In African societies, The Arts have a clear purpose and meaning in all aspects of life – birth, death, marriage, work, personal development, spirituality, community cohesion, education, health etc. - and are constructed in ways that maintain and enhance human life and relationships.
Indeed, in African aesthetics, beauty and success are defined not solely by the skill of the artist, but the extent to which the art they produce has a use within the community.
Kuumba was a 3 year project funded by the European Union and:
Introduced young people to contemporary issues in Africa, the challenges and strengths of the Continent, from a Pan African perspective (including and through contemporary artistic production from Africa and the Diaspora).
Educated young people about the depth and breadth of Contemporary Arts rooted in African traditions and their application and value in many aspects of life.
Gave young people practical opportunities to experience and express this learning and develop their creative skills.
Created an effective partnership with Haringey Youth Services to deliver the workshops and programmes we developed to teenagers in youth group settings and as part of the Summer University programme.
Kuumba is a Swahili word and is the sixth principle (celebrated on 31st December ) of the African American/Pan African end of year/new year festival of Kwanzaa. It encompasses creativity in its widest sense.
“ To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial that we inherited it”
(The Official Kwanzaa website http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org)
Although this project has now ended, the artists (link to artists page) that we worked in partnership with are still available to run workshops and develop programmes. They all perform or exhibit nationally and internationally, as well as being skilled and enthusiastic teachers who enable workshop participants to enjoy themselves, learn and engage with wider issues including personal, community and global development.