Event Details


Aisha Kigs | Abike Ogunlokun | Jessie Lezama | Hannah Newell | Kelvin Nziyoka |

Liynyuuy Mfikela Jean Samuel | Stephen Ndavi | Joseph Mdamanyi | Fred Mdamanyi |

Jefferson Lobo | Palmer Ngale | Chembo Liandisha | Talk to Coco | Nnane Ntube

Preview: Friday 18th November, 7pm

Exhibition continues until 23rd December

Gallery open: Weds – Sat 11am – 9pm

Madaraja asks “how can we imagine equal and decolonised arts when dominant cultural narratives continue to shape our experiences and collective imagination?”

Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel has worked with racially minoritized communities and creatives, to establish de-colonised vehicles for culture, combining digital and traditional tools and drawing on African and diasporic cultures. Madaraja aims to act locally but think globally, whilst building bridges that link Wales and the African continent. Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel has directly connected with creatives, cultures, and languages; exploring hierarchies and the potential of visual, poetic and creative tools, gesture to convey narratives, emotions and memories.

Funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Madaraja has commissioned 15 artists from across Wales (including Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor, and Wrexham) and the African continent (including Kenya, Cameroon and Tanzania). Madaraja artists come from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and disciplines (such as painting, poetry, film sound and mixed media).

Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel was formed in 2009 when a number of African diaspora groups in Wales met to consider how they might collectively advance their common interest in local issues affecting African communities in Wales as well as those in Africa.

‘We are not an organisation representing African Diaspora communities in Wales but one that seeks to utilise skills, capacity and knowledge found within Welsh African diaspora communities for the benefit of all. We want to bring our lived experiences and provide reality check to the charity sector as well as advocating for diaspora for development. We do this by implementing development initiatives in Wales and across Sub-Saharan Africa’.

Instagram: @ssapwales


Abike Ogunlokun is an artist exploring identity and our relationships to ourselves through portraiture. Abike’s interests include exploring intersectionality of identities and culture as well as encouraging self-acceptance. She uses painting as a tool to explore parts of her identity that she hadn’t been able to relate to growing up and discovering new parts of herself as she grows older.Abike was born and raised in London by Nigerian parents and has now lived in Wales for the past 5 years. During her first few years here, being away from friends and family who had known her entire life spun her perspective and connection to the culture identity as that she learned to rebuild her understanding of the two; independent of others.

Aisha Kigs is a singer songwriter based in Cardiff, Wales. Aisha has been involved with the TuWezeshe Akina Dada fellowship programme in 2017 – 2018. She was also the creative director of G.I.R.L. exhibition, where she curated and showcased Wales’s young black artists through the theme of black female individuality.

Through Madaraja, Aisha wants to direct her own music as the focal point, creating a four-dimensional world celebrating the beauty and complexities of black femininity. She plans to do this with a visual EP that will have 5-6 songs. Her song writing is inspired by her personal experiences as a dark skin black woman, having grown up in an environment where she felt she had to defend her own femininity against Eurocentric beauty standards. Aiming to decolonise the black women tropes (the mammy, the Sapphire, the Jezebel, and Strong black women) and spin them on their heads.

Coco is a non-binary, black, creative activist, writer, poet and model; a creator for change, aiming to dismantle the stereotype attached to what it is, to be ‘different’ in society, and changing what ‘normal’ is. Always using their personal experiences as artist, creative activist and non-binary black queer – combating the stigmas of the world, showing it’s ok. Using their platform, artistry and writing; explores all aspects of poetry – spoken, visual and written. Using their voice as a lens for honesty and transparency, whilst saving lives. As its vital to see people around the world thriving and feeling a-part of something, importance and not alone. Coco believes it’s imperative to continue inspiring people like themselves for them to keep going and to become comfortable living different.

Chembo Liandisha is a Musician and Actor born in Zambia and raised in North Wales, UK. Since her Debut EP ‘Love Vs Reality’ (a fusion of r’n’b reggae, afro fusion and soul) was released in 2017, Chembo has graced the stages such as Festival, Zamfest (Zambia) and Focus Wales (Wales, 2019). She has also been showcased by world renowned radio platforms such as BBC, HOT FM and many other international platforms. Chembo has been recognised in Wales by BBC
Wales and Arts Council of Wales. Chembo took part in our Days Ahead project, with her visual performance ‘We Are the Future’. She is currently working on a new body of music as well as Performance Art.

