“Blackboard is the surface on which youth are invited to erase all the false testimonies of their African identity written by the white chalk.”– Blackboard Africa founders

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Image: Austin Malema
Image: Austin Malema

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Amonge Elethu Sinxoto: I am passionate about African narratives and the power that literature and words have to make an impact. I would love to enter the world of journalism to harness that passion or into theatre production and scriptwriting. I started Blackboard Africa because of my love of African stories and I felt youth needed an outlet that spoke authentically to who we are and be the ones to represent ourselves. 

Zingisa Socikwa: I’m a resilient, strong and passionate young black girl from the Eastern Cape. I am very passionate about African representation, women empowerment and the arts and culture within the African youth. I will be a film and TV production graduate as from May 2018. I wish to use my film skills to make films and documentaries that will show Africans in a positive and authentic light (the African youth to be specific).

Please tell us about Blackboard.

We call our movement Blackboard because it encapsulates a metaphor that we wish to ingrain in the hearts and minds of all African youth. Blackboard is the surface on which youth are invited to erase all the false testimonies of their African identity written by the white chalk. The youth are able to display a genuine presentation of who we are, what issues we face that are specific to us, what effect they have on us, and what we want to initiate to solve these problems. Blackboard is where we come to write our stories with black chalk. Here we come to write with a substance that is not necessarily visible to laymen, but is understood by us and is planted in our being. 

How and when did the organisation come about?

Blackboard Africa was started about a year ago. It began out of a frustration of the absence of African youth representative platforms that spoke either to us or about us accurately. Africa has the largest youth population in the world, but yet no one was speaking to us. There weren’t active spaces that allowed us the African youth to come together and share ideas with each other. From there it developed into an organization that sought out to achieve three major things. Those aims are to; help youth discover their inherent talents, to provide African youth with avenues to vocalise their thoughts and celebrate their identity and lastly, to inspire leadership amongst one another. 

How can the public be involved in your projects?

Anyone who identifies with Blackboard Africa and falls into the bracket of African youth is invited to contribute to our website through a written article, poetry, photography and videography. You can email us at inbox@blackboardafrica.com for involvement in different capacities and interaction at event/ conferences hosted by Blackboard Africa and more information on how to become a part of the blackboard army. You can also follow us on our social media platforms for any updates:

Instagram: blackboard_africa
Twitter: BlakboardAfrica
Website: Blackboardafrica.com

You’ve recently collaborated with Spree, please tell us more about the collaboration, what it’s about?

Blackboard recently hosted a special youth screening of the film Black Panther on opening weekend with the support of Leading Lady and Air Movie Night. The screening was powered by Spree. We wanted to give the youth a red-carpet movie screening experience. This was one we felt the African youth needed to see as Africa is Wakanda. We strongly felt that having a youth screening was very important to not only hear what the youth has to say about the film, but to experience a film that for a change depicted Africans in a positive way.

The youth got the opportunity to dress up according to the theme of your tribe with a hint of Black Panther they also got the chance to get their pictures taking by the famous photographer Austin Malema.

This was just the first of many initiatives and events that we will be running with Spree. The collaboration as a whole entails Spree supporting Blackboard’s agenda and helping us to vocalize our ideas nationwide. 

What does the Blackboard and Spree collaboration mean for you?

This collaboration was particularly significant because a big, and established brand sought us out and saw the importance of getting behind and aiding the mobilisation of the African youth. They understood who we were and what we stood for jumped on board. I think it’s important how brands engage with the market in an authentic way and Spree is doing that so well.  Blackboard Africa will now be given the opportunity to take our talks and workshops nationwide with the backing of Spree.  We have a lot of exciting ideas and plans in the pipeline with Spree, so just watch this space

What else are you ladies working on?

We are working on launching our intergenerational conversations, Mntase Chats where we will be engaging with amazing people from all different walks of life in order to learn from their struggles and victories, so please look out for that. We are also working on a young writers’ competition in conjunction with the Market Theatre. We will continue with new and interesting activations for Blackboard Lit  – our literature club. We plan to do some Blackboard travel this year as well (all the be announced soon) and lastly, we are also working on creating and publishing more multimedia content so that those who aren’t able to physically attend our events are still part of the conversation. This content will all live on our website blackboardafrica.com and also on our Youtube channel Blackboard Africa.

New content from Spree and Blackboard  Africa will be dropping late March with many exciting things rolling out in April. Stay locked to our social media streams!

 

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