For centuries, the connection between Black people on and off the continent of Africa has been complex, bound up in a painful history of slavery, separation and, at times, suspicion. Yet the relationship has also thrived.
In 1964, Malcolm X visited Ghana. In a speech at a university there, he said: “I don’t feel that I am a visitor in Ghana or in any part of Africa. I feel that I am at home. I’ve been away for 400 years, but not of my own volition, not of my own will.”
Today, for the booming young population of Africa and its diaspora, the relationship is more direct. There’s a reciprocity of inspiration, fueled by a multitude of creative efforts and propelled by social media platforms like TikTok.
Examples are plenty. Resonant movies like “Black Panther” and majestic portraits by artists like Kehinde Wiley and Omar Victor Diop. Nigeria’s hilarious pulp movies, which are binged in homes across Europe and the Caribbean. And the Afro-Pop songs of Kenya’s Sauti Sol and the Afrobeats sounds of Tems, Burna Boy and Mr Eazi. In 2022 alone, Afrobeats artists were streamed more than 13 billion times on Spotify.
For this project, we spoke to 12 leading creators from Africa and the diaspora, as far afield as Asia, Europe and the United States. They include a two-time Oscar winner and first-time filmmakers, a Michelin star chef and a best-selling author, a fashion designer and an architect, a visual artist and a pop star. For them, Africa is the motherland, the source from which they draw. They are part of the global web of creatives who are making the world more African.