Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Africa Salon

Last night Sheelah and I (and Lady Antonia Fraser, plus other luminaries) were at the Press Night of Bilimankhwe Arts' new production at the Africa Centre: And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night.  Bilimakhwe share our Wood Green office, and Kate Stafford produced Dilemma of a Ghost for us, so we know quite a lot about this show!  Kate, who lived in Malawi for a time, set up the co-producing organisation, Nanzikambe Arts.  She's brought over no fewer than nine of their performers to tell this story from their own recent history.  No wonder the whole thing has been six years in the planning.  What's more, the book on which it's based, the prison memoir of Jack Mapanje (pictured above) took a full 20 years to write.  So this is a real labour of love - and a story that needs to be told.  Antonia Fraser was there because she and Harold Pinter were among the British writers who campaigned through PEN for Jack's release.  In many ways, this was the story that put Malawi into international consciousness - and so all the more reason for it to be re-visited.

The show is part of the Africa Salon, which we are curating with the Africa Centre over the next couple of weeks.  The season kicked off a couple of weeks back with Peter's inspiring talk.  Next up on Saturday afternoon is an event called Music and Politics with Eugene Skeef - pictured above with Peter and Leeto Thale at the talk.  Eugene  is a South African percussionist, composer, poet, educationalist and animator.  During the apartheid era he was an activist in the Black Consciousness movement with Steve Biko, and co-led a nation-wide literacy campaign teaching in schools, colleges and communities across South Africa. He moved to London in 1980. 
Click here to book.

On Sunday afternoon, we'll be teaming up with Sandblast Arts to present the UK premiere screening of  Tebraa, a new film about women from the Western Sahara.  Tebraa refers to poetry specifically associated with Saharawi women that reflect intimate themes relating to love and sorrow. The documentary shows the work of fourteen Andalusian filmmakers who portray eleven Saharawi women and young girls. They are stories of women who have been denied their fundamental right to a homeland. Whether based in the Sahrawi refugee camps, in exile in Spain or living under Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara, they all express a wish to come back some day to the country that was taken from them in 1975.  Followed by a discussion with Saharawi people, now living in exile in London.
Click here to book.  

As if all that wasn't enough, I'll be doing a pre-show conversation with Jack Mapanje on Tuesday night, 7th August, at 7pm, prior to the performance of Crocodiles.  Never mind the Olympics with all those empty seats and match-fixing scandals....  this is the place to be!

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