It's the year 2030 and the third largest country in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo has regained control of its resources, trade and ownership. This is not real life though. This is a sci-fi film created by Jamaican director Kordae Henry, called Earth Mother, Sky Father: 2030.
The film brings attention to unethical exploitation of DRC's mineral resources through the creation of a utopian future where colonialism, slavery and corruption do not exist. In this the Congolese people have chosen to protect their wealth from deep within the ground.
Henry lets this story unfold through his use of visuals, sound and dance.
The film’s lead actor is played by street dancer Storyboard P, who takes on the role of Woot. The film also featured music from duo Shabazz Palaces from Sub Pop Records. He specialises in producing a dialectic of dissonant electro haze beats.
Henry took on the role of sound designer and created sonic sounds that give life to each scene.
Henry’s inspiration behind the film first came from a piece he read in the New York Times, which looked at exposing the truth behind mineral trade in Africa.
More specifically the article looked at how minerals from DRC are exploited. For a long period during the 2000’s the wealth retained from these precious minerals were used to finance serious conflicts within the country like the Ituri conflict and the Second Congo War.
It was also used to fund various armies and rebel groups that have profited from mining and have contributed that to violence.
One of these conflict minerals has caused continuous ethical debates and it is one Henry references within his work, called Colton. This mineral is also referred to as tantalum and is primarily used in the production of mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices.
"That day I was searching through my photographs of my time in Nairobi (DRC is a strategic partner of Kenya in many areas, particularly trade and security), where I first was aware how cellphones became one of the largest ways to distribute money through the country. I began to see a future not just for the country, but for the continent,” said Henry in a piece for NOWNESS.
In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was put into place as a way to audit supply chains and report any use of conflict minerals. In 2018, the act was almost thrown out under President Trump’s administration. There are many people fighting for and against it.
Mother, Sky Father: 2030 premiered last month with people noticing similarities between Henry’s film and Black Panther due to it both representing a way to protect and treasure their unrefined earth minerals.
But this forms part of the important movement which gives a new voice to the continent's past, present and future. This is also nothing new for Henry who spends his spare time as a graphic designer. He previously worked as a design director at MASS Design Group.
A project he did alongside his business partner Rose Florian, called NØT THE SAME looked at the need for more diverse figures in architectural rendering. In this, they created a selection of scales in different ethnicities.
“We simply found that unless we started doing things ourselves—unless we started empowering ourselves—there’s no way we’d effect change within this infrastructure we call architecture and society as a whole,” said Henry in an interview with Curbed.
They looked at not only creating renders that appeal to everyone but in this they also addressed how set-back the architecture industry can be when it comes to people of colour.
Henry will speak at the 2019 Design Indaba Conference as part of the Global Graduates, alongside 11 up and coming young designers.
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