Africa No Filter (ANF) has announced the second cohort of grantees of the Kekere Storytellers Fund.
Founded in November 2020, the Kekere Storytellers Fund is part of Africa No Filter’s strategy to disrupt and ensure that no voice is silenced.
Whether it’s empowering communities via filmmaking, building an Instagram platform that amplifies women in music, utilizing 3D animation to teach agency, or giving communities a voice through theatre and feature stories, the latest projects supported by the Kekere Fund are about artists who are reflections of their communities.
The stories will be created by artists who are based in Cameroon, Benin, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa. They have been empowered with microgrants worth between $500 and $2000 to work on projects that embody their experiences of Africa and being African, representing originality, freedom, creativity, and innovation.
In keeping with ANF’s broader grant-making strategy, the Kekere Storytellers Fund supports performance and visual artists, as well as content creators in the media space. For the second cohort, which also marks year two of ANF, diversity took centre stage – from the countries represented to the type of stories being told to the platforms they will be shared on, ANF said. These include films, a magazine, a theatre production, art exhibitions and a YouTube channel that showcases creatives, drumming circles and conversations with Nigeria’s LGBT community.
Jessica Hagan, Arts and Culture program lead at ANF, said;
Our mission for Kekere is clear and remains the same—to empower African on-the-ground storytellers through funding and other support. Once again, we were looking for innovative, passionate storytellers with fantastic projects that showcased Africans and the continent in an interesting and refreshing way.
“Our first cohort of Kekere grantees introduced us to the wonderful world of young, often unsupported African storytellers. This has inspired us to focus even more on trying to amplify storytellers and content creators who rarely have access to opportunities. We hope that this investment will be the beginning of more diverse and nuanced stories and partnerships across the continent,” added Natasha Kimani, Media and Research lead at ANF.
The second cohort of the Kekere Storytellers Fund is made up of:
Salma Mahmoud – Khartoum, Sudan
Salma, 33, is the co-founder of Drum Circle Sudan. The cultural organization facilitates communal drum circles and environmental awareness workshops. They also work on traditional instrument making. A percussionist, Salma is the first female Live Audio Technician in Sudan and is passionate about using arts for development and learning. “We have been harmed by negative stereotypes in so many ways. It has affected how we see ourselves and others like us. Whether foreign or African, the main narratives are not reflective of reality,” she said.
Cedric Bichano – Isingiro, Uganda
Cedric, 28, is a Congolese refugee living in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in southern Uganda and the CEO and founder of the World Refugee Film Academy. The organization empowers talented refugees to become filmmakers through training that provides practical skills in filmmaking, film acting and storytelling. A content creator in his own right, Cedric has provided field video productions and photography services for organizations like GIZ, Safer world, USAID, OXFAM, and Rotary International. His grant will fund training and equipment. “We hope to build a culture of storytelling among refugees as part of their healing process, to give the opportunity to passionate refugee filmmakers and create access to the tools to effectively share stories that will empower refugee voices and the greater community,” he said.
Sibomana Ambassadeur – Kigali, Rwanda
Sibomana is a computer animator and 3D artist whose experience spans film, gaming, travel & leisure, advertising, and print production industries. He has also worked as an animation and visual effects instructor at the Kigali Film and Television School, and as a children’s book animator at Mudacumura Publishing House, where he turned children’s books into 3D animated movies. His project is aimed at challenging perceptions of African women and girls by showing that they are leaders who impact their communities and countries. “Growing up in a society where there are a lot of misconceptions about Africans made me want to use my art to change stereotypical narratives and shape a brand-new image for Africa.”
Anda Mtshelma – Johannesburg, South Africa
Anda, 26, is the creator and author of the vegan food blog, 24Karrots. She started her journey of showing that Plant-Based eating is African, a culinary journey she started sharing on Instagram. “It’s important for more people to recognise that African people, traditions and cultures are not monolithic even though they might share some similarities. I think it’s important for as many people as possible to be given a platform to tell their stories and showcase the diversity, beauty and innovation of the continent,” she said.
