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Gbakanda Afrika Tiata

Founded in 1968 by Yulisa Amadu Maddy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, GBAKANDA has worked on three continents; Africa, Europe and the USA. Committed to its aim of increasing understanding of Pan-African cultures through education, entertainment and elucidation, GBAKANDA has always worked with artists from different disciplines and cultures to develop a fusion of multicultural art forms.

Between January 1980–1983, GBAKANDA was established as an educational theatre at the Universities of Ibadan, Ilorin, Joss, Ife, Calabar, Lagos, A.B.U. The organisation then established a base in Connecticut, USA, putting on groundbreaking performances including “Yon Kon” at the Kline Memorial Center, “Gbana Bendu” at Morgan State University and “Big Berrin” at Howard University.

In 1986, in the UK, the company set up a temporary home in Chapel Town, Leeds, working with local arts groups, schools, community centres, organisations and institutions. A cultural resource centre was developed in Yorkshire whose goal was firmly committed to building cultural exchange programs with Europe, Africa, the USA and African Diaspora. Work in the UK has already included various touring projects; the Mandela Education Residency; GBAKANDA Multicultural Week; Celebration in Honour of Wole Soyinka’s Nobel Prize for Literature; the Harambee Residency Workshop Project; and a double bill performance of “Silent Crosswords” by Tom McGill.

In the 90’s, GBAKANDA was the first African theatre company to premiere “The Amistad Revolt”, in 1993, at the University of Iowa. Other plays included “Pulse Curse”, a play by Alem Mezgebe and Amadu Maddy exploring the role of dictators in African society; “Drum Call”, a fusion of poetry, music, Rites of Passage ritual dances, traditional chants, parables, proverbs and folklore from the Mother continent and Diaspora; “Africa – It’s Politics, Cultures, Economic and Social Demise”, a two day conference followed by “Give Us Free – The Amistad Revolt”, a play written by Yulisa Amadu Maddy about the famous rebellion of Africans against heir captors, told from an African perspective.

In 2008, GBAKANDA celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary and writing, research, readings, performances and the development of new work still continue to this day.

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