Africa Design Roundtable (ADR) is a non-profit association of practicing artists, designers and connoisseurs who are Africans by descent or affiliation/association.
ADR sponsors various platforms where members engage in dialogue for self enlightenment on design issues in broad perspectives. Avenues to achieve the above include the following but not limited to the under listed: encourage and project individual members’ creative talents, develop connoisseurship, critical thinking hands-on activities/projects to actualise creative thoughts, link members to a global network of designers.
ADR is driven by a philosophy that humanity everywhere are endowed equally. But actualise the values of this inherent potential individual within their cultures require a level of awareness. Such awareness can only be awakened and made active for the potentials inherent in an individual to come to lime light. Enlightened individuals drive cultures, nations and the human race. For the awareness above ADR engages in group enlightenment discussions aimed at re-establishing tradition and how tradition as a process of diffusion rather than protection simply is a product of human industry that teaches man how to take hold of and put across the past in new ways. With tradition our aims, shaped by exigent and emergent realities/the now-needs dialogue with tradition as a past that we spun and which belongs to us. In a nut shell the human culture is governed by the dynamics of continuity and change.
ADR, within the realities of an African continent that appears to be playing second fiddle to the rest of humanity, in terms of actuating her vast creative potentials, has set out to create a class of new designers and artists who are informed. For example, dominant perception on the concept of creative originality that is African shuns designs from other cultures. Part of the misinformation that funds such ideology comes in part from a long colonial contact history. With a hidden ideology that was under girded by self preservation of a conqueror the African was enjoined to remain pure and uncontaminated by the cultures of the west. Meanwhile the west was busy translating our values for their cultural growth. Modern European art found value in its need for a renewed vigour in African art. Yet modern African art seeking same vigour and renewal, in a definite inter cultural dialogue is inauthentic.
The bias the western campaign initiated was compounded by a similar campaign by returnee freed slaves who were victims of racial discriminations of all sorts after the abolition of trading in slaves. Their campaign entrenched an extreme anti Western sentiment. The result has been the birth of a rabid Afro-centricism that shuns all forms of outside influences. But all forms of cultural progress and newness/modernisations are products of inter cultural dialogues.
The work of art, as a product of active human intelligence, is the object where all humanity buys into each other. Its appropriation and appreciation shuns difference; rather in human history it is a unifier of humanity. In this regard, art indeed is all encompassing approximating to the idea of culture. In the world of phenomena or our visible world there are two distinct material presences. These are nature and the world of man-made things. Man in making things only aspires to meet the inadequacy in what nature has offered man. Thus what man makes has value for his other kind where ever he/she on this planet earth. For ADR, therefore, inspiration is derivable from the world of man-made things and the insight nature offers. This is one reason why it shuns the sentiments that emanate from rabid Afro-centricism.
ADR believes that with the short evidence of human achievements documented in recorded history, compared to when the now oldest art work in the world dated 77,000 years from Cape Town, South Africa is brought into focus a lot of research remains lost. While a depth of history may not be totally reconstructed, there is therefore the need for cultural historians from Africa to engage meaningful reconstructions of Africa’s cultural history. Fortunately, the focus of ADR, which is man-made thing, is a repository of history. What man makes is not informed by caprice; it indeed is a genuine search for alternatives to the limitations that inhere in what nature provides man and the limitations that what man has made previously embody. The dialogue with nature and what man has made previously (as tradition) encapsulate history.
It is the firm belief of ADR that to genuinely reconstruct Africa’s cultural history materials for such engagements are handy. What is needed are committed and intellectually equipped men and women. History offers knowledge, which in turn propels modernisation. The reality of modernisation is the ability to employ new knowledge meaningfully for the advancement of human cause to continue to survive. Professor Bassey Wei Ander of blessed memory reviewing technology and cultural anthropology of Africa defined technology as what it has taken from man and what it will continue to take from man to put into use his psycho-biological and physical attributes to always bring about a better society of human kind. And such sensitivity to the technological is all embracing of man’s needs for survival including procreation, recreation learning etc…