The importance of investing in Africa’s creative economy

It has been a busy few months for African talent on the big screen as actors and movies get recognised for their efforts during the annual awards season. We congratulate British-Ugandan actor Daniel Kaluuya for his Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Oscar nominations, and winning the BAFTA EE Rising Star award. His success, and for others like him is a testament to the long hours of hard work, commitment and self-belief one has to put in, in an industry that is notoriously hard to break into. And this is a journey that needs support not just from family, friends, and fans but also from those within the industry, and more crucially one’s local organisations and governments. 

This question does not just related to actor’s, but designers, artisans, artists, film-makers, musicians, and many more who make up the diverse roles in creative industries, and who require support to increase their chances of success locally and globally. The benefits of investing in a creative economy cannot be ignored. Countries like the UK and Italy invest in their creative and cultural sectors, not just because they have the money to do so, but because they recognise the importance their creative industries have in shaping perceptions of how the rest of the world sees them, as this quote from Salone de Mobile highlights:.

A major new departure for this edition is SaloneSatellite’s participation in the European
Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, instituted by the European Commission and implemented and run in Italy by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage (Mibact). The scheme is designed to support and encourage the efforts of those working in European cultural heritage, with a view to raising awareness of the value of cultural heritage as an asset and a resource for the European economy

Governmental support of Africa’s design industries is something I have been calling out for a long, and even dedicated a couple of paragraphs to it in the introduction of my book Contemporary Design Africa. Unfortunately, the African continent has experienced one too many a creative leaving their home country to seek opportunities elsewhere once the opportunities have dried up or needing to overcome the frustrations of not being able to advance.

We as Africans should not keep waiting on a world to first validate what we do in order for us to then accept it. I am glad to see that attitudes are changing the banners of ‘made in Africa’, ‘made in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe Kenya, insert country name’ are being held high and more people are proudly buying local, but there is still more to be done. Pursuing a creative career in Africa should not be seen as a luxury, something only the privileged few can get to do. With the right support and funding opportunities, the doors can open to more people, create more jobs, and boost a country’s economy.

– Tapiwa

[Image credits: The images shown sourced from Pexels / Julia M Cameron. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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