DARON BANDEIRA: REWRITING THE AFRICAN STORY

“’AFRICAN PEOPLE DON’T DREAM LIKE THAT,’ SOMEBODY TOLD ME LAST WEEK. ‘IT’S NOT POSSIBLE.’”

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AFRICAN?

AFRICA, THE WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST CONTINENT CONSISTING OF 54 COUNTRIES AND 1.2 BILLION PEOPLE, HAS BEEN WHAT SOME MIGHT SAY ‘MISUNDERSTOOD.’ A MORE ACCURATE DESCRIPTION MIGHT BE ‘MISREPRESENTED,’ IN HOW IT HAS BEEN UNTIL THIS DAY, CARTOGRAPHICALLY DEPICTED AS SMALLER THAN IT ACTUALLY IS, OR HOW IT IS ALWAYS SPOKEN ABOUT IN THE SINGULAR FORM. GROWING UP IN CANADA, STORIES OF AFRICA WERE RIVETED WITH DISEASE, POVERTY, DESPAIR. MOTHER AFRICA NEEDED HELP, SHE NEEDED EXTERNAL FORCES TO COME TO HER RESCUE. BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE, THEY WERE STORIES.

 

DARON BANDEIRA, PHOTOGRAPHER, CONTENT CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF AFROBOUGEE, IS WHAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT CALL AN ‘AFRICAN.’ BORN IN GHANA TO A GHANAIAN MOTHER AND BENINESE FATHER, SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY THAT HE’S AS AFRICAN AS THEY COME. AND HE IS ONE OF MANY AFRICANS REWRITING THE AFRICAN STORY.

 

EIGHT YEARS AGO, BANDEIRA STARTED WORKING FOR A MAGAZINE BASED IN GHANA CALLED CANOE, WHICH AT THE TIME, WAS DISTRIBUTING IN FOURTEEN COUNTRIES ACROSS AFRICA. THIS WAS A PRETTY BIG BREAK FOR A GUY THAT NEVER WENT TO UNIVERSITY. THE THING IS, BANDEIRA TOOK HIS WORK VERY SERIOUSLY. ALTHOUGH HE DID HAVE A HOME TO GO BACK TO, HE SLEPT IN THE OFFICE FOR MOST NIGHTS DURING HIS THREE YEARS WORKING AT CANOE. HIS BOSS, NOTICING HIS CREATIVITY AND STRONG WORK ETHIC, TOOK THE YOUNG CREATIVE UNDER HIS WING AND TAUGHT HIM A LOT OF WHAT BANDEIRA’S IDEAS ARE FOUNDED ON TODAY. “HE HAD THIS IDEA ABOUT CHANGING AFRICA, AND THEN MAKING AFRICA LOOK DIFFERENT IN TERMS OF NOT SHOWING THE STORIES ABOUT SADNESS, PEOPLE CRYING, PEOPLE NOT EATING BUT RATHER SHOWING THE NEW AFRICA IN TERMS OF WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE BECOMING AND WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE GOING,” BANDEIRA SAID. “WHAT KIND OF IDEAS, INFRASTRUCTURE, DESIGN IS GOING AROUND, BEING CIRCULATED. THAT WAS HIS IDEA FOR CHANGE.”

 

ONE OF CANOE MAGAZINE’S LAUNCH COVERS IN 2009 – RETRIEVED FROM CANOE MAGAZINE

 

BANDEIRA LEFT CANOE AFTER THREE YEARS. DURING THAT TIME THE SELF-TAUGHT DESIGNER PICKED UP MOST OF HIS SKILLS, WHICH HE FINE TUNED OVER THE YEARS, INCLUDING GRAPHIC DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY, PRODUCTION AND ART DIRECTION. HE ALSO ROSE FROM THE RANKS, STARTING OFF AS A YOUNG GRAPHIC DESIGNER THEN ON TO MAIN DESIGNER, ART DIRECTOR AND THEN FINALLY COUNTRY DIRECTOR BEFORE LEAVING. HE TOOK WHAT HE LEARNT AND STARTED HIS OWN PROJECT CALLED AFROBOUGEE.

 

MUSINGS IN SEYCHELLES – CHARLOTTE – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ACTUALLY, LET ME REPHRASE THAT.

