#trendtalk: Saint Francis Tohlang on Africa, Creativity and Ingenuity

Catherine Bowen small
Catherine Bowen
, Plascon Trends Editor

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Earlier this year, Plascon hosted one its #trendtalk sessions in Cape Town and one of the speakers at the event was Saint Francis Tohlang. Saint-Francis Tohlang works as an independent trend analyst for various trend firms, both local and international, offering key insights into emerging market trends with an African focus. In 2013, he was selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a plaudit for young global leaders and serves as the Deputy Curator for the Johannesburg hub.

At our event he spoke about “Intersections of Culture and Creativity: Cities and Young People” (Trends in the Creative Economies of Africa)…

Saint Francis Tohlang on Africa, Creativity and Ingenuity

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Saint Francis opened his talk with the following:

Culture is a driver of development, led by the growth of the creative economy in general and the creative and cultural industries in particular, recognized not only for their economic value, but also increasingly for the role in producing new creative ideas or technologies, and their non-monetized social benefits.

I can think of a no more apt description of creativity becoming the new driver in emerging markets and developing countries. The creative industries and indeed “culture” can no longer be deemed the luxury of a developed market – as the one precipitates the other and in fact:

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Saint Francis also showcased a nifty little graphic which details just how much possibility for growth and economic development there is within Africa – given how much of the continent’s population are young and how many will become urbanized by the year 2050… Which necessarily translates to HUGE opportunity for individuals, SMEs and bigger organizations alike on the continent of Africa. There is a vast pool of untapped creative resource and talent waiting to be mined here…

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

And cities have a major role to play in this process; Saint Francis pointed out a few projects already in operation in Africa that are shining examples of how cities can empower and enable their citizens:

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

So what are some of Africa’s new-found creative capital?

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Well, how about Umlilo?

Saint Francis Tohlang: Multi-disciplinary media practitioner Siya Ngcobo transforms into his musical alter-ego Umlilo, Image Source mahala.co.za

Multi-disciplinary media practitioner Siya Ngcobo transforms into his musical alter-ego Umlilo, Image Source: mahala.co.za

Umlilo is actually a multi-disciplinary media practitioner named Siya Ngcobo, whose performances have caught the attention of TED, no less:

Or what about the online shop KISUA which is a unique African fashion brand that showcases Africa’s brightest design talent in the form of exclusive capsule collections in collaboration African designers. KISUA is the only African fashion company with distribution centres on three continents: Africa, America and Europe.

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Image Courtesy Saint Francis Tohlang Trend Talk Presentation 2015

Or how about the incredible photography of Omar Victor Diop who spoke at Design Indaba earlier this year and who blew us (the audience) all away with his quiet and gentle manner:

Photograph By Omar Victor Diop, Image Source africanah.org

Photograph By Omar Victor Diop, Image Source: africanah.org

Photograph By Omar Victor Diop, Image Source prettyperiod.me

Photograph By Omar Victor Diop, Image Source: prettyperiod.me

Or what about headline-grabbing Ivorian architect Issa Diabate, who has also spoken at Design Indaba…

Ivorian Architect Issa Diabate, Image Source aaaccra.org

Ivorian Architect Issa Diabate, Image Source: aaaccra.org

Want to hear a bit more about his vision, check out this video clip:

Or what about the advent of “Nollywood” – which is the Nigerian equivalent of Hollywood. Much as was the case in Bollywood (India’s Hollywood), Nollywood is an entire industry of locally produced and locally consumed film that sprung up to service the cultural whims of the people.

The spirit of Nollywood has been captured and photographed by photo-journalist Pieter Hugo. Hugo’s compositions owe much to Nigerian myth, character and a visionary imagination, “fired by a parched, empty landscape that helps give man-made images more potency.” As Pieter highlights: “I wanted to use the Nollywood aesthetic as a starting point; its theatrical and performative quality, the spectacle of it.” (robertleeming.com)

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source robertleeming.com

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source: robertleeming.com

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source artblat.com

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source: artblat.com

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source nothinglit.com

Nollywood by Pieter Hugo, Image Source: nothinglit.com

So immerse yourself in this offering of African creativity and ingenuity, and send us your comments!

With tremendous thanks to Saint Francis Tohlang for sharing his insights and materials with Plascon so that our readers can enjoy them too! 🙂

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