Crabs in Nature and on YouTube, Matatu Film Residency, and African Photobook Awards.

BARUA YA BARAZA: Crabs in Nature and on YouTube , Matatu Film Residency , and African Photobook Awards 

From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings, friends:
Why do animals keep evolving into crabs? This is a real thing – crab-like forms are so evolutionarily favourable that they’ve evolved independently at least five times in nature, among animals that are technically not crabs. Stay with me – I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

A few days ago, my (almost) 10-year-old told me that evolution tends to favour the crab-like body shape, with its protective exoskeleton, versatile limbs, and compact form. Scientists believe that having a crab-like body is great in defending against predators, in burrowing and navigating diverse habitats. It means that multiple crustacean lineages have evolved over time into forms resembling crabs, despite having completely different ancestors. It’s a phenomenon called carcinization.

In the same way, over time you might notice a similar convergence among content creators. In the pursuit of audience engagement, creators often gravitate towards content styles, formats, or themes that have already proven successful. This trend is not driven by biological evolution, of course, but by the algorithmic and social dynamics of the platform. Videos that gain more views, likes, and shares are often promoted more by YouTube’s algorithms, leading creators to adapt their content to what performs best.

Even though it may seem we are living in an age of digital overabundance, we are at the same time living in the age of homogenization of content, where diverse creators might end up producing surprisingly similar videos. Topics that trend, video formats that engage viewers more effectively (think of how YouTube creators are always doing challenges or pranks), and even editing styles can become remarkably uniform across the platform. This is not to say that creativity is completely stifled; many creators still bring unique perspectives and innovations. However, the underlying pattern of convergence is unmistakable, driven by platforms’ inherent reward mechanisms. 

Why does this even matter? In the grand scheme of things, when everyone starts to look and sound the same, we might miss out on those unique, quirky, or innovative voices that bring new perspectives to the table. In the long run, ensuring a diverse range of content is crucial because it keeps the digital landscape vibrant and interesting, preventing it from becoming a monotonous echo chamber. Crabs are great – but that shouldn’t be the only creature out there.

In the meantime, here’s: 

What We’re Reading: I Know It Was The Blood, an Easter reflection by my dear friend Rev. Dr. Jeremy L. Williams. In this sermon, Dr. Williams grapples with the violence of Jesus crucifixion, and wonders, “How is state-terror against an innocent man turned into something worth singing about joyfully?”


What We’re Watching: I’m in those rare seasons in my life where I’m watching multiple shows in parallel. So, here goes – I’m bingeing on The Gentlemen and Blue Eye Samurai, both on Netflix, and Industry on Showmax. Three very different shows, but I’m loving the experience of watching them all.


What We’re Listening to: Scamfluencers, a podcast unpacking “epic stories of deception from the worlds of social media, fashion, finance, health, and wellness…These influencers claim to be everything from charismatic healers to trusted financial insiders to experts in dating. They cast spells over millions. Why do we believe them, and how does our culture allow them to thrive?” Listen, wherever you get your podcasts.

My best,
Christine Mungai.



#RiseAfrica2024 | Photography Competition

The #RISEAfrica2024 Photography Competition is now open, with the theme “Everyday Possibilities… [from neighbourhoods to cities].”  This year, they’re challenging you to capture the potential within your surroundings.  Explore your city, listen to its stories, and see the possibilities waiting to be unlocked.  Tell a visual story about how everyday elements of urban life can be transformed by passionate and creative people working together to build thriving African cities.  The winner will receive $500, with two finalists each taking home $200.

Deadline: 7th April, 2024

For more information click here.

The Music Imbizo | Film Festival

Calling all music filmmakers! The Music Imbizo Film Festival is accepting submissions for their 2024 event in Durban, South Africa. The fee to enter is $12. They are looking for films of all lengths (features, shorts, documentaries) as long as they are music-related and completed in the last 3 years. Submit your film by FilmFreeway for a chance to have it screened at the festival.

Deadline: 15th April, 2024

For more information click here.

Film Possible | Matatu Film Residency

Film Possible is calling on East African filmmakers to apply for their prestigious Matatu Film Residency! This month-long program supports emerging and established filmmakers from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, and DR Congo in developing their feature-length documentary projects. 

Deadline: 30th April, 2024

For more information click here.

African Podcast & Voice Awards | Call for Session Hosts

The APVA is seeking a dynamic lineup of speakers and facilitators who can ignite discussions across the entire audio spectrum. Whether you’re a podcasting expert, a voice-over maestro, or a spoken-word spellbinder, the APVA wants to hear from you! Do you have a compelling story to share and the enthusiasm to lead conversations that make a difference? Then the APVA wants you on their team!

Deadline: 30th April, 2024

For more information click here.

EIGER Foundation | African Photobook of the Year Awards

Capture Africa’s vibrant stories and win your chance to be part of the Eiger Foundation African Photobook of the Year Award. Compete for a $12,500 prize, gain international exposure, and join a network of passionate artists. Submit your photobook showcasing Africa’s diverse landscapes and cultures – it’s not just recognition, it’s a platform to inspire and celebrate the continent’s narratives.

Deadline: 1st June, 2024

For more information click here.

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