The world's fascination with African culture and art was not sparked by Black Panther and the film’s subsequent hype. In truth, fascination over this continent’s unique flavour has been growing steadily over the years.
Quality African talent exports like Black Coffee, Wizkid and Trevor Noah are leading the way and showing the world what Africans are capable of.
Khuli Chana, whose partnership with Absolut has taken him around the continent for various projects and campaigns, hopes to play a significant role in advancing the African narrative.
“I feel like the world only just caught up now,” he says as we chat in a restaurant in 44 Stanley.
“And it’s a great thing because there’s a time for everything. And I hope that while the sun is still shining on us we take this moment to cultivate something much bigger that will outlive us. We must not treat this moment like a gimmick.
“And that’s cool. But I’m saying let’s not just take this time to be grateful, but let’s also take it to higher heights. It shouldn’t be a phase.”
Next Saturday, Khuli will be broadening his Absolut partnership with One Source Live. “I’m excited and nervous,” he says.
“It’s our first show, and it’s quite big.”
I ask him how the journey has been over the duration of the partnership.
“It’s been incredible. In hindsight, it reinvented me. I got to learn a little bit about how much more you can cultivate with music beyond it just being a number one single. The pattern was always just to drop a joint, it hits number one and you go around the country touring. That same cycle.”
He felt like he was chasing his own tail. Now he’s excited about being able to make an impact continentally.
“You get out of this bubble, you get to mingle with other artists. You get a little bit more exposed, you get to collaborate, so for me it’s also been so educational, and it’s taken me to new spaces.”
His schedule and relative silence on the local music scene has many feeling like the music has taken a back-seat to his Absolut commitments.
“The buzz of the music took a bit of a back-seat, but the music never did,” he explains.
“It’s like relevance versus significance.”
This journey has seen Khuli scoop three awards at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for the One Source video, as well as see his face plastered on massive billboards in prime locations across the continent.
One Source Live will see Khuli stand alongside four other African artists from different artistic disciplines: Sho Madjozi, Trevor Stuurman, Fabrice Monteiro and Osborne Macharia.
“We were all at a point where we felt it was time the family grew and we brought everyone together. That’s why you have Sho Madjozi as one of our creative revolutionaries. It was time for me to also show that there’s more from where I come from. Like, Sho Madjozi is synonymous with authenticity.
"She sticks to her guns and takes pride in her routes. Trevor Stuurman, from Kimberly, his story is legit and amazing and so inspirational. And also Macharia. The guy’s been doing Black Panther since before Black Panther. These are amazing people and it was time to put a spotlight on others.”
It’s a party with a purpose, he surmises. And he looks forward to being exposed to more creatives coming out, going forward.
One of the initiatives behind the festival is the Absolut African Art Intervention, which aims to change the way the internet sees African creativity.
Khuli puts it in layman’s terms: “what we’re trying to achieve with that is literally change the ‘African Art’ Google search”.
“And we’re not saying the African Art the world has been exposed to is not good, we’re saying there’s so much more and we want that stuff to come up when you Google African Art.”
He has big dreams for this festival and how it’s heavily centred on the actual art.
“What it’s going to do now is it’s going to take it back to people being interested in the musical process. Being an artist now is almost on the same level of being a scientist. Artists are the new scientists. That’s how I look at it.
“We’re about to go back to the science behind the music. The artistry,” Chana said.