by Julius WiedemannNov 02, 2021
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, in collaboration with Africa No Filter, a not-for-profit organisation, has announced the winners for the Future Africa: Telling Stories, Building Worlds programme. The winners have been selected from Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Cameroon, and Kenya. The XR (Extended Reality) creators will utilise music, multimedia installations, films and sculpture to explore projects around spirituality, heritage, the cosmos, memory, imagination, masculinity, and fluid spaces.
Future Africa: Telling Stories, Building Worlds was launched in December 2021 as part of Africa No Filter's work of supporting storytellers. Sitting at the intersection of innovation and storytelling, it expands on how the extended reality can tell compelling African stories that are contemporary, narrative-shifting and extraordinarily immersive. It is a driven partnership between narrative-change organisation Africa No Filter (ANF) and Meta, with an ambitious goal to centre African stories in future technologies.
Supported with the funding of up to $30,000, the winning artists will also participate in XR-industry events with the intent to enhance their creativity and drive interest in their projects. They will also access mentorship from Electric South and Imisi3D.
Jessica Hagan, Arts and Culture Program Lead at ANF, stated, "It’s reassuring to see the amount of incredible XR talent on the African continent. The creativity and innovation we encountered in the selection process have been very exciting. It shows that Africa is also on the pulse of global innovation and tech trends that are redefining how stories are told and experienced. XR content creation is costly, but African creators are not falling behind.”
The participating storytellers have exceptional multidisciplinary art practice. Working on a hybrid art installation, Cameroonian multimedia artist, Pierre-Christophe Gam, fuses Virtual Reality, film, photography, and mixed-media sculpture to imagine the future of Africa from the perspective of an African family living in 2070. South African writer, performer and new media artist Xabiso Vili's visual album is a speculative fiction piece that explores reconciliation and healing. Vili hopes to turn toxic masculinity into compassionate masculinity. Nirma Madhoo is a fashion filmmaker, XR creator and PhD candidate from Mauritius. Her work explores African cultures as technologies, which she illustrates through ancient practices like cultural astronomy. Kenyan film editor, XR creator, Michelle Angawa's short tragicomedy depicts a day-in-the-life of a Nairobian boda boda rider, exploring desire and the complexities of Nairobian life. Nigerian multimedia artist, Malik Afegbua, is curating a virtual heritage experience of the Kofar-Mata dye pit, a cultural and historical site in Kano, Nigeria. Mozambican director and producer Sousa uses the journey of Lemanjá, the Afro-Brazilian goddess of wisdom, to explore the ocean as a sacred site of spirituality.
Sherry Dzinoreva, Meta’s Public Policy Programs Director, Africa, Middle East, and Turkey, said: "The Program is an opportunity to get African storytellers on board the next evolution of social technology. We understand the power of Extended Reality and how it can be used to tell stories that shift narratives about and within the continent.”
Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. Facebook has changed the way people connect since its launch in 2004 empowering billions around the world with app developments such as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.
Africa No Filter believes that the prevailing stereotypical narrative of Africa as the continent of poverty, disease, conflict, poor leadership and corruption is outdated. It is a donor collaborative working to shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. They aim to circulate the reality of the second-largest and second-most-populous continent through research, grant-making, community building and advocacy by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))