Complexity of Heritage

November 2020 – March 2021

Group of people sitting outside with poet Ngmoa Bishop.

Complexity of Heritage will take place at Milton Keynes Arts Centre, inviting young people to explore their identity and heritage through creative spoken-word workshops with artists Ngoma Bishop from AMBA (Afrikan Heritage writer group) and the African Diaspora Foundation in Milton Keynes. The written works will be applied onto ceramic objects, supported by MKAC artist leaders Andrew Macdermott and Alondene Phillips, and will be presented at the African Diaspora Day Festival in July 2021.

In collaboration with artists, young people will explore their identity through creative workshops asking them to consider and reflect upon the complexities of their heritage, including ‘What does home look like’ and ‘What is my heritage’. Sharing the outcomes of these workshops will encourage young people to see how their cultures come together and offer a new perspective on how they see the heritages of others. Artist Ngoma Bishop will work with the participants to develop short poems, phrases and other word expressions that capture their expectations and aspirations of their heritage in Milton Keynes, and reflect their cultural senses of identity in the place they live.

Throughout Complexity of Heritage we will be sharing updates from the outcomes of the project. To get started, listen to an interview with artist Ngoma Bishop and Chair of African Diaspora Foundation in Milton Keynes, Rooda Abdillahi introducing the project below.

Supported with funding from Arts Council England

Families activity sheet

Taking inspiration from artist, writer and activist Ngoma Bishop we’d like you to write a poem about your own heritage. We’ve prepared some questions to get you started thinking about all of the things that makes you who you are.

Download here

Listen now

An interview with artist Ngoma Bishop and Rooda Abdillahi.

An interview with artist Ngoma Bishop and Rooda Abdillahi the Chair of African Diaspora Foundation in Milton Keynes, ahead of a 'Complexity of Heritage'.

We ask Ngoma about his career, approach and motivation behind his poetry and creative writing. Rooda explains her own background and work with the Foundation as well as exploring the idea of a complex heritage.

Rooda Abdillahi, smiling and holding papers at a event earlier this year working with Milton Keynes Arts Centre.

Rooda Abdillahi, Chair of African Diaspora Foundation in Milton Keynes
Photograph by Cat Lane
African Diaspora Foundation and Milton Keynes Arts Centre
As a consequence of MKAC’s recent Ephemeral Lines project, led by resident artists the Zadissa sisters, Milton Keynes Arts Centre recently started working with the African Diaspora Foundation.

A not-for-profit charity based in Milton Keynes, the African Diaspora Foundation aims is to celebrate the unique history and cultural heritage of communities from African descent with a focus on deepening an understanding of the African continent and reducing cultural segregation in Milton Keynes. Their work is intended to bring together people living in Milton Keynes as one community to create UMOJA (oneness); the concept that we are all connected. Since 2017, the African Diaspora Festival has inspired many young people in Milton Keynes to showcase their talents through music, dance, poetry, storytelling and fashion.

Together, MKAC and the African Diaspora Foundation will be hosting a range of events throughout the year working towards the African Diaspora Festival on Saturday 3 July 2021.
In February 2020 MKAC started a partnership with the African Diaspora Foundation (ADF), inviting young people to use our creative spaces to design and make clothing for the 2020 African Diaspora Festival.  Despite the postponement of the 2020 festival, MKAC have continued talking to the ADF building on ideas for collaboration and resource sharing. Developing into a long-term partnership with recent collaborations in Ephemeral Lines and the forthcoming project Complexity of Heritage, starting in November 2020.

During 1 July–30 September 2020, as part of the Ephemeral Lines, MKAC have hosted workshops and a celebratory event with ADF, their Chair Rooda Abdillahi, artists Temitope Ajiboye and Ophelia Daniels and resident Ephemeral Lines artists Elmira Zadissa and Ramona Zadissa. Workshops focused on how individuals’ stories could be gleaned through personal adornment in African culture, by hosting beading and braiding workshops both online and offline and sharing this important part of African culture with wider communities at the Open Market, MK.

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