By Janet Ndugire, Senior Account Manager
Africa Day is an annual celebration of African unity, to commemorate the founding of the African Union. This year’s theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want”, presents a unique opportunity for the continent to celebrate great individuals who have played a key role in promoting the creative industries.
To celebrate this day, we are shining a light on the work of some outstanding creatives in East Africa. The work that they do within the creative economy acts as a major contributor to Africa’s growth transformation and stands as testament to the outstanding talent within the creative sector in Africa today.
Eugene Kavuma, Co-Founder Kampala Design Week
Through Kampala Design Week, Eugene Kavuma has provided a platform that inspires, equips and engages individuals and institutions to design sustainable solutions for East Africa’s challenges. He is an alumnus of the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy and has been supporting young entrepreneurs in the arts and culture sectors in East Africa. In this Invest in Africa podcast, he commended organisations supporting the creative industries: “The British Council, for example, are doing a great job for the sector. The idea that you can bring people together and help them structure businesses in a much more profitable manner is a great contribution to the creative sector.”
Chao Tayiana, Founder, Africa Digital Heritage
Chao Tayiana is a Kenyan digital heritage specialist and digital humanities scholar. With a life-long passion for history, her work primarily focuses on the application of technology in the preservation, engagement and dissemination of African heritage and culture.
Her organisation, African Digital Heritage, is a non-profit organisation that seeks to encourage a more holistic approach to the design and implementation of digital solutions within African cultural heritage.
Faith Aweko, Founder Reform Africa
In 2019, Faith Aweko emerged as the winner of the Social Impact Award. Unafraid to get her hands dirty (literally), Faith (who was also an alumnus of the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy) started Reform Africa, an organisation that transforms plastic polythene waste into durable, sustainable and water-proof bag packs and artistic accessories. According to Faith, waste is not waste until you waste it.
Arnold Mugaga, Founder Zetu Africa
Arnold Mugaga is the founder of Zetu Africa, a social enterprise based in Uganda. His design-led company creates innovative bags that pupils can use to carry books and convert into seats during class sessions – inspired by a 2016 report stating that 95 million children in Africa study without classroom furniture. Innovating throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Arnold and his team now use locally sourced bamboo to create a lightweight, affordable chair and bag (with a mobile writing board) that is also waterproof.
George Gachara, Managing Partner HEVA Fund
Under George’s leadership, HEVA, Africa’s first dedicated finance, business support and knowledge facility for creative industries, has been at the forefront of supporting young businesses and entrepreneurs in the creative sector to build high-value profitable businesses to increase their potential and also create more jobs for the sector.
HEVA has invested in more than 40 creative businesses and directly supported over 8,000 creative practitioners in the fashion, digital content and television, live music and gaming value-chains.
As he opined in African Business, “Africa’s cultural and creative industries present an excellent opportunity for long-term growth, but they need to be nurtured and protected, especially in the wake of shocks from Covid-19.”
Labdi Ommes, Musician
Labdi is a visionary and a revolutionary Kenyan singer-songwriter and African single-stringed fiddle (Orutu) instrumentalist. She is a vocal powerhouse whose vision is to popularise African music culture, sounds and instruments and to re-introduce them to the world. Labdi represents the growing population of young African artists taking up indigenous instruments and re-introducing them into the current music scene. She is currently the only female Orutu player in East Africa which was taboo for women to play. The Orutu is a single-stringed fiddle which originates from Western Kenya, among the Luo Community.