Nadia Matovu – Kampala, Uganda
Nadia, 32, is the brains behind This is Uganda. The YouTube series gives a platform to creatives in Uganda and uses their stories to share underreported stories. Her grant will produce the second season of This Is Uganda, including traveling beyond Kampala to film creatives in rural areas. “Africa is always underestimated in every single aspect in comparison to other continents. We are underestimated politically, financially, with regards to our resources, etc. It is time for Africa to shine, and as an African, it is not my choice but rather my duty to be one of the individuals that help shift the narrative,” she said.
Eveline Mbisah – Doula, Cameroon
Eveline, 31, is a scriptwriter, film producer and the CEO of MBISAH STUDIOS. She has produced five feature films and 11 short comedies and acted in 16 movies. She’s producing a movie that will educate the community of Bamenda and other parts of Cameroon on the effects of global warming. “This grant means a lot to me because it has always been my dream to have someone believe in my passion and contribute to it. Africa is my Motherland and Cameroon is my country – it is my duty to develop, showcase and build up my inheritance, which happens to be Africa. If I don’t do it, who will?”
Cheraé Halley – Johannesburg, South Africa
Cheraé, 35, is an actress, theatre-maker, lecturer and applied theatre facilitator. She creates theatre with both Deaf and hearing people with a particular interest in human rights and uses drama as a process to educate and create dialogue. She is most interested in capturing the untold African narratives that often do not make it to the global stages. She is currently the co-director of Drama for Life Playback Theatre, the only accredited school of Playback Theatre in Africa. She is also the only African board member of the International Playback Theatre Network (IPTN). Her grant will stage productions in which communities narrate their experiences of Covid-19. “When individuals share stories of their own, it automatically shifts their narrative among the collective. This is one way we are shifting narratives, by making room for narratives to be shared in the first place,” she said.
Kasiva Mutua – Nairobi, Kenya
Kasiva, 34, is the founder of the first all-female percussion collective in Kenya, MOTRAMUSIC, and one of her country’s leading percussionists and drummers. She’s an international touring percussionist, integrating African traditional music with modern styles such as jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Funk and more. Her music celebrates her community’s spirit by telling her people’s stories and elevating the place of the African woman in music Her grant will fund the second season of Vibe na Queen, the Instagram page she created to amplify women in music. “My journey as a female instrumentalist has not been all easy. Through Vibe na Queen, I hope to bring out the stories of women in the music industry to inspire, educate and encourage younger women looking into making careers in music,” she said.
Youhana Nassif – Cairo, Egypt
Youhana, 30, is passionate about youth voices in art, culture, and travel narratives. He founded the Animated Animation Festival in Cairo in 2020 and directed the first two editions of the festival. He is currently working on developing multiple personal cultural projects such as a simplified natural encyclopaedia for Egypt, a map game, a short, animated movie, a story script for a 40-minute-long musical piece and a lending library. His grant will produce multiple editions of Kemet, a simplified cultural magazine that is targeted at Egyptian youth. “This grant would mean a lot to my work because I have been struggling to get this magazine out to the world. I also have lots of other ideas for cultural and artistic projects and I believe that this grant will give me great exposure and financial freedom to invest in other projects,” he said.
Chisom Job – Lagos, Nigeria
Chisom, 19, is a Nigerian editor and journalist covering policies, culture, and technology. He is also the editor-in-chief of Living Free UK, which caters to Black Queer people. His grant will fund new content for the platform. “The grant will help change the narrative concerning the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria through stories and provide opportunities for people through the free masterclass.”
Erhuardt Muchemwa – Harare, Zimbabwe
Erhuardt, 35, has always been fascinated by the environment and the natural world, and how the weather transforms the landscape through the seasons – influences that shape his sculptures, drawings, and paintings. His grant will produce an exhibition and workshops that promote Art toys as an art form and tool for shaping creativity that shifts stereotypical narratives of Africa. “I’m driven to create content that inspires and shift the narratives of Africa,” he said.