The Beauty of Africa is that it is diverse. Our people speak hundreds of languages, come in all different shades and sizes, live in various climates, and have diverse experiences. As a result of these experiences, we have developed different cultures and express our stories through the arts in different ways. This is why Africans need to unite their resources to further their unique narratives.
The western world has always been fascinated by African culture and art, and this appreciation has only increased in recent years. While appreciation is great and may bring more awareness in theory, the diversity we have is at risk of being thwarted in favor of a generalized idea of what “African” is. This idea translates to stereotypical fashion trends, distorted artwork, and misguided playwrights circulating ideals that are not factual. These individuals welcome the world into their creative spaces and the world in turn is taught false information that hurts its perception of the continent.
It is wonderful that the world is interested and wants to recognize African culture. However, all of these misguided translations create a vicious cycle: fascination and curiosity to application to distortion to dissemination to fascination. This is why it is important for the African arts community to unite and take charge of our narrative. This means creating our own theater troupes, art galleries, museums, movies for worldwide consumption and fashion lines. We need African arts “power groups.” We will only be able to show our diversity and culture in an in-depth manner if we come together and improve our artistic presence.
This is an ambitious feat that is easier said than done. However, how are we supposed to reach this lofty height if we don’t begin to frame our dialogue in this context?