Take a look at how advertising/commercials can create a great sense of identity for those without a strong sense of identity. Advertising could play an enormous role in defining who, what and how African countries would like to define themselves as. Globalization has already taken shape and commercialism and capitalism could be a great way to define nations as they create their sense of self. Products will be bought regardless but there is a great opportunity that is being lost, maybe on purpose in order to shape the world as one large vision of America or maybe because of budget restrictions or maybe because of laziness but regardless of all that the opportunity is there and countries should cease these opportunities. If people are prepared to buy the products on sale it seems only right that in the selling of the products the visual imagery should echo what is seen every day. I think every country in Africa should have an exciting "Prop Shop" for those interested in shooting in countries of Africa, whether for Commercials or for Feature Films and these "Prop Shops" should hold icons of how the country would like to be seen outside and also inside the countries. Full of contemporary artworks of National importance, like the works of Nejib Belkhodja, Abderrazak Sahli or Fatma Charfi when shooting commercials in Tunisia or works by Iba N'Diaye, N'Dary Lo and Soly Cisse when shooting in Senegal or works by Charly D'Almeida when shooting in the Republic of Benin or even have the visual artists as guest Directors on shoots or Visual Advisors of how their countries are represented. It seems strange that foreign Directors can come to a country and shoot whatever they like and therefore represent countries as positively or negatively as they see fit but each country has it's good side and bad side and the balance has yet to be struck in numerous areas of Africa. I see on my television reporters who land in an African country and within 5 minutes give detailed analysis on extremely complicated issues. What authority do they have and what real knowledge are they parting to the world? Robert Fisk and Jeremy Bowen are the two journalists I listen to when it comes to issues surrounding the Middle East as they have both dedicated their lives to the issues surrounding the region. I would be delighted if they were more African journalists prepared to commit themselves to countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and West Africa who had an indepth understanding of the nature of the people and places they were talking about. The same goes for areas in East Africa as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
East Africa is constantly seen as a land without people but plenty of animals but it seems hard that the animals get the lion share of that attention and those living in East Africa are virtually forgotten. There is creativity in abundance in all parts of the Continent but for some reason it is boiled down to a Continent seen as areas of great poverty, starvation, corruption, wild animals, brutal wars and migration, disasters and people in crisis but that is far from the every day experience. The Continent is being dehumanized in the eyes of the media and this factor must start to change and to some extent is changing but not everywhere.
For example South Africa could do something with Table Mountain to give the country a sense of identity and they have Lothar Bottcher playing with glass and ways of seeing differently mixed with the controversial artist in Tracey Rose, which should make for interesting viewing. Kenya has Peterson, Ingrid Mwangi and Beatrice and Maggie Otieno who are thinking for themselves and creating iconic imagery for the new Kenya evolving mixed with Mt. Kenya and Lake Victoria and Uganda has some of the best ceramists on the Continent and Tanazina has Fred Halla and Kilimanjaro, it would be great to see more positive imagery of black people who live in all the countries.
Where are the Superheroes and the cartoons? Where are Detective Novels, the Spy Stories, the James Bonds of Africa? Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda are full of writers, comics and creative people, so where are the books, cartoons, animations and films?
For example: There is a man in Gabon who most certainly should be made into a cartoon hero for his efforts supporting the rainforest, Marc Ona Essangui - Maybe the Sun Newspaper in Lagos could support a team of writers and cartoonists to create stories about this man for their Newspaper?
Cartoons should be made of this man, Rainforestman or something like that or a sensitive feature film created by Cameroon film directors. Real opportunity lies in Africa, not just in the minerals and resources but the real gold, the people of Africa.
Take a look at these commercials, which are some of my favourite and see how the ad agency and production company have cleverly blended iconic imagery with art and then slapped a brand name to the imagery. Simple ideas really.