Image credit: Arts & culture Diaries

In 2015 Ideas had no borders, last year the expo bodly stated that “The Future is now” . The theme was carried into 2017, corroborating the statement through multiple-stakeholder inclusion. Bloggers, creative brand strategists and comedians carrying the new wave of different aspects of technology, plugging them into their industries seamlessly. Our Afrolutionist Mmabatho Motsamai details her experience of the creatively informative morning of the expo.

Its 08.47 am. My public commuting self is scurrying for the next taxi to UB conference center while I make a silent prayer that the expo would start much later than expected time, that I may miss nothing. A full hour later, I’m in the conference center en-route to the auditorium where first speaker Calistas Chijoro, Head of Banking from Stanbic Bank Botswana is giving insight on the Ideas that Win Africa. His Afro-optimistic approach of churning problems into opportunities inspired many in the audience to think beyond borders. Instead of pigeon-holing ourselves to the 2 million population, we should rather open our business to the continental market. Once we have opened our borders, then we can begin the critical process of realizing innovation in the continent.

According to Chijoro, the innovation process begins at the end of stereotypes. Africa is a young continent, with over 200 million being youth – over 200 million millennials. Letting go of the negative attitude that is typically greeted with millennials can only allow you to harness the continent’s opportunities, and buy into Africa’s largest market. Most importantly, Chijoro focused on the power of collaborations. For every young start-up, capital wasn’t the predominant required – but trade-based resources. Collaborating with like-minded individuals not only introduces your business to different markets, but saves costs and increases product/service quality. However, the creative industry in Botswana is suffering a cancer of IP and copywrite theft. In closing, one of the audience members noted that the country needs more creatives with integrity, and that we may need to familiarize ourselves with copywrite and IP laws in the country.

Chijoro’s presentation felt like a prelude to the next speaker’s presentation on The Power of an Idea. Napoleon Masinga, famously known as The Napsta, took us through an incredibly honest DIY guide of sustainably shifting concepts in to reality. The Napsta is pulsating evidence of how the continent is our oyster of innovative ideas, as a Christian comedian who has successfully created a new portal of clean comedy in the industry. According to Napsta, the five steps towards harnessing the power of your idea are: 1. Create from your heart 2. Break the rules 3. Have Faith 4. Be a helping hand and 5. Stay true to you. While all these seem completely abstract, it makes sense as execution of idea is determined through self-investment.  Journeying through his listicle using his career as a vehicle, Napsta noted how ones ideas are based on what you are passionate about. He used his knack for comedy and strong religious beliefs to create his brand – that’s rule #1.

Breaking the rules: In Order to break the rules (legally), you need to know what the rules are. Society bears conservative views that shape our common rules. So it’s best to understand the society you’re in, and at best, disrupt it with new ways of thinking. Napsta became disruptive in create Christian based clean comedy in South Africa. He does so in a completely disruptive and inclusive manner. Exhibit A:

Although this taps into the controversial ‘prosperity gospel’ Napsta disrupted the idea of loving his religion through making a parody about a song initially about drugs. Daring, yes?. The last three rules are based on self-investment. Having faith in oneself, requires one to believe in themselves. While faith is illogical, it is arguably depended on evidence. A marriage of evidence of self-investment and belief of your own potential. Such faith transcends into the last two rules, as you need hope in giving back, and you need the same faith in knowing your brand identity and sticking to it.

Napsta’s close gave way to a panel discussion that was on the digital thumbs of many on twitter: Social media influence. Facilitated by one of my most favourite human beings *toot toot goes my horn*, the panel was characterized by Thapelo Letsebe, Uyapo Ketogetswe , Tumie Nthutang  and Brilliant Kodie. All of which are lifestyle bloggers. Although I felt that there is a need for a little more diversified image of influence in Botswana, I saw the significance of having a focus of bloggers as targeted speakers as their power is unbelievably underestimated in Botswana (I am not sorry for this opinion).

The panelists intrinsically spoke on the different aspects of influence. A few gems of the discussion were unpacking the real meaning of influence. While Ketogetswe noted that it is not a self-proclaimed title but rather a result evident of followers and engagement attained from your work, Letsebe co-signed with his sentiments saying that in essence, it is the work and response of quality of work in the digital space that has granted them the title ‘influencer’.

Money is an uncomfortable topic, oddly similar to the conversation of being called an influencer. Nthutang shared the challenges of non-payment and freebie culture as an influencer. While international business understands the culture of product reviews and service uptake, local corporates still need a bit more knowledge in the business of influence. Nthutang noted that some businesses believe giving freebies is a form of compensation for services rendered in a world where money is the only trade. While it is a competitive industry, there are many others new-entry bloggers who accept such compensation of which she did too hence creating the cyclical challenge. As a solution, the panel asserted that corporates need to invest in researching more about the industry.

A shy Kodie became the crowd’s favourite with his unapologetic honesty. Boldly stating that we are ALL influencers, Kodie shared the importance of being socially responsible as even in the most communal sense, we have the power to create change. Kodie, a closet Afrolutionist, also shared insight on the fine line between brand ambassadors and influencers. While brand ambassadors endorse a product, influencers have a call to action for every collaboration they make with a corporate entity. The most important aspect Kodie shared, was creative freedom. The digital audience can sense a whiff of ingenuity from a mile away, therefor scripts should be a thing of the past.

The discussion had to make an abrupt close due to time constraints, which left the audience dissatisfied with the amount of conversations that conspired. It did however, created leeway for an internationally acclaimed Kenny Mumba, a maven in film content.

(click here for Part two)