African Arts Institute

AFAI aims to promote participatory democracy & respect for fundamental human rights in Africa by affi

The African Arts Institute’s vision is for a vibrant, dynamic and sustainable African creative sector that contributes to development, human rights and democracy on the continent, and projects African aesthetics and intellectual content into the international arena. It is envisaged that the African Arts Institute (AFAI) will be linked eventually to a network of similar institutes or centres on the

Operating as usual


Due to a lack of guaranteed funding and other income for the foreseeable future, the Board of the African Arts Institute (AFAI) has resolved to liquidate the Institute. Accordingly, all its operations and activities have ceased. For further information, write to [email protected] or [email protected].

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 09/12/2015

Get yourself a copy of Art Africa's December edition (Issue 2) to read Sophia Sanan's interviews with Global South personalities. Thank you Ayeta Anne Wangusa, Aadel Essaadani and Anupama Sekhar for being the willing subjects and for your fine writing!

Timeline photos 04/12/2015

And that's a wrap folks! 14th ELIA Leadership Symposium. Cape Town. 1-4 Dec 2015. Congrats to AFAI team and all supporters for this world class event.

Timeline photos 03/12/2015

Next up. Emma Wolukau -Wanambwa; Prof Ruth Simbao and Dr Maude Dikobe in conversation.

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 03/12/2015

Lunch! Company gardens. Food jamming with the squirrels!

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 03/12/2015

After a day of a DIVERSITY of experiences whereby delegates visited various cultural landmarks and ended at intimate dinners at artists homes yesterday... Day 2 is where the real 'work' begins with opening speaker Vishakha Desai hosting table talks on strategic management issues in arts education globally.

Timeline photos 02/12/2015

The inimitable Albie Sachs on stage at ELIA 2015.

Timeline photos 02/12/2015

And we're about to kick off! ELIA Leadership Symposium 2015

Timeline photos 01/12/2015

Sneak preview of the ELIA Leadership Symposium programme cover. Tomorrow we can't wait to hear keynotes from Albie Sachs and Prof. Njabulo. Then after lunch we go on numerous cultural tours to explore various aspects of Cape Town. Ending the evening at various artists homes for a series of intimate dinners. Tomorrow is a day for DIVERSITY.

Timeline photos 01/12/2015

Welcome ELIA Conference 2015 delegates!

Timeline photos 01/12/2015
Timeline photos 01/12/2015

It's tea time here at

Timeline photos 01/12/2015

We're thrilled to have delegates from all over the continent at


"Good administration is important, but having good leadership that carries people with it, that carries with it a vision that people want to achieve, is maybe more important." - Joseph Gaylard, Pro Helvetia South Africa


"It comes down to how we tell the story of our work. How do we make space to honour and view work? It begins in the learning space." - Warren Nebe, Director of Drama for Life


On academic spaces:

"We have a huge responsibility in terms of modelling a way in which to bring different groups of people together." - Warren Nebe


"Quite often we think the biggest problem on our continent is lack of funding. We at AFAI actually believe it's a lack of leadership." - Mike van Graan


Mike van Graan on Networking:

"Networking for me is really stakeholders taking responsibility for their own lives and livelihoods[....] irrespective of whether government comes to the party or not."

"Networking is really about playing Cupid"


Welcome to day 2 of the ATAE Conference! Yesterday saw amazing presentations from Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Dr Ruth Simbao, Professor Harry Garuba and others.

Today we're hearing from our own Sophia Sanan in conversation with Malaika Toyo (Nsibidi Institute, Nigeria), Yvette Hardie (ASSITEJ, South Africa), Warren Nebe (Drama for Life, Wits, South Africa), Mike van Graan (AFAI, South Africa) and Joseph Gaylard (Pro Helvetia, Souh Africa). We'll keep you updated!

Timeline photos 27/11/2015

We're looking forward to hearing Professor Njabulo Ndebele speak next week at the ELIA Conference:

PROF NJABULO NDEBELE holds a Ph.D in Creative Writing from the University of Denver; Honorary Doctorates from Cambridge University, Michigan University, University of Denver, University College London, Soka University, Wesleyan University, Free University of Amsterdam, the University of the Witwatersrand, and was inaugurated as the Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg in November 2012.

