Member of the Month // African Activities
By Kwame Bakoji-Hume, Founder of African Activities
I’m sure we are all used to our children coming home from school with weird and fanciful views on their learning for the day. This is how African Activities CIC was born, my eldest son returned from school dishevelled by the weight of poverty, violent oppression of women and starvation for all. I gently reminded him that he had been to Ghana, he knew his matriarchal aunties and loved the food. It’s not that Africa is without poverty or oppression, it’s just that is was a story being half told. My daughter swiftly followed with drumming lessons, we proudly attended the showcase event and sat in silence as my child sang words she knew were mispronounced and inaccurately translated whilst drumming on a drum so large it was impossible for her to hold and play it correctly.
So as a result of these experiences we began slowly entering schools to share our culture and history with positive messages to provide a more balanced and nuanced world view. I come from a traditional drumming family in Buipe and was sponsored to attend the Ghanatta College of Arts in Accra, after graduating with a fine arts degree I was selected to be the artist in residence at Ghana’s National Centre for Culture in Kumasi. So I had amassed a unique mix of skills that enabled me to share a wide range of quality school workshops.
_But demand quickly outgrew supply as schools all over the country were requesting visits and so we began working with other amazing artists all across the UK. Its notoriously hard to find work in the arts, but it’s even harder if you are an immigrant without UK qualifications. Did you ever think that your bin man might be a ballet dancer, or that a security guard can drum so fast you can’t see his hands move at all?
We now work with well over 200 schools a year, we are 100% funded by trading with these schools and receive no other income. Our mission remains central to all we do. We work in hundreds of schools and organisations each year where we may be the first person of colour those people have ever spoken to, it’s a rare privilege and a great responsibility to be able to fight the media portrayals and to redefine ‘blackness’ in real time. Equally we work in hundreds of multi-cultural inner city schools, the power and pride in something as simple as being represented is something we see daily._
Plus we are happy to report that yes 15 year old boys will indeed dance!
For more information about authentic, exciting and entertaining African workshops for your school, group or business you can visit the African Activities website