Panafrolink London - August 2019
When a friend sent me a whatsapp that basically said. ‘Do you want to come to a networking event’. The answer was a straight yes. This friend doesn’t mess about. Without spying a link or flyer, I knew it was going to be something good, but when I got there, my little mind was blown.
Panafrolink describes itself as an ‘event series for thinkers, doers, and creators within the global African diaspora, inspired by art, impact and enterprise.’ With previous events in New York and London, the team came back to the capital with bang taking over Victoria house in Holborn at the end of August.
The night was hosted by comedian Eddie Kadi who kicked things off by interviewing leaders from different industries and heritages across the diaspora. There was Leroy Logan MBE - former Superintendent of the Met Police, regular contributor to the Guardian, and author. He spoke passionately about his decision to join the force with the goal of making changes from within whilst working on high profile, gut wrenching cases. Although retired, he still works closely with the police and organisations to tackle issues affecting the black community.
Next up was Bankulli - an A/R and music consultant who I wasn’t familiar with, but the sound of the crowd when he entered the stage told me that I was the only one! A few googles later and I was quickly brought up to speed. He has worked with some of the most celebrated Afro beats artist emerging right now and was featured on one of Beyonce’s Lion King Album tracks. Bankulli spoke to the crowd about his work in the music industry, that famous Kanye West Video and how he works with and unites artists from all over the continent - the very definition of Pan-Africanism. His upcoming project, a documentary chronicling Afro-beats is something I’ll be looking out for.
The visual space itself was dope beyond belief. The curation of art, textiles and sculpture to take in before and after the talks, the colours splashed all over the walls and interactive spaces made the whole place scream, Africa. That exclamation of pride was down to the third interviewee on the night - Nadu Placca. Placca is an Events Architect from London who has also worked on Afropunk, Afrochella and Merky Airways. She spoke about her business journey, the all black female team that put the event together as well as her personal connections to Africa, and raising her daughter to have a full understanding and appreciation of her heritage by sending her to school on the continent.
After the talks, the kitchen opened and a spread of foods from so many African diaspora backgrounds was laid out. I’m talking Brazilian, North African, Caribbean - it was all there. Once we filled our bellies, we took the opportunity to wander through the space and soak up the art and opportunities.
One of my favourite pieces depicted an elephant with its trunk tilted towards the stars
As I said at the top, this was a networking event, a chance to connect with and support like-minded individuals. I loved this introduction wall, where you could fill in and pin up a A5 sheet introducing yourself and the service or product you could offer. I took a few snaps of some people I might need to make contact with in the future.
The energy throughout the whole building was bubbling. Like the feeling you get when you’re on the cusp of something great, or when you realise you’re just one step away from achieving a massive goal. I left with a reignited feeling that with pan-African mindset anything is truly possible. The conversations were heated, electric and on-point, the people were determined, driven and passionate and the food was damn good. Even Stormzy passed through at one point to have a little mingle.
Make sure you’re on the mailing list. Three days ago they announced that they were taking the event to Accra, Ghana in January 2020. Is it worth planning a trip around? I really think it might be.
Oh. And did I mention that all of this was free?