#CreatepreneurAfrica : Storyteller, Poet and Filmmaker, Cape Town’s Weaam Williams

A vision to transcend bigotry and reach a realm where people realize their aspirations and dreams,soul spirit, South Africa's Weaam Williams  from Cape Town, weaves  her  concious storytelling voice beyond borders as a poet, a writer, a filmmakerand a performance artist.

With a cinematic vision as an activist and Muslim woman, Weaam Williams, a screenwriter, director and poet was anointed as a member of  Film Fatales, a New York-based organization representing women female directors.

She seeded Tribal Alchemy Productions, a  visual medium platform specializing and video and photography.

Her directorial debut, Hip-Hop Revolution,  hit the international scenes at Silverdocs in 2007. It won the best Edited Film Award at NYC Reel Sisters Film Festival in 2008, and was broadcasted in 28 countries.

In 2009-2013 she undertook an independent filmmaking project for Southern African distribution.

“A Khoe Story Docu-Tirlogy”, is a three part documentary series about the language, genocide and remaining culture of South Africa’s indigenous people.

“A  Khoe Story’  was officially acquired as material for  South Africa’s high school curriculum as well as  universities as  an awakened historical knowledge  of SA’s indigenous people

Her latest iconic film “District Six Rising” from the Dust was initialized when she moved into District six with her cinematographer husband Nafia Kocks

The vibrancy and culture of District Six is rooted in a personal story examining intergenerational pain and wealth dispossession. It reflects an aurally and visually rich perspective with nuanced Cape Malay community moments.

Weaam Williams is currently working on a screenplay for a feature film and will soon start production for a short film titled “Two Hues”  as a  writer and director.

 

Meet  #CreatepreneurAfrica’s  Cape Town’s ‘Conscious Storyteller’, Weaam Williams

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?

I am passionate about telling stories, this I would attribute as my
true passion. I am an activist by nature and my documentary portfolio is
inclusive of many human rights films which were inspired by people or
causes I was passionate about at that particular intersection of my life.

My work ranges from “Hip-hop Revolution” to Khoe Story Docu Trilogy” – a
series about the history, language, and culture of SA’s indigenous people.
This series brought the genocide of the indigenous people into the
foreground in 2011/12.

I don’t stop being passionate about these causes, but rather allow communities to use my films for activism purposes. The Griqua Nation and other indigenous groups have used the Khoe Story extensively for lobbying purposes – for recognition of the “mother tongue” etc. I do, however, as a story-teller move on to new projects  and my most recent film District Six Rising from the Dust – is the first personal narrative.

I have undertaken to tell the story of my family being forcibly
removed from District Six and my own journey after being restituted a
house awarded to my grandfather. This film was completed recently and will
be exhibited in 2018.

It has inspired my community in District Six, and also encouraged a call
to action. I am, however, moving onto fiction narrative projects. I am
currently in production for a short film and writing a screenplay for a
feature-length film, I am very excited about both these projects.

However, I cannot speak of them yet.  I have a background in poetry and performance poetry. I stopped doing performance poetry when my film career took off as filmmaking requires a great deal of commitment and is all-encompassing.

I found very little time to nurture myself as a poet. However, I have a deep love for poetry and sometimes still write the odd poem when I feel
inspired – however, it’s been a very long time since I have shared my
poetry with audiences. I hope to do this again

 How did you find your passion and how old were you?

At high school level, I had shown a flair for languages and writing – I
enjoyed creative writing. I also wrote plays and got my friends to act in
them.

I think I was about 14 years old then. I guess my passion as a
writer/director started then. My abilities as a poet I discovered at 16,
during the matric end of year holidays and when I started university. I
started to explore writing poetry. I was very young at university and
needed to process all of the information I was receiving, the cultural
paradigm shift and poetry was my way of out letting what I was feeling as a
young person, and trying to make sense of it.

Also, English Literature was one of my subjects and provided a platform to explore the literary greats and be inspired by them. My work as a filmmaker has a strong foundation in writing, as films start on paper with written concepts which eventually progresses to a screenplay in the case of narrative, or a strong treatment in the case of documentary.

What about your passion appeals to you the most?

3. Once again it is the aspect of story-telling. In the world of film, it
starts with a screenplay/ treatment and ends on the cutting room floor
(editing).
Fortunately, I have the ability to do both write and edit, which means I
am a very involved filmmaker and storyteller. I do, however, allow room for
critique from donors, close friends, and colleagues. This is integral to
the story-telling process of filmmaking as one tends to get immersed in
the work –

I, therefore, need that outside objective eye. My production
company Tribal Alchemy Productions coined the term “digital storytellers”
which has been hugely plagiarised I now see this phrase everywhere. What
can I do?

I know that many have of my concepts have been copied and
plagiarised – it’s a soul-wrenching battle which I choose to no longer
fight. I now hold my cards close to my chest and only impart information
of projects on a need to know basis.

What drove you to make money from your passions?

4. I have always been able to generate income from my writing abilities.
It started as free-lance journalism and getting paid as a performance
poet. My first paid job in the film industry was as a writer for the drama
series Soul Buddyz.

When I decided that I would like to direct, it is also my convincing writing which allowed me access to funding grants to direct my passion projects.