 

AFROBOUGEE ACTUALLY CAME TO LIFE THROUGH REJECTION. STARTING AFROBOUGEE WAS A PROCESS OF BEING DENIED PUBLISHING. “I DID A PHOTOSHOOT FOR A FASHION BRAND AND I WANTED TO GET IT PUBLISHED BUT I FOUND IT QUITE DIFFICULT. SO I WAS LIKE ‘OKAY, IF YOU AIN’T GONNA PUBLISH US, THEN WE’RE GONNA CREATE OUR OWN, WERE GONNA PUBLISH OURSELVES.’” THE MAIN IDEA BEHIND AFROBOUGEE ESSENTIALLY ROOTED FROM THAT. “THE IDEA WAS TO GIVE OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATIVES ACROSS THE CONTINENT TO BE ON ONE PLATFORM, TO BE ABLE TO SHARE THEIR WORK,” BANDEIRA TOLD. IT WAS TO GIVE OPPORTUNITY TO THOSE WHO MIGHT HAVE OTHERWISE BEEN DENIED.

 

EYES LIKE DIAMONDS – KIMBERLEY HAYES IN TOGO – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

AT FIRST, IT WAS DIFFICULT. BANDEIRA TRIED REACHING OUT TO ARCHITECTS, WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS TO TAKE PART IN BUILDING THE PLATFORM. AGAIN, REJECTION FROM SOME, NO ANSWER FROM OTHERS. BUT HE DID LEARN EARLY FROM THIS. “ONE THING THAT I UNDERSTOOD EARLY WAS THAT THE MORE YOU PUSH PEOPLE, THE MORE YOU CAN GET THINGS BACK TO YOU. THE MORE YOU HELP OTHERS, THE MORE YOU GET THINGS BACK TO YOU. SO I STARTED PUBLISHING SOMEONE’S WORK FOR SOMEBODY TO SEE, THEY RETWEET THAT AND THEN THEIR FOLLOWING COMES BACK TO MY PAGE. SO IT BECAME AN INTEREST IN EXCHANGE. A TRIANGLE THAT WAS HELPING ME PUT THINGS OUT AND THEN IT CIRCULATES AND COMES BACK TO ME.”

 

ALTHOUGH THE FIRST YEAR FOR AFROBOUGEE WAS SLOW, HE DID SEE A LOT OF GROWTH. HE USED HIS PREVIOUSLY LEARNED SKILLS TO DESIGN THE WEBSITE, WHILE ALSO USING HIS KNOWLEDGE IN PHOTOGRAPHY TO TURN HIS VIEWERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA INTO READERS ON AFROBOUGEE’S ONLINE MAGAZINE. HE STARTED COLLABORATING WITH ARTISTS TO CREATE CONTENT WHILE ALSO CREATING A CRITERIA FOR THE CONTENT, ALLOWING QUALITY WORK TO ATTRACT QUALITY ARTISTS. THAT IS HOW AFROBOUGEE BECAME A CONTENT CREATION PLATFORM.

 

FEATURED ARTISTS SHARING THEIR INSPIRATIONS AND EXCERPTS OF THEIR STORIES ON AFROBOUGEE – RETRIEVED FROM AFROBOUGEE

 

TODAY, THERE ARE ABOUT 450 ARTISTS ACROSS THE AFRICAN CONTINENT CONNECTED TO AFROBOUGEE. THE ONLINE DATABASE AND MAGAZINE NETWORKS AND PROFILES ARTISTS AND CREATORS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES ACROSS THE CONTINENT TO ENABLE COLLABORATION FROM ANY LOCATION. THESE ARTISTS HAVE ALSO MET THE AFROBOUGEE CRITERIA – IN OTHER WORDS: THEY’RE GOOD. IN ESSENCE, IF YOU’RE AN ADVERTISING COMPANY AND YOU WANT TO PRODUCE A SHORT AD IN SUDAN, YOU CAN GO ONTO AFROBOUGEE AND FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER TO WORK WITH, A MAKEUP ARTIST TO WORK WITH. THESE ARE THE TYPES OF ENDEAVOURS, HOWEVER BIG OR SMALL, THAT AFROBOUGEE AIMS TO SUPPORT.

