If You Want to Change Africa, Change Your Perspective
Africans across the globe are documenting the daily realities of their cities in a way that is refreshingly authentic and unapologetic. Instead of a reactionary narrative, this generation of African storytellers are presenting Africa as
Africans across the globe are documenting the daily realities of their cities in a way that is refreshingly authentic and unapologetic. Instead of a reactionary narrative, this generation of African storytellers are presenting Africa as is: the good, bad, and ugly; and claiming it as our own.
Nosa Garrick is at the forefront of this cataclysmic shift as the Executive Producer and Director of My Africa Is – an award-winning documentary series that showcases the realities of the African Continent by travelling to various cities and interviewing local changemakers across the Continent. Speaking with Nosa Garrick about her entrepreneurial journey was [uplifting and inspiring].
AA: Where did the inspiration for My Africa Is come from?
Garrick: When I first moved from Nigeria to America, the narrative then was to assimilate. I was fourteen years old in my first year of high school in Washington DC. My classmates weren’t very nice. They would ask me questions like, “Do y’all have cars?” It made me feel ashamed.
AA: What kind of Nigeria did you leave?
Garrick: Abacha had just died. Things were really bad then, and I didn’t get to see the change that was happening because I didn’t go home that often. All I heard from the news was negative. It wasn’t until I started going home a bit more in 2006 that I was able to see the changes. That was around the time when DBanj started popping off. Arise also came out and everyone was like “yes!”
AA: How did you get started working on the ground in Nigeria?
Garrick: After writing for Afripop, I moved back to Nigeria in 2010 and started working on the elections. Doing that was so meaningful to me because at a time when there was so much political apathy, Nigerian youth were taking ownership of the electoral process. I remember thinking to myself wouldn’t it be cool for us to see these stories inspire others not only to change the story for others but to change the story for ourselves?
AA: Tell me about one incredible struggle that you faced while working on My Africa Is.
Garrick: I am going to talk honestly about it because people forget to chase their dreams because of their unwillingness to sacrifice some of the material things. I started My Africa Is with no experience and no real connection. My parents aren’t ballers. During that first year, I must have talked to about 1000 people just so that I could be taken seriously. I remember being in LA getting way below my pay grade. A lot of people don’t know this but I was working part time as a member concierge for two years while working on My Africa Is until someone noticed how hard I was working.
AA: How did you fund the project?
Garrick: Whatever money I had, I used towards the show. As I kept producing, I got roped into other production gigs and was offered very little money, so I applied for the third time to this fellowship program with the National Black Programming Consortium called NBPc360, which is an incubator program to get more black programming on American public television. Selected participants get 150,000 dollars to do a pilot. I had been applying since 2012 but this time around, we got it. What actually pushed us forward is that this was something that had been happening since 2012 so we had gotten a lot of feedback on several versions. It was a lot of hard work and perseverance because I literally had to shun that small voice in my head telling me I couldn’t do it.
AA: What does innovation mean to you?
Garrick: When I think of innovation, I don’t just think of technology or brick and mortar. I think there is cultural innovation. I think once we are thinking differently, that is innovation. Any rethinking or reformulating to provide a solution that has not been presented before, which proves to be successful and impactful, is innovation. When we select changemakers for My Africa Is, we don’t discriminate on the profession. We merely just want to keep the African voice in the global conversation about innovation. For us, it is more about highlighting this untapped potential. By showcasing these stories, we are posing a really important question about human capacity building and education in order to pressure African governments to invest in their human capital.
AA: What is your Africa?
Garrick: My Africa is my home.
Check out the trailer to the new docu-series below: