Africanize: What It Is

This article, in many ways, aims to offer insight into a project thinking brain; to allow discovery of what Africanize is and what it could be. What it is, is a deconstructed formula detailing the genesis of the idea. 

For Academics:

Africanize as an artist response project examines in detail how uncomfortable discussions can be interpreted, and how these stories can be shared in academic contexts, but still in a decolonising manner. 

For Artists:

Africanize is a playground demanding you to bring your best self ahead and play with your greatest attributes. The play should be taken seriously though, as is recommended when dealing with some sensitive matters; as decolonial work such as this can be. Africanize invites the artist to develop their creative language and increase its accessibility, allowing as wide an audience as possible to understand it. 

Why The Title:

The term Africanize was discovered like a treasure from reading several texts on decolonisation. Whether or not this term is a verb or a noun has been explored and debated, but it can easily be interpreted as both. 

I first came across the term Africanize in a book relating to Africa and how it is seen through Art. 

This book taught me a great deal about the power of internalised perceptions and why this must continue to change. Another book described the effects of colonisation, imperialism and coloniality as “dismembering” (Falola, 2022) contrasting the centuries Africa and Africans haven’t been able to see themselves detached from a western gaze. So, we Africanize to see ourselves through our own eyes. But it’s not easy to do away with the inferiority, traditional European discourses have forced. 

Title suggestions:

E.g. ‘African-realised’ initiated by Research and Cultural Collections X We Don’t Settle 

Proposal summary

‘African-realised’: working title

A proposed artistic response to University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections (RCC) in partnership with We Don’t Settle. 

‘African-realised’ would see an artist engage in academic research supported by RCC, to deliver creative and documented interpretations of themes from the collection; as well as a final accessible and inclusive output that engages connected communities, as well as inviting wider perspectives. This preliminary plan would take place over the span of 8 months, with respect to a flexible process of collaboration facilitated between one academic partner and a creative, heritage-focused organisation.

Four seasons timeline:

  • Autumn – Winter: Artist research on site and engagement with collection 

October – February

  • Winter – Spring: Community engagement by creative workshops

February – March – April (Ghana?) 

  • Spring – Summer: A creative output by early summer. E.g. performance, live event or exhibition teaser. 
  • May – June

‘African-realised’ is a future-focused project that aims to question the colonial-collectors mindset, and to bring into discussion the collated objects and art into a youthful, accessible, engaging conversation.

What is the point of the workshops? 


  • Opening up different ways to engage with this collection 
  • Bringing artworks to life 
  • Providing outreach to people affected by racism 

Workshops: Ubuntu 

  • Dance workshops 2 hours 
  • Spoken Word Workshop 

Outputs: Umgubho Zulu 

  • Event 
  • Dance Performance 
  • Animation
  • 4x Articles Artist In Response 
  • 4x Poems  

Three songs listened to whilst writing this: 

  • Fred Again, Obangjayar – Adore You  
  • Barry Can’t Swim – El Layali 
  • Jayda G – Both of Us
    Written by Sipho Eric Ndlovu
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