The mission of Africa International House is to serve as a center that exposes and educates all peoples to the individual works and collective contributions of African cultures. Our mission is addressed through our flagship program, the African Festival of the Arts, and through other activities that promote African-based culture. Africa International House is an umbrella for linkages and exchanges of people from Africa and the African Diaspora.
The story of Africa International House USA, Inc. (AIH) begins at Window to Africa (WTA) - an African art and gift store in Harper Court, Hyde Park - owned by Dr. Delores (Dee) Parmer and Patrick Woodtor who returned from Liberia in 1982. WTA was operated by art & cultural enthusiasts: Joanne Scott, Shionah Chancellor, Steven B. Jackson, Dayo Laoye, Gwen Luster and Curtis Chancellor. Programs at WTA drew large crowds and included exhibitions, fairs and fashion shows. The Bahamas National Dance Troupe premiered in Chicago as one of these events. In 1989, WTA convened a group of cultural supporters to manage the WTA activities which became the African Festival of the Arts (AFA).
In 1994, the Woodtor family incorporated Africa International House USA, Inc (AIH) as a nonprofit organization to manage the AFA, with the mission: "To serve as a center that exposes and educates all peoples to the individual works and collective contributions of African cultures." AIH, governed by a board of directors, combines community support with corporate sponsorship to present Chicago audiences with art and cultural programs through our Center for Contemporary African Art and Culture.