African storytelling: Multimedia visual artist Trevor Stuurman is one of the stage curators at the One Source Live festival in downtown Johannesburg on Saturday. Picture: SUPPLIED
African storytelling: Multimedia visual artist Trevor Stuurman is one of the stage curators at the One Source Live festival in downtown Johannesburg on Saturday. Picture: SUPPLIED

To celebrate the transformative power of African creativity in music, fashion, art and photography, the One Source Live festival brings together artists in Johannesburg.

The event is inspired by Absolut Vodka’s "one source philosophy" — the brand is produced in Åhus in Sweden — and aims to remind locals and visitors that the ancestors of everyone on the planet come from Africa, the one source of humanity and creativity.

"From Andy Warhol to Lady Gaga, Absolut has always backed creators who challenge the norm," says brand ambassador and South African musician Khuli Chana.

"Three years ago I partnered with Absolut creating a campaign titled ‘Africa is Absolut’, in which we acknowledged Africa’s creative revolution, telling my story of originality and authenticity," Chana says.

"A year later we continued the partnership and launched One Source — an African Musical Collaboration, which birthed a music video, title track and album that became a war cry for the continent’s creative revolution," he says.

Here’s a taste of what people can expect:

One Source Live: A Festival for African Creativity. Feat. Khuli Chana, Sho Madjozi, Trevor Stuurman, Osborne Macharia and Fabrice Monteiro. Africa is in the midst of a Creative Revolution. Artists in music, fashion and art are changing the way the world sees Africa. Africa ain’t no jungle. Africa is on fire with creativity. And it’s time the world sees it too. This is a Revolution. Creativity is our weapon. Join the Creative Revolution. #BeAbsolut

That collaboration featured Sarkodie, Patoranking, Victoria Kimani, KayGizm and Zeal VVIP, among others.

Now Chana says he is excited about getting more people involved by letting them participate in the festival.

"Year after year we find different ways to showcase African creativity and change the way people view Africa. This year our stages are curated by me, [rapper and poet] Sho Madjozi and [multimedia visual artist] Trevor Stuurman."

In the event’s striking campaign, which draws inspiration from African history and mythology, Chana is depicted as the Dragon: breathing fire when he speaks and using the superpower of his voice to call the world to arms. Similarly, Madjozi is the Rain Queen, while Stuurman is the Explorer.

"I’m obsessed with festivals but previously I only attended them," admits Madjozi. "In the space of a year I began performing at them and I’m now helping put one together, which is great. I will curate the experience on my stage and choose the artists."

Performing on the Rainforest stage with Madjozi is lyrical artist Youngsta and the newly announced list of performers. These include J Molley, Thando Nje, Una Rams, Marley Bloo, Muzi and mix-masters DJ Rico, Gemini Major and DJ Jawz.

Previously confirmed performers include legendary kwaito group Bongo Maffin, Nigerian reggae-dancehall star Patoranking and gqom music pioneer DJ Maphorisa, all of whom will be on The Source main stage.

"It’s an honour to be involved with the project and the amazing creative revolutionaries," Madjozi says. "It’s been an amazing and enriching journey that has had an impact on me. I’m growing through all these people, but in the end I’m inspired to stay true to what I’m doing."

Stuurman, who expresses his creativity via visual media such as film, fashion and photography, says this event is exciting because it shows that Africa is no longer just the future; our time is happening right now.

To explore how, the daytime programme will include a specially built market showcasing African creativity beyond the kitsch curious and other ideas that Google seems to have about the continent’s art, he says.

"The foundation of my creativity is authentic African storytelling," Stuurman says. "Every piece of artwork I create is inspired by my people: their stories, struggles and triumphs.

"African people have been given such a free platform to share their lived experiences and how they see their world and it’s this understanding that keeps my work fresh."

Completing the "big five" creatives are Senegalese artist Fabrice Monteiro (the Iron Warrior) and Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia (the Eye).

Monteiro, who was raised in Benin but left at the age of 17 to study industrial engineering in Belgium, finds inspiration in "humans, humanity and the human condition".

"My inspiration changes with each project I work on," he says. "At the moment, I’m inspired by the pioneers of portrait photography in the late 19th century and how the first African studio photographers were directly influenced by the codes and postures that were in vogue at that time in Europe."

Over the years his work has been getting more conceptual, with the focus now on building up images instead of taking them. What hasn’t changed are the two questions he asks himself whenever he begins the process of creation: how did we get there? And where do we go from there?

"I believe in the power of images and storytelling to initiate a global conversation," Monteiro says.

"When I work on a project one of my main objectives is to make it ‘readable’ by anyone; it’s important for me to be as inclusive as possible."

He believes that images should be useful and not just "nice and entertaining".

Similarly, Macharia has a desire for people to feel "uplifted, inspired and positively changed" by his work.

"My work explores three key principles — culture, fiction and identity — and any given project has to meet at least two of the three," he says.

"This is my filter process to understand if the idea is viable or not. For some of the subjects/ models we use, they tend to feel they are getting a second chance in life to be the people they never were. What better impact can you have than that?"

Everyone responds to his work in different ways. Women tend to be fascinated by the pieces that touch on women in general as they feel they are empowering. Then there are the groups that appreciate the work for its storytelling attributes and how it is exploring a different narrative of people of colour.

For others, it’s simply about the aesthetics. But however one decides to appreciate the work, Macharia is grateful that it has an impact.

"I want people [in the rest of the world] to see that Africa has more to offer," he says.

"Yes, we have our issues, but that’s beyond us as a people. Our culture is strong and has been for millennia."

• One Source Live takes place at Eloff Precinct in downtown Johannesburg on Saturday March 24.