For the last few hundred years the portrait painted of Africa has been brush strokes of poverty, war and hunger colored in with undertones of corruption and disease. While some of these things are a reality in some places it is exciting to see Africans and afro-descendants pushing past the generic cosmetic narrative to tell a deeper more meaningful story of how they want their countries, lives and stories to be portrayed.
If you think about it, the theme of “Africa Rising” that has led to us being able to reclaim our power was set in motion during the first wave of independence. Once our forefathers felt the wind of freedom sweeping across the continent, there was no stopping us. Political independence was just the beginning. With heroes like Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, et al, the portrait painted of us was slowly starting to fade.
The second wave was finding and assimilating our economic power. It is often said that Africa is rich in resources. With more young people being groomed to be entrepreneurs instead of job seekers it is a fact that we are home to some of the brightest minds the world has ever seen. With African role models like Aliko Dangote, Vusi Thembekwayo and Mizing Melu to inspire young minds we have acquired a new attitude, we realise that self-determined development requires self-representation. The 2016 “Forbes 30 under 30” list for Africa is a clear sign that this generation is working towards making our own lives better, these young people are running globally recognised million dollar firms. Clearly there is no time to sit and wait for someone else to do for you what you can do better for yourself.
Our continent has given birth to some of the most original and creative forms of artistry known to man and now we can tell our own stories, our way – this is the third wave. With the power of numbers and technology behind us, Africans everywhere are reclaiming power over the African narrative.
With undertones of emancipation and overtones filled with bursts of creative energy, we FINALLY have the power to shape international opinion about who we are and where we come from. Our music is inspiring international hits, our fashion is more visibly being given credit for inspiring a lot of runway collection home and abroad, not to mention all the African writers making waves in the universe. Our young people are using their voices, louder than ever to express the spirit of what it means to be African.
With the rise of digital platforms such as Everyday Africa , Visiter l’Afrique , Sunu Journal and ArtNewsAfrica among others, we have found our voice and in so doing, encouraged positive representations of the African continent by ensuring that local content and local voices are front and centre on the international stage. African artists, designers and influencers such as Omar Viktor Diop, Trevor Sturrman, Loza Maleombho, Walé Oyéjidé and Bonang Matheba are using their creativity to transform the African narrative. This has not only led to more recognition for African creatives, from writers to designers and musicians but it has also led to numerous collaborations with some of the biggest names in music, literature and film.
No one can tell your story in the way you can tell it, with the same passion, with the same depth of knowledge.
Afri-CAN rise and let your voice be heard because no one is in control but us.