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Meet Ndidi Nkwopara: a local artist showcasing stories from the various African communities of Leeds

Ndidi Nkwopara. Image credit: Kirklees Local TV.

Through our My World My City My Neighbourhood project Ndidi is working in collaboration with the Leeds African Community Trust (LACT) to tell the stories of African migrants in Leeds. We chatted to Ndidi about her work, the African communities across Leeds and her favourite aspects of the city.

Hi Ndidi, it’s good to chat to you! Can you tell us about your project in a few sentences? 

Chimamanda Adiche, acclaimed Nigerian Author, said in her 2013 TED Talk ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ that single stories originate from a simple misunderstanding or one’s lack of knowledge of others. Africans represent the second largest ethnic group in Leeds, yet our culture, music, arts, and food are under-represented in the Leeds diversity landscape.

Therefore, I am collaborating with my African communities to foster inclusion and diversity in Leeds. This is an opportunity to tell the stories of African migrants living in Leeds. Stories of how they have transitioned from being Africans living in Africa to Africans who have made Leeds, the Capital of the North, their world, their city, and their neighbourhood.

That’s really cool, it’s definitely an important aspect of Leeds to showcase. Have you got any updates about your project? 

We had our first co-creation workshop on 20th November 2021 where we received several ideas of what members of the African community would like to see during LEEDS 2023’s Year of Culture. Our second co-creation workshop was on 15th January 2022 where we turned those ideas into a formed plan and proposal. Our next workshop on 4th February 2022 will be with the North African women of Leeds.

Exploring the Creativity of the African Diaspora with Ndidi Nkwopara

What inspires you most about the community you’re working with? 

What inspires me most about collaborating with the African community is the chance to give the community a voice by representing the resilience, resourcefulness, intelligence, and creativity of Africans. Especially in this age of equality, diversity, and inclusion.

What is your fondest memory about your community? 

My fondest memory about the community is the role it played during the COVID-19 pandemic. The salient fact is that African migrants were the heroes. They were the key workers – doctors, nurses, care workers, delivery drivers, and supermarket workers who kept us alive. Though, this memory is also tinged by the impact of health inequalities during the pandemic with a record of 5.8% of COVID-19 deaths being Black Africans.

Photo credit: Sophie Okonkwo, Sable Radio

Where is your favourite place to eat in Leeds? 

Juicy African Kitchen on Beeston Road! 

Who is your favourite person to talk to from your community? 

There are many wise people in my community – people I regard as fountains of knowledge and sources of inspiration. They give you wings to fly and achieve as well as cohesion to ground you. One of such people is Mrs Victoria Ajayi, the previous President of the Nigerian Community in Leeds and Board Member for the David Oluwale Memorial Association.  

Finally – what are the top three things you want people to know about the community you’re working with? 

  1. Diversity – The rich diversity of Africa and how it enhances Leeds’ culture, science, and innovation. 
  1. Talent – The supple of labour and increase of the economic capacity of Leeds thanks to the African community.  
  1. Impact – The community greatly impacts the city of Leeds. For example, International students contribute £2.5 billion annually to the UK economy. There are also surgeons, entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, volunteers and many more.  
Photo credit: Sophie Okonkwo, Sable Radio

Thanks so much Ndidi, this has been great! Ndidi is one of our commissioned artists for our project: My World My City My Neighbourhood. For updates on her work follow @soaringwithdidi on Instagram.

If you’re interested in getting involved with any of our projects, visit our ‘Get Involved’ page!