I have been overwhelmed by the love and kindness of well wishers since the announcement of my Chancellorship at The University of Manchester. Please forgive me that I can’t reply to each one of thousands of messages via facebook twitter and email. I wish I could. But I have read every single one. I must thank the Alumni and The General Assembly of The University of Manchester. They are the voting constituency.
Firstly thanks to my good friend Dave Haslam. Thanks to Vikas Shah and Andy Spinoza for believing in me. Thanks to Ellen Mclaughlin and everyone at The Students Union for nominating me. Thanks to Dean Brocklehurst of Rubber Goat Films for shooting the video for free. Thanks to my fellow candidates Lord Peter Mandelson and Sir Mark Elder. We three will contribute to the future of The University of Manchester.
A friend of mine is a Mancunian Rastafarian musician and caretaker. His name is Kwasi Asante. Many years ago he shared this quote with me “Reach for the top of the tree and you get to the first branch but reach for the stars and you get to the top of the tree”.
I am the boy who walked barefoot from the children homes of Lancashire to Manchester in search of knowledge. Harry Potter was a foster child like me. But of the thousands of “looked after children” in popular culture it is a heroine whom I most adore – Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She was fostered adopted and institutionalized.
About me: My name “Lemn” means why in Amharic. Why is an unusual name in any language. Another thing: When University of Manchester offered me an Honorary Doctorate earlier this year neither of us knew that I would be the Chancellor at the same ceremony. The ceremony is on October 14th 2015.
Tonight I will be speaking at the achievement awards of young people in care (now called “looked after” children) at The University of Bedfordshire. On Saturday I fly to Washington DC where I will be at The Library of Congress. I will speak as a poet but also as the future Chancellor of The University of Manchester. The journey continues.
Top: at Emirates Literature Festival 2015 in Dubai by then at the town hall in Derry londonderry, then discussing our childhood for BBC wiht a fellow care leaver, then at The Launch of the steve mccurry exhibition People and Places, and finally at University of Huddersfield standing in for chancellor Patrick Stewart.