He served two terms as President of the University of Cape Town following tenure as a Scholar-in- Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York; and has been a key figure in South African higher education. He has served as Chair of the South African Universities Vice-Chancellor’s Association; President of the Association of African Universities; and founding Chair of the Southern African Regional Universities’ Association. He has chaired three Commissions on broadcasting policy, school curriculum in history, and African languages as media of instruction in Higher Education. In 2014 he chaired the Council of Higher Education Task Team on Undergraduate Curriculum Structure in South Africa.

An award-winning author, his first book Fools and Other Stories won the Noma Award in 1984, Africa’s highest literary award for the best book published that year. His highly influential and seminal essays on South African literature and culture were published as Rediscovery of the Ordinary. His novel The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2003) was received with acclaim. In Fine Lines from the Box: Further Thoughts about Our Country (2007), he writes incisively on a range of public issues of democracy and social change in South Africa today.

Timeline photos 27/11/2015

We are honored to be welcoming Albie Sachs next week at the ELIA Conference:

ALBIE SACHS was detained in solitary confinementin the 1960s because of his anti-apartheid activism. He went into exile in Britain in 1966, working with the banned ANC, and moved to Mozambique after Independence. Here he became a professor of law at Eduardo Mondlane University.

After 24 years in exile, Sachs returned to South Africa after the unbanning of the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations in 1990, and took an active part in negotiations for a new Constitution for a non-racial, non-sexist democratic state. In 1994 he was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the first Constitutional Court where he served a fifteen-year term.

In 1991, Sachs won the Alan Paton Award for his book Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, which chronicles his response to the 1988 car bombingin which he lost an arm. He is also the author of Justice in South Africa (1974), The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1966), Sexism and the Law (1979), and The Free Diary of Albie Sachs (2004). His most recent book, The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (2009), also won the Alan Paton Award, making him the second person to have won it twice. His Jail Diary was dramatized by David Edgar for the Royal Shakespeare Company and for television and broadcast by the BBC in the late 1970s.

He played a major role both in the design of the building for the Constitutional Court as well as in the murals, paintings, sculptures and other art works which has won the building international acclaim. Among other groundbreaking judgments, Sachs wrote the judgement legalising same-sex marriage in South Africa.

Timeline photos 27/11/2015

Another speaker at the ATAE event next week:

DR RUTH SIMBAO is a Professor of Art History and Visual Culture in the Fine Art Department at Rhodes University and NRF SARChI Chair of the research initiative "Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa". Her research interests include contemporary art with a particular focus on Africa, the geopolitics of art and society, geopolitics in relation to biennialisation, ‘strategic southernness’ and the Global South, theories of ‘place’, contra-flow diasporas, cosmopolitanism and cosmolocalism, redefinitions of ‘the local’, the power of small spaces and modest gestures, artists’ responses to xenophobia, China-Africa relations and the arts, contemporary cultural festivals and globalisation, performance theory and live art, the performance of heritage in Zambia, and site-situational art.

Simbao received her PhD from Harvard University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture in 2008, and was an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) postdoctoral fellow as part of the Humanities in Africa programme in 2010. In 2002 she received a Harvard University Teaching Award as a Teaching Fellow, and was the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award at Rhodes University in 2009.

She has received a number of research and travel grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the College Art Association, the American Social Science Research Council, the Jennifer Oppenheimer Foundation, Norton, the Canada Council of the Arts, Harvard University (History of Art and Architecture, African and African-American Studies, Film Studies and the Graduate Student Council), the National Research Foundation (South Africa), the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the National Arts Council, Rhodes University, and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. In recent years Simbao founded the following research initiatives, projects and networks: Visual and Performing Arts of Africa (ViPAA) (2011 to present), Residencies for Artists and Writers (RAW) (2014 to present), and Art & Culture: Writers in Africa (ACWA) (2015).

