Steve Babaeko is the CEO & Chief Creative Officer, X3M Ideas and a Visiting Fellow at the Henley Business School, University of Reading.
Africa, the birthplace of humanity, has always been a source of fascination for the Western world. Whether it’s as a subject of scientific and cultural curiosity, the continent with diverse wildlife, landscapes, ethnicity and culture has over centuries found itself welcoming a legion of explorers, anthropologists and naturalists seeking to explore its array of natural gifts, albeit at a vicious cost.
A brutal exploitation of its people and resources in the form of the transatlantic slave trade and forced labor in mines and plantations meant the continent endured years of dilution of its identity—historical, religious and, especially, cultural. Notably, African artifacts and art collected during this time were displayed in European museums and galleries, often without proper context or acknowledgement of their cultural significance. Similar experiences are recorded in popular culture, where Africa and Africans tolerated gross stereotypical misrepresentation in Western media.
Shifts In Popular Culture
History, however, shows Africa has been no pushover in influencing remarkable shifts in popular culture. Jazz music, which first appeared in the late 19th and early 20th century, for instance, has its firm roots in African music, as it borrows heavily from African folk music and culture. The distortion of history (or lack of authentication) has meant many of these influences have largely gone unnoticed and uncelebrated, unfortunately.
It is therefore interesting that Africa is yet again finding itself at the center stage of an emerging cycle of global influence. The Economist notes that there is increasing worldwide recognition and interest in African pop culture, encompassing music, film, fashion, arts and cuisine.
Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, has become the world’s second-largest film industry in terms of output, surpassing