Embargoed 25 October 2013 – 13h00 Media release
Africans for Africa Network launches game-changing
North-South Collaboration at WOMEX 13
Wales Cardiff: 25 October 2013: The recently inaugurated Africans for Africa Network today launched a game-changing North-South collaboration at WOMEX 13.
The collaboration takes the form of a two-week residency programme and two public events taking place at the Emthonjeni Arts in South Africa in December 2013, in partnership with Mali’s the Festival au Desert.
This first-ever partnership between cultural initiatives in the two countries has emerged out of Africans For Africa Network’s mission to change prevailing narrative of Africa from one driven by Western media to one that reflects the inherent strengths of the continent across various Afro-centric platforms.
The Africans for Africa Network is the brainchild of Vanessa Perumal, founder of JT Communications Solutions and the JT Comms African Media Resource Centre of Excellence, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Africans for Africa Network is a bold initiative but one that is long overdue,” says Perumal. “However the groundswell of support that we have received for the network since we launched in July means that it can play a meaningful role in radically changing the African narrative. We’re delighted to have launched our Africans for Africa Network website at the biggest world music festival in Cardiff, Wales. We are truly delighted to have IMEXSA as a key partner and would like to thank them for their generous support.”
In launching the ground-breaking North-South collaboration at WOMEX 13, Perumal worked with IMEXSA (Independent Music Exporters South Africa). As part of the celebration of this new initiative, IMEXSA will host the South African welcome party at the IMEXSA stand on 25 October 2013 from 13h00 to 14h00.
The North-South residency taking place mid-December will include cross-cultural dialogues, creations and collaborations between Mali artists, Xhosa traditional groups from the local community, a Zulu group lead by legendary storyteller Gcina Mhlophe and cultural leaders and thinkers from the South African creative landscape. There will also be cross-generational dialogue during a session of the residency earmarked for emerging artists and young people.
Two public events will take place during the collaboration between Emthonjeni Arts, which is based in the Eastern Cape town of Hamburg and the Festival au Desert.
On December 13 the public is invited to a Festival of Ideas, where they will engage and celebrate African ideas, both historic, current and for the future. The event will be driven by a narrative of Africa that defines the continent’s people as a people of ideas, and a people of innovation and creativity. During this festival a youth dialogue will take place where young leaders and emerging artists will meet to discuss the African Narrative and what it means to them. This dialogue will be podcast to different regions.
On December 14, in solidarity with the Festival au Desert on their return to Timbuktu, a re-enactment of the festival will be performed at Emthonjeni, in the heart of our own beautiful dunes. Special South African guest artists with voices that have stood for truth, diversity and peace will also give blessings and join the journey.
Founded in 2001, and recently faced with enormous challenges when forced into exile by separatist movements and armed extremists in 2013, the Festival au Desert provides an arena where Africa’s history and deep-rooted culture can find expression in a way that ensures it resonates with a contemporary audience. It returns to its home just outside Timbuktu in January 2014.
Executive director of the festival, Mohamed Aly Ansar Manny, pinpoints the Festival au Desert’s multifaceted impact, “The Festival is focused on generating new African markets, content access to new audiences, Pan African Festival promotion, opening trade routes and tourism destinations.”
Emthonjeni Arts Director, Nomsa Mazwai describes the upcoming North-South collaboration as “incredibly special”. “Here, all the artists will have a stage in the heart of our own beautiful dunes to perform on, and it is here where Oumou Sangare will bless the road to Timbuktu with a performance, an ode, a prayer for the road ahead.”
October 2013 also sees the launch of the Africans for Africa website, created by Webjunkies, a division of 4sa Technologies. Founders Rajen Govender and Kevin Naidoo offered to assist in the launch of the AfricansforAfrica initiative by developing the much-needed website that will plug into open source networks like Howiviewafrica and Sam Mokorosi’s Africa The Good News.
“As entrepreneurs, we face numerous challenges daily but remain committed to shaping the social landscape where we can,” commented Govender and Naidoo. “Joining this initiative was a way of us ‘paying it forward’, accordingly, we hope to see Africans for Africa achieve its objectives of groundbreaking, lasting change and creating the platform dialogue it wishes. It’s about time that Africans take control of their destiny!”
Perumal, an activist, entrepreneur, innovator, pioneer and a visionary, recently led a global call for action to support the banned and exiled Festival au Desert in Mali through a global Caravan for Peace.
She is determined to change the African narrative and hopes to see a united Africa where Africans for Africa Network can help change the negative perceptions of the continent. “I am amazed by the groundswell of support this initiative has generated from across Africa; it is indicative of the will of ordinary Africans to set the agenda for change on the continent and drive the production of authentic content which frames Africa in a positive light,” she says.
