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Artistes fight for Africa’s image

Mamohlakola Letuka

MASERU will be among the 15 Southern African towns to be documented by Unscrambling Africa, a team of artistes based in Kenya.

The artistes who were expected to arrive in the country yesterday are now set to arrive next week after they secure an off-road vehicle that can be driven in the mountainous terrain of Lesotho.

The documentary is part of the project to tell the African story by Africans unlike the often-negative stories that are showcased in the media.

Maseru comes as the ninth city that the team will be visiting.

The team’s journey started in March this year when the Kenyan creatives embarked on a road trip from Nairobi to Johannesburg and back by road.

A statement from the artistes said that their aim was to unify Africa and show the world the beauty that is found within the southern side of the continent.

“The aim is to document the vibrant life of Southern Africa’s cities with the determination to disprove the belief that Africa is too scrambled to traverse,” the statement read.

The artistes said that by crossing borders and breaking barriers they are hoping to connect the people across the continent.

The team is made up of two photographers, Mutua Matheka and Joe Were, documentarian, Josh Kisamwa and designer Lulu Kitololo.

The statement said the trip is part of a five-year project that will culminate in a documentary.

“Unscrambling Africa is the beginning of a five-year project to document African cities and landscapes and to dispel the unflattering notions that have been stuck to it,” Halima Gikandi, the team’s spokesperson said.

She said the image of the continent has become so battered that that some have even opined that it is too uninteresting to travel across the continent.

The name Unscrambling Africa is a reversal of the 1881 to 1914 Scramble of Africa by European colonialists. Gikandi said it is wrong that “remnants of that history continue to paint Africa as caught between undeveloped and untouched rurality and overdeveloped urban slums”.

She said that the team would travel by car instead of flying through the different cities to ensure that they experience the beauty of each country.

“Their work will culminate in a documentary and a high-resolution photo book.

“We will see the familiar landscapes and cities of Lesotho shown in all their glory and the rest of Africa like you have never seen it before,” Gikandi said.

From Nairobi, the journey intends to go through cities like Nkhata Bay, Lusaka, Livingstone Windhoek, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Gaborone Maputo, Harare, Tete, Blantyre, Dodoma, Arusha and Maseru.

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