Telling Our Own Stories : AfricanstoryTV, An African City and Belle

It has been said many times over in the narrative of “Africa Rising“, that the digital age is Africa’s game changer in rebuilding and rebranding a continent and its global fusion, to eyes of the world. With the rise of content driven mobile communication worldwide, a growing African film and television industry, and the newly growing population of Africa’s middle class and billionaires; seeking funding and viewership of our stories should be the least of our obstacles, yet wonders never cease of a people and nations who do not see their own value, nor prioritize self investment in people capital and the preservations of the legacy of cultural arts, in telling their story beyond an outside view.  I am so very proud of my global African village, in how we are taking the reigns in telling our own stories by defying the strangle hold of obstacles. While many complain of the lack of representation in so called “mainstream”, and how Hollywood won’t allow us to tell our Global African stories, as if permission needed to be granted; there are those who are debunking these self-imposed ideas of can’t, who have taken it upon themselves to “just do it”, by being the change they want to see.

As Toni Morrison said, “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another…You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down…If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”!

Director/Producer- Daty (Dante) Kaba of “AfricanstoryTV, creator/writer /co-producer/executive producer- Nicole Amarteifio of “An African City, and Writer/Director- Amma Asante of “Belle“, have created the much needed and not often heard stories of the global African experience, in the balance between our local and global cultural intersections, which I call our global fusion. How many of us can pass on to our children and generations after us, the legacy of fables and family stories that were once told to us? How many of us are busting at the seams to see and tell the real stories of this generation of returnees, the new sankofa generation? How many of us know of the role of an African born into the aristocracy of the British Empire, who forced a nation to see slaves beyond commodity?  Well, be silenced and frustrated no longer in what you seek because Mr. Kaba, Ms. Amarteifio and Ms. Asante have done just that, and now it is up to us all to support these works that are changing the conversations of the “Can’ts” and showcasing who we are and have always been AfriCans!

It was a shame to hear divisive cries of marginalization by Black Americans who sought issue with non-Americans of African descent telling the story of Solomon Northup (a born free African in America); without the thought of the marginalization of African descendants from Brazil to Haiti, to Europe, to Africa, who may have never known nor seen this story of their shared ancestry, had it not been made by the vision and the hands of African descendants beyond the United States of America, who also desire a connection and voice to their ancestral past. As we position ourselves in the many intersections of a more globalized world, we must remember and affirm our past and present in building the future. Why not prioritize beyond seeking someone else’s stage to validate our worth locally and globally? The institutions we seek validations from were not created over night, but were built, affirmed and upheld in value from those who saw and worked toward their worth through cooperative economics. This is not anything that those who came before us have not done, or at the very least put in the work with a blueprint for attainment. I see cable channels like CMT (Country Music Television) with thousands to millions in viewership- serving relatable content to an underserved and often unseen demographic, while even pulling in people like myself into their viewership- when I would hardly qualify as part of the demographic that they create to serve. The stories being told by Kaba, Amarteifio and Asante and so many others could and should easily garner a local and global viewership of an underserved and often unseen locally global demographic and a vast number of the curious; whether it be on a so called mainstream outlet or BET, TVOne, The African Channel, The newly resurrected Rex Cinema in Ghana or Magic Johnson Theaters. In order to seek validation from another in defining worth, we must first seek and create validation within ourselves and our institutions in defining and upholding our worth locally and globally. Before the world was mesmerized with their newly discovered talent from Africa; Africans locally and globally knew Lupita Nyong’o from MTV Base’s Shuga” and her directorial debut of ” In My Genes” at The African Film Festival in 2009, as a new Kenyan Filmmaker. Why should the narrative not be how we are building locally and globally and can do more in building these institutions of our history and  future legacy? Why must we put someone else’s stage on a higher pedestal than one built from our own hands and creativity in hard work? As the saying goes “If you build it, they will come“!

From the African descendants photographed by the great Gordon Parks at the colored entrance, in consciously unconscious odes to Yemaya/MamiWata transatlantic blue, with dreams of what can be beyond that entrance; to a Mexican born, Kenyan raised, Yale educated Lupita Nyong’o– May they all know and be assured and validated by our own local and global institutions, that their dreams are valid !

No matter where you are from, Your Dreams are Valid” – Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Winner 

“I AM NOT AFRICAN BECAUSE I WAS BORN IN AFRICA BUT BECAUSE AFRICA WAS BORN IN ME… If we have lost touch with what our forefathers discovered and knew, this has been due to the system of education to which we were introduced. This system of education prepared us for a subservient role to Europe and things European. It was directed at estranging us from our own cultures in order the more effectively to serve a new and alien interest… In the future as the world of Africa and the West mate more and more into the totality of world culture, the creative strength of the African personality, which is evident in tribal sculpture, will contribute far more profoundly to human fulfillment than can yet be imagined…Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. Thy claim it as their own and none can keep it from them. We face neither East nor West: We Face Forward.”Dr. Kwame Nkrumah


 African Story TV (ASTV)

For centuries, oral storytelling has been the format used by many cultures in passing along important historical facts and information down for other generations. African Story TV (ASTV) will follow that tradition with current technology.

ASTV is an online webtv ” portal” broadcasting short African stories told by everyday Africans, African Americans and Caribbean. Storytellers will be filmed on video that will be featured on the online webtv.

ASTV will serve as a online village where global citizens can enjoy stories from the Africa, US and the Caribbean.
A cultural heritage site that will help preserve oral story tradition that has existed for centuries in Africa.

African Story TV is also an educational hub for students and future generations to experience African Stories and the significance of oral storytelling.

The idea of African Story TV was manifested when my young daughter asked me to tell her African stories from my childhood. It dawned on me that I had sporadic memories or had completely forgotten those stories. I did research and found that most people have forgotten those folklores from childhood as well.
Please join us in sharing those stories.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee shares her favorite African Story – Mr. Do Good
See More Stories : HERE

Zola Dube – The African Family

An African City

A new Internet series has made a splash, and it’s frequently described as Africa’s answer to Sex and the City. An African City is set in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, and follows the lives and loves of five successful African females who return to the continent after spending much of their adult life abroad in the U.S. and U.K.

Created by Nicole Amarteifio and Millie Monyo, the duo have utilized millennial methods as well as traditional means to get the world buzzing about their boundary pushing show. Alongside director Dickson Dzakpasu, the trio are focused on entertaining the masses, changing public perceptions on how Africans are viewed, and fostering a discussion-inducing look at relationships within the continent..” (SOURCE)

See more Episodes: HERE

On April 3, 2014 the United Nations showed a screening of “Belle” by Amma Asante for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade , with the 2014 theme being :Victory Over Slavery:Haiti and Beyond.…. I’ve been hearing about the making of this film for the past few years not knowing it was 7 years in the making. From the first time I heard about British- Ghanaian director and my fellow Saturday born namesake, Amma Asante, directing a true love story of another side of our shared transatlantic story, which brought change in laws to move nations and our human race forward – I fell in love with the concept and was eagerly anticipating its debut. I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing our past, present and future in dreams of what could be, becoming the reality of conviction and dedication to changing the narrative and never giving up until our stories are told ! Look for this film and demand that it make it to a theater near you!  And Yes, the fashion is periodic perfection  !

It amuses her, always has, this disregard of Africans for flowers, the indifference of the abundantly blessed (or psychologically battered)- the chronic self-loather who can’t accept, even with evidence, that anything native to him, occurring in abundance, in excess, without effort, has value” – Quote from the book “Ghana Must Go”  … Appreciate your flowers… For they bloom without concern to lack nor season in showcasing rooted beauty!

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