Women’s Museum in The Gambia

“Mama Africa” is preparing a soft opening in December

Fundraising for a Solar-Wind Energy System

“Mama Africa”, a non-profit association founded in 2009 in The Gambia, will open the “Women’s Museum and Art Centre” in Batokunku (Tanji) beginning of December 2009. The vision that guided the creation of the Women’s Museum is to build an institute for the future based on the belief that the voices, imaginations and contributions of women must be part of the foundation of the society and shape the future. The Museum and Art Centre bring to life the voices, talents, achievements, aspirations and stories of the past, present and future. They are based in the extraordinary, tranquil location of “Mama Africa” in Batokunku. Isha Fofana, Gambias renowned female international artist is the founder of “Mama Africa”. She wants the character of the museum to be unique in West Africa, and establish an international centre for tradition and culture, modern art, documentation and activities especially concerning women, a place where everyone will feel comfortable and enjoy.

It will not be a museum where visitors just walk around and watch historical objects and art works. It will be a “Living Museum”. Guests will meet female artists at work, enjoy local dancing and music, observe traditional and cultural dresses and learn to prepare Gambian food and drinks. They will have the opportunity to get in touch with female spiritual power and healing methods and experience family life from the past and today. The mission is to show the life of a modern African woman and contemporary African art, and to give a view to the inside of women in the African society of the future.

Women’s museums are still a rarity in other countries. Their message is likely to be quite different from normal museums. These differences will hopefully generate interesting exchanges as more visitors from West Africa and beyond begin to drop by, turning the museum into a lively cultural centre. All will happen step by step from the beginning of December, inside the amazing building of the Art Centre and Art Garden of “Mama Africa” in Batokunku. The Art Garden itself is an old bush area containing a lot of powerful herbs, old trees and wonderful flowers, at every corner surprising art work created by West African artists or nature itself.

Without support from any organisation or government “Mama Africa” is busy working on the finishing of the Women’s Museum and Art Centre with an investment of 75.000 Euros (3 M Dalasis) already. “I had for almost ten years a great career in Europe and I decided to come back to my country, to help, to give back to my country something, the experiences I have learned. It is not the money we have to give to our homeland, to the children; it is the knowledge which will build up a great future for The Gambia. Therefore I have invested all my capital” says Isha Fofana, also known as “Mama Africa”, describing her philosophy, her dream. To expand her collection of items and artworks, Isha Fofana is inviting everyone in the country to help with clothes, photos and other memorabilia, from old cooking pots to masks, traditional dresses and jewellery, exhibits from the public life of Gambian women as well as the personal details of their private lives. She is calling on the international organisations, NGOs and other institutions to help her with the last step: bringing light to the museum. Therefore another investment of 15.000 to 20.000 Euros is needed to implement a Hybrid Wind-Solar Energy System, an investment her budget cannot stand at the moment.

The main emphasis of the association “Mama Africa” is the promotion of less privileged girls and women in The Gambia, to improve their social competences and work on their own talents in the production of art objects like batik, painting, clay etc. The aim is to secure an income of one’s own, self consciousness and an independent life. The further purposes of the organization are the promotion of art and culture in The Gambia in general, the education in art, the support of abilities of people and professionals in the field of arts, the intercultural coming together of Gambians and visitors and the development of the country in general. The sale of the art objects and pictures as well as a sponsorship of visitors and other donators will later serve the financing of the non-profit association “Mama Africa” – the “mother” of the Women’s Museum and Art Centre.

Contact “Mama Africa”: 00220 – 7 450 730 (Isha Fofana).

For further information about Isha Fofana, “google” her name.

The webpage “isha-fofana.de” is under construction and will be opened in January 2010.

Biography:

1965 born in Banjul – The Gambia / West Africa

Since 1984 member of the ”Gambia Black African Art Club”

Since 2001 a lot of private and public exhibitions in Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands

2002 and 2004 exhibition together with UNESCO Music Award in Aachen, Germany

2006 opening gallery “Mama Afrika” in Cologne / Köln / Germany

Nov. 2007 exhibition together with award given to Waris Dirie, Kerkrade, The Netherlands

Nov. 2007 Nomination “Best African Artist in Europe”

Since 2007 International Representative of the Gambian artists

Since 2008 member of “Internationaler Künstlerverein e.V. (IKV) / International Artist Association” Germany

Nov. 2008 opening gallery “Mama Africa” in Brusubi / The Gambia

April 2009 founding of the non-profit association “Mama Africa Art Centre”

Exhibitions end 2008 and 2009:

Cultural Centre „de Warande“ – Antwerpen / Belgium

“Land Art” – Hannover / Germany

Hilton Hotel Cologne / Germany

WDR (German Public TV and Radio Station) – Cologne / Germany

“Straßen verbinden Kulturen” / Press Department of the German Government – Bonn / Germany

Sheraton Hotel Brufut / The Gambia

UN Headquarter “Inter. Women’s Week” / Cape Point /Gambia

EC Residence “Europe Day” / Fajara / Gambia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Taipeh / Taiwan

„Afrikanischer Künstler” / Düsseldorf / Germany

„Weltreise der Sinne II” / Bonn / Germany

“Straßen verbinden Kulturen” / Museum for Industry / Karlstadt / Germany

“Kunst und Religie” / Denderleeuw / Belgium

Under preparation:

FESMAN / Dakar / Senegal

Various activities in The Gambia, Senegal, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, England, USA, Switzerland and Austria – e.g. international female artists presenting works during the “Woman’s Day 2010″ program in The Gambia.

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