Rise Africa 2022 Action Festival: How Creativity Manifests in Individuals and Businesses


During the first session of the Rise Africa 2022 Action Festival, speakers unpacked the meaning of creativity and the challenges faced by creatives in Africa. Rise Africa aims to “inspire action for sustainable cities”, with the festival taking place under the theme of CREATIVITY/AGENC/URGENCY.

The Rise Africa 2022 Action Festival is taking place online between 23 and 25 May 2022. It is organised by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Africa, a chapter in a global network of government entities engaged in sustainable urban development.

Creativity from the Past

“We have lost consciousness of our creativity,” said Toshin Oshinowo, Principal Architect at CMDesign Atelier, who works to include sustainable, African design.

This was a recurrent theme in the session. Malika Ndlovu, an acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist from South Africa, argued that, while creativity is often seen to be an exclusive talent which only some individuals have, it is in fact “indigenous to being human.”

In an exercise in the chat, participants shared the word for ‘creativity’ in their home languages, including ubunifu (Swahili), ubuhlakani (Zulu) and ubuchule (Xhosa), emphasising the universality of innovation.

Creativity In Spite of Limited Resources

Another key point was the way in which Africans and people across the Global South have continued to innovate with limited resources.

Nevertheless, said Rashiq Fataar of Our Future Cities, there is a dire need for more resources geared towards creatives in the global South. He emphasised the creative achievements of Global North countries that have more funding available.

How Individuals and Businesses Can Practise Creativity

For Nwabisa Mayema from the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, businesses can implement creative thinking by consciously asking themselves what societal problem they address and being creative in their interventions.

But, Mayema cautioned, businesses must be careful not to disrupt merely for the sake of disruption and instead intentionally ask why disruption is necessary.

As for individuals, Ndlovu emphasised that people can use their positions at work to promote inclusion in the spirit of creativity by asking “who is not in this room” and “who has done this before”.

The Rise Africa 2022 Action Festival Programme

The Rise Africa 2022 Action Festival continues on 24 and 25 May. Speakers on the programme include activists, academics, creatives and businesses.

Jenna Solomon

Jenna is a journalism, African studies and social development graduate. She writes about active citizenship and lifestyle in South Africa.

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