar Physics 1: Explosive Atmospheric Phenomena, Alphonse Sterling, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
3:00 pm Astronomy and Astrophysics in Nigeria, Johnson Urama, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
3:30 pm Astronomy and Astrophysics in South Africa, Thebe Medupe, University of Cape Town
4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:30 pm Opportunities in Solar Physics 2: Quiescent Atmospheric Phenomena, Hakeem Oluseyi, University of Alabama
5:00 pm Development of Space Science Research in Nigeria, Oluyumiwa Oke, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology
5:30 pm Astronomy and Physics in Ghana, Samuel Mensah, University of Cape Coast

Thursday, March 30, 2006

9:00 am Workshop III
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Pedagogical Issues in Africana Education: The Integration of Dogon Astronomy and Culture in K-12 Classrooms-Arletha Livingston, Georgia State University
3:00 pm The Relationship Between Human Destiny and the Cosmic Forces: A Study of the Igbo World View-Barth Chukwesi, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:30 pm Astronomy and Divination among the Igbo of Nigeria-Damian Opata, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
5:30 pm Workshops Summary

Friday, March 31, 2006

9:00 am Workshop III
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm The Degree Program in Cultural Astronomy-Nick Campion, Bath Spa University.
3:00 pm De la cosmologie a la rationalisation de la vie sociale : Ces mots idaacha qui parlent ou la memoire d'un type de calendrier yoruba ancien, Aime Segla, Martin-Luther University.
4:00 pm Coffee Break.
4:30 pm The First Conference on African Cultural Astronomy Highlights and Summary.

This WEB page created by J. C. Holbrook. Last updated in 2007.