African art meets the digital space
The Internet is like the giant centre of our global village, and all those who are connected to the Internet aren’t necessarily in IT jobs, but they are connected and are residents in that global village. This assumes that everyone is free to connect to it in any way they wish, but this assumption completely overlooks the African situation. In Africa we do things a little differently – we would rather spend our last coins for the week on airtime than on food; there are more of us with mobile phones than there are with access to fresh drinking water. We don’t all have electricity, a truth that makes laptops and desktops redundant in many African countries. As Africans, we have joined the global village, despite our unhampering lack of basic infrastructure like telephone lines, electricity cables, and tarred roads.
We have our mobile phones and we have our creativity.
An innovative young woman who belongs to the world as much as she belongs to the global village, Jepchumba is of Kenyan heritage, but has travelled the world and settled in Chicago. Her name means “foreigner”, which she feels is very befitting of her global identity. Having studied digital media and philosophy, she started the website African Digital Art. It’s a platform where other digital enthusiasts like her have the space in which to express their creativity and African identity through a digital medium.
We might think of African art as being the product of creativity and organic compounds that generate colour on mud huts and woven carpets, straw bags and beaded necklaces. Jepchumba, on the other hand, is changing the perception of African art through a digital means, inspiring and encouraging other African digital enthusiasts to pursue their passion for the creative and to express themselves through design and art. During her studies in the UK, she was dumbstruck by how much there was to learn about the possibilities in the digital arena, but how little was available in Africa in terms of education around digital media design and the subsequent opportunities.
African Digital Art is at the forefront of a huge drive that Jepchumba is undertaking to push African talent onto the world stage. She honestly believes that with the right opportunities available that Africa can lead the way when it comes to digital art and design; recognising that countries like South Africa, Egypt and Kenya are already streets ahead of other African countries in this regard – proving that it can be done in Africa.