A Revival of African Creative and Cultural Industries at Last?

Published on 1st November 2010

The West African Cinema, Related Arts and Cultural Industries Development Fund (WACRACID FUND)©, is offering, with immediate effect, five hundred thousand (500,000) ordinary shares at a price of USD 5 (five United States Dollars) per share to the general public on the African Continent and in the Diaspora.

Explaining the move, the lead Promoter and President of WACRACID FUND©, His Serene Highness (HSH) Prince Bubacarr Sankanu, says the entry-barrier is lowered to give all interested lovers of African film, arts and cultural capital the direct unique chance of owning stakes in the promising African cultural and creative industries regardless of their ethnicities, races, religions, nationalities, social statuses or political orientations. The share price will go up once this one-off private and public placement offer closes.

WACRACID FUND© initiated by the Germany-registered Diaspora African Council for Arts and Culture eV (AFCAC) is out to fill in an important gap on the African financial landscape after an independent feasibility study revealed the need and potentials for serious, sustainable and credible private-public funding mechanisms for the African creative and cultural industries. "If you look around you find private and public funds targeting raw materials, telecommunications, mainstream banking, agribusiness land-grabbing, wasteful consumerism and other get-rich-quick sectors of the African political economy but you will not find stable funds boosting the local creative and cultural industries head-on. Africa's cultural or creative capital does not seem to have any importance to mainstream investors beyond the usual brand-promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) peanuts," Prince Sankanu reveals.

He commends the international development partners and grant-making organizations for patronizing African filmmakers, musicians and other artistes, but says “for a sustainable African creative industry to emerge, serious investment is inevitable. The generation of Sembène Ousmane, The Father of African Cinema, was constrained by heavy dependence on grants, hand-outs and charities. We as Generation African Renaissance (GAR) should go further by developing self-sustaining funding models that will not be at the mercy of the national budgets and moods of the donor countries and aid agencies.” He goes on “film business, for instance, is serious business and if you want to build a viable cinema art industry, you have to be ready to put passion, creative risk and money into it. The non-profit charities, grants-makers, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) patronages and copy-cat reality television might be good for the short-term ego-boosting and instant image-makings but for the long-term we need libertinist for-profit models with strong socio-cultural bias towards African potentials as part of the funding mix.”

“If Africans want to change the negative perceptions of Africa and also survive the new scramble for Africa,” Sankanu observes, “they have to be prepared to invest in their cultural and creative industries as outsiders will not do it for them. Africans are lagging behind in the areas of self-sufficiency, secularism, science, technology, innovation, inter-African trade and economic patriotism with no pride in local ‘made in Africa’ products and ideas. Their only global competitive advantages can be found in their young and growing populations, Negroid roots, creative culture, civilizations and multi-ethnic diversity.”

Sankanu explains, “the Americans are investing in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, DAPRA, CNN, Green Valley, Nano Science, the Chicago and New York mercantile exchanges, NASDAQ and other sectors of their creativity to command their own destinies. The Indians are pumping their monies into Bollywood, Bangalore ICT hub, global takeovers and the likes. The Chinese are investing in their Chinese film and cultural industries of Shanghai, Hong Kong and beyond. The producers of Telenovelas from Latin America are not waiting for grants before colonizing African TV screens with their dramas. The Arabs are not just complaining about their image in the global mainstream media. They are doing something about it by investing in their Al-Jazeera Networks, Al-Arabia TVs, MBC Groups, Halal foods, Islamic finance and their other culturally-bias things.”

Sankanu who is also the pioneer president of the West African Professional Filmmakers Association (WAPFA) asks “what are Africans doing about their rich heritage and cultural capital? My Nigerian brothers and sisters were recently complaining about a BBC documentary on Lagos and a South African film's portrayal of Nigerians. Complaining is easy but practising cultural and economic patriotism seems difficult. What is stopping Nigerians from establishing world class media houses like the BBC and CNN to tell their own African stories when they are literally swimming in petro-Nairas and huge creative talent pool? Why are they not controlling the religious propaganda radio/television stations and home videos that promote Islam and Christianity as good and insult indigenous Nigerian/African traditions and belief systems as evil?” He emphasizes that the WACRACID FUND© is a platform for all those who want to see dynamic, relevant, profitable and sustainable African cultural and creative industries.

