What does an Ethiopian businesswoman who founded a software company have in common with a Nigerian singer/songwriter?
The answer is: Global Status.
Last month, Sara Menker and Burna Boy were featured on the front covers of two of the most influential global media brands; Time’s 100 Most Influential Companies and the UK edition of GQ. This was one of several signals that the way the world sees Africa and Africans is changing.
And we intend to document these tectonic shifts more intentionally.
British-Ghanaian architect, David Adjaye, became the first black architect to be awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold Medal.
Thuso Mbedu made history as the first South African to lead a US television drama, Underground Railroad, which is based on a Pulitzer-winning novel.
After years of complaints about representation at the Oscars, two African films made the cut for the Best International Feature film nomination; the Ivorian film, Night of the Kings, and the Tunisian film, The Man Who Sold His Skin. But, it was an intriguing South African Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher, that won an
Oscar for the Best Documentary category.
British-Ugandan actor, Daniel Kaluuya, won best supporting actor for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah. His win divided Ugandans, who were hotly debating whether Kaluuya’s success can be claimed as a win for the country or not. It highlights the complex nature of diaspora identity and who is African and who is not.
We were proud to see international brands and campaigns collaborating not just with African artists but with
African artists who put Africa and their heritage at the centre of their work.
A billboard featuring a collaboration between Laolu Senbanjo, a Nigerian bred, Brooklyn-based visual artist, and the international NGO Malaria No More was featured in Times Square in New York City last month.
Facebook was behind a book about African women that dispels the narrative about African women. LeadHers: Life Lessons featured 19 dynamic African women from across the continent sharing their stories of success.
Two European powers have proved that the narrative about Africa is genuinely shifting where it matters. Both Germany and France have recognised Africa’s growing positioning as a continent that deserves to be respected.
Germany has acknowledged their actions in Namibia during the colonial era and offered some compensation.
While France asked for forgiveness and has apologised for standing by while the Rwanda Genocide took place.
We are also seeing more connections being made within Africa – showing that the gap between what we know and believe about each other is closing and that trust is growing.
Kenya’s Safaricom (backed by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone) is officially Ethiopia’s first private network provider, ending the Ethiopian government’s monopoly over its telecoms sector, one of the last in the world to be shut down.
Basketball Africa League (BAL) which represents the NBA’s first investment outside of North America has launched in Rwanda this month. 12 African
countries have signed up and will compete for the continental title.
To illustrate the power of sports and how it can connect Africans to each other. Our regular look at How Africa Googles threw up an interesting insight. Botswana was the most searched term in Algeria during the month of March, a little digging showed that the timing coincided with the African Cup of Nations Qualifiers between Botswana and Algeria. Few people in the country knew much about the country they were playing but football triggered an interest.
Artists for Africa
But it’s the attempts to shift the most persistent narratives that got us excited. “Somalia” and “artists” are not words that sit easily in the same sentence. Enter Saga Ali, the female executive director of the Somali Arts Foundation who launched the country’s first institution for contemporary arts to create a space for artistic ideas to flourish.