Towards a Creative Economy

Cyrus Kabiru (b. 1974, Nairobi, Kenya) Lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya

The Creative Spirit looms large over all African ways of life!

But as soon as we speak of “growth”, we go back to the same old European formulas of industrialization.

Art, Creativity then becomes merely entertainment, fitted with the power to provide a ‘magical’ escape.

Serious business, being in the office or factory, is what is really important.

This is not true though.

Look at storytelling, such a commonplace form of expression. Yet storytelling drives so many areas of work.

Novel writing, film-making, brand marketing and public relations are all fields which rely on storytelling.

And of course, the media is about reporting events that have happened. It relies on techniques of storytelling to connect “unrelated” events into a context which viewers can understand.

But Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe, already told us that “stories are never innocent”.

The stories we tell reveal cultural bias, they portray the heroic ambitions of those who tell them and their vision of the world.

So the stories we are told by Hollywood, or the minority driven media in Mzansi can never be truly our stories unless we re-write them according to our lived realities.

We do have the potential and capacity to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. This requires a new approach—one that moves from passive citizenry receiving services from the state to one where people are active champions of their own development.

These are not just my words, but those of the National Development Plan.

And we are not the only ones who are thinking this way.

President of South Korea (Park Geun-Hye) made similar calls at the World Economic Forum last year, where she said that:

“To drive sustainable growth and improve economic resilience, countries must focus on promoting creativity and innovation, to find ways of expanding job opportunities for young people.”

But we do have a unique position, because the creative imagination is so much part-and-parcel of African ways of life, especially the resourcefulness of our women.

Copyright © 2015 Afropolitan Explosiv, All rights reserved.

#Sifunukwazi, Re batla ho tlwa ka wena.

Do you think creativity can grow the economy?

4 Comments on Towards a Creative Economy

  1. OOOH Yes it can. But only if our creativity can be based on our true identity meaning that our creative works must show our true African culture.

  2. Yes, it is important for growing the economy in the sense that a focus in the same field of work is much capable of averting people from taking advantage of many other opportunities that may arise. lack of creativity may exacerbate and jeopardize any economy in the world in the sense that economies will focus within a certain path of creating employment, reducing inequality etc. therefore creativity can be a sufficient tool to escape lackluster economic growth rate.

  3. To emancipate ourselves and those around us from the social ills present in our country, we need creative minds! Poverty, inequality and unemployment are deeply embedded in the history of our country; unemployment, especially amongst the youth, needs our young South African men and women to come up with creative means and new/fresh ideas that will create employment for themselves and others. Let government create conducive environments for these ideas to groomed and implemented to reach their fully potential. The private sector needs to take in these young creatives, support them and invest in them. Creativity and innovation have a big role to play in growing our economy and bettering the lives of our citizens. The NDP is in place, lets implement it and own the outcome.

  4. I think we need to go a few steps behind, before encouraging South African creatives to come out and try to implement their concepts and ideas. For a start there should be created some sort of program run by government entities but also by universities and young opinion makers. My idea is once you create an effective national program that supports creatives in fundamental areas such as education, funding, financial management support, patent protection, legal advisory services (eventually creating hubs spread throughout the country) then you’re ready to go. Young South Africans are naturally creative minds, but it is unfair and impossible in the long run to put the employment pressure solely on top of their shoulders.

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