Near the end of the trip to the Gambia we visited Mama Africa, which we were told before arriving is a garden designed to inspire the women of the Gambia.
Mama Africa was indeed an inspirational place. Isha Fofana, the artist and owner of the compound, explained to us how in the Gambia it is uncommon to have females become artists and how her aim was to show women they could be who they want to be. Mama Africa is also a place to learn, as Isha shows her heritage in her art, along with encouraging the children to visit to stay at school for as long as they can. This helps women and children alike to be educated as well as become inspired by the things that are around them every day. Her idea is to be able to help women gain power and respect in the Gambia, the art gives people something to view; to give women a chance to be seen in a different light.
However, not everyone sees Mama Africa as a good thing but Isha says that she understands this, “I like to have critics because critics let you go further.” She uses the negativity towards her art to help her gain more inspiration and lets it strengthen her.
Many Visitors have been around the garden and gallery and art work has been sold to places all over the world. “This has been a truly moving experience and blesses your efforts on inspiring the creative spirit,” was just one of many of the positive comments written in the visitor’s book. Isha also informed me that Gambians have started to bring their children to view the gallery and she has had plenty of young girls say as they leave that they want to become artists.