From the Curator’s Desk
I’ve written before about the seemingly clever ChatGPT, but this was at the beginning of the year and it seems AI is developing blindingly fast. So this week I asked Chat GPT to write the Curator’s Desk section of this newsletter, pasted below. Apart from a few factual errors that I picked up on, I begrudgingly admit ChatGPT did a pretty decent job.
At Baraza we’ll be taking some time to host conversations on journalism, AI and the creative economy over the next few months, to really unpack what these new technologies mean for the industry. As a conversation starter, I’m pasting ChatGPT’s write-up below. What do you think? Can you tell that the next 500 words were written by AI? I almost can’t. (I heard someone say that ChatGPT’s style reminds them of junk food, which has a form of ‘mouthfeel’ and fills you up, but ultimately does not leave you satisfied. Still, there’s a reason junk food is addictive.)
[ChatGPT writing begins]
“Welcome to this fortnight’s issue of your favorite African media-focused newsletter. Today, we’re journeying into the vibrant, exciting world of African animation, an industry experiencing an impressive rise and capturing the hearts of viewers both locally and internationally.
Animation in Africa has a long history, but in the past decade, this burgeoning industry has experienced exponential growth, mirroring the continent’s rich cultural, historical, and artistic diversity. With the advent of accessible digital technologies, local animators have found a platform to create authentic African narratives, charming viewers globally and shifting the western-centric focus of the animation industry.
In Nigeria, Anthill Studios has captured the spotlight with their upcoming full-feature animated film “Frogeck.” The studio’s previous works, like the thrilling “Malika: Warrior Queen,” have received international accolades, paving the way for the new wave of Nigerian animation. Frogeck, with its intriguing narrative of friendship and unity, promises to be another breakthrough for African animation.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, Triggerfish Animation Studios, often dubbed “Africa’s Pixar,” continues to garner global acclaim. Their offerings such as “Adventures in Zambezia” and “Khumba” have found audiences around the world, with the latter even securing a Netflix distribution deal. They’re also nurturing the next generation of African animators through their Story Lab initiative, which develops African writers and directors.
Kenya has also joined the animation fray with characters such as “Akili and Me,” an edutainment series promoting literacy and numeracy among children. These shows, produced by Ubongo Kids, broadcast in over 40 African countries, emphasizing the cross-border appeal of African animations.
Another notable development is the Pan African Animation Association (PAAA), a body aimed at creating a vibrant and sustainable animation industry across the continent. Through workshops, collaborations, and training sessions, PAAA strives to develop the technical skills of African animators, fostering a conducive environment for the industry’s growth.
Although the animation sector’s rise in Africa is promising, there are still challenges to overcome, including limited financing, inadequate training opportunities, and the need for wider distribution channels. However, the tide is changing. The influx of internet connectivity and smartphones across the continent has widened the distribution landscape. Moreover, the growing international recognition of African animation has drawn the attention of global investors and media giants, paving the way for more collaborations, investments, and, consequently, growth in the sector.
The rise of African animation illustrates a broader trend: the renaissance of African storytelling. It’s a testament to the determination of African creatives to rewrite the narrative, championing the uniqueness of African stories and presenting them to the world in a captivating way.
Keep an eye on this exciting realm of African media. We’ll continue bringing you the latest updates, stories, and features about the continent’s dynamic media landscape. Thank you for being a part of our journey.
[ChatGPT writing ends]
In the meantime, here’s:
- What We’re Reading: This BBC news story, in which a government official in India ordered a dam to be drained to retrieve his phone. It took three days to pump millions of litres of water out of the dam, after Rajesh Vishwas dropped the device while taking a selfie. By the time it was found, the phone was too water-logged to work. Honestly, I have read this story several times, and still, WTF?!
- What We’re Watching: Farzi (Fakes), a delightful series about a brilliant artist who gets caught up in a counterfeiting scam, and the relentless police officer who wants to catch him at all costs. The stubborn cop vs. genius criminal is a genre that has no shortage of titles, but this one has been stellar.
- What We’re Listening To: A Palace for the People, a podcast by our friends over at Book Bunk. This season, they take a deep dive into what Kenya’s past can tell us about our present, informed by archival finds at McMillan Memorial Library and their connection to key moments in Kenya’s history. Listen at all the usual podcast places, including Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify and Castbox.
Curator | Baraza Media Lab
Story Sosa | An Experiment in Live Storytelling
It’s here! Baraza Media Lab, Gemini Pictures, and Catapult Agency are proud to present Story Sosa – an event that delivers an evening of live, multimedia storytelling in front of a live audience.
For our inaugural edition, we have curated a set of individual stories, where each story has been researched and written just like a traditional magazine story for print but will be presented before our live audience using a varying, dynamic combination of video, animations, and music.
Through a seamless integration of various mediums, Story Sosa promises an audio-visual feast unlike anything ever witnessed in Kenya. Prepare to have your perspectives transformed and your senses engaged, as even the most ordinary of things, like monkeys or samosas, take on a whole new significance in this innovative storytelling experience.
Date: 22nd & 23rd July, 2023
Get your tickets here.