The summer holidays are here, six or more loooooong weeks to negotiate child-care combined with thinking up various activities to keep the kids entertained! It’s not easy. However first off, one thing I am doing this summer is scheduling in lots of “boredom time”, yes I am taking the pressure off myself, kids need to be bored, and therefore use their imaginations to entertain themselves!
However living in London/UK there are lots of interesting things going on, many with an African cultural focus. Here is a list of some of the ones I think seem pretty exciting – I hope we can tick off most, if not all of these over the Summer:
(1) Somerset house “Get Up Stand Up Now” exhibition. This summer, Somerset House celebrates the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond, in a major new exhibition spanning art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. There is lots for the children to see and learn, and reviews have been great. Added to this, Somerset House has a wonderful wide open space for the children to run around, plus huge water fountains that can be great for splashing around in in the sunshine!
(2) Yinka Ilori at Dulwich Picture Gallery: Young British Nigerian architect Yinka Ilori has designed a “The Colour Palace”, a lively and celebratory fusion of European and African cultural traditions, which has been chosen as the Dulwich Pavilion for summer 2019 beating off fierce competition! It’s a beautiful and lively structure and would be an inspiring visit.
(3) The Horniman Museum: is a museum that has a strong selection of materials from a variety of world cultures and the African displays shows aspects of life in Nigeria and South Africa, as well as the Mbendjele people of the Congo basin and the Tuareg people of North Africa. They recreate a Nigerian village in one display, which is as close as my children are going to get to Nigeria this summer!
(4) 575 Wandsworth Road: Is probably one for older children and adults however it certainly is intriguing and I must book a tour (which I see are already sold out till September!). 575 Wandsworth Road was acquired by the National Trust in 2010, because of the rich and striking interiors created by Khadambi Asalache (1935-2006), a Kenyan-born poet, novelist, philosopher of mathematics and British civil servant. He bought the house in 1981 while working at the Treasury, and over a period of 20 years (from 1986) turned his home into a work of art. Looking online, the house is absolutely breathtaking.
(5) Frank Bowling at the Tate: Frank Bowling is Guyanese artist who has been accorded the honour of his very own retrospective at the Tate Britain after a 60 year career. His artworks are bright and inventive and will appeal to children’s imagination. His art isn’t just made with paint, but with Christmas glitter, jewellery, foam, oyster shells, and even toys! He has a wonderful painting called Barticaborn which paints the continent of Africa in the most special way I think I have ever seen.
(6) International Slavery Museum, Liverpool: I didn’t even know that the UK had a slavery museum until recently, and it is in Liverpool, which is fitting since so many of the slave ships, that eventually turned up on African shores, set off from Liverpool docks. It’s a powerful museum and well worth a day trip . When I went I felt the main slavery exhibition was suited to older children, but they do also put on activities suitable for younger children, so do check out the website. I think it is important that we black parents, not the schools teach our children about slavery and the legacies of slavery that impact us today, whether you are from an African or a Caribbean background. And this museum is a great help in that.
Hope this list is useful, I tried to think of different things other than the usual London Zoo, Science Museum etc, although those are great too. Please do share if you can think of any others!