Africa Must Embrace The Creative Arts To Experience Its Rebirth

This was my very first article back in May 2018. Its important I re-post it after the relaunch of the initiative.

Africa Must Embrace The Creative Arts To Experience Its Rebirth

This was my very first article back in May 2018. Its important I re-post it after the relaunch of the initiative.

It has taken me almost a week to think about my first post. This is partly due to developing a habit of writing, editing and re-editing in the hope of coming up with a perfect script. I lay blame on my high school sweetheart. Her grasp of the Queen’s language was exceptional. It would have been such a shame if my response to her perfectly written love letter contained numerous grammatical errors. That would have been the end of our love story. She was perfect, and she sought perfection. Ever since then, I, too, started seeking perfection, especially in writing. However, with time I have realized that we live in an imperfect world and as such, we can strive for perfection, but we can never attain perfection.

I decided to summarise this new initiative, what inspired it and what it seeks to achieve.

By now, most of us have come across the video “This Is America” by American musician Donald Glover (Childish Gambino). I remember the first time I watched it. I was absolutely stunned. It is astounding how he addressed vital issues facing America, mainly racism and gun violence, in four minutes and five seconds and how he did. Personally, I find the Nigerian version, “This is Nigeria”, by renowned rapper Falz, more relatable.  Kenya and Nigeria are siblings separated at birth. Yet, we share similar problems such as corruption, police brutality and unemployment. Take your time and also watch the video “Spirit” by South African rapper Kwesta. The song urges South Africans to be united despite the many challenges since the apartheid era. How he has used images to capture South African history and the challenges they have gone through over the years is incredible; it’s Art in Motion.

Critics will argue there won’t be any visible effect of these artworks on our lives. They are just but music videos. We will watch, talk, share until a new shiny video pops up. However, the constant talking and debating elicit thought as we try to decipher the various symbols and scenes in the video(s). That is positive by itself. When the mass citizens begin analyzing and debating such issues, it marks the beginning of any change process. I am aware that the conclusion appears very idealistic, so it’s paramount to go back to a significant historical period known as the “Renaissance”.  This was a period of change whereby mankind slowly started using reason; and separated the role of religion, philosophy and science in their life. Previously, all aspects of human life were guided by religious doctrines and teachings. The application of reasoning led the people to question everything about them. This ranged from the universe’s formation to the fairness of the laws that governed them. The Age of Reason influenced the Scientific Revolution and directly influenced the French and American Revolutions, which were critical milestones in spreading democracy. What led to this sudden change in how human beings view and live their lives?

The exploration and the discovery of new continents led to the European people acquiring new knowledge from other societies. Artists used paintings to communicate to the masses on the beautiful lands and new ways of life in foreign lands. Furthermore, the invention of the printing press meant that many manuscripts on Greek and Ancient Roman philosophy and history were widely read. As a result, people became more and more interested in reviving their ancient traditions and culture and applying the doctrines of classical Greek philosophers. One cannot speak of the “Renaissance” or “Re-birth” period and not mention Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Angelo, two of the greatest artists to have graced this planet. Most of these painters had an interest in science. They used their paintings as a means of imparting knowledge to the population on various new scientific discoveries. Music, art, literature and sculptures have been attributed as the main factors that influenced the re-birth of Europe. They were the means through which new knowledge on educational and cultural matters was imparted to the larger population.

It all began with a change of thought. This questioning of previous knowledge and every aspect of their lives led to a period of immense innovation and social and political development.

Talanta Manufaa appreciates the immense power of the arts, especially with the growth of digital communication.  We hope to build an African community that values talent and the power of creativity. We champion the formulation of laws and the establishment of governance structures that enhance creativity. A community where young people are encouraged to be creative and exploit their talents rather than be robots to a system created to suppress their creativity.  We will tell stories of people who are continually using their creative abilities to impact society positively. We envision a creative community that will tell authentic Kenyan and African stories and frequently pose questions in our minds. We anticipate that through our efforts like creative artists influenced the “Renaissance” period in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we will catalyze the re-birth of our African society.