 

AFROBOUGEE ONLINE MAGAZINE – RETRIEVED FROM AFROBOUGEE

 

SINCE THEN, AFROBOUGEE HAS BEEN SOUGHT OUT BY BRANDS OF ALL KINDS, AND WORKED WITH THE LIKES OF DHL, KENYA AIRWAYS AND AFRICAN FASHION WEEK. THEIR FOLLOWING HAS GROWN IMMENSELY, AND NOW HAVE 11 K FOLLOWERS ON FACEBOOK AND OVER 19 K ON INSTAGRAM.

 

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GREGORY PRESCOTT – DESIGNED BY AFROBOUGEE

 

THEY ALSO HAD THEIR FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC LAST YEAR WITH THE AFROBOUGEE MIXER – AN EVENT HELD IN LOS ANGELES WHERE THEY BROUGHT TOGETHER AND CELEBRATED AFROBOUGEE’S ONLINE COMMUNITY. THEY ORGANIZED THE MIXER WITH THE COLLABORATION OF RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHER GREGORY PRESCOTT, KNOWN FOR THE BEAUTY HE CAPTURES IN DIVERSITY.

 

MIXERS GOING THROUGH PRESCOTT’S PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK AT THE AFROBOUGEE MIXER
PHOTOGRAPHED AND WRITTEN BY GREGORY PRESCOTT – DESIGNED BY AFROBOUGEE

 

WITH THIS EXPANDING NETWORK, THEY ARE CHANGING THE AFRICAN STORY.

 

IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE NAME ‘AFRO-BOUGEE.’

 

AS BANDEIRA EXPLAINED, ‘AFRO’ STANDS FOR THE AFRO OR AFRICAN COMMUNITY. “THEN ‘BOUGEE’ CONNOTES THE BOURGEOIS COMMUNITY COMING BACK TO AFRICA. IT ALSO CAN BE IDENTIFIED AS A MOVEMENT, A CHANGE THAT IS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT THE AFRICA YOU THOUGHT IT WAS, IT HAS CHANGED. THERE ARE INFLUENCERS IN THERE THAT ARE CHANGING THINGS. IN MY IDEA OF INFLUENCERS, THEY ARE CREATIVES. I SEE AN ARCHITECT TO BE A CREATIVE, I SEE A BUSINESS PERSON TO BE A CREATIVE.”

 

SEYCHELLES WITH CHARLOTTE – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

“BASICALLY THE STORIES IN THE MEDIA, HALF OF THEM ARE NOT FROM AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE. MOST OF THE STORIES ARE AN EXPERIENCE FROM SOMEONE THAT COMES IN, STAYS FOR A WHILE AND FEELS THAT ‘THIS IS AFRICA.’ THAT IS WRONG. PHOTO JOURNALISM IN AFRICA DOESN’T SHARE THE GOOD LIGHT, THEY SHARE THE BAD LIGHT. THE AFROBOUGEE PLATFORM IS CHANGING THIS VIEW. SHOWING THE NEW AFRICA. AFRICANS TELLING THEIR STORY, ALSO IN A CREATIVE WAY. AFRICANS HANDLE THEIR OWN STORIES, TELLING THEIR OWN STORIES. THIS IS OUR CHANGE.”

 

TALES FROM MADAGASCAR – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

THE PROOF IS IN THEIR WORK. ONE OF AFROBOUGEE’S MOST SIGNIFICANT CAMPAIGNS IS CALLED ‘NOUVEAU NOIR’ (NEW BLACK). AS BANDEIRA DESCRIBED, “THE WHOLE IDEA WAS INITIALLY TO PROFILE BLACK WOMEN THAT ARE DOING SUFFICIENTLY WELL, BUT I EXPANDED THAT IDEA INTO LOOKING FOR THE NEW BLACK PEOPLE OR THE NEW BLACK CITIZENS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.”

 

MADAGASCAR – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

IN THIS CAMPAIGN THEY FEATURED AFRICANS WITH DIASPORIC IDENTITIES, WHICH BY DEFINITION FOCUSSES ON SCATTERED POPULATIONS – ‘A MOVEMENT OF A PERSON OR PEOPLE FROM THEIR ORIGINAL HOMELAND.’ BANDEIRA ELUCIDATED, “WHEN YOU GO THROUGH RUSSIA, WHEN THERES’ A BLACK PERSON THERE, THE PERSON MIGHT BE A RUSSIAN BECAUSE THEIR MOM OR DAD IS RUSSIAN BUT THEY ALSO HAVE AFRICAN BLOOD. PEOPLE TRY TO PUSH THEM AWAY BECAUSE THE RUSSIANS SAY THEY’RE NOT RUSSIAN, AND THE AFRICANS SAY THEY’RE NOT AFRICAN. SO THEY DON’T KNOW WHERE TO FIND THEMSELVES.”

