A BRIEF HISTORY - FOR US, BY US
In 1994, one of my favourite authors the late Chinua Achebe said “if you don’t like someone’s story write your own”. In 2013, I founded a digital social platform Afrika on My Sleeve to share representations and stories about Afrika and her diaspora across the seas. At the start I wanted to create a space where we can showcase ourselves and who we are in order to change the mostly negative way we are perceived. Now the focus has changed from trying to alter external perceptions to more of introspection and trying to change how we perceive ourselves and construct our identity.
It has become about owning our narrative spaces not as antagonism or oppositional or countering the other, why must we create our discourse around someone else? It has become about creating the stories because they are our stories and it is only natural that we share them. This is for us: the third culture kid, the transitional warrior and migrant other, by us.
- Makanaka Tuwe | Founder & Creative Director
Afrika on My Sleeve is a multi-platform online social enterprise that creates and shares third culture narratives, hosts workshops and events with a strong focus on storytelling. The platform houses Afrodaze, Sesa Mathlo, and The Storytellers, all carefully curated to share, teach, inspire, heal and tell a story.
Afrodaze is a platform that was birthed from a desire to tell the stories of the Afrobeat genre. Through the A - Z of Afrobeats the intention is to not only host the hottest, most fire and freshest Afrobeat & dancehall experiences in Auckland but to educate about the genre. Who are the artists, where are they from, what genre within Afrobeats are they working with and what are the themes of their songs, we cover all that at Afrodaze.
Sesa Mathlo means journey to the state of enlightenment. A state I believe you reach when you are actively looking after your mind, body and soul. Self-care isn’t just about facials, tea and bubble baths, it is accountability and plenty doses of self compassion. Sesa Mathlo is our platform dedicated to healing the transational/third culture/warrior within with self-care. Through self-care kits, one-on-one sessions and workshops we journey with you on your path to allowing yourself to be the best version of yourself. Are you ready?
The Storytellers is a creative research project that was developed, produced and executed to find the connection between third culture Afro-Kiwi identity construction, migration and representation through the creation of content. The platform is dedicated to creating content for the education, empowerment, growth and full humanistic representation of third culture kids.
In July 2017, I embarked on a research journey that sought to find the connection between third culture Afro-Kiwi identity construction, migration and representation through the creation of content. One of my observations is that the portrayal of people of African descent in the media can be remedied by collectively researching, educating and engaging in action activities as a tool for social change: externally and most importantly, internally. Just as it is important to debunk the patterns of distortion and biased narratives represented by the media, it is also important to include the untold stories that seek to provide full representation. Over a period of two months The Storytellers (research participants) and I met on Sunday afternoons and what was a creative research project soon became a space of healing, seeing ourselves reflected in our worlds and a safe space were we could unravel. Through the creation of content we produced visual outputs that explore and share the experiences of third culture identity, African representation, being a woman of colour, black love, cultural heritage, colourism, tokenism and intersectionality within African identity.
On the 25th of May 2016, Studio One was home to the 'I AM' exhibition a project that we created and produced as part of Auckland Festival of Photography, Fringe Festival and the 2016 Africa Day celebrations. In collaboration with photographic artist Julia Glover the project aimed at deconstructing the one-dimensional narrative presented in the media and focused the lens on what it means to be of African descent in New Zealand using photography and social media.
Music composed by people of African descent has a long legacy throughout the diaspora and has been used as a tool to fight for social justice, convey one’s emotions and acted as a bridge that connects people together. On the 24th of May 2015 we facilitated a workshop where music was used as a weapon to deconstruct and re-imagine the image of African youth living in New Zealand. With so many misconceptions, half-truths and stereotypes about the continent it was time to take matters into our own hands and used our voices to tell our own stories and express who we are.
In 2014 we collaborated with Bianca Paulus and Tarisai Tomu on the Kings & Queens limited-run t-shirt collection. Inspired by the Kings and Queens of Africa: Mansa Musa, Mbuya Nehanda, Queen of Sheba and Shaka Zulu, the collection was about telling Africa's told history through fashion. We wanted to share and teach about the different icons from the different regions that had, had an impact on history. It was about shedding a light on different historical figures from the continent.
On the 13th of October 2013, we hosted our first showcase Africa On My Sleeve at Te Katanga Gallery, Auckland. The showcase celebrated African inspired fashion in the diaspora by showcasing 6 collections by 6 local designers; four who were born and raised in Zimbabwe, Chipo, Maureen, Nomsa and Portia, New Zealand born Lucy-mae and Thai born Lucie. All inspired by some aspect of culture, the showcase was about providing a platform for African designers and an opportunity to share aspects of the African culture in Auckland. For us it was an unbiased representation of Africa through fashion.
what we do
Our in-house team of talented storytellers specialises in content strategy, graphic design, community engagement, public relations and videography. We are proud to state that the content, campaigns, research you see on the Afrika on My Sleeve platforms is conceputalised, developed, created, produced and done in-house. From events, the behind the scenes, styling shoots, artistic direction, copy writing, you name it, it is all done in-house. Since 2013 we have collaborated with other creatives and organisations to create and produce content. Through our services we create jobs for third culture youth through collaboratively offering creative services and packages to organisations.
All our programmes are designed to empower, inspire and to equip you with techniques and tips to create, nurture your creativity and engage in some form of artistic expression. Ranging from 8-week creative courses, 2-day self-care workshops to goal setting vision board sessions and half day workshops on how to make your own natural face masks. Blending storytelling techniques, collaborative learning and hands on activities, all our programmes are guided and approached from an Afrocentric participatory perspective and foundation.
Behind the scenes Thabani Gapara Project: styling, photography, artistic direction, press kit and copy services provided by Afrika on My Sleeve Team
Click below to find out more about how we can collaborate on your next project.