Voices

Brexit, BLM, and Africa’s Creative Renaissance

Natalie Narh & Nigel Atta-Mensah, Co-Founders of New Comma highlight the need for a collaborative network when it comes to celebrating and promoting local and diaspora African creatives.

Natalie Narh & Nigel Atta-Mensah, New Comma

Co-Founders

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Identities are formed at the unstable point where personal lives meet the narrative of history. Identity is an ever-unfinished conversation - Stuart Hall 

Although local Africans and our diaspora are physically apart, we’re always connected by our stories, culture and creativity. The African identity is ever evolving, and for a large majority of the Black community in the UK, we can call at least one African country our first or second home. 

Thanks to a tiny thing called the internet, the African diaspora in the UK doesn’t always need a £1,500+ plane ticket back home to feel in touch with their heritage and essence. Social media has been an especially instrumental tool in connecting these distant communities, and in many ways as a result, we can feel our collective joy and pain in real time. In 2020, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter and End SARS movements, Namibia’s #ShutItAllDown protests against gender-based violence, Beyoncé’s Black is King visual album, Wizkid’s Made in Lagos, amongst several other tension points brought the African and Black community together. Within all of these events, authentic documentation and ownership over dissemination is crucial.

The rise in the popularity of African culture in the UK and US in concurrence with Brexit and BLM respectively is no coincidence. Confusion over immigration policies and the actual components of what Brexit entailed revealed the xenophobia and racism hiding behind many Leave voters, and the racial injustices often highlighted blatant police brutality was a wakeup call for many in the diaspora. Inevitably, many started looking towards the motherland for comfort. This is evident in both the US and UK’s Black creative scenes as there is a growing sense of pride in African heritage and an intentional effort to collaborate with local Africans back home. This has greatly contributed to the current spotlight on the African continent and its creative and cultural industry.

For Africa’s creative scene to truly become the high value sector it deserves, it requires collaborative action, as well as intellectual and financial support.

Natalie Narh & Nigel Atta-Mensah

The need for collaborative action

However, for Africa’s creative scene to truly become the high value sector it deserves, it requires collaborative action, as well as intellectual and financial support. With its expanding digital economy, decline in data costs, and, in light of the pandemic, shift towards remote workspaces, the continent’s creative industries are in a good place, and the diaspora can play a large role in engaging this market. This is what inspired us to create New Comma: an online platform for local and diaspora African creatives to connect, create, learn and earn.

Although the creative revolution has been in the works for the last few decades, Ghana’s year of return initiative in 2019 was definitely a catalyst for tapping back into African talent back home. This initiative was in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade, inviting Africans in the diaspora to visit Ghana and discover their ancestry. Although this came with a lot of creative collaborations between local and international African talent, it is also worth highlighting that probable overshadowing of local African talent is also imminent due to their wider access to international resources and platforms.

Our goal is to level the playing field and create an ecosystem for local and diaspora African creatives to enhance the quality of the work they produce, while being in control of their own narrative on a platform that is made especially for them.

New Comma is for the enlightened African trailblazer who doesn’t believe in the concept of boundaries. They are proud of their African heritage and recognise its multiplicity across the globe, whilst acknowledging the nuances of its narrative. They are always open to learning and discovering new facets of their identities and creative disciplines, and brave enough to inspire others to do so. We’re all part of a wider story, and with being a New Comma, the story never has to end. 

Due to launch in Spring 2021, the waiting list to join New Comma is now live, #GetWaitlisted at new-comma.com 

Guest Author

Natalie Narh & Nigel Atta-Mensah, New Comma

Co-Founders,

About

Natalie Narh and Nigel Atta-Mensah are the Co-Founders of New Comma, an online platform dedicated to discovering, supporting and providing opportunities to African and Black creatives. They are both Ghanaian creatives based in London with over 16 years of combined experience in their crafts. Natalie is a Social Content Creative at Ogilvy UK while Nigel is Co-Founder of The CREC, a collective of young professional creatives. Independent to these roles, providing creatives with a platform to showcase their talents has always been a passion of theirs. Their first collaboration was in September 2017 with The Cool Kids Project that documented upcoming creative talent in Accra, Ghana. The aim was to highlight the importance of providing these budding entrepreneurs and creatives with the support they deserve well before they made it on the global stage. However, they realised there was a greater need for it to expand into a platform that affords not only local Ghanaians, but all native and diaspora African creatives the resources and facilities they need to truly thrive. Hence the creation of New Comma.