DESIGNING THE FUTURE

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“There is nothing new under the sun and some of us will have ideas while others will bring ideas to life.” Dr. Desta

Last week, the 5th edition of Design Week Addis Ababa (DWAA) wrapped as founder, Matasebia Yoseph, who tries to stay true to her vision, presented “…a distinctly collaborative platform for creative, cultural and commercial engagement.” Innovative concepts, products and services are the focus of DWAA, in an effort to help the vision of Addis Abeba emerge as a city of the future, driven by creative industries. Last week also saw the soft opening of blueSpace, “Where work meets life” in another Dr. Eleni G/Madhin transformative initiative. She now offers tons of space filled with amenities for digital nomads et al seeking secure and reliable spaces to log on and get work done, without the outpour of massive responsibilities and resources. Again, a place to get that project done while visiting Addis or a venue to create, develop and produce the next game changing product and/or service for a country climbing out of poverty, amidst its rich culture. Finally, I ended the work-week with a visit to the South African Embassy, per invitation of Mr. Forster Masuku, Counsellor Political. The Embassy is always a treat to visit, the architecture is unique and fresh and though a secure space, it is welcoming. To get to the point, I was invited to meet young artist and adventurer or we could say adventurous artist, Reggie Khumalo, a young man on a mission for transformation of the hearts and minds of artists and all those he touches along the way.
Reggie like, Matasebia and Dr. Eleni share a vision for Africa that is driven by creativity, ingenuity and a sense of confidence that I liken to fearlessness for the afore mentioned folks. While the two former are leaping without a net for progress at home, Reggie is on a journey that began by motorbike from hometown Johannesburg, South Africa. The months long journey will culminate with a major solo exhibition in Amsterdam in the summer of 2019. The journey is not just another road trip by an artist setting out to explore him self in a quest for inspiration and exposure. Instead, this twenty something year old, self taught artists says, “I am the change.” The baby faced artist biker has made impact along the way crossing over ten countries including South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi; building school rooms and kitchens and raising funds from the sale of his art to help pay tuition fees for students who would otherwise have to leave school mid stream.
For the skeptics who continue to peddle doom and gloom for Africa and Ethiopia in particular, and even for those of us who love our city, but real talk, sometimes it’s just like WWWHHHYYY-OOO? I offer the following. Africa is rising, positive and progressive change is happening and we are working across generations, professions, academic and social spheres to realize change. Though progress and positive people rarely make for a sexy newsworthy story, unlike war, famine or ebola; Africans should begin to search for the stories and people who are making massive change, right here at home. Then we must find a way to share the information, especially with children, in an effort to viral-ize our narratives.
Transformers in high and low tech arenas are everywhere in this country and continent for that matter. Just the thought of these and other thousands of energetic Africans going out on a limb, everyday, to help develop and activate practical solutions, makes me smile. Most of all it keeps me on my toes and makes my mind swirl with thoughts of what I can continue to do as part of the change in this exciting time. This is the question I put to you dear avid reader. Newsflash! We do not need massive Oprah-type riches to make change. What we do have is a wealth of knowledge and experience and can carve out the time to support and advocate to increase and enhance change agents, institutions and transformative projects that address African driven solutions. Finally, we can encourage positive thinking and initiatives and put and end to player haters who subscribe to the “I had the same idea first” theory. There is nothing new under the sun and some of us will have ideas while others will bring ideas to life. Let us support the idea-life-givers and watch our country and continent flourish for us and for our future generations. Please and thank you.

Dr. Desta Meghoo is a Jamaican born
Creative Consultant, Curator and cultural promoter based in Ethiopia since 2005. She also serves as Liaison to the AU for the Ghana based, Diaspora African Forum.