One of the hardest things to do at Design Indaba, as a speaker, is to get a standing ovation especially if you're the first to speak. But then again, not everyone is filmmaker and director Sunu Gonera who opened Design Indaba with a bang when he spoke afrofuturism.
This term means many things to artists and this is something Gonera did not take for granted. Instead he canvassed the options of his friends and leading creatives like actor David Oyelowo, Design Indaba 2017 speaker and photographer Osborne Macharia and Snowfall lead actor, Damson Idris among others.
"I believe that afrofuturism perfectly merges the past and the present of African culture in order to birth a brighter future," Idris said.
Gonera, who is currently based in Los Angeles, working on a movie, said that although he’s not too sure what #afrofuturism, for himit is also where our origins meet the possibilities of our people.
He added that it is about putting yourself into everything that you do, "Bringing your unique and specific voice to define and redefine how we as Africans see ourselves and how the world has presented us on arts, culture and entertainment, business, education, religion, media, politics, goverment and family. it is boldly moving forward without shame of where you come from or being African no matter what sphere of influence or area of expertise. And no matter who is in front of you, your African voice matters and demands to be heard."
From his early work in Pride with Terrence Howard in 2007 to finding himself broke in Hollywood, Gonera detailed the nuances of his journey. But it was his latest work that ultimately cemented his place in African filmmaking.
Working with Design Indaba alumni like Osborne Macharia, Venus Bush Fires and more, Gonera developed the One Source campaign for Absolut Vodka alongside South African rapper Khuli Chana.
Unlike the regular orange and red toned poverty used to depict Africa, Gonera made sure the One Source video and accompanying behind the scenes webisodes reflect a more authentic, raw, real version of the continent.
His efforts paid off. For Absolut, sales doubled over the course of the campaign and for Gonera, he realised he had found his voice.
"Let us tell our stories,” he says. “I want an inside-out perspective – raw, real, this is who we are.”
One Source was awarded a Gold Lion in entertainment, two Silver Lions for entertainment and entertainment for music respectively, and a Bronze Lion in media.
He finished his talk with a surprise performance by Khuli Chana. If you missed it, watch this space for his full speaker talk as well as an interview in the next few months.