 

NOUVEAU NOIR IN MADAGASCAR – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

“THE MAIN IDEA WAS TO PROFILE THESE PEOPLE – THEY ARE THE NOUVEAU NOIR, THEY ARE BEING REJECTED BY TWO PEOPLE SO THEY NEED TO BE HEARD.”

 

NOUVEAU NOIR – RETRIEVED FROM AFROBOUGEE

 

NOW THAT THE PLATFORM HAS BEEN WELL ESTABLISHED, BANDEIRA HAS STARTED BRANCHING OUT TO THE ARTISTS HIMSELF. HE’S NOW TRAVELING AROUND THE CONTINENT TO MEET THE CREATIVES AND SHOW THEIR LIVES. “I WANT TO INSPIRE PEOPLE TO TAKE THEIR BAGS AND GET THEM TO VISIT AFRICA – THEY WANT TO GO TO SEYCHELLES, MAURITIUS, ZANZIBAR. PLACES THAT YOU CAN GO AND YOU CAN FEEL FULFILLED WITHOUT HAVING TO LEAVE AFRICA.”

 

AFLOAT WITH CHARLOTTE IN SEYCHELLES – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

IT’S AMAZING TO THINK THAT HE HAS DONE ALL OF THIS WORK WITHOUT ANY FUNDING. ALL OF THE INVESTMENT HAS COME FROM BANDEIRA HIMSELF. “THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS THE EVERYDAY,” HE LAUGHED. “FUNDING. THERE’S NEVER REALLY A BIG BUDGET OR MONEY BECAUSE IT’S MONEY COMING FROM MY POCKET.” THE MONEY THAT DARON MAKES FROM WEB DESIGN AND PHOTOGRAPHY, HE THEN INVESTS INTO AFROBOUGEE. WHAT HE IS NOW LOOKING TOWARDS IS WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH AFROBOUGEE’S DATABASE.

 

“I WANT TO USE AFROBOUGEE TO MAKE A LOT OF CHANGE AROUND. ONE OF THE IDEAS THAT I’M TRYING TO CHAMPION IS HAVING LEARNING CENTRES FOR CREATIVE ARTS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, WHICH I HOPE ONE DAY TO GET A PATENT FOR. THE MAIN IDEA IS TO BE ABLE TO BUILD CENTRES WHERE PEOPLE LEARN PHOTOGRAPHY AND THEN ART. AND THE GOOD THING IS THAT HAVING A NETWORK WITH 450 CREATIVES, I CAN CALL AN ARTIST TO COME TO GHANA ON A DATE TO TEACH A SET OF STUDENTS HOW TO DO ART. THE THING IS NOW WE HAVE THE DATABASE, HOW DO WE USE THE DATABASE?”

 

BEAUTIFUL FAMILY LIVING ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

“WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP WE WERE TOLD TO BE DOCTORS, TO BE LAWYERS, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IS AROUND US. BUT PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE MAKING MILLIONS, ARTISTS ARE MAKING MILLIONS. THERE IS HOPE FOR THAT. IF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS NOT GONNA CHANGE TO TEACH US CREATIVE ARTS THEN WE NEED TO HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVIDE US WITH CREATIVITY. HOPEFULLY WITH THE HELP OF ORGANIZATIONS AND BRANDS THAT WANT TO INVEST IN AFRICA, WE CAN HAVE CENTRES THAT BRINGS ARTISTS INTO ONE PLACE. THROUGH OUR DATABASE, WE CAN GET PEOPLE TO TEACH, TO INSPIRE, TO COME TRUE – ALL OF THIS, [TO PROVIDE] ACCESS FOR THE YOUNG.”

 

FAMILY MATTERS – VICTORIA, SEYCHELLES – DARON BANDEIRA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AFRICAN?

