Cape Town & Johannesburg Festival Asks "What Is The Power of Film to Transform Lives and Communities?"

Okayafrica takes a look at Pidgin Perfect's Festival Of African Storytelling, Film & Design, held in Johannesburg and Cape Town in May.

The Power of Film to Transform Lives and Communities: A Festival of African Storytelling, Film & Design, held over the course of May in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, culminated last week with a film screening of Of Good Report at Cape Town's Labia Theatre. The program, which kicked off in Johannesburg on 14 May, was initiated by Glasgow-based design studio Pidgin Perfect and Africa in Motion Film Festival. It was part of the World Design Capital 2014 and ran in collaboration with the British Council's Connect ZA and Creative Scotland. A number of events, workshops and film screenings were held, all telling one narrative or at least trying to answer a central question: "How design thinking could help harness emergent innovation across African film Production, Exhibition and Distribution to bridge divides and transform lives and communities in Africa and beyond?" Dele Adeyemo, who was born in Nigeria and co-founded Pidgin Perfect, explains why the project was hosted in South Africa:

“With the country moving on from apartheid to forge new identities often using creativity and innovations in African storytelling to bridge and heal the divides that were created, there isn't anywhere else in the world where our research into the question, The Power of Film to Transform Lives and Communities, could be more relevant.”

Pidgin Perfect co-founder Dele Adeyemo at "Film Informing Design Thinking in the Urban Realm" in Cape Town, Photo by Khulekani Zondi

One particular workshop on "African Cities," held last Wednesday in Cape Town, got especially heated as those in attendance pointed out that Cape Town is an extremely divided city. The challenge then became clear, that through storytelling, architecture and art, artists must first begin to instigate a dialogue around this issue, and secondly, begin to offer solutions.

Pidgin Perfect partnered with Natalia Palombo, an African Film Researcher from Glasgow, to bring host the event in South Africa– a successful series that brought many out to attend the project's talks and film screenings. Adeyemo said of its success, “Life is so vibrant and colourful because of the people with their rich cultures, traditions and personalities. Creativity is inherent in everyone, and the people are constantly innovating. Lagos it the greatest example of this but I've felt that same kind of energy in Joburg and the townships of Cape Town.”


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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