Ndeithi Kariuki - Nelson Mandela pencil drawing & charcoal.
Archival Print on Bamboo Paper 24” x 18”
In Africa the creativity, the inventiveness, the theatre, and much of life, happens on the streets. In western metropolises, the creativity, the inventiveness have been codified, formalized, standardized and institutionalized. They have been divorced from the streets. This subtle difference drastically governs how we search for creative forces that tell an authentic story.
This means that in Africa, when you are in search of information, services, goods, fashion and generally anything - you have to go about the process differently. It requires you to get plugged in and connected to the grassroots. What we at AfroArt like to call Pavement Radio.
Pavement Radio requires you to lend a keen listening ear to those you are trying to collaborate with. It enables you to get the genuine perspective on the ground; in our case, what is new, innovative and fresh from the minds of the Africans.
The “Africa Rising” narrative has given Africa a breath of fresh air and served well in debunking the ingrained myths of the four horsemen of Africa’s apocalypse: corruption, disease, poverty & war. But this beautiful narrative is a myth of its own and still does not tell us the full story of the continent. The growth that Africa is experiencing has been beneficial to but a few Africans and has not been pro-poor driven growth. The fact remains that the majority of Africans are still living in deplorable conditions and still don’t have enough resources to give our children the best education, food, security and sustainable infrastructure necessary to make sure the natural resources we bequeath our children provide a meaningful life. Pavement radio enables us to engage the people at the bottom of the hegemony and collaborate in an egalitarian way that puts pride of place to ideas and solutions from those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Mandela’s economic philosophy gives credence to our thinking at AfroArt. Mandela envisioned an Africa where everyone could be a driver of their own destiny. He dreamed of a generation of Africans that pursued their passion through their careers. He asserted (while addressing a group of young diverse African millennials): “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
Africa by 2050 will have a staggering 1 billion children under the age of 18 - making up 40% of all kids worldwide - according to a recent report by NPR. And by the turn of the century, in 2100, Africa will have 4 billion people - 40% of the world will be Africans. Ladies and gentlemen: the future is African!
We have to honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy by helping this new generation of young African’s blossom. We need to start by buying from Africans to reward their innovation, creativity & genius. Made in Africa© needs to be a social movement today. By creating opportunity, we are able to empower various local parties in Africa, who would then join in as equal partners to create sustainable development. Africa will thus start contributing equally to more ‘elite’ conversations such as issues of global warming, world fashion trends, population pressure, renewable energy e.t.c. This has been demonstrated by empowered Africans like Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and Hollywood star Lupita Nyong'o.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of representing AfroArt East Africa and our mission at the East Africa Forum, at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), organized by Carolyn Taylor Meyer, Director of Professional Immersive Learning and Special Programs. And I also bumped into my old friend and mentor, Jerry Hildebrand, Director of Social Impact at MIIS. I’m quite grateful to the awesome MIIS family for making me feel so at home and sharing their genuine progressive take on Africa today.
Fela Kuti - Buy Africa