Joseph Mdamanyi is a 29-year-old Tanzanian artist based in Dar es Salaam. Joseph was born in central Tanzania (Singida Region). He started drawing at the age of 8, drawing has been a very significant part of his life. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Study, graduating in 2016. Specializing in realistic pencil drawing using charcoal and colored pencils, but also painting, graffiti and quick/speed sketching. His inspiration comes from different areas in life; culture, beauty, personality and others, depending on the message he wants to portray to his audience.

Fred Mdamanyi is a 26-year-old Tanzanian artist based in Dar es Salaam, born in central Tanzania, Singida Region – Fred persuaded a bachelor’s degree in Art and industrial design from Kyambogo University. He specializes in pencil and coloured pencil drawings, paintings and other forms of visual art including graphics design, digital painting, sculpture, ceramics among others.

He started drawing at the age of 9. There are many things that contribute to the inspiration behind his art works; Adventure, everyday activities, beauty, wanting to study human skin texture and many others.

Palmer Ngals’s debut as a filmmaker was in September 2006 and since then movies has been my main activity. Shoot and taken part in many movies. Palmer is one of the focal persons as far filmmaking is concerned in the whole of Fako Division which stands out as the biggest content provider in the whole of Central Africa. Buea is headquarters of Fako Divisuion. Palmer champions location management, he is a script writer, he acts and produces. Palmer is the National Vice Secretary General of the Cameroon Film Industry.

Jesse Lezama is a UK based figurative painter from Swansea. Born in Trinidad and Tobago to a young West Indian couple who shortly after migrated to Britain, Jesse found great purpose early on in depicting the life around him. “Beauty is important and people need it in their lives. I like my work to exude a kind of peace. I like a painting to be quiet, absorbing; something that hangs on your wall and holds a sense of balance in the back of your mind when you walk by.”

Hannah Newell grew up in Malawi where she lived for 12 years. Now living in Cardiff, Hannah has created over 350 paintings, in both digital and acrylic forms. Her paintings are inspired by African landscapes, sunsets and animals. She is also a vegetarian and have a real interest in running 5k and swimming in the sea. Her favourite book is Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. She is looking forward to starting her new project with us! She will be exploring tradition dance from Africa and Wales.

Kelvin Nzioka is a conceptual artist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is part of the Mukuru Art Collective under the mentorship of Adam Masava. His artwork speaks of the daily challenges people encounter, aiming to gain a better understanding of how humanity works. Through Madaraja, Kelvin would like to explore themes of identity and community.

Nnana Ntube was born in Kumba, South West region of Cameroon. She is a bilingual teacher (French and English), poet, performer, literary activist, peace advocate, mentor and author. Nnane believes in the power of poetry to change mindsets and in quality education. She volunteers her services to mentor young girls, graduates and young creatives. Her dream is to have parents of her community believe in the creativity of their children and in the power of literature. Nnane is the coordinator of CLIJEC (Cercle Littéraire des Jeunes du Cameroun) where she and her team organise the African

Festival of Emerging Writers (FESTAE). She equally coordinates Writers Space Africa, Cameroon chapter (WSA-C). Nnane is the curator of the Young English Cameroonian Writers Award (YECWA).

Jefferson Lobo was born in Bahia, Brazil. A music creator and musician, Jefferson Lobo’s love for music started early in his post- colonial home town Salvador, from listening to classical music on the radio to watching marching bands and  African-style drumming groups parading through streets of the old district was a staple while growing up.

Liynyuuy Mfikela Jean Samuel is a Contemporary Artist (Painter) from Africa of many pursuits. This Contemporary African Painter was born in the Kumbo in the grass fields of the Northwest Region of Cameroon in Central Africa. This Contemporary Artist now resides permanently in North Wales in the United Kingdom. He has travelled and continues to travel for artistic exploits Across Europe and Africa. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the world in both public and private Galleries and other cultural events.

Stephen Ndavi is a conceptual artist and a retired primary school teacher based in Nairobi, Kenya. In Dec 2017, at the age of 27 he quit the teaching profession and decided to venture in art. He was born and raised in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi where he intends to stabilize the community through his work of art. His work is mainly based on realism subjects which he chose purposely to act as a mode of therapy towards the effects of war and trauma he experienced working as a teacher back in Sudan. His skill has developed tremendously over the last 3 years leading to clients draw special interest in his work.