Feeding Black: Community, Power & Place

Tafeswork Belayneh inside her café Zeret Kitchen in Camberwell. Credited by Jonas Martinez/Museum of London.

Feeding Black: Community, Power & Place

A new display drawing on a collaborative community collecting project to explore the central role food plays in Black entrepreneurship and identity in South East London. Opens 16 July – entry included with free museum ticket.

This July the Museum of London Docklands will open a new free display, Feeding Black: Community, Power & Place, in its London, Sugar & Slavery gallery. The exhibit will draw on collaborative community collecting to explore the central role food plays in Black entrepreneurship and identity in South East London. 

Food is central to what it means to be part of a diasporic community – one that demonstrates the connections Londoner’s have with the rest of the world. For many years, entrepreneurial food businesses have thrived across South East London feeding and providing produce from home to African and Caribbean communities.

Feeding Black will spotlight four of these businesses, and their owners, to explore how they are much more than the services and goods they provide to their communities, but act as vital spaces to untangle questions around politics, culture and heritage in an ever-changing city. The four collaborating businesses and owners include:

Junior in front of Junior’s Caribbean stall in Woolwich.
Credited to Jonas Martinez/Museum of London
  • Livity Plant Based Cuisine – Owned and run by two sisters, Kaleema and Kareema Shakur-Muhammad in Croydon. They provide healthy plant-based Caribbean food as well as a variety of herbs and natural products sourced from Jamaica.

  • African Cash & Carry – Originally from Cameroon, Eugene Takwa moved to the UK to study marketing. After identifying a gap in the market, he joined his brother and opened the African Cash & Carry. Based in Woolwich, the shop has stood as a multi-dimensional space, serving West African cuisine and providing services to transfer money ‘back home.’

  • Junior’s Caribbean Stall – Junior arrived in the UK from Jamaica at age 23. After working multiple jobs and helping his uncle in a market stall in Catford, he was able to start his own food stall in Woolwich in 2007 where he sells African and Caribbean fruit, veg, seasoning and even homemade soups. His business is known as the ‘Harrods of Woolwich.’

  • Zeret Kitchen – Based in Camberwell and owned and run by Ethiopian Tafeswork Belayneh, who is the author of the vegan cookery book ‘Zeret at Home.’  The kitchen attracts people from across the country with its popular vegan offering after evolving originally from a typical English fry up café.

Eugene Takwa outside his business, African Cash & Carry Based, in Woolwich.
Credited to Jonas Martinez/Museum of London

Feeding Black will represent these stories through carefully selected objects, recipes and videos along with newly commissioned photography by Jonas Martinez and original oral histories and soundscapes by Kayode ‘Kayodeine’ Gomez, – all of which will be collected and considered for acquisition by the museum for its permanent London collection.

Aleema Gray, Community History Curator (Curating London), said: “The Black-owned food businesses featured in Feeding Black are more than places for buying or selling food and goods – they provide sites to negotiate memory, heritage, power and belonging for their communities. They all demonstrate the multiple relationships we share with food; for some, food has provided them with a way to survive and thrive in London, whilst for others, it has given them an opportunity to preserve their heritage. The project as a whole, and the physical exhibit’s location in the Museum of London Dockland’s London, Sugar & Slavery gallery, provides an important and unique opportunity to reflect on modern food culture and existing legacies around sugar and London’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. With this, we hope Feeding Black will not only introduce the varied and rich aspects of the Black-owned food businesses that have shaped the identity of South East London as a whole, but will also open-up a dialogue with our visitors around understanding the sensitivities related to the appropriation of food cultures on a larger scale.”

Feeding Black: Community, Power & Place is a temporary display opening 16 July 2021 in the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery at the Museum of London Docklands and is part of Curating London, a four-year contemporary collecting programme with funding from Arts Council England.

The display will be free to view as part of a general admission booking to the museum until 17 July 2022 and will sit within a wider programme of events, still to be announced, that will explore our varied practices and understandings around food. Find out more and book tickets on the Museum of London Docklands website HERE.

Sisters Kaleema and Kareema Shakur-Muhammad who run Livity Plant Based Cuisine in Croydon.
Credited to Jonas Martinez/Museum of London

About the Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, this grade one listed converted Georgian sugar warehouse specifically tells the story of the port, river and city – focusing on trade, migration and commerce in London.

About Curating London 

Curating London is a four-year contemporary collecting programme, curating the city today with funding from Arts Council England. It aims to change how the museum collects 21st century London. It also seeks to recruit staff from a broader range of backgrounds and professional experience and puts Londoners at the heart of our collecting practice by working in partnership with local communities. From physical objects to interviewing Londoners about their own histories and memories, Curating London will capture, collect and record contemporary London. The project started in April 2018 and runs until March 2022. Each year the museum will begin four projects: three area studies of particular areas and one themed study that spans the whole of London.

Editing by Emily Brazee at the Museum of London