To push culture forward, I must challenge my community, the global community, and myself.” This is what Mpumelelo Mcata considers his responsibility as an African artist.
He fully embraced this responsibility when he swapped his guitar for the director’s chair for his