#AfricaDay: “We aim to grow an indigenous economy” – Sia Alexander’s Story

My name is Sia Alexander, and I am the Founder of the Children’s Art Workshop. We provide free art-based workshops and fieldtrips to local youth from impoverished communities in Lagos. We utilize the site of the Nimbus Art Gallery as a community gathering center for children in the local area to come and eat, play, dance, create, make music, design, write, perform and more.

Our aim is to replicate this workshop in other communities around Lagos, throughout Nigeria, and Africa. Art is a healing modality that can empower the lives of marginalized African children, helping them to build a stronger sense of self as they approach adulthood, and preparing them to successfully take on the challenges facing their communities, countries, and the continent as a whole.

Sia Alexander - Indigenous EconomyI am now working in Lagos, Nigeria on the site of an organic, natural and local community center. We have an organic farm that supplies our produce and we partner with sister farms for free range chickens, farmed catfish, natural honey and other foodstuffs. We also stock products from natural skin care vendors, handmade clothing, hats, belts, cloths and bags.

Our theme is ‘Made in Nigeria’ and we aim to grow the indigenous economy by promoting traditional and modern goods created on African soil by African people. Many children live in our community and we offer a safe place for them to ride bikes, do yoga, perform little tasks, and eat healthy snacks to supplement their modest diets. We endeavor to develop and sustain a community ecosystem which is self-reliant, self-sustaining and prosperous for all members.

I foresee that everyone involved in the chain of influence in this community venture, from the workers, to the farmers, to the builders, to the customers, to the children who play in the yard, will gain exponentially from the sharing, bartering and exchanging of resources, talents, goods, expertise and energy for the good of all. Our vision is to facilitate a united economy within which every participant is served and valued. Based on traditional African principles of Ubuntu and Ujamaa, I believe that we can be a model for sustainable shared economics that benefits both people and the environment in which they must thrive. Our organic center has become a magnet for adults and children alike to come and make practical art in the form of space design, product arrangement and food preparation. Craftsmen come to make chairs and tables for our customers to sit down and enjoy native soups made with indigenous spices, whilst Afrobeat musicians play guitar and sing time honored tunes.

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