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Knowledge of Self: Zambia’s Art Collective Pushing for Pride of Self-Expression

Knowledge of Self: Zambia’s Art Collective Pushing for Pride of Self-Expression

Their aim: to inspire a new generation of Zambian creatives. Their weapon: art. Their opponent: societal expectations of white-collar success.

This documentary focuses on the lives, works and opinions of a Lusaka-based art collective. Mwila, Talé, Wongani and Sifu are four guys who aim to change their country’s perception of artists, whilst at-the-same-time juggling their self-bestowed responsibility of changing the world’s perception of Africa.

Their art transcends boundaries, collectively encapsulating many mediums, including music, fashion, graphic design and photography. Branded as rebels due to the way they dress, think and express themselves, they hope to build a future where Zambian creatives can thrive. Their ideology centres on pan-Africanism, pushing an agenda of pride-of-self as Africans.

As the director, photographer and editor for this documentary, I was inspired to show people a different perspective of Africa. We are constantly bombarded with negative portrayals of the continent, centring on poverty, famine and instability, that our eyes cannot see beyond this toxic narrative. This documentary aims to bring light to Zambia’s contemporary urban culture, instead of the old-and-tired story of the African village.

On a personal level, I felt inclined to connect with my heritage. Being mixed-race British-Zambian but growing up in the UK, I felt like half my identity was a mystery, despite my mother being a proud Zambian and a small number of my Zambian family living in the UK. Therefore, whilst this documentary aims to bridge the gap between cultures, it is also an ode to my past-hidden heritage. A heritage which I now feel a part of and which I fully embrace.

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For those of you who do not know the real Africa, I hope that this film will shake your consciousness. And for those of you who know, I hope this film will make you proud.

Words by Lisa Insansa Woods

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