The general consensus at the symposium was that the continent should expect neither fairness nor accuracy when “our the story” is told by others. One of the experts, however, pointed out the need to best use the arts and creative industry that has been widely overlooked, citing that the African narrative shouldn’t only be seen in the eyes of mainstream media.
It is common knowledge that music and film play a big role in the first impressions of new cultures and politics of a country. This is evident in how Hollywood sold to the world the American dream or even the false story of terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina as a hero who saved lives and created a movie “to represent an African story.”
Therefore, putting Africa’s creative industries at the forefront would be an incredible resource in telling the African story. Beyond mainstream media, Africa imprints itself on visual art, music, dance, fashion, and theatre. If there is one thing Africans are known for, it is the art of storytelling, its long history of creative expression as culture.
Africa is also not short of talent and creativity as several western musicians have over time, turned to Africa to revive their pop and creativity, but sadly, the influence of creative industries in Africa remains negligible and as a result, creatives struggle to make their work saleable internationally.
The solution to making Africa’s art and creative industry gain momentum is in market creation - through both in-country and continental promotion of the arts, enforcing strong intellectual property laws and a strong digital presence.
Whether through documenting real-life or fictionalising stories through dance, music photography, film, or poetry, art has great power to open up channels for owning stories and creating a deeper understanding among its audience.
In an era where the arts have become a part of people’s lives, the creative industry in Africa should be boosted to promote the continent.
A Guest Editorial