Promoters of WACRACID FUND© are motivated by the African Union's Charter for the African Cultural Renaissance of 2006, the ECOWAS Protocol A/P1/7/87 and Cultural Development Programme A/DEC 4/11/96 and the African Union’s Nairobi Plan of Action for African Cultural Industries of 2005.

The WACRACID FUND© that has the slogan of “The Premier Pan African Funding Institution for The Creative Industries” is borrowing the strategy of the Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) as a successful local model of African Solution to African Problems. Sankanu recalls “when Ecobank started in 1985, many Afro-pessimists were sceptical and apprehensive about the capability of Africans to build a serious home-grown financial entity especially at the difficult time of the notorious Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) of the Breton Woods institutions in Africa. Today, the promoters of Ecobank have proven them wrong and, the first-movers who bought shares are satisfied. I bet they are not feeling the current global financial meltdown. So our West African Cinema, Related Arts and Cultural Industries Development Fund is for all those who have faith in Africa's cultural and creative reservoirs. It is best suited for the medium and long-term investors as we are not into the get-rich-quick short-term rush.”

On the issue of competition when the Federation of Pan African Filmmakers (FEPACI) is launching the “African Film Cinema Fund (AFCF)” and African Film Academy (AFA) is forming the “African Film Fund (AFF)”, the upbeat Prince says “it is welcomed news. The more, the merrier since funding remains the biggest challenge for countless brilliant African filmmakers and versatile artistes. Africa is a Continent of around one billion peoples and there is no monopolistic law that dictates that only one or two funds should be in place for the current and upcoming African creative wizards. Europe, USA and Asia have numerous entertainment finance vehicles each operating accordingly.”

WACRACID FUND© sees any entity that is passionate about Africa in one legitimate way or the other as a potential cooperation partner and not as competitor and it shall “not be discouraged by doubters, detractors, spoilers and all those who would like us to fail.”

Unlike the film-oriented funds of FEPACI, AMA and the Nigeria Film Corporation, WACRACID FUND© has a diversified focus on the Continental and Diaspora creative pools beyond film and television. WACRACID FUND © is serving as one-stop shop, offering alternative revenue generating streams through film, television, fashion, music, literature, handicrafts, photography, cultural tourism, artiste villages, heritage protection, traditional sports, dance, theatre, digital arts, traditional architecture and other productive creative sectors.

Explaining the reasons for not going straight to the stock exchanges, Prince Sankanu gave three points “one, listing on the stock exchange is not a do or die affair especially at time when bad behaviour of greedy speculators is affecting trust in the quarter-addicted financial markets. Bertelsmann Group of Germany grew from a simple book club into a diversified global media conglomerate without kneeling before the stock exchanges. Two, WACRACID FUND© is best suited for the ethical investors who have faith in Africa beyond the stereotypes and negative headlines. And three, the mainstream banks, investors, rating agencies and researchers do not yet have enough competent analysts who understand Africa's Cultural and Creative Economies (CCE) from the authentic African perspectives. If we rush to the stock exchanges, the analysts could be making unrealistic statements about WACRACID FUND© that could confuse our distinguished shareholders and their proxies.”

The funds to be generated form the current 500,000 share issue will be used to strengthen the institutional capacity of WACRACID FUND©, support the re-branding of the Nigerian film and cultural sectors, boost the best African creative practices on the Continent and in the Diaspora, fund authentic cultural productions that balance decent returns on investments, creative freedom and cultural responsibility, support joint cross-border, cross-lingual, cross-media and cross-cultural projects, establish a film and arts school in Haiti as part of the Pan African investment and post earth quake reconstruction solidarity and, carry out any other activity approved by the Supervisory Council.

Courtesy:  West African Cinema, Related Arts & Cultural Industries Development Fund


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