During a conversation between well known comedian, Joe Rogan and founder of Vice Media Shane Smith on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast I came across the term Africa Fatigue for the first time. Smith used ‘Africa Fatigue’ to describe the growing level of disillusionment people are beginning to feel having been bombarded with numerous stories of how poverty, corruption and disease have plagued Africa. The conversation up until that point had been very insightful and enlightening however, when it came to the subject of Africa there was no detail, no context, no case studies, simply two words: Africa Fatigue. My original intention for this post was to attack this horrendous term and dive into how blanket statements like Africa Fatigue only worsen the issue. However, perhaps about an on going problem, worded problematically will only exacerbate the problem. Therefore, I’d like to propose a competing idea, Africa Intrigue.
Having left Nigeria to study and then work in London I never looked back. In fact, I must shamefully admit that I also suffered from Africa Fatigue. However, I realised that much of the appreciation, love and respect that I’ve cultivated for other cultures outside my own has been a direct result of storytelling media. Nintendo, anime and manga have made me a wannabe Japanese. Although I currently suffer from ‘Hollywood Fatigue’ films like The Matrix and Forest Gump have given me an appreciation for American art and culture. The list goes on and as I’m exposed to more stories the more I appreciate cultures around the world. Therefore, it seemed clear that storytelling would be the antithesis to my Africa Fatigue, storytelling would be the beginning of my ‘Africa Intrigue.’
Naturally I set off on a mission to discover the best narratives across both Africa and the African Diaspora. A million google searches later I was hooked! As a geek I gravitated towards the comics, video game, fantasy and sci-fi. I was blown away by visually stunning comic book titles like The Pack by Paul Louise Julie, a story about a group of renegade Nubian and Egyptian werewolves. I spent hours flicking through Nubiamancy, a website that curates scifi and fantasy artwork through and Afro-Caribbean lens. Aurion the legacy of Kori Odan demonstrated how African culture can enrich gaming across the world.
Africa Intrigue is already taking root among both people living in Africa and members of the African Diaspora. We recently did a post about Jongo, a superhero TV series set in Africa and the response from both Africans and non Africans alike was fantastic and the best part, this is just the beginning! Instead of lamenting and complaining people are beginning to seek solutions, creators are taking the bulls by the horn and developing fantastic stories and this shift really symbolises the difference between ‘Africa Fatigue’ and ‘Africa Intrigue’.
It should be pointed out that Africa Intrigue does not mean ignoring the issues that Africans across the world experience and the darker periods of our history. Films like Beasts of No Nation and The Last King of Scotland are cinematic masterpieces that tell extremely important stories. However, the key is to paint a balanced picture and explore both the good and the bad through our stories.
Like ‘Africa Fatigue’, Africa Intrigue is also a blanket statement so some may criticise me for throwing around the word Africa after all it’s a massive continent with so many different countries, each housing several distinct cultures. However, I do believe there is a collective zeitgeist that binds us together much in the same way that ‘the west’ is united under it’s own shared culture. Nevertheless, I shall be more specific my Africa Intrigue is focused heavily on five regions West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa and the African Diaspora ( I know this isn’t technically a region).
Propagating Africa Intrigue is Kugali’s mission, we hope to do this by curating all of the great stories that myself and my team members have come across (not everyone is cut out for a million google searches). However, this a war and we are simply one battalion and we’d be honoured to have any one reading this fight by our side however, the point of this rant is to galvanise the army. Stories shape our society so let us shape our stories.