I am now writing a commissioned screenplay which I will direct. I think
it’s been small steps and an unfolding journey.

 What kept you going when you thought about giving up?

To be honest, I have never thought of giving up. There are times when I
feel really low, and feel weighed down by circumstances, be it a rejection
letter or financial strife living the artist life.

However, I have always been able to rise above this and keep chiseling, crafting and planning. I allow myself to experience my feelings, but at some point, I will pull myself up and say “Fuck them all – I believe in myself”.

I will think of a new plan and continue working. I also seek solace in
nature. I find after walking in the forest the weight lessons, and I am
able to cope. Every single artist has to face rejection, and those of us
who are not born into old money have to find means of sustaining ourselves
and families with our passion. It is very hard work maintaining this
balance.

My husband and I are both filmmakers and between the two of us, we
can take a production from beginning to end. We constantly inspire,
comfort and sharpen each other to become better at what we do, to increase
the value of our work as our cultural capital and future investment.

What motivates you every day to be even more successful?

Of course, there is the need of self and seeking validation for work which
we have invested huge amounts of time and energy into. However, I am also
motivated by my children – as a co-breadwinner where both parents are
artists we have to strive for excellence as a means of survival. It’s as
simple as that.

What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?

To be honest, there haven’t been many. The ones who have shown doubt, are
not doubtful of my abilities but rather holding on to a white-male power
threshold or generally do not agree with my POV.

I have managed to work as a filmmaker for many years because there are so many people who believe in me and show this either via funding grant support, acquisitions of my films, commissioned work or supporting my work as audience members. To those people who never believed in me, it is their loss I will continue with my craft and continue to be the voice of the marginalized.

The test really is whether the work resonates with audiences, and I must say with every single piece of work I have tackled the communities affected feel that I
have done their story justice. I am not going to sensationalize,
white-wash or taint a story to gain props. I have a responsibility as a
story-teller to do this work with integrity.

What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?

My advice is to know what your strengths are and to focus on this.
Continue practicing your craft even if you are not getting paid in the
beginning, do it for the passion. To become better.

I am not saying you must work for free all of the time, but rather take
the time to invest in yourself to master your craft. Be careful of who
you share your ideas with, I have been bitten too many times.

The closest of friends can run off with your concept and duplicate it. The
film industry is incredibly hierarchical be respectful of this hierarchy
for someday you too will be a producer, director, DOP or whatever it is
you want to do.

However, do not allow anyone to belittle or exploit you.
Stand up for yourself if you feel this is happening. Put in the hours and
surely you will someday reap the benefits.

#CreatepreneurAfrica- Nigeria’s sounds of ‘Positive Force’ – Femi Kuti

Eldest son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, grandson of political campaigner, traditional aristocrat and women's right activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti is renowned in his own right.

Femi Kuti, committed to social and political change reaching an ideal free and fair Nigeria, blends colorful tunes into distinctive balanced sounds with 'Positive Force' , the band he seeded in 1985.

Femi Kuti was born in 1962 London and grew up in Nigeria. His musical career started at the tender age of fifteen when he played in his fathers band Egypt 80  in the year 1979.

In 1986, December the 13th, Femi initiated the launch of Positive Force, his own vibrant with his sisters Sola and Yeni as lead dancers. This was his independent launch apart from his father legacy. The very first Positive Force performance was the University of Lagos.

 

In 1989, he released his first record, No cause for Alarm.

  •  By 1991 MYOB was released and four years later the Femi Kuti album was released. In 1998  the release of  “Shoki Shoki”  garnered widespread acclaim.

In 2000  he opened The Shrine, his club, where he recorded the live album Africa Shrine. He won a Monaco “World Music Award” that same year! In 2001 he collaborated with Common and Mos Def on Fight to Win, and then toured the United States with rock band Jane’s Addiction.

Due to personal setbacks, there was a four-year absence. But there was a re-emergence in 2008 with Day by Day and Africa for Africa in 2010, his third Grammy nomination.

His diverse  knack of artistry expanded in  the next Grammy nomination, No Place for My Dream . Like the legendary Fela Kuti, he is committed to political and social causes and fights for the emancipation of Nigeria.

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Meet #CreatepreneurAfrica  Femi Kuti,Nigeria’s ‘Positive Force’ 

 

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?
My passion, my soul passion is music. I aim to be as good as I can musically. My driving force is my family. I love for my family, my children, my music and making people happy.
How did you find your passion and how old were you?
I knew from a very young age must have been 5,6, or 7. It was just a question of how. Finally went full time into music joining my father’s band at age 16/17.
What about your passion appeals to you the most?
The love for my children, it is uncompromising it is. And also my commitment to keep trying to be the best I can musically.
What drove you to make money from your passions?
 It’s never being about money really. Love for what I do must important for me. Remaining steadfast to what my music stands for.
When was the first time you were paid for your passion?
As an instrumentalist playing in my college school band then my father’s band the Egypt 80.

What kept you going when you thought about giving up?
I never thought about giving up.. I even got broke but remained committed.

What motivates you every day to be even more successful?
My music. The love for what I do.
What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?
 People who doubted me?…..
I have nothing to say to them😊.
What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?
Remain steadfast, remain committed and totally be honest and true to life.
We are  one people, one world
One people One world
US/Canada tour July/August