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People

We've captured the stories of people influencing the African cultural scene in London. 
 

Advisory Group

The Africa in London Advisory Group are a collective leadership, creating opportunities and advocating for African cultural production. We meet up to ten times a year to discuss the vision of the programme. The group was set up in September 2018 and is chaired by the Greater London Authority.

 

Southbank Centre are also represented on the Africa in London Advisory Group

arike oke
Arike Oke is Managing Director for Black Cultural Archives and has worked in the heritage sector for over 15 years. This includes Birmingham’s Connecting Histories project, building Wellcome Collection’s archive, and co-convening Hull’s first Black History Month. She’s a board member for the National Archives’ Unlocking Archives initiative and a fellow of the Arts Council’s Museums and Resilient Leadership programme.
@Arike_Oke @bcaheritage

 

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Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, FRSA is Director at The Africa Centre. Kenneth has over 35 years professional experience in the arts and culture sector. He began his career as a dancer and had a 25-year career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and director. From 2007 to 2016, he was Chief Executive of The Place, the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development. He became Director of The Africa Centre in May 2018 at its new home in Southwark. In 2003, Kenneth was made an OBE, and in June 2017 a CBE. Both in recognition of his services to dance.
@KennethTharp  @TheAfricaCentre

 

mark
Mark Higham was Interim Director of the Africa Centre in London (2016-18), helping to formulate the plans for refurbishing the Centre’s new home and secure capital funding as well as developing the Africa Centre Summer Festival across 10 streets in Southwark. Mark has raised £190m for projects and organisations that he has set up during his career including Ocean in Hackney which had a majority BAME music programme and Rising Tide music education charity that has helped tens of thousands of at-risk young people. Mark has a background in cultural venues and events that have staged performances from artists as diverse as James Brown, Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Lee Scratch Perry, Brand New Heavies, Orchestra Baobab, Sean Paul, Röyksopp, So Solid Crew, Nitin Sawhney, Wiyaala and Outkast.

 

Princess Ronke Ademiluyi
Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is an annual event of African and African-inspired fashion & culture.  Founded in 2011 by Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, AFWL nurtures and promotes emerging design talent; connects a new generation to an African narrative, focused on fashion, design and media.  AFWL has showcased over 800 emerging designers & exhibitors to almost 70,000 visitors including buyers, retailers, influential industry professionals. A new arm of AFWL is growing a significant online presence which includes webinars, masterclasses and plans for a virtual showroom.  Fuelled by the lack of retail space, production factories and start-up funds, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi is on a mission to bring African fashion to the forefront of the global fashion world. Under her supervision, organizations like the KwaZulu Natal Fashion Council, The Nigerian Export Promotion Council, The Seychelles Creative Enterprise and The Trade & Investment South Africa have all used the AFWL platform to showcase their creative talents.
@africafwl @afwlondon

 

shelie ruiz
Sheila Ruiz is Deputy Director at the Royal African Society. She joined the RAS in September 2011 as Events Programme Manager and helped set up Africa Writes in 2012. Beforehand, Sheila was Communications and Programming Consultant for the Africa Centre. She previously worked as a freelance events producer for various arts projects in London. Sheila holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS and a BA in History from UCL. She is of mixed Spanish/Equato-Guinean heritage and is bilingual in Spanish and English. 
@SheilaRuiz @royafrisoc

 

 

yemisi mokuolou
Yemisi Mokuolu is a creative industries consultant and independent producer. She founded HATCH in 2002 as HATCH Events to raise the profile of African arts and artists. In 2006, she expanded the company’s remit to include business support and professional development.  Her aim was to better support sustainability for African culture. Today HATCH has evolved into HATCH Ideas, supporting brilliant people and organisations to get their cultural projects off the ground. Her focus is on developing funding and financing options to better serve Africa’s rapidly growing creative economy. She has also worked as a consultant for Arts Council England, British Council, Creative Skillset, Goethe and Institut français.  Yemisi produced the Africa in London mentoring pilot programme in 2019.
@ideasHatch @findingyemisi

 

zezi ifore
Zezi Ifore is a broadcaster and consultant specialising in arts projects and focusing on creating change in the cultural sector.  Her clients include Tate Modern, Prada and London Design Festival. Zezi has contributed to publications including i-D, Dazed and Confused, the Guardian and Metro. She also presents and produces cultural documentaries for BBC World Service. In addition, she is a resident on London’s NTS Radio, interviewing artists from across the African diaspora for her show Palm Wine Club. Zezi is passionate about access to opportunity in the arts and sits on several cultural boards. This includes as a trustee with Multitrack - an initiative working with the BBC and leading independent production companies to make radio more representative. Zezi produced and hosted the Africa in London launch event in May 2019. 
@zeziifore

Culture Seeds Awardees

In 2019, Africa in London worked with the Culture Seeds grants programme to award six projects with £24,000 - platforming African cultural production in London.

 

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Ade Banjoko is a director of Parents Action and Resource Centre. PARC is an independent community organisation that was established in 2016 to work with parents in addressing the inequalities that exist in education. Over the last four years, PARC has led and collaborated in a number of different activities including advising local authorities on closing the attainment gap, providing training for parents and community organisations on preventing school exclusion and supporting schools in inclusive curriculum development. Outside of his work with PARC, Ade has worked in the higher education sector managing advice services. He has also previously worked in the legal field in the area of education and immigration law. @UK_PARC 
Culture Seeds Project: Telling Our Stories; young people’s literature, spoken word and film  

 

anna nije

Anna Njie Is the managing director of ANEMP & CO SOLUTIONS and the founder of the Go Africa Cultural Festival and Fashion4Africa project showcase. She is an event management consultant, who has coordinated several international summits and conferences: including the African Union Summit in Gambia in 2006 and International Roots Festival in 2008, to open doors to the Diaspora for business opportunities. She succeeded twice putting together partners to enhance the contribution of the African Diaspora in African Development, by organising The African Foundation for Development’s (AFFORD) participation in Global Enterprise Week (GEW), African Women In Business and Creative Industries contribution to African Development.
Culture Seeds Project: The Go Africa Festival; Festival featuring African visual arts and music.

