About The Africa Centre
The Africa Centre is a London based charity dedicated to championing contemporary Africa and its diaspora through education, arts and culture. Our history is one of dynamism and change and we have a strong record of delivering exciting cultural programmes since the early days of our formation in the 1960s.
Over the years, we have hosted leading African artists, writers, academics, and musicians within our spaces. We have nurtured cross-cultural understanding and dialogue through music, art, poetry and literature etc. We are committed to continue bringing communities together by educating about, connecting to and advocating for Africa. We have ambitious plans for the future and are currently building our new headquarters in Southwark, London. We believe that despite the prevailing challenges, culture is still transformative and has a critical role to play in fostering resilience during these difficult times.
Developing a sense of belonging and acceptance through cultural celebration and education empowers us all. Our focus is on young people, we believe that culture enhances their social skills and makes the process of transitioning into adulthood more enjoyable. It is with this in mind that we are launching the ‘Education Through Culture’ fundraising campaign.
Our campaign was inspired by a successful pilot project with Borough Academy in Southwark in October 2020. Students learned about the traditional Mbira instrument from Zimbabwe and the workshop was delivered by Gabriel ‘Sekuru’ Makamanzi, a renowned mbira player.
Our ambition is to now expand our vision and deliver similar workshops to more schools across London. To achieve that, we need your support!
What The Africa Centre Needs
We need your support to help us expand our network of creative talent in order to extend our reach across the city’s schools. The pandemic has had an adverse impact on the creative sector, so we want to be able to support and fairly compensate the artists that we work with. Without them, our work is not possible. We also need to purchase more traditional African music instruments for the students to practice and learn with. The support we will receive will also go towards production of digital content so that our workshops can also be delivered digitally.
Why this project?
We want to share the richness and diversity of African culture and heritage through fun and interactive activities. This is important because studies show that cultural appreciation and awareness positively influences young people's self-esteem. Artistic and cultural activities offer opportunities for social engagement, enjoyment, learning, and self-actualisation.
Unfortunately, changes in the school curriculum have reduced access to music for young people and one of the repercussions of the pandemic has been a reduction in the participation in the arts for young people, particularly in deprived areas. Evidence from the House of Lords (2018), demonstrates that music curriculum is optional in 48.4% of schools in England, and the rest offer no music provision.
Our aim is to connect with schools and community groups that are keen to explore diverse ways of creative expression. Through our Education Through Culture campaign, we offer a great opportunity to enhance the existing curriculum and excite young people with something new and original.
Our African art and culture workshops will be an effective tool for teachers and group leaders to widen young people’s understanding of the world, particularly Africa.
We also understand that music is beneficial to well-being and provides an outlet for stress and worry. In these challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s an even greater need to ensure that young people are supported. We hope to play our part by collaborating with African musicians, poets and artists etc. to deliver authentic cultural experiences that broaden the horizons for young people.
When will this take place?
The sessions will be spread across one school term starting in September 2021.