World Photography Day: Here’s how the ‘largest community of Photographers in Africa’ commemorated the 2020 edition

In the hub of Lagos the past few days, a group of African photographers and creatives embarked on a project which they envision will change the global perception of Africans, African Creatives, and the quality of their work.

The timing to achieve this project was deliberately planned to fall within the commemoration of World Photography Day. The virtual project tagged PhotoWaka Africa Summit, kicked off on August 17 and lasted two days.

World Photography Day is an annual event recognising and celebrating all kinds of photographers: experienced, inexperienced, or nearly experienced. The day celebrates the art, craft, science and history of photography around the world. The major aim of this summit was to bring to the attention of African creatives the need to change the African narrative through their art.

But what is the African narrative and why does it need changing? To understand this, we must begin at the very beginning; the misconceptions about Africa. But before we delve into this, a little backstory on what PhotoWaka Africa is and what their deal is.

BRIEF BACKSTORY ON PHOTOWAKA AFRICA

PhotoWaka Africa is a social enterprise focused on youth empowerment, creativity, job creation and creating a sustainable value chain in the photography and creative space.

The vision of PhotoWaka Africa is to develop professionally inclined, engaging and highly creative community of visual storytellers around Africa, with the bodacious mission of telling African stories through photography thereby using photography as a tool for social change.

PhotoWaka Africa’s mission is to enable, engage, and enrich photographers and visual storytellers in Africa in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to be successful so that they can make a real impact with their skills.

THE ORIGIN: PHOTOWAKA AFRICA VIRTUAL SUMMIT

The idea behind the PWA Virtual Summit is summarily, to explore the power and influence of photography in journalism, media, tourism, festivals, politics, SDG’s and its role in telling stories about Africa and Africans through visuals.

Members of the community identified a recurring problem in the African Creative Industry; the misconceptions of Africa in the global scene. Myths like Africa being a barbaric tribe of Bushmen, and Africa being a single state are constant hurdles African creatives face. While these may not seem like much.

Having identified the problem, the community took the decision to do something about it. Hence, the birth of the summit with the theme “Reframing The African Narrative.”

“Reframing” is viewing or expressing something differently. The theme, in other words, means being proactive and intentional in telling stories (through pictures, videos, write-ups) about Africa by Africans.

This theme was deliberately chosen with the intention of discussing the power and influence of photography in journalism, media, tourism, politics, festivals and SDGs, and its vital role in impacting the society positively and in telling positive stories about Africa and Africans through visuals. We are not in the view of changing the medium in which Africa and Africans have been seen, but to use that same medium for the world to view Africa and Africans through a clearer and positive lens.

The itinerary for the event was designed to be straightforward;

Day 1 was divided into Morning [10 am to 12 noon] and Evening [4 pm – 6 pm] sessions. For the morning session, the following line-up speakers; Dayo Adedayo (Award-Winning Photographer, Akintunde Akinleye (Award-Winning Photographer, Neo Ntsoma (Award-Winning Photographer), Aisha Augie-Kuta (Special Adviser on Digital Communications to the Federal Minister of Finance, Budget, & National Planning], and Tolani Ali (Personal Photographer to the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN) spoke on the topic; Photography as a Tool to Reframe the African Narrative.

For the evening session of Day 1, the topic centred on; Journalism as a Tool to Reframe the African Narrative and was driven by; Morayo Afolabi-Brown (Host, Your View on TVC, Dr Yemisi Akinbobola (Co-founder & CEO, African Women in Media), and Eti-Inyene Godwin Akpan (Founder/Executive Director, PhotoWaka Africa).

For Day 2 which ran through from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, the topic of focus was Driving the Authentic African Stories Using Media. O’tega Ogra (Group Head, Corporate Communications, BUA Group, Karen Mwendera (Curator, Forbes Africa 30 Under 30), and Thebe Ikalafeng (Founder & Chairman, Brand Africa) were the speakers who drove this session.

August 19, the final day of the summit, was also the global commemoration of World Photography Day. The session ran from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Lekan Fatodu (Senior Special Adviser on SDGs to the Governor of Lagos State, H.E, Babajide Sanwo-Olu), Aisha Augie-Kuta (Special Adviser on Digital Communications to the Federal Minister of Finance, Budget, & National Planning], Dr Oluseyi Soremekun (National Information Officer at the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria), Tonye Cole (Co‐Founder, Sahara Group], and Eti-Inyene Godwin Akpan (Founder/Executive Director, PhotoWaka Africa)spoke on the topic; How The Achievement Of Sustainable Development Goals Helps In Reframing The African Narratives.

That was not all there was to this virtual event. At the start of August, the PhotoWaka Africa platform in collaboration with the event’s official sponsor, Golden Penny Foods organized a photography competition. The virtual-led competition, Shoot Your Shot was focused on food photography. A call was made out to social media users to send in entries of meals prepared with Golden Penny and stand a chance to win top three prizes; a brand new camera, a brand new camera lens, and N50,000.

To wrap up the event, PhotoWaka Africa hosted a virtual party. And like that, the 3-day event came to a close.

But the conversation around changing Africa’s narrative certainly cannot be closed with the virtual event. It is only the beginning of a step into the future of African arts.

At the close of the event, PhotoWaka Africa announced the intention to initiate an “African kind of Shutterstock” which will promote authentic and rich African content and stories by Africans for the world.

“We’re owning these spaces and taking control of the narrative through these channels,” emphasized Eti-Inyene Godwin Akpan (Founder/Executive Director, PhotoWaka Africa).

He concluded by adding that, PhotoWaka Africa is, “seeking for partnerships, sponsorships, from like-minded organizations to make this project a success.”

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