The Africans for Africa Network, spearheaded by the JT Comms African Media Resource Centre of Excellence, will focus on: ongoing exchanges, topic specific dialogues and the creation of platforms for African artists within and outside the continent throughout the year; an annual pan African Dialogue; hosting a Global Concert for Peace, featuring top African and international artists, performing for an international audience; hosting dialogues with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mahotella Queens, Dorothy Masuku and Yogi Nambiar (Programme Director of the Goldman Sachs-GIBS 10,000 Women Certificate Programme in South Africa), in November at the Media Centre and the first of the Africans for Africa Network’s pan African exchanges which will be hosted by Emthonjeni Arts, Hamburg in the Eastern Cape.
The Africans for Africa Network will be instrumental in providing content and programming for a myriad of bilateral activations in Africa, realised through a network of partnerships with various groups and organisations.
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Issued by JT Communication Solutions on behalf of IMEXSA – www.imexsa.org.za
Note to Editor
About IMEXSA (Independent Music Exporters South Africa) – IMEXSA is a non-profit organisation which focuses on developing and increasing the number of music exporters in South Africa by identifying trade opportunities and assisting companies to take advantage of these opportunities. Annually IMEXSA ensures that emerging South Africa artists and independent music artist are promoted at WOMAX. This service has the potential to kick start careers on an international level. Further demonstrating its dedication to developing locally produced music around the world, IMEXSA, as part of the WOMAX13 Official Showcase selection, will present Nomfusi and Shangaan Electro, in celebration of their ground-breaking new talent, diversity and creativity.
Africans For Africa Network partners include FestivalauDesert (Manny Ansar), Emthonjeni Arts and the key stakeholder and trade exchange, Webjunkies, a division of 4sa Technologies (Rajen Govender and Kevin Naidoo); IMEXSA, iStart2, SA Women Engineers, Howiviewafrica, Woldegiorgis Ghebrehiwot from Mekelle University, Tigray, Ethiopia; Johnny Muteba from Democratic Republic of Congo; Sam Mokorosi’s Africa The Good News, Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust – Nozincwadi (Dr Gcina Mhlope) and Harem Clothing.
All the partners believe that this initiative will provide a conduit for both youth and economic development in the cultural industries:
Messages from partners:
Manny Ansar, Festival of the Desert director: “Our Festival, although small, is in the top three festivals in Africa; this shows how powerful creative platforms are in shaping both the human rights and citizen activism agendas in Africa. Adapting these platforms to sustainable markets for Africa’s creative voices across Africa and the world is the key challenge we must address as a matter of urgency. The Africans for Africa Network provides this impetus.”
Mali’s famed Festival of the Desert, now exiled due to instability in the region, was the catalyst for the realisation of the need for a pan African network.
Nomsa Mazwai, Director Emthonjeni Arts: ‘As Emthonjeni Arts, we are thrilled to be kicking off the Africans for Africa programme with a residency at our facility in the Eastern Cape. The Africans for Africa network articulates what we hope will become the African narrative. One that celebrates our many talents and achievements as Africans. Emthonjeni Arts a project of the Eastern Cape department of Economic Development Environmental Affairs and Tourism is a sterling example of an African solution for the economic challenges of the rural poor of South Africa. We look forward to hosting this prestigious residency on an annual basis, as we see it will give hope to young Africans that no matter where you come from, anything is possible in Africa.’
Lamin Sawaneh of Howiveiewafrica: “Thank you for creating this (Africans for Africa Network). I see myself being a voice and face for Africans4Africa movement. I want to contribute in bringing solutions to changing the narrative of Africa. I am obsessively passionate about Africa and more than motivated to take action. I want to be that “I” in Howiviewafrica – and my hopes are to inspire the world to do the same, especially Africans. I love your heart for people, Vanessa, and I feel it’s destiny that we connected online. Thank you.”
Pierre du Toit of iStart2: “With her vision of Africans for Africa and the Human Rights activism at the core of its value system Vanessa is one of the most valuable partners in communicating our stories to the rest of the world. As a social entrepreneur, she is PASSION and ENERGY in capital letters – she gives renewed meaning to being part of the magic in Africa.”
Sam Mokorosi, Chief Operating Officer at Africa The Good News – a news website highlighting positive developments in Africa: “We at Africa, The Good News are excited about the launch of African for Africa Network. We exist to balance the tone of the conversation about Africa. Without turning a blind eye to the challenges facing Africa, we want to steer the conversation away from the doom and gloom perspective that African events are often reported on. Africans for Africa Network is a much needed addition to this conversation about our great continent. It is a great platform for the building of Africa’s own narrative about her past, present and future. We welcome any initiative to broaden and the balance the conversation about Africa, and we wish AfricansforAfrica Network the greatest success!”