"The African Village" was a project started in the 80's, based in Takeley, Essex that consisted of an old village hall and it's grounds being converted into what was a replica "African Village." This was very popular in the 90's amongst schools, summer playschemes and various educational establishments. The grounds had a purpose built river/lake that was used for canoeing, outside was converted into an open air "school" made up of wooden benches, and a historian teaching African history, and culture. Visitors were given the opportunity to dress up in traditional African dress, cook raw foods such as ground peanuts, and learn dances popular amongst different African tribes. Unfortunately, the originator of this venture passed a way a few years back, and due to lack of funding, the business was closed down, and since hasn't been revived. This was a huge part of my childhood, and the memories of great summers at this establishment still lives on in the lives of many. There is strong demand for this to be brought back, as people my age now have children who they hoped could have had the chance to live this experience.
I would like to revive this venture with a stronger community aspect attched to it. My aim is to open an establishment that will run through term time, and non-term time for young people aged between 3-21 years old. It will be activity based, with historians that have extensive knowledge teaching the background of African culture & history - visitors will have the opportunity to take part in learning to cook different African foods, exploring the history of Africa and it's many people.
The performing arts aspect of this will consist of 4 dance teachers who will offer classes teaching dance moves that are signature to the African culture, incorporating it into modern day performance. This can be as part of the whole experience, or on a class teaching basis outside of a visit. In the summer, there will be an outdoor teaching expeience as well as indoor - in the winter, activities will take place inside.
The potential benefits of this, and my aim is to create a diverse community atmosphere, bringing together different communitites & backgrounds as one. I would like to reduce street crime and poverty amongst young people, offer voluntary/non-voluntary work & experience for low income families by getting them involved with activities, in order to create better future job opportunities. The teachings through dance and history will help support young people back into education, or towards future enrolment into further/higher education.
I would like to also strongly involve people with Dementia from countywide care homes, & the local community - It is widely known that Dementia sufferers respond positively to music and creative arts - this stimulates their brains and helps them to engage more with their surroundings. I will have an outreach service that goes out to care homes and performs for them, as well as getting them involved with playing musical instruments (drums, tambourines), creative arts etc, whilst still keeping to the African cultural aspect.
Dementia Organisations are also encouraged to bring their patients, family of patients to the establishment for involvement with activities - a tailor based trial will always be offered beforehand, so not to overwhelm them with too much information.
This is an activity based project, as well as having a beneficial aspect attached to it. It is a start in the right direction, in creating a better future for young people/adults, and an expanding economy. I am hoping to achieve the necessary start up capital in order to secure premises, employ staff, equipment, company vehicles etc.