Hope, Energy, and Ingenuity: Voices of African Youth
Book Features Artwork of Young African Artists
With the launch of the Young Africa Works strategy, the Foundation is aiming to elevate voices and perspectives of Africa youth. As part of this, we asked visual artists working and living in Africa to respond to the question: “What do you hope for African youth?” A collection of their responses is published in an art book, Hope, Energy, and Ingenuity: Voices of African Youth.
Our goal was to receive submissions from artists of varying age, gender, citizenship, and experience. Above all, we hoped for artwork that captured their young creators’ visions of living and working on a continent experiencing massive change. The competition was broadcast over social media through our partners and artists hubs, including galleries, universities, and artist collectives across the continent. The response was remarkable: more than 500 artists from 28 countries responded, much more than anticipated.
Several themes emerged across all submissions:
- Youth consistently expressed ideals that our strategy is built on: dignity, fulfillment, inclusiveness, and courage.
- Youth want to be in control of their own narratives, whether that’s shifting the focus of the conversation from problems to workable solutions, exploring the socio-economic and cultural dimensions of crafts and trades with which youth are engaged, or addressing the gap in African representation in contemporary media.
- The strategy goal requires collective action and working within and through communities. We need to “come together” and “work hand in hand”.
- Young people see themselves as drivers of change. They reject the stereotype of African youth as simply beneficiaries. They are keenly aware of the challenges they face and feel they are best positioned to craft solutions.
- Innovation, education, and opportunity are forces behind change.
Why did we decide to use art?
Language can fall short of capturing the complex, interconnected issues facing young people in Africa today. Art can, at times, come closer. Art sparks ideas rather than pinning them down. It opens up conversations rather than finishing them. It lends humanity to challenges and goals that are, above all, about people.
This book, Hope, Energy, and Ingenuity: Voices of African Youth, captures the ideas and vision of 21 young artists from across the continent.