Netflix is shining the light on talent from across the African continent, both in front of, and behind the cameras
Netflix is shining the light on talent from across the African continent, both in front of, and behind the cameras

African creatives are taking over global platform

By Mpiletso Motumi Time of article published Jun 30, 2020

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From Kenya to Nigeria, Ghana to Zimbabwe and Mozambique to South Africa, the stories of the continent are being told on a global stage.

Times are indeed changing for African creatives, who have often been limited to expressing their talents only in their home countries.

With the advent of technology and social media bringing the world closer, many actors and actresses have been able to spread their wings.

Streaming platforms have gained major ground the last few years, and more so now during the Covid-19 pandemic, with people looking for entertainment on the internet. With people having more time on their hands to explore different content, now is the time for Africa to shine.

“For so long, our stories were told by people who found us interesting, but had no idea what we looked like, what we really sounded like, or the lengths of our capabilities,’’ said Pearl Thusi, who starred as the lead in Netflx’s first African Original, Queen Sono.

Thusi joined 17 other African creatives to celebrate a change in times.

Film-maker Kagiso Lediga calls this change in focus “the first time that African storytellers are coming together to make their mark on a global stage’’.

Netflix has a number of projects from the continent in various stages of production. While Queen Sono and Blood & Water will both make a return for second seasons, the streaming service also announced another young adult title, Jiva! SA and another untitled Akin Omotoso project from Nigeria.

The service has also partnered with Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife productions to create two Nigerian Original series and a number of Netflix-branded licensed projects from Nigeria.

Abudu, a lauded female powerhouse, producer and director in Nigeria’s Nollywood industry, added: “I’ve said it time and time again. Africa has remained creatively silent for centuries. It’s important that we are able to tell our stories and it’s important to tell our stories in collaboration with global organisations such as Netflix.”

Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema is the creator of Mama K’s Team4, the first animation series for the service. “It’s bigger than me. Our stories are more powerful when told by multiple African creatives.”

Nollywood actress Kate Henshaw is a lead in the Omotoso project.

“I’d say it’s about time for our voices to be heard. Our strength is in the power of our own stories and being able to tell our own stories”.

Maxwell Simba, a Kenyan up-and-coming actor who stars in the Netflix film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, set in Malawi, added: “I feel like most of the time, our stories are told from the perspective of Africa being a single entity, but there is more to it.”

Genevieve Nnaji, actress, director and producer from Nigeria, agreed: “We have amazing talent and we haven’t had an adequate platform for a while to showcase our talent across the board. It’s a good thing, especially for upcoming artists who want a chance. We have so many more stories to tell in this part of the world.’’

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