What happens when you bring together storytellers who are passionate about changing how the world sees Africa and how Africa sees itself? The Africa No Filter Summit 2023 was a meeting of journalists, artists, content creators, as well as arts, culture and media organizations who share our passion for shifting stereotypical narratives of Africa one story at a time. Our theme for the event, #AsWeAre, was all about the better representation of Africa and
Africans. Here are some highlights:
1. We started with a friendly competition: There’s nothing like a fun ice-breaker activity to get strangers talking, laughing and having fun together, so we opened the summit with some friendly competition in the form of a Quiz night, with ANF’s Natasha Kimani as the quizmaster to test guests' knowledge of African history, politics, and current affairs. The result? Organic connections and networking. It made the summit a truly social event.
2. We connected 150 storytellers: The common thread that weaved all guests into a community is that they are as passionate as we are about telling better stories and telling stories about Africa better. Storytellers represented 25 African countries and the Diaspora, as well as a variety of creative fields from photographers, filmmakers, musicians and poets to content creators, adventure travelers, bloggers, vloggers, comedians, podcasters, painters, graphic designers and TikTokers. Community is at the core of our work, and in all our various engagements since we launched in 2020, our community has always said that funding to tell better stories is empowering, but equally important
was the opportunity to meet like-minded storytellers from different parts of Africa to network, connect and collaborate.
3. We continued the important conversation on how we represent Africa better: Whether it’s on a global or local scale, the story of Africa needs to be told beyond stereotypes. We unpacked the importance of better representation of the continent through panel discussions and conversations that offered a deep dive into various aspects of narrative from the power of creativity and the role of media in setting a new news agenda for the continent, to how animators are creating new heroes and voices that centre agency, how travel storytelling and gastronomy can shift narratives. Conversations were 30 minutes long
and didn’t feature Q&A sessions so we could add more features to the programme and give guests a reason to find and network with speakers.
4. We created a platform for performers in our community: What’s a gathering of storytellers without performances? Our community features dynamic performers who use their talents to showcase the diversity of African creativity. From poetry and music to stand-up comedy and dance. The ANF Summit was also a showcase of the talented performers, narrative-shifting content and platforms we’ve partnered with. There was poetry by Wana Udobang, Efe Paul-Azino and Xabiso Vili; music by Ivy Alexander and a stand-up comedy showcase featuring Ebenezer Dwomoh, Chioma Omerua, Samuel Tetteh Madjitey, and Kevin
Chuwang Pam from the ANF Comedy Lab.
5. Story, story. Story come: We also celebrated Africa’s rich oral history and storytelling traditions by inviting storytellers who included Charity Ekezie, Njeri Wangari, Dorcas Sheffy Bello, O'Plérou Grebet, Kenanao Phele, Khensani Mohlatlole, Gregory Molale, Emmanuel Mushy, Adanna Ifeoma Enwezo, Khalid Abdusalam Hamza, Anita Soina and Moses Kiboneka to share the inspiration behind their work, why they started using their platforms to challenge stereotypical narratives and what they have achieved through their work. It was our way of amplifying our community at the event.
6. We boosted the business of our community’s creativity: We hosted interactive information sessions we called Creative Cafes, where leading creative experts led fireside chats aimed at helping storytellers in different fields understand what it takes to elevate their practice. The 45-minute sessions discussed Creative Rights and Contracts: Navigating Royalties, Ownership, and Copyrights with June Gachui; How to get your work commissioned with Jakki Anyanzwa, Commissioning Editor at MultiChoice; The Art of Framing: How to Avoid Stereotypes with Seth Onyango of bird Story Agency and photographer Mutua
Matheka; Distribution: Creating Local Content for Global Audiences with David Cornwall, managing director of Scorpion TV; Grant writing for Creatives with ANF grant lead Victor Mark-Onyegbu; Fundraising for Your Creative Project with creative producer and founder of We Are Not The Machine, Toni Kamau; and Get Your Book Published with Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, the publishing director and founder of Cassava Republic.
7. We encouraged sustainability and provided a platform for the commercialisation of arts and culture: There was a pop-up market on the sidelines of the event, where guests could get a taste of Kenyan art and African literature, buy jewelry, and other souvenirs like African textiles (kitenge, kikoi, khanga, shuka), goods from emerging fashion brands and other products that have made Nairobi a vibrant shopping destination. The market was curated by Creatives Garage, an ANF Narrative Champion.
8. Malike Sidibe set up a photography studio: He has photographed the likes of Usher and Jazmine Sullivan, and his work has been featured in Vanity Fair, Time magazine and the New York. The common thread in all his work is that it offers a “surrealistic dreamlike take on image-making…producing innovative portraits and images full of spirit and colour”. Malike had a pop-up studio during the summit, and guests had portraits taken as part of his @neonseries and @portraitseries archive.
9. Music in the air: African pop culture has become an influential feature in the global music industry, with Afrobeats and Amapiano emerging as some of the most significant alternative stories about the continent, thanks to musicians like Burna Boy, Tems, Tyla, Rema, Ayra Starr and Uncles Waffles and the strides they’re making. We celebrated pop music and showcased the richness of African music throughout the event and now you can experience how we grooved with these Spotify playlists featuring Afrobeats, Amapiano, Bongo Flava, Gnawa, Reggae, Afrosoul/blues/jazz, Zilizopendwa, Zilin, Instrumental, North African, contemporary sounds, and the best of S.A.
Here’s what our community had to say about the event:
That’s it. Remember to follow us on social media at @Africanofilter.
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