It happened after I raised my hand and asked the Minister.
I’ve lived and worked in South Africa, before the end of Apartheid. I got to know many people. Yet I grew up in Ghana, attended Prempeh College, and am a proud Ghanaian and Africa, yet I’d choose to go to South Africa rather than Ghana at this point. Why is that?
Cue laughter ! I’m at Chatham House — Britain’s most revered international relations think tank — in the august Henry Price room. The minister replied “Ah, well….” , but truth, it was a loaded personal question, and they can be tricky ones to resolve.
In South Africa I worked for ABC News producing Danny Glover, reported for the BBC World Service on President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and co-created long form radio programmes for BBC Radio 4. I knew its politics well.
“We’ll get you one day”, concluded the official. “We need more talented people like you”. That was some twenty plus years ago.
Business and trade are primary drivers of economies. I’ve reported on International and US trade deals looking at how they oil the engines of growth, wealth and prosperity. In Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya,… across Africa per se, the continent is not short of leading business men and women.
In her article Lucy Quist, a pioneering business leader, writes how she gets asked the question, “Where is Africa’s business talent?” bookended with “We need more talent like you”.
It’s not that there aren’t any, she says. I mean really! It’s how that talent is realised, Ms Quist continues. She’s helping to solve this problem via her INSEAD training, leading to the Bold New Normal, her TED talk. The world needs more Quists.
Over the years there’s something alongside business leaders I wish for.
Platforms where entrepreneurs, technologists, artists and talented storytellers converge to realise the new horizons ahead. They exist too, but some remodelling creates a fresh understanding of this 21st century amalgam, where new cohorts with combined skills can prospect cultural-business futures, AI to boot n’ all.
The world in the new machine and data age face continual stress tests. What worked well once, from dynamic feedback data, faces continual agile pivoting. Social empathy and collaboration might seem alien for the data age ahead, but problem solving will involve shared enterprise.
The analogy of the disruption of Silicon Valley serves as a model. Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Apple Microsoft have excelled and now have their sights set on Africa for renewed growth. Data readying for AI implementation is the new Gold. But whereas US businesses, writes Kai-Fu Lei author of AI super powers, have been mission driven, the ascendency of China’s ambition presents a shift in philosophy. The patterning comparing looking at China and Africa shows strong entrepreneurial case studies
It’s why years ago we incorporated platform modelling into our core work; why we took a closer look at contemporary journalism and said it wasn’t enough in its present for as a social and economic route to story tell. We need a more expansive programme. It’s why we equipped our future workforce with fresh understandings of narrative, storytelling, the neuroscience and emotions around it.
Whether you’re a Hollywood mogul, individual, corporate body or government, the question in the data age is who’s telling your story? Not as attention seeking, but in building memories and relations.
That led us, ten years on from our first co-creation scheme to create this the latest at a leading journalism, media and culture University where I teach.
But just as Ms Quist makes the point how talent is being realised, this equally applies to the new super creative technologists we’re involved with. Whatever vision we have of practitioners, unless their narrative is captured, unless their net effect creates a “Cherry blossom effect” ideas and concepts for change will be lost.
Here we arrive at the most powerful, often underplayed frameworks. The point of narrative and storytelling, corporate or otherwise, which is transformational, and can impact wider audiences.
Over the years, over the world, we’ve refined that process into module schemas and narrative forms such as cinema journalism — the iteration from video and mobile.
From my own evidence it’s worked for our cohorts covering epic themes. And the proof of concept it’s worked for me covering projects like President Obama’s 100 days at the Festival Hall, transformative projects in Russia, India, Egypt and in the UK such as this: In the age of the machine, now more so than ever it’s high time to tell our stories.
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a leader in innovation, tech and storytelling forms. He is one of the top global writers on @medium for journalism.