DARON BANDEIRA IS REMINDING US THAT AFRICANS DON’T HAVE ONE SINGULAR STORY. THAT THERE IS MUCH MORE TO AFRICA THAN THE STORIES OF POVERTY AND FAMINE THAT WE SEE IN THE MEDIA. HE IS ONE OF THE MULTITUDE OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE CONTINENT TRYING TO REWRITE THE STORY THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN FOR THEM. WITH AFROBOUGEE, HE IS SHOWING THE DIFFERENT COLOURS, TONES AND SIDES TO AFRICA THAT WE SO SELDOM SEE. TOGETHER, THEY ARE WORKING TOWARDS CHANGING THE KINDS OF STORIES THAT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. THAT IS WHAT AFROBOUGEE IS STANDING FOR. THAT’S WHAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING FOR. THEY ARE AFRICANS AND THEY ARE TELLING THEIR STORIES.

 

“’AFRICAN PEOPLE DON’T DREAM LIKE THAT,’ SOMEBODY TOLD ME LAST WEEK. ‘IT’S NOT POSSIBLE.’”

BANDEIRA’S REPLY, “WHY NOT?”

 

DARON BANDEIRA – PHOTOGRAPHER, CONTENT CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF AFROBOUGEE

 

GET CONNECTED

WANT TO CONNECT OR WORK WITH DARON BANDEIRA? YOU CAN CONTACT HIM AND FOLLOW HIS WORK ON INSTAGRAM HERE.

CHECK OUT AFROBOUGEE FOR YOURSELF AT AFROBOUGEE.COM.

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THEM ON INSTAGRAM HERE AND FACEBOOK HERE.

ALL PHOTOS CREDITED TO DARON BANDEIRA UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED. 

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39 Comments on "DARON BANDEIRA: REWRITING THE AFRICAN STORY"

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Hapa Roving
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“Africans don’t have one sigular story. There is much more to Africa than the stories of poverty and famine that we see in the media” So true! It pisses me off when ppl think that Africa is a country. Thank you for sharing these amazingly beautiful portraits!

Hira Ahmed
Guest

The pictures you used in this post are so powerful! Love it.

Isobel Lee
Guest

Simply stunning photography – and what an inspiring story!

Mercad
Guest

His composition and color use is jaw dropping, it’s exciting to see such talent and hard work go into improving the public’s understanding of African people.

Salomé
Guest

The pictures are incredible and his story amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Rachelle
Guest

Wow, what a powerful message. I read this twice. The photography is absolutely stunning!

Sonika
Guest

Wow! Your Pictures are awesome! I wanna go to Africa too…

Minna
Guest

This is such a thought-provoking piece! There are so many adverts of children without water whilst a privledged Brit is getting paid to do the voiceover. I want to see what those children go on to be, what this new Africa is all about. Daron is doing great things! Let’s hope he is able to use this as a foundation for teaching creative children.

Menorca
Guest

What an inspiring story! Love his work and his thinking. Kudos to you!

Holly
Guest

The pictures are simply gorgeous. I love seeing the real side of Africa. Thank you for sharing.

Costa
Guest

Media always publish things that sell! Unfortunately, most things are negative :(

Sven
Guest

All those countries in Africa deserves stories like these. There is so much to be proud of and if people become more entrepreneurial there is so much to achieve.

Betty
Guest

Yes, agree with your write up. Actually, I impress with Africans as they have healthy complexion and hair. Their features really impress me.

C-Ludik
Guest

Brilliant idea for a post :-) and awesome photos. Thank you for sharing these beautiful portraits & stories !

Natasha
Guest

So many beautiful people. So many beautiful pictures. I found myself staring at the beauty of the women

My Global Attitude
Guest

Very inspiring African story! I’m from Kenya and you’re right, the African story need to be told by those who live here.
Cheers.

Carolina | http://www.myglobalattitude.com

France
Guest

I really love the photos and this story! As a writer and photographer that has faced rejection as well, I’ve also come to realize that we have to build our own and not look for validation elsewehere!

Nina
Guest

Very interesting, it wasn’t until a few years ago that i began realize that in Canada and the USA we were severely over-generalizing ‘Africa’ by not even referring to countries individually and by constantly associating the continent with poverty. It’s great to read another perspective, and an interesting story!

jin
Guest

what an inspiring and learning experience. thank you for sharing!

Sid
Guest

Such a creative photos you have here. The one with the title eyes like diamonds is my favorite.

Eliza Smith
Guest

This is beautiful. I am very guilty of thinking of Africa as a single place. Intellectually I 100% realise this is not the case, but I think growing up in Australia I was only exposed to one, narrow minded side… This is a beautiful post about a beautiful movement. Thanks for writing :)

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