Orijin Culture as you know, was created to change the dominant perception and portrayal of Africa as being a place plagued with constant civil wars, famine and rampant poverty. Instead, we have embarked on a mission to ensure that the unspoken richness and beauty that Africa has to offer is brought to light. We also hope to shift the dominant public discourse about Africans as being uneducated primitive beings.
We are not denying that famine, war, poverty and other ailments are not a part of Africa’s current makeup, however, they do not define Africa. Africa has long been known for its natural resources and riches. Gold, copper, diamonds and a long list of the world’s most precious jewels come from Africa. The diversity, cultural and historical richness Africa has to offer continues to astonish archaeologists. Africa is a diverse place filled with wealth, beauty and development and is home to some of the most sincere and loving human beings on earth. These are the characteristics that define Africans and it is their scarceness in the media that is a point of contention for most Africans
A new exhibit at Li-Space in Beijing’s Caochangdi district also hopes to reshape and reposition the dominant visual impression of Africa. Aptly titled “Africa: See You, See Me!”, the exhibit features the work of 36 African and non-African photographers, including Angele Etoundi Essamba from Cameroon, Moroccan Majida Khattari and Italian Marco Ambrosi. As the business relationship between Africa and China continues to grow, Awam Amkpa, the exhibition’s curator, explains that “the Chinese “don’t know the diversity, the robustness of African culture.” He also thinks that “t is an opportunity for us to show this Africa that is a very modern and diverse continent…. We are not always at war. We are not always starving.”
While many are excited about the intention and purpose of this new exhibit, one of the featured artist Cameroon photographer Ms. Essamba, also expressed her warranted scepticism about the surge of Chinese presence in Africa. She declared that the Chinese “are going to be the new colonialists. After the Europeans, they are going to be the next. It is happening,….. Africa is like the new Eldorado for them. I am happy that they come and that they plan to build things, but it would be great if they could involve our own people. This is the idea, actually.”
While the success o the new exhibit and its intended purpose to change Chinese perception about Africans is yet to be seen, it is also important African developers examine the extent of Chinese involvement in the continent and ensure that all decisions and developments are done with the involvement of Africans.