African Digital Art | Nandi Market will diversify the face of ‘tech-billionaires’. We envision a future where the world will be enriched by Africa’s legacy of technology and culture. It is time that African creators and technologists tap into the resources, funding and opportunities that previously excluded them.
In 2010, Jepchumba introduced herself on the center stage of Africa’s digital world at the TedxEuston conference in London. Jepchumba shared her early vision for African Digital Art (ADA), a platform centered around Africa’s technology and art culture. At the time, she did not know that TedxEuston would be one of the most notable TED-like events dedicated to spreading the very best ideas and innovation from across Africa and the global Pan-African diaspora, with renowned speakers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, the late Komla Dumor, and the late Binyavanga Wainaina.
Her name, Jepchumba, translates to ‘foreigner’ in Nandi, a Kenyan language. As the name implies, Jepchumba was born to Kenyan parents who traveled the world as civil servants of Kenya. Her global upbringing developed her fervent passion for Kenya and then by extension African global culture. A self-confessed futurist and philosopher, Jepchumba would later delve deep into sustainable farming, practicing the techniques generations of her family adopted over centuries. Her experiences living in India, Tanzania, Djibouti, South Africa, United Kingdom and the US, solidified her desire to learn everything she could about global African culture.
African Digital Art Changing the African Narrative
Jepchumba went to an American missionary Christian boarding school in Kenya, Rift Valley Academy (RVA), founded in 1906 by Charles Hurlburt. The school most notably has a cornerstone laid in 1909 by US President Theodore Roosevelt who came to Kijabe on a hunting excursion. She studied at a school designed as a colonial project for educating missionary kids who had come to Africa to eradicate indigenous culture and African thought. Her complex upbringing led to a deep love for critical thinking and philosophical experimentation, and the lack of freedom to think critically provoked an uncompromising dedication to curiosity. Her journey led her to become a digital ambassador, championing the ingenuity of Africans in Africa and the diaspora.
In 2009, search engine results for Africa displayed mostly pictures of wildlife and deprived families, and Jepchumba made it her mission to change the face of Africa online by representing and showcasing the best creative talent on the continent. Her idea was simple, and visibility would be the best place to start. In the same year, Jepchumba founded the African Digital Art in the midst of the burgeoning tech boom in Kenya. As tech giants such as Safaricom took center stage, Jepchumba wanted to explore new possibilities for creative technology in Africa. In response to the growing concern that Africa could not speak for itself, African Digital Art was designated as an online space to bring visibility to artists and creative technologists that often were invisible in the discussion of innovation and technology in Africa.
Over a decade later, Jepchumba has featured thousands of artists becoming the largest online digital collection of African art that focuses on the cultural representation of black people across the world. What started as a platform to merge Jepchumba’s passion for digital media and Africa and to prove that African art goes beyond traditional masks, paintings, and sculptures has evolved into creating a sustainable ecosystem that uses technology and community as a powerful tool to empower black artists, collectors, and enthusiasts.
What started as a platform to merge Jepchumba’s passion for digital media and Africa and to prove that African art goes beyond traditional masks, paintings, and sculptures has evolved into a community that uses technology to empower black artists, collectors, and enthusiasts.
Empowering Artists Through Technology
Today her mission for African Digital Art has gone beyond showcasing African art. Jepchumba plans to shatter the global art market. She believes art, technology, culture, and the economy have converged in a sweet spot to create wealth for black artists and collectors worldwide. Jepchumba and the team at ADA will continue to push digital boundaries and go beyond what has been considered possible for black folks in Africa and the diaspora, and create wealth for black prosperity.
Jepchumba is redefining the narrative of African art and hopes to merge on a global scale the African form of artistic expression with technology. She believes that technology has paved the way for new and unlikely people and perspectives to participate in African ingenuity and tell a more wholesome story of Africa and blackness. Jepchumba’s passion for black prosperity, Africa, technology, and digital media has created an ‘Accidental Curator of African digital Art,’ but she says there is still more work to be done. Now, Jepchumba is asking why there are no African tech billionaires and why all tech billionaires look and sound the same? She believes that ADA will diversify the face of ‘tech-billionaires’ and envisions a future where unconventional African tech-creatives like herself – a black female farmer from Kenya, will have access to funding and opportunities that previously excluded them.
Jepchumba has been listed by Forbes as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, by Guardian as Africa’s Top 25 Women Achievers, and Africa’s Top 10 tech pioneers, Apollo 40 under 40, Art & Tech, amongst many others. While these awards provide some recognition for Jepchumba’s work over the past 12 years, Jepchumba believes that the future of ADA is even brighter, and the possibilities of African digital art and technology are endless. Jepchumba and the team at ADA are enamored with the idea of creating a space that prioritizes, empowers, and advocates for African digital artists and collectors and are working to maximize the fullest potential of the intersection between technology, creativity, and design by black people across the world.
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