Where were you: Africans in Conversation is a big step forward for the creative industry

Over the weekend, Njiko Agency and Abike Studio hosted a digital conference, ’Africans In Conversation’ which was aimed towards creating cultural dialogue between Africans both at home and in the diaspora, who work within the spaces of music, arts, politics, and culture.

Africans In Conversation hosted several industry innovators such as our Editor-In-Chief; Seni Saraki, Lagos-based artist; Adekunle Gold, cultural tastemaker; Jess Finesse, journalist; Joey Akan and many more. They spoke about the current state of the world and their industries within that, how they manoeuvre their chosen fields, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the continent and African diaspora. With close to 700 RSVPs and attendees, the inaugural conference was a resounding success.

The creative industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy, and creative talent is a huge untapped resource in our society’s ecosystem today, especially within Africa, where people see creativity as more of a hobby than something to be taken seriously. Commercial and more ‘serious’ vocations prioritised and get the most financial backing from the government and private entities alike.

It’s actually very impressive that the creative industry has become what it is today, mainly due to the fact that a bunch of young people came together and decided to rewrite their own rules and take up their own space. For creatives, getting work invested in can be an arduous task, especially in times like this where uncertainty is the order of the day and workflow has been impeded upon by a lot.

The music industry especially has seen a paradigm shift, and the entire world is currently interested in our sound, and our local talents are now performing on a global stage. In the past few years, with efforts such as NATIVELAND in Lagos, La Meme Gang’s Crusade in Accra, and La Sunday in Abidjan, we’ve been aiming to bridge the gap and connect the dots by ourselves.

As our Editor-In-Chief impressed upon in his conversation with Joey Akan at the panel, we have a responsibility to tell authentic stories and showcase the vast talent we have within our community, and also why it’s important for African publications to tell the truth about what’s going on in order to control our own narrative and gain some autonomy over how our stories are being documented.

In the wake of the unease the pandemic is bringing, with everyone being stuck indoors, “Africans In Conversation” was a great way to take our minds off the stress, and also an interesting way for creatives who signed up to the event to network with other creative talent, and expand the scope of their work across various jurisdictions.

Africans In Conversation is digital brainchild of Olive Uche, Dotun Abeshinbioke, and Ikenna Ngwu, who through their the three brands are focused on building and connecting Africans through dialogue. Their efforts provide a safe space for Africans both at home and in the diaspora to commune, share ideas, and connect while engaging in unique and necessary conversations about the continent, working in certain spaces, health & wellness, and more.

Speaking to the NATIVE, the event organisers shared their motivation behind creating the platform and the importance of having such cross-Atlantic events online:

Africans In Conversation was created as a community across different borders at a time, with the aim to evoke feelings of togetherness even while we’re all apart. This conference focused on music and culture and how some African tastemakers are creating names for themselves and thriving within these spaces. We wanted people in attendance to have key takeaways that they could apply to their careers moving forward.

This effort, particularly in the current climate, is admirable as it serves as a reminder of how far the creative industry has come together as a whole and it serves as a much-needed reminder to keep going and grinding against the grain, because there’s a lot for us to do. Check out what some attendees had to say:

“Currently having the best time during this lockdown at this digital conference.”  – Halima Ibrahim

“So many nuggets dropped at Africans In Conversation. Best Sunday spent during lockdown.”  – Chineme Ezekewnenna

“This was very informative and inspiring.” – Benewaah Boateng, Harmattan Rain

Featured Image credits/abike.studios


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