Seven cities. Six countries. Five years and counting.Welcome to Afripedia.
Afripedia is a five-part documentary series that aims to put Africa’s new creative class into gloriously glitchy focus. It’s also been something of a labour of love for Teddy Goitom and his team at Stocktown Films. “We live in a visual age and yet I felt like we were still being fed single stories about Africa,” says Goitom of his original incentive for the project. “I wanted to highlight some African role models and hope these films are inspirational.”
Born in Jerusalem to Ethiopian and Eritrean parents, Goitom grew up in Sweden and founded Stocktown in Stockholm in 1998. It started out as a platform for urban culture and has grown from a YouTube aggregator to encompass film, TV, exhibitions and new media via a global network of voices. Stocktown Meets Africa launched in 2008 and the first Afripedia pilot was shot in South Africa in 2010. A trip to Angola came next, then Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. The resulting 30-minute episodes were first aired on Swedish televion last year, each one zooming in on individuals whose attitudes and talents act as a catalyst for change.
In Accra the viewer is introduced to androgynous musician Wiyhaala. “The first time she opened her door to us, I felt her energy,” recalls Goitom. “She’s so strong and dealing with her journey through music. When we premiered the film in Sweden, so many people got emotional about her sense of empowerment.”
In Johannesburg we’re thrown into the mosh pit with heavy metal band Ree-burth while in Cape Town Xander Ferreira and DJ Invisible of lip pop band Gazelle stroll along the beach discussing their aesthetic influences. “You can go to the poorest neighbourhoods and find the most stylish motherfucker,” says Ferreira. “He’s got a $10 outfit but he’s pimping. Like they say, ghetto fabulous.”
Ivorian rapper/producer Fanny Beats aka Feedazy shows off her conscious rhymes as she speeds through Abidjan in the back of a car. “It’s not easy being a female beatmaker,” she says. “I want to prove that it is possible to make a living from music as a woman in this country.” In Luanda, Afripedia hails kuduro’s first transsexualsuperstar Titica as well as plain-speaking poet Nástio Mosquito. Nairobi 3D artist Andrew Kaggia explains the political message behind his animation Wageuzi, which depicts politicians as cars that transform into robots to do battle. “A lot of bad things happened around the 2007 elections. I wanted people to see potential leaders in their true light.” And in Dakar, artist Omar Victor Diop introduces his take on African studio photography and cultural activist Ken Aicha Sy of Wakh’Art stresses the importance of brain gain. “It’s important to come back and develop something here within the scope of your work,” she says. “Everything must be done. If we don’t do it, who will?”
Stocktown is currently working on a feature-length Afripedia film and Goitam wants to position the brand as a meeting point for cross-cultural collaboration. “It’s about having a DIY spirit, creating your own space and finding your own market. This is Afrofuturism.”
Images courtesy Afripedia