“Miss what Africa look like?” She leaned over the table waiting for my answer. I told her it was beautiful. She asked me like where? I could see she really wanted to know and although I was pleased I was surprised.
A few months earlier this little girl and a few other children who came to the Di Institute for Social Leadership (ISL) were distressed about the rumors that we were going to take them to Africa. They said they wanted to talk to me and settle this matter. Was I taking them to Africa? They did not want to go. They did not like Africa because it was full of people who would eat children, take them away from their parents and kill them. It was full of starving people. After a long conversation with them, listening to their fears explaining that I was not trying to take them to Africa, but I have been there and I am African and I love Africa, they slowly stopped coming. So I was surprised when I saw them again that evening and the little girl whispered to me “Miss, what Africa look like?”
Her question is all I could think about for the rest of the evening. How could I tell her more? There must be others like her who want to know. Little girls and boys who have the same question. Little African Girls and Boys living in Jamaica who didn’t know what Africa looked like expect what the adults told them if they did tell them anything or what they saw in some Nigerian films. There must be more children out there with the same curiosity.
I decided I was going to show them photos. I thought that I could collect photos about Africa and create an exhibition. An exhibition about Africa, especially for children. We could call the exhibition “Looking at Africa”.
For those who couldn’t come to the exhibition at the ISL we would take the exhibition to them, maybe libraries maybe schools.
The exhibition will open on Monday Feb 2, 2015 at Di Institute for Social Leadership and continue running throughout the years in different locations.
We are asking people who live work or travel to Africa and who have photographs to contribute them to the exhibition.
You can be a part of the exhibition by submitting your photos of Africa to email@example.com or telling us if you would want to give a talk our presentation about Africa during the exhibition.
For more information
Afifa Badiliko Aza – Creative Director and Co-founder
tel: (876) 799-0102
Today makes one year since we decided to open the Di Institute for Social Leadership. We have tried to share different reflections on the process, the experiences, the shifting goals, the objectives and the things we have learned. I am happy that we made it to the end of the year and we are looking forward to more years and more learning.
For me the Institute represents a space for experimentation and using a soulful and artistic approach to creating and growing communities and societies that are critical, responsible, responsive, self-sufficient. It is a space for creating a collective consciousness, and relationships based on love, equality, equity, and understanding. It is a space that activates Africa in the past and in the present, it seeks to foster the African identity not through mere aesthetics but through ways of thinking and being.
The space is both physical and spiritual it is a thing as well as the embodiment of a set of ideas you experience or feel and then begin to live.
We started with a specific problem (the lack of learning opportunities and social support services for youth from low income families and communities) and we started with a desire to explore a concept, social leadership. Using an approach rooted in art practice we have been able to begin to articulate a sustainable alternative model for the future. A collective consciousness, community and Africa is at the centre and it anchors and grounds the questions that we ask and the solutions or possibilities we see.
For example we have began to understand how to create opportunities for learning that are not about formal education models. We are beginning to see how different people can learn or be thought new things without being in a classroom. This is both very exciting and very important because we are giving ourselves room to think about complex problems and to understand complex answers, answers that are grounded in an African experience in a black experience and answers that are projecting a desire to create an alternative future or alternative possibilities that are driven by our desire for a healthy collective.
As a part of the process this year there has been a lot of defining and redefining. For example we are constantly defining the word social leadership. We are constantly redefining community. We see these as very important components of our project. We should always be able to question language, create new language.
Some of our language here may seem abstract but it is how we have to begin to put forward the vision and then break it up in smaller pieces. In other post we will highlight in more details some of the projects we have started during the year and how we want to continue into 2015.