News from Africa, April 2021 — Quartz Africa Weekly — Quartz
Hello Quartz Africa readers!
African art sales represent only a small percentage of global art sales. But an interesting phenomenon is happening: the growth of purchases by mainland-based collectors.
While around two-thirds of bidders at Sotheby’s recent Contemporary African Art auction came from Europe and North America, the majority of works were purchased by African collectors, the auction house reports. at auction. She estimates that in the four years since the creation of her Modern and Contemporary African Art category, around 70% of sales have gone to African buyers.
This could be the start of a fascinating shift in the global market for African art, with local collectors flagging artists they appreciate in their own markets for a change. It is also a sign of the increasingly important role of art markets and museums in different parts of the continent.
The pandemic has helped push online-only sales, opening them up more to digitally savvy young collectors. Indeed, several records were set at the last auction, including a new world record for a sculpture by the artist when it first appeared at auction. Atlas by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, sold for £378,000 ($519,826).
Six other records were broken by Nigerian, Ethiopian and Cameroonian artists. One is now owned by the late Senegalese artist Iba N’Diaye, recognized as one of the most influential painters of the 20th century. His role in founding the School of Dakar was the focal point of an artistic movement in Senegal between the 1960s and 1980s.
“Given that the majority of collectors are African and based on the continent, the closure of physical galleries has not affected their purchases,” says Hannah O’Leary of Sotheby’s. “2020 was our most profitable year for our Contemporary African Art sales. We expect 2021 sales to exceed that even despite the pandemic.”—Ciku Kimeria
Five Quartz Africa stories
UK victory inspires African Uber drivers. A ruling by British courts that Uber must treat its drivers as workers, not independent contractors, has South African and Nigerian drivers threatening legal action themselves. It’s a clear sign that the U.S.-based construction worker model doesn’t meet labor standards in other parts of the world, writes Michelle Cheng, posing a challenge to Uber’s global growth.
“Decolonization” of donor funding. In January, the global nonprofit organization PATH announced that it had been selected by the US President’s Malaria Initiative to lead a $30 million malaria project in Africa. Seven other institutions were listed as partners in the initiative: none were African. A recently published response letter from African health experts has reignited a conversation about funding models used by global health institutions for the continent, reports Carlos Mureithi.
Tackling a formidable legacy. Nigerian Afrobeat king Fela Kuti’s recent nomination to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a welcome recognition of his contribution to the world of music, writes Sanya Osha. But it also risks diluting the ideals and complexities of a musician whose work and life have defied categorization.
South Africa revisits individual identity. Apartheid chiseled race and genderedness into the lives of South Africans, encoding ways of treating people in its 13-digit national identity number, writes Ferial Haffajee. Now, in a bid to modernize the ID card, the government is proposing a new approach that would accommodate non-binary gender identities.
The United States offers a new beginning. The country is seeking to restore economic and trade ties with African countries, writes Gregory Meeks, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. In an exclusive op-ed for Quartz Africa, Meeks outlines US priorities on the continent.
Focus on black stories
Black-centric stories are finding fertile and profitable ground on screens across Asia, judging by the success in the region of blockbuster films like Marvel’s Black Panther and Oscar-nominated Disney-Pixar Soul. Netflix’s new Japanese anime series, set to debut globally on April 29, hopes to ride that wave, writes Leslie Nguyen-Okwu. Based on a true story, YasukWe shine the spotlight on the remarkable rags-to-riches story of Japan’s first black samurai, an African slave kidnapped from his home and brought to Kyoto to serve as a bodyguard for an Italian Jesuit priest.
The world is watching more anime, a $24 billion industry with massive global appeal. Streaming giants HBO Max and Disney+ also want a slice of that pie. Last year, Netflix invested hundreds of millions and dedicated an entire creative team to the genre.
A growing legion of Blerdsor black nerds, praise by Yasuke Arrivals. Anime suffers from a “genuine shortage of black people” and “depictions of black people or people made to look like black people are drawn with exaggerated and imaginary physical features of blackness,” says history professor Garrett Washington .
Samurai Incubationa Japan-based VC, closed its second oversubscribed African fund after raise $18.4 million. It was launched in January 2020 and saw the participation of 54 sponsors, including Toyota Tsusho. It targets fintech, logistics, healthcare, e-commerce, energy, agri-tech, mobility and entertainment industries in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and recently added Egypt.
Appetitea Cairo-based grocery delivery startup, has raised $450,000 in seed funding to help its expansion in Egypt and beyond. The funding round was raised by a group of Saudi angel investors led by Ahmed Al Alolaa start-up investor, LoftyInc’s Afropreneur Fund, and Capital of Jedar.
Fishing paymentsa South African fintech start-up, has raised additional funds to capitalize on its immense growth from 2020. This round was led by UW Ventures in partnership with Allan Gray—who also supported a previous investment-next to Launch Africa Ventures. They are looking to expand their operations in Kenya, Mauritius and other targeted markets on the continent.
The Biden administration is trying to decide whether China is a rival or a partner on climate change. This week, following a groundbreaking declaration of cooperation on the climate crisis with China, U.S. officials seemed to swing between the two positions.
Whether the two countries align or collide has major implications for global progress in addressing climate issues, the development of renewable energy sources and the future of sustainable supply chains. Africa is therefore a big winner, or a big loser.
At Quartz, we believe in asking the important questions about our climate and reporting on the solutions. In honor of this week’s Earth Day 2021, become a Quartz member for 50% off with code PLANET. Your membership supports our journalism and essential climate coverage. Subscribe here.
Other things we liked
The death of Idriss Déby leaves questions unanswered. Days after securing a sixth term, a clash with rebels has left the iron-fisted Chadian president dead on the forehead, his generals have reported. He leaves behind a complicated story legacy of controversial counter-terrorism effortsreports the New York Times.
Twitter actions spark censorship debate. Twitter last week announced a new office in Ghana, citing the country’s status as a champion of democracy and supporter of free speech. However, as Patrick Egwu writes in Rest of World, the company’s presence in Africa is unlikely to stop the erosion of values for which he pleads.
Is an African Super League realistic? A bold pitch to create a European Super League dominated headlines last week, then crashed before it could take off. While FIFA President Gianni Infantino has spoken out against the creation of the ESL, he is determined to lead a similar charge in Africa. Goal’s Solace Chukwu questions its feasibility.
eSwatini pushes back. King Mswati III ruled eSwatini as an absolute monarch for over three decades. Now his regime is facing resistance from defiant and progressive sections of parliament who are rising up against bills aimed at further entrenching his power. In a new setting, Cebelihle Mbuyisa tells the importance of the confrontation of the small nation against its ruler.
South Africans see red rather than a green light for Amazon. Approval of a multiplex development in Cape Town anchored by the tech giant has been met with resistance from environmentalists and the indigenous Khoi people. As Shoshana Kedem writes in African Business, the promise of being sustainable, generating jobs and securing local inputs may not be enough to justify the occupation of a sacred heritage site.
🎵 This brief was made by listening to “Wa Items‘” by the group Loi-Toki Tok.
Our best wishes for a productive and idea-filled week ahead. Please send your news, comments, suggestions, ideas, black anime suggestions and African art reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.
If you received this email from a friend or colleague, you can register here to receive the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief in your inbox each week. You can also follow Quartz Afrique on Facebook.