Africa, do you boo?
by Tafadzwa Muzuwa. There is a Shona proverb that says, “Mviromviro yemhanza mapfeka”. This means “Big events are predicted by early signs.”
Previously, when we said “Africa is rising”, we got excited for finally seeing our African influence on the world and (hopefully) getting credit for it. We became hopeful for what Africa would look like in the exponential rise of the tech and creative expression in this digital era. And now I say, “Africa has risen.” We saw the early signs, and the big event has finally arrived.
I am finding that, now more than ever, we need to dream, do, defend, and dignify Africa. We need to give Africa the same excitement and investment we give to the West and East, and we need to be the case studies we share with clients. Because, as Africans, we are doing absolutely incredible work in every sector. And what makes it so incredible? We are doing it our own way.
This is #BragTime. This is for the next time someone tries to paint the picture of Africa as the desperate, lagging-behind, safari-wallpaper, juju-messed, blacked-out continent. This is for us to defend brand Africa with great examples, for once.
Tech in Africa
There was a total of 442 active tech hubs in Africa as of 2018, 50% up on 2016. This is a positive sign that innovation is being invested in to create more-nuanced solutions for surrounding communities.
Phyllis Kyomuhendo and her team have developed a low-cost mobile ultrasound device called mScan. This device and software were created to answer the critical call to over 16 mothers who die every day in Uganda while giving birth in low-resource areas, due to reasons that could have been picked up with an ultrasound.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90% of the world’s 580 000 annual malaria deaths, and most of the children under five years of age die every day due to malaria in this region (source: Unicef). Brian Gitta has therefore created Matibabu, a device designed to test malaria without needing blood samples, and which sends test results within minutes to a mobile phone linked to the device.
- We know that, across Africa, traffic congestion is a norm. In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an incredible engineer called Thérèse Izay-Kirongozi has reduced congestion, made by a population of over 10m people, with giant traffic robots that assist traffic and pedestrians.
- Google has launched its first AI lab for Africa in Ghana, so we will see more African innovations that will not only solve African problems with African intelligence but will also further showcase the continent’s brilliance.
Innovations in Africa have proven that imagination, tech, and understanding true African problems drive simple, and incredible, sustainable solutions.
Storytelling is the genetic core of Africans. So, content for us is not a new boom but rather where we continue to pay homage to our roots and heritage, show our similarities and uniqueness, and expose family truths and global lies. What digital has done is simply allowed us to share this across cultures, across time, and to have a capsule of content to share with future generations and keep the gene authentic. Here is a list of my favourite key players:
My favourite production company and storyteller is OM Films. Owned and run by a South African married couple, Ofentse and Nelisiwe Mwase, their comedic skits are constantly relevant and hilarious, and set the benchmark on how to provide quality content that people keep coming back for.
Magamba TV and Bustop TV
In Zimbabwe, Magamba TV and Bustop TV are satirical comedy platforms that bring humour to family stories and the political and economic brilliance of Zimbabwe (basically, everyday life).
Lastly, Nollywood. What I respect most about Nigeria is its storytelling style and narratives being told its way — so much so, it got Netflix to massively invest into this industry. If you still haven’t given Nollywood a chance in 2019, check out Netflix’s Chief Daddy.
We’re not all just stories and innovation; what we’re doing in the advertising space is genius, too.
ZOL is one of the largest internet providers in Zimbabwe. Its ad, “Where else”, gave national pride in a very critical moment (the coup-not-coup-but-coup time). It captured the hope and strength of Zimbabweans at an opportune time that, no matter when you watch this ad, you remember why everyone finally took a stand together.
Sanlam Kenya for Father’s Day gathered a group of dads to share their experiences in raising daughters in this day and age, against the backdrop of their upbringing. What makes this powerful is taking African men, well-known to be traditional and restrictive at times, and having them share their views and open that conversation that every African father should have.
Glo, a telecoms company in Nigeria, has a variety of great ads that helps the rest of Africa to get a better picture of the nation. I believe, for us to form better and updated perceptions of other nations, we need to continuously watch their ads and stories. It takes a simple search to find ads such as Rhythm and Always in Your Corner to erase stereotypes, appreciate their craft, and connect with the insights they share that, often enough, is relatable to the rest of us.
A lot to share
There’s is a lot to share with your counterparts in life and work concerning the wonders Africa is creating. And for those who are creators, thinkers, innovators, dreamers, and African, I encourage you to be persistent and proud. At the end of the day, all of these wins build up Brand Africa. We are together when we win; we should be together when we struggle. Let’s educate ourselves on other nations and their works. Let’s dream, do, defend, and dignify Africa persistently.
Africa has risen.
- Africa Day 2019 is Saturday, 25 May 2019.
Tafadzwa Muzuwa (IG: @teaandnickles) is a strategist at The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town) when she isn’t writing poetry, listening to Afrobeats and Afro-Soul, drinking plenty of vanilla chai, or reading any and every African Fiction book out there. She’s a Pan-Africanist at heart who’s passionate about people, purpose, and belonging (possibly due to having a life of various homes in southern Africa). For more African innovations, view the Deeply Insightful: Tech in Africa report from Jupiter CT.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.