Towards a Creative Economy

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.

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#Sifunukwazi, Re batla ho tlwa ka wena.

Do you think creativity can grow the economy?