Full Frame: African Influence

Full Frame

Africa is the world’s youngest and fastest-urbanizing continent.  By 2050, Africa will have half of the world’s population. Full Frame speaks to three visionaries who are helping to transform the global conversation around Africa through the arts and entrepreneurship.

I consider Nigeria to be my muse,” said Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American author of Africanfuturism. She has won top science fiction and fantasy honors, including the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award and Nebula Award.

Growing up, Nnedi’s parents often took her to visit Nigeria. It was during these trips that Nnedi first started to imagine what her parents’ birthplace would look like in the future.

“I started noticing technology and I started noticing it popping up in interesting places whenever we would go to Nigeria, like in the most rural of places,” she said. “There’s no electricity or running water here, and they use a cell phone. I found that very interesting.”

“Where you’re lacking a certain kind of infrastructure, it jumps over that lacking to have this even more advanced technology,” she said.

For artist Laolu Senbanjo, his Yoruba roots inspire his work. The Yoruba are an ethnic group based in western Africa.

“We have a lot of history that is included in our arts. And unfortunately, we allow the West to tell our stories for us,” he said. “I am trying to change the narrative.

Laolu’s art has expanded into pop culture, including a music video Beyoncé.

“Now Beyoncé is making it popular and everybody is talking about Yoruba culture ,” Laolu said.

Globally, six of the ten fastest-growing economies are in Africa, with home-grown talent helping to make the continent a business development destination.  

 Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade has created high-end African brands, including the skincare line Tiossan.

“By building consumer brands that have embedded in them the very best of my culture, that would take care of my culture disappearing. And as companies like that thrive, I’m also able to build to create jobs back home. And as companies like that thrive, you become a role model and others emulate you and believe that compounding effect,” she said.

She said people from outside of Africa have already capitalized on the continent’s culture.

I tell Africans and other people in the developing world, this is our time,” she said.