So I decided to step out of my box (aka my little Dutch village) and be spontaneous. About midday yesterday I saw on Africa’s a Country, an announcement for the launch of ZAM Magazine’s international edition in Amsterdam. I closed early from work and got on the train for an almost three hour ride to A’dam. It was definitely worth attending!
ZAM Magazine is an international publication celebrating African creativity and new thinking. Since its launch in 1997, ZAM’s approach to journalism has been just the right balance of art and activism; using its network of journalists, writers, artists, photographers and other creative types across the world to sometimes question social and cultural norms, other times introduce new ideas, but always informing about Africa’s artistic highlights.
So far, it had been published in Dutch. However, with the launch of the international English version, ZAM Magazine has taken a bold step to share to an even wider audience, a true picture of Africa, drawn by Africans- something most prefer to ignore. The idea is to show the diversity, creative talent and passion which is driving innovation in every corner of the continent.
A continent no longer harassed by platitudes and prejudice,
and attitudes marinated in woefulness and dependency.
No romantics masking realities. A continent on top.
No more judgements biased by narrow sightedness and a need to fortify.
No limits. No longing. Its happening.
The ZAM Team
Although ZAM is mostly about art and culture, it was pretty interesting to see how young Africans, coming from different fields could agree on the value artistic expression brings to their specific area of work. For Kunle Adeyemi, an architect and founder of NLÉ, there is no better time to experience Africa’s growth and dynamism than now. Kunle brings together elements of art, design, structure and the environment to create sustainable solutions for Africa’s fast urbanizing cities. Art also perfectly intertwines with politics. Through investigative journalist Idris Akinbajo’s constant search for truth, he understands the role a tool like ZAM Magazine can play to inform, enlighten and empower citizens to hold governments accountable and create change in their societies. Young South African writer, Palesa Motsumi passionately shared her conviction in the power words, music and poetry have to transform minds and places.
The first edition features a beautiful essay by Nigerian writer Helon Habila. In ‘Each Alone’, he explores the complexity of being a writer, the paradox of looking but not seeing, the thin line between truth and fiction, and the struggle every writer faces in defining who (s)he writes for. I really like how in the end he concludes, though it actually sounds like he finally succumbs because he can no longer disagree, that
“…before you can be a writer for a group or nation, you first have to be a writer for the individual.”
Another Nigerian writer, El-Nathan John also shares a story in the magazine. His chilling story, ‘Love in Times of Protest’ is set in Nigeria’s recent Occupy movement. It draws the reader into the mind of one who views the protests as futile efforts toward change, yet loves another who believes the protest is the only way to proactively bring about that same change.
There are opinion pieces on revolutions in Africa to the significance of ‘colonial fabric’ to modern day African fashion, from homosexuality and politics to religion and politics. Overall, through provocative and opinion-led photography, features, design and short stories, the international ZAM Magazine will give an edgy and contemporary viewpoint on Africa.