 

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Gbemisola Isimi is the CEO and Founder of CultureTree. She is an online broadcaster of educational, culturally relevant content for children of African heritage. Gbemisola is passionate about preserving her heritage. She believes children should be proud of and excited by their culture. In 2018, she launched a community-based hub CultureTree Centre in Peckham. It produces animated Yoruba nursery rhymes and the ‘Yoruba Stars’ series for children. It also offers face to face and online Yoruba classes, Yoruba rhyme-time classes, arts and crafts workshops and specially curated events. 
Culture Seeds Project: Paper to Screen; An animation project for young people who speak both English and Yoruba. 

 

Swakara Atwell Bennett
Swakara Atwell Bennett is founder of the artist network BetterShared. Frustrated by the fact that African and Caribbean artists were largely underrepresented in the art world, Swakara Atwell-Bennett launched the BetterShared platform to provide a space for emerging artists of the African diaspora. Since it's inception Swakara has spent time getting to know the work of more than 200 talented artists, who form the BetterShared global artist network. Connecting this Network to brands and buyers to deliver bespoke events, authentic campaigns and commissions.
Culture Seeds Project: African Art Shared; Art, photography exhibition and workshops by local artists

 

vanessa
Vanessa Kanaiza Onalo is an East African Creative based in East London and the founder of Kanaiza Gallery. Kanaiza Gallery is a leading curated digital gallery and discovery platform for black artists, creatives, visionaries and muses from across the International Diaspora. Kanaiza merges the worlds of Art, Culture, Community & Storytelling and has attracted a global community of over 45,000 artists and art lovers. Kanaiza exists to connect and enable dialogue between the creative diaspora community with local and global audiences.
Culture Seeds Project: No Shoes on my Carpet; immersive exhibition highlighting African living room culture

 

Sistah Space works with African heritage women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse and those who have lost a loved one to domestic violence. Survivors are from many different sections of the African & Caribbean community, including the Rastafarian/ grassroots who are often on the fringes of society. As well as advice and support, they provide practical help by providing hygiene products and other essential items. Much of which have been donated by the local community.
Culture Seeds Project: Dolls Like Me

Mentees

In 2019, Africa in London launched a pilot mentoring scheme with 7 mentees connected with mentors from; Africa Writes, BOP Consulting, GLA, British Museum, Sugar Films, Black Females in Architecture, Create Arts.

 

Adjoa
Adjoa B. Anyimadu worked at Chatham House as an Africa Programme Research Associate analysing East African politics​​​​​ after an internship in Ghana’s parliament. She later moved to the Royal Society as programme manager of the Africa Capacity Building Initiative. There she supported research teams from the UK and 20 African countries to advance new scientific ideas to bolster African development. Adjoa’s ambition is to blend creativity and digital innovation to create a greater public understanding and engagement with government policy.

 

 

Afua Nkansah-Asamoah
Afua Nkansah-Asamoah is empowered by social action and has engaged in initiatives to advocate the end of extreme poverty, youth violence and violence against women. She is a curatorial researcher on Ashanti Gold at the Wallace Collection and is a Young Producer at the William Morris Gallery. She aims to become a barrister specialising in art law and African art, focusing on cultural items from the colonial era. Her vision is to teach the young African diaspora their history and its impact on their identity.

 

 

 

Kojo
Kojo Kamara is a writer, actor and filmmaker. His credits include 'There She Goes S2' (BBC2) ‘The Charlatans’ (TV), ‘Misfits’ (E4), and ‘King Lear’ (National Theatre). As a writer, he was shortlisted for the ‘Royal Court Writers Group’ and works for the charity InterACT Stroke Support. His aim is to become a published playwright developing stories for TV/cinema/stage which celebrate unheard voices from his African heritage. These will be fresh and unpologetic, showcasing the 'light and shade of Africa'.

 

 

 

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Sara Dos Santos is an award-winning choreographer, movement director and cultural professional. She uses various dance styles, cultural influences and international experiences in her work which has been called engaging, thought-provoking and emotional. Often highlighting current social and political affairs, it has been seen at The Place, Sadler’s Wells and Stratford Circus. Her aim is to work within cultural policy and international cultural relations to provide more accessible and inclusive arts and cultural opportunities.

 

 

sara
Stephanie Turner is an artist who uses creativity to empower people. She devises and delivers arts programmes to develop creative communities, improve mental wellbeing and nurture connection. She trains teachers, youth workers, artists and activists to use creativity to engage the imagination in schools and informal learning environments. Stephanie is now starting up a creative enterprise so young people can explore, expand and develop their creative potential.  

 

 

 

 

yasmin
Yasmin Idris is an architecture graduate and founder of culturally innovative design brand MaybeArt. There she creates content which explores the combination of art and architecture and inspires students and creatives to think differently. Yasmin aims to develop a unique evolving creative powerhouse that is proud of its African heritage. She wants to create a fresh design aesthetic for Nigeria, raise mental health awareness and engage young black creatives through exhibitions and events.

 

 

 

Yosola
Yosola Olorunshola's professional experience has always focused on a passion for writing and a belief in the power of stories to inspire change. She currently works as the website and digital officer for the Museums Association. This role combines her passion of art and culture with a commitment to social justice. She is also writing a novel and aims to lead a cultural centre using the arts for social impact. 

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