Lady Linda Wong Davies is the Founder and chairman of the KT Wong Foundation, which champions
the arts in Europe, China and Africa. Right for Education spoke with Lady Linda Wong Davies to ask her about her influential charitable foundation, her role in the creation of Zeitz Mocaa, and what is next.
R:Ed: Please tell our audience more about the impactful work you do at the KT Wong Foundation.
The KT Wong Foundation is about building bridges between Africa and China, and the World. The Foundation has worked collaboratively with institutions and organisations spanning across the visual arts and design. I have lived in Cape Town for nearly 30 years and have seen the growth of Africa in a myriad of ways, as well as the growth of China’s influence in Africa. Most excitingly, we have seen amazing developments in music, in art, in the education sectors. African art is not just about Black African art, it is the art of generations of immigration, across Africa and the world.
R:Ed: What inspired your move from the performing arts to the visual arts?
I had a very bad car accident a few years ago. The KT Wong Foundation had previously been very involved in the performing arts (theatre, opera, music and dance), but I was unable to move. I didn’t want to listen to any music while I was ill, as I did not want it to remind me of this tragic time. For 5 or 6 months I didn’t listen to my favourite music, but I could look. It was at that time that the museum Zeitz MOCAA was being built by visionary architect Thomas Heatherwick.
R:Ed: How did you get involved in Zeitz MOCAA, what was your role?
As an art-lover and collector, I had always been interested in the development of the local African art market. What I found especially interesting was the narrative elements of African art, the stories. The way these young artists express themselves so articulately, so eloquently, intelligently. I was mesmerized. This is why I became involved with the first contemporary art museum for Africa. I also played an active role in the creation of Africa Modern: creating the contemporary art of a continent, a book celebrating new art from Africa gaining prominence across the continent and internationally.
R:Ed: You started the China Africa Now Forum with SOAS, University of London. What was the impetus behind it?
The China Africa Now Forum brings together renowned international speakers from business, politics, academics and the arts to bring fresh understanding on the pivotal relationship between China and Africa. I wanted to tell the story of China’s investment in Africa, not just relating to art or culture, or economics and development, but to highlight the wants and needs of young, contemporary Africa. The forum now works across various notable academic institutions to bring important voices to the table.
R:Ed: What is next for the KT Wong Foundation?
One of the great things I discovered about Africa is the beautiful voices of its people. They have natural talent that comes from the body. You don’t need any instruments – they just need to open their mouths. People would like to come and tap that talent, but don’t know how. This is one of our next missions.