The African Arts Institute (AFAI), based in Cape Town, launched three projects this month to support, showcase and market the arts of African artists living in South Africa.
In line with its vision to harness South African resources, markets and expertise in the service of Africa’s creative sector, the projects include a Help Desk for artists from behind the Limpopo, a collection of stories about the struggles and achievements of African artists in South Africa and a monthly showcase of work by artists from other African countries.

Steve Bandoma (Democratic Republic of Congo), a visual artist working in South Africa, will manage the Help Desk which will advise and assist African artists to access resources and infrastructure, distribute their work, obtain legal documents and to facilitate travel around the country, on the continent and globally.

“I am excited by this project as I see myself as a successful visual artist working and operating in a foreign country and now I am in a position to engage with the African Diaspora community in the form of AFAI’s help desk,” said Bandoma.

Zimbabwean musician Patricia Matongo will take charge of a regular forum to showcase the works of African artists to facilitate dialogue/collaboration between African artists and their South African counterparts and to educate South African publics about the arts from the continent. In this way, AFAI plans to create new markets for and greater integration of African artists living in South Africa.
Said Matongo: “This is a great opportunity for African artists to showcase their talents and to tell the world that there is more to a ‘refugee’ than meets the eye; they not only bring their expertise but also wonderful talents to South Africa.”

Mwila Mambwe, also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an enthusiastic poet living in South Africa, will collect and compile valuable stories of African artists and the conditions they encounter in South Africa. This collection of short stories will be compiled in various forms including a book, DVD and internet video clips to be hosted on the Institute’s website.
Bandoma, Matongo and Mambwe will initially run their projects as part of internships that vary between 3 and 6 months.