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

Kofi Kusitor MBE - Founder, Colorful Radio

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I am Kofi Kusitor MBE, founder of the multi-platform broadcast brand, Colourful.

Our heritage title, Colourful Radio, has been at the heart of the black-British community for nearly 20 years. It’s the only 24/7 commercial radio station here dedicated to celebrating Africa and its diaspora. We probably support more African-focused events, large and small across London, than any other media in the UK. We also partner with brands to create authentic, out-of-the-box dialogues with a difference.

I am also marketing lead for the Violent Crime Prevention Board (VCPB). It is led by Dr Neville Lawrence OBE (father of Stephen Lawrence) and Dr Angela Herbert. Neville was inspired by Stephen’s legacy to create VPCB (@VCP_UK). It works with young people, our communities and the police to address and prevent violent crime. 

Finally, I sit on the Africa In London (#AfricaLDN) group at City Hall. We want to make people more aware of African-focused events in London.

I work with groups like The Africa Centre (@TheAfricaCentre) to support Africans here and anyone who has an interest in Africa. I also support Amref (@AMREF_UK), Africa's leading health charity. They mainly work to improve the health of women and girls in some of Africa's most vulnerable and remote communities.

How have African cultures shaped what I do? Well, Africa is part of me as I was born on the continent. Everything I do must surely have some African influence. That is why it’s so pleasing to see all things Africa in art, fashion, music, cinema, theatre etc. here in London. I imagine African culture taking over London in the same way that Chinese culture has in Chinatown.  We haven't even started to scratch the surface of Africa’s diversity.

Kofi Kusitor MBE

Kofi was one of the UK’s first internet coders and webmasters in 1996. In the same year, he founded The Colourful Network (TCN). It consisted of Black Britain Online (the UK’s first African Caribbean focused web portal), Black Enterprise UK, and Black Enterprise Awards.  In 1998, Kofi joined AOL Europe as producer, where he built their ‘Black Britain’ area from scratch. In 2002, he founded Colourful Radio, now the UK’s leading African-Caribbean focused commercial radio service. In 2006, he received an MBE for Services to Business.

Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato - Founder, Open the Gate

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My name is Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato and I am the founder and director of Open the Gate, one of the most active community organisations in London. Our aim is to promote a positive, contemporary image of African & Diaspora arts, fashion, music and cultures in London and the UK. I have always been surrounded by creative people (many of African and Caribbean origin) but when I first arrived in London, it became clear to me that there was a lack of venues or opportunities to support the huge pool of largely unrecognised creative talent from Africa and the diaspora.

It became my mission to create a space for such talent to be discovered by the public. So together with my partner Eric, we created Open the Gate. Our vision was for Open the Gate to be above all, an inclusive platform. So, we started putting on concerts, fairs, events, even a pop-up cultural centre, for all. 

We wanted to encourage all art forms – music, fashion and design, dance, storytelling, spoken word and more – and to make the experience as participatory as possible for the audience. This also means, bringing together different cultural backgrounds - new and traditional - featuring artists from Madagascar to Jamaica, passing by Ghana, Tanzania, Morocco, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Kenya, Somalia, Algeria and many more.

Fundamentally, we wanted to trigger conversation, exchange.

Open the Gate soon started to be known for being the ‘people’s place’ and event after event, gig after gig, encounter after encounter, we saw arts evolving, fusing, and creating a very unique flavour of African music and fashion in London. We are so proud to be part of this cultural movement, and very curious to see how it will continue to evolve.

Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato

Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato is a designer and event organiser, driven by innovation and social change. A sharp and driven individual, she's passionate about people and making lives better, easier, happier, through the creative arts and cultural exchange.

In 2009, she founded Open the Gate with her partner Eric, with the aim to promote a positive and contemporary image of Africa and offer a platform to artists and musicians from the underground scene.

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