Photo by Allan Gichigi
When I see things I understand them better. I believe in the power of all that is visual. The ability to captivate and express with no words said. This is how I best understand, by seeing and mentally processing. When I listen I do understand but when I see I go beyond understanding, I am moved.
The power of visual expression is one that should not be underestimated especially in today’s world. We are living in the 21st century, a time where society has become so cosmopolitan and the best way to catch and hold someone’s attention is by captivating their sight. People are no more drawn to what they hear. A good example of this is Pop culture. Pop culture used to be about what you would hear but now it largely is about what you see and the more provocative it is the longer people will keep watching.
If you have a social message you want to communicate the best way is to communicate through film, picture or dance. In Flawless by Beyoncé and Adichie, the message is about women empowerment but Beyoncé knew that for us as a society to pay attention to her words her visual performance had to capture us and it did. This movement of visual expression has also given rise to visual activism. Visual activism is a form of activism using visuals.
Us as Africans must realise that if we want to instigate change that people like myself will stop and want to join, then we should use visuals. All forms of art are platforms which can be used to fight a cause. I recently came across the work of Richard Florid a lecturer at the University of Toronto, and his theories behind creativity. He says cities that have more creative spaces and energy are generally successful hubs of economic activity. Paris, New York, Milan etc. Africa has a lot of artists who are amazing at their craft but do not have the avenue to express their craft. Harare’s levels of creativity as compared to Milan or Johannesburg are extremely low and not surprisingly the growth and productivity of Harare is also low.
My fellow Zimbabweans and the rest of us must learn from the British what helped society grow and expand in Europe was not only the Industrial revolution but also the Renaissance, an explosion of Literature and Art. If we are going to boom as well then we need our African Renaissance and it has to start with us.