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Africa lights up London


A SHOWCASE of African talent and creativity through music, arts and entrepreneurship drew crowds from the local Islington community and further afield to Ringcross Community Centre in north London earlier this month.

Designed to promote cultural exchange and understanding between communities, the Go Africa Cultural Festival was organised by Anemp & Co Solutions Ltd, an events management and planning company which also owns the Fashion4Africa brand.


“Go Africa is a movement to mobilise the African and Caribbean creative communities, particularly those in the north London area, to come together to showcase talent, art, culture and education,” said Anna Njie, founder of the festival.

“The annual summer community-led cultural festival brought together a wealth of local and national talent with African heritage showcased for over 12 hours and for all ages and genres of our communities.”

The event, which took place last month, secured support from the Mayor of London through the Culture Seeds programme called Africa In London, and the north London charity The Pilion Trust.

Somali-born Mayor of Islington Councillor Rakhia Ismail, a special guest, was among those who attended the festival.

PICTURED: The Worshipful the Mayor of Islington, Cllr Rakhia Ismail, takes a look at the products showcased at the event

Cllr Ismail explained that she came to England as a refugee in the 1980s and, despite English being her second language, was able to rise up the ranks to become elected to Islington Council in 2012.

“In the beginning, you will get help but when you want to aim higher, the doors are closed,” she said.

She has worked for more than 20 years in the voluntary sector and is also the founder of Back 2 Basics Create, a charity supporting hard-to-reach women and mothers.

INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES: ‘Fraizup’ by Doris Kebehi, one of the many small business owners who exhibited their wares at the event

“Africa is one of the greatest continents in the world,” she told visitors to the Go Africa event.

“Africa is so rich in minerals, culture and history. We need to think about where we come from and where we are heading.

“Lots of young people in England who are Africans, from the West Indies to the African continent, have lost their identities. It is up to us to instil that identity.”

The festival featured a marketplace of independent businesses promoting everything from health products to African-inspired jewellery.

“The marketplace was designed to be a one-stop shop where people can buy original and first-hand handcrafts, natural skincare products,” said Njie. “For art lovers there was a big African art gallery from Shallman Art selling everything from powerful landscape paintings to acrylic on canvas.”

Interaction was a key part of the event and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to share with those who attended how they had positively challenged adversity and channelled their creative passions to produce something from which others could benefit.

This included words from Carol Moses, the founder of Portabello Tom, who produces charm bracelets, gemstones, chakra beads and healing stones. These products were her way of honouring the memory of the daughter she lost to meningitis.

CUISINE: Go Africa Founder Anna Njie dishes out jollof rice to visitors at the Go Africa event cooked by her aunt

Aspiring writers got a chance to hear from best-selling author Daniella Blechner of Conscious Dreams Publishing.

She talked about her journey of determination from being an aspiring writer to a celebrated writer and publisher. Would-be writers were invited to connect with her and meet other writers, including 13-year-old novelist M. Angel, who is well on the way to becoming a professional writer. Visitors tried their hands at cake decorating during the Healthy Cup Cake workshop by Toyah Ajalah of Visioncreationz, and Kekeli drummers staged a workshop with performances from dancers.

Fashion4Africa 2019 award winner Massassi Batique used the platform to celebrate the strides made in African design and treated guests to a mini fashion show on the day.

Children enjoyed face-painting sessions, while organisations After My Kind and Murray The Milkman were on hand to support young adults and children with workshop sessions promoting positivity.

There was entertainment and a range of African foods available for meat eaters and vegetarians, including grilled spicy pepper, chicken and jollof rice, to be washed down by homemade sorrel and ginger juice. Music during the event came from a variety of artists, including Ethiopian singer Hanisha Soloman.

The evening procession included a live performance by Mosi Conde, with Virtuoso Kora Play and singing from Guinea’ in collaboration with Sudanese jazz flautist Ghandi Adam and percussion by Diallo.

If that was not enough, a performance followed by South African composer and musician Lucien Windrich and the eVoid Band; James PB vocalist and guitarist from Emo funk band Little Things; Brendon Pickett on piano and keyboard with the band Full Action Family; Mona Daniel, drummer and percussionist of African Dance Company Adzido, and Eritrean born singer Betty Alehayehu.

Plans are being developed for Go Africa to become an annual summer community led cultural festival.

For more details, see the Go Africa Festival’s Facebook group or goafricafestival. com. You can also email

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