Design meets Stories
I have many passions but I will be the first to admit that there are two that have encompassed my heart: Design and Stories. I even describe myself as a designer and storyteller so when the Afrobloggers Winter Blogging Challenge rolled in with “ if you could meet ONE notable African personality,who would it be and why”,I was sincerely stumped. I mean, how could I choose? It was like saying which child is your favorite? Though I do know many parents who would not admit it to anyone but in the depths of the midnight hour,it was clear to them which child took top dollar. I was my daddy’s favorite! 🙂 Wait, Didn’t he say that to all of us?
Anyway,I psyched myself up and said,’ I too could do it’. So I went to bed with one personality in my mind and woke up with another.* sigh*. Decisions,decisions. I just couldn’t and so I am not going to choose. No siree! Absolutely not! Thus I am going to talk about my two favorite notable African personalities whom I am going to meet. Yes, I am claiming and believing it.
So here goes: Ladies and Gentlemen,It is with utmost pleasure that I introduce you to the meeting of two souls,The tale of two cities: Design and Stories. Mr Ravi Naidoo and Ms Mo Abudu.
“Every great design begins with an even better story.” — Lorinda Mamo, designer
I will start with Mr Ravi Naidoo. He is a South African ‘accidental design advocate’ as he calls himself,the founder and CEO of Interactive Africa, the Cape Town-based media,marketing and project management company, famous for the First African in Space Mission. Guys,do you read that? He was part of this amazing project and He did not stop there.
In 1995, he established the International Design Indaba, one of the world’s leading design institutions, which features a flagship Conference, Do Tank and an acclaimed through-the-year publication held annually in Cape town. If anyone is passionate about design in any form, you have definitely heard of Design Indaba. If not, I simply have no words for you.
Ravi Naidoo believes in empowering people to create a better future through creativity. It is this belief that drove him to start the acclaimed Design Indaba,a multi-level platform which has since leveraged over 200 projects across South Africa, increasingly across Africa and the rest of the world.
When interviewed by Design and the city ,a podcast by reSITE, he discussed the purpose of design and here is what he had to say…
He replied,” We are driven by our mission that ideas are the most powerful force. Creativity is the ultimate renewable energy. We can conceive of a better world. We can do so much with it. Design is a wonderful and amazing source code and toolkit to reimagine the twenty first century.
A designer can be a visualizer,an accelerator, a catalyst,a philanthropist, an optimist,a seeker, a collaborator, a futurist, a connector, an activist and a storyteller. Design is a broad church with many portals to make a difference. Design has the ability to re-imagine South Africa and Africa at large.
Ravi Naidoo, is a “A tireless force in design activism, involving himself in various humanitarian initiatives not only in South Africa but across the continent and the globe”. He has been recognized for his efforts and in 2015, Ravi was awarded the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education for placing design at the heart of economic and educational revival in South Africa.Ladies and Gentlemen, that is Mr Ravi Naidoo.
One tale down and on to the next. Mosunmola Abudu, also known as Mo Abudu, is a Nigerian Media mogul. She is the founder of a Pan African TV channel, EbonyLife TV, a network airing in more than 49 countries across Africa, the UK and the Caribbean. She has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman.” Yes, Forbes!
“As a continent, Africa has remained creatively silent for centuries. Our stories are seldom told outside our families and villages and often from the perspective of ‘someone’ looking in,” she said. Through her media empire which includes a television network,film studio and talk show,she aims to bring Africa’s creativity and untold stories to the attention of the world. This is what she revealed to The Times. Known as the ‘Oprah of Africa’,she believes ‘To change the narrative, you have to own it.’
Mo Abudu is indeed following her ethos because just this month June 2020,it was revealed through the Hollywood Reporter that she had signed a multi-title deal with Netflix. Through her production company- EbonyLife,she will create two series and multiple films.Netflix lead for original series in Africa,Dorothy Ghettuba had this to say about Mo. “Mo is at the forefront of creative storytelling in African television. Her passion for creating high quality,riveting multi-genre films and TV shows that capture the imagination while showcasing the diversity and richness of Nigerian culture is evident in her impressive body of work.
She has been recognized for her significant contribution to the media industry internationally. In 2019, she was awarded the 2019 Medailles d’Honneur at the MIPTV ceremony in Cannes,France. Mo Abudu made history as the first African and Nigerian recipient of this prestigious award. This award is given to senior executives who have made a mark in the global television. When asked how she does it, she simply replied,” Anyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur must know that bright ideas are great,however, they are not even half of the work; execution is everything.”
There you have it folks. Design meets Stories. Ravi Naidoo and Mo Abudu. They have changed the face of the creative economy in Africa through design and media. Africa is being rebranded right before our eyes. They are doing their part but the responsibility falls to all of us. How do we want to be perceived? How do we want the story of Africa to be told? We as Africans are the ones who have to build the Africa of tomorrow and it starts today. So the question is- What part are you playing?