She has published in various journals including African Arts, Art South Africa, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, JACANA: Journal of African Culture and New Approaches, Third Text, Kronos: Southern African Histories, Parachute, Mix, Lola, De Arte, Image & Text, Social Dynamics and the International Journal of African Historical Studies. Recent curatorial projects include SLIP: Mbali Khoza and Igshaan Adams, the performance art programme BLIND SPOT at the National Arts Festival, and Making Way: Contemporary Art from South Africa and China at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg.


Monday 30 November -1 December 2015

We welcome representatives from over 10 African countries to join us in this important arts education focused event.

High profile speakers include:
Ms Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa - Director of Research at the Nagenda International Academy of Art and Design, Uganda
Ms Molemo Moiloa - Head, Visual Arts Network of South Africa
Prof Mzobanzi Mboya - Head of Education and Training Desk and Youth Desk at NEPAD Agency
Prof Harry Garuba - Director of Centre for African Studies.
Ms. Angela Martins -Head of AU Culture Division
Prof. Warren Nebe -Programme Director, Drama for Life, Wits University
Mr Joseph Gaylard - Head, Prohelvetia

Read the programme here:

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 24/11/2015

Day one of the Commonwealth People's Forum concluded with Shahidul Alam's haunting exhibition of portraits lasered onto straw mats- 'Kalpanas Warriors'. Day two saw Shahidul from Bangladesh and two migration experts from Malta- Maria Pisani and Katrine Cammileri talk about migration and resilience. Ajmad Saleem facilitated this very laden topic excellently. Meanwhile a reminder of the tense political atmosphere over Europe and even the Mediterranean came in the form of a droning military chopper surveilling the surrounding hotels as more political and economic heavyweights made their way to Malta for Commonwealth meetings of another nature...

Marikana documentary wins Emmy award 24/11/2015

Congratulations to comrade Rehad Desai and his team for this amazing accolade and validation for South African Film industry and social justice.

Marikana documentary wins Emmy award The South African documentary, 'Miners Shot Down', on Monday night walked away with the International Emmy award for best documentary.

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 23/11/2015

AFAI attends the Commonwealth People's Forum in Malta. The day started by deconstructing resilience. We just learned how traditional knowledge in Vanuata is informing a new way to measure development. Alternative economies that will hopefully become mainstream. There are many countries with exciting models outside of the hegemony of development.

High Schools Programme workshop 21/11/2015

HIGH SCHOOLS PROGRAMME WORKSHOP | Started in 2003 by the City's Social Welfare Department - 60 schools selected to participate across the Greater Western Cape to put forward 2 exceptional high school learners for leadership and life skills workshops. Fast forward to 2015 and some alumni graduates want to give back and start their own social enterprise - the aim of today's workshop. Thank you to Kenan for the awesome branding / logo development session and to Ayanda for the legal entities and organisational forms. A City of Cape Town initiative in partnership with the African Arts Institute. Building young minds and leaders of today!

Langa Cultural Management Workshop 21/11/2015

LANGA CULTURAL MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP | Exciting developments within the Langa Arts and Culture Community are about to emerge! The City is ready to hand over important cultural centres to the Langa Arts Community, that will be truly community -based and community run entities. We are excited to be part of this change management process over the next 3 years. The past 2-day Cultural Management Workshop initiated by the City and facilitated by the African Arts Institute was the inaugural start to this empowering journey together with the City of Cape Town, The Langa Arts Association and The Langa Heritage Foundation leadership to develop a shared vision, 3 year strategic business plan and action plan for this joint venture .

Photos from African Arts Institute's post 19/11/2015

LANGA CULTURAL MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP | AFAI in partnership with the City of Cape Town. Exciting developments are happening within the arts and cultural space in Langa. Discussions and negotiations are at an advanced level to hand over management of cultural facilities to local community-based cultural organisations over the next 3 years. AFAI is proud to play a supportive and facilitative role in this regard.

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District Six Homecoming Centre, 2nd Floor 15 Buitenkant Street
Cape Town

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