A few months ago as we worked tirelessly to find footing as a publication and a niche to identify with, we were confronted by two difficult facts; one, new magazines die quickly, even when they are well funded and grounded in a niche that values them- and two, the landscape for quality African media is woefully sparse, limited, and on a global scale, not mainstream at all.
When we decided that The Arts is where our interests lie at L’AVIS, we discovered that Africa’s incredible art scene, swarming with exceptional talent, is severely underserved on a global scale. I imagine that any African artist, even the most fervent pan-Africanist would likely feel all the more recognized should they be featured on the cover of Aesthetica, The Creative Review, ArtNews, or any of the news media giants, than their local national magazines or continental publications and influencers. They may be satisfied with what they have locally, but they must acknowledge that it could and should be more.
You see, there is this exceptionality of African creatives appearing in global media- the fact is that African creatives very rarely make leading, cover-style appearances in the world’s top media. Those who make any appearances at all are in essence the cream of the crop, the chocolate cherry on the cake- exotic.
How can we make young white people read Soyinka and Achebe ordinarily, without the sense of reading “exotic literature” of sorts?
Africa’s Shakespeares and Picassos are not treated as global cannons. They are the “best of the rest”. They are seen not as exceptional artists, but as exceptional African artists- chief purveyors of that exotic genre known as African art.
How can we see to it that African artists have a more dominant place on the global airwaves? How can we make them belong next to their western equals, without engaging in pan-Africanist perspectivism, where we philosophize about their equality? How can we make young white people read Soyinka and Achebe ordinarily, without the sense of reading “exotic literature” of sorts?
The answer, we resolved, was first to create African-owned media that is globally mainstream in the same way that western media is. If we could create an African equivalent of say, The New Yorker, The Economist, Vox, or UNILAD, dedicated to human creativity, we could better propagate African creativity and African narratives to a global audience, rather than waiting for the benevolence of American media.
If this sounds like an extremely lofty goal, it is because it is. It is almost madness to think of such a thing. But it is possible, and if it is possible, we at L’AVIS believe it must be us achieving it.
African creatives deserve better than the odd appearance in the spotlight, we must have it’s levers beneath our thumb, to own and control it’s direction. That’s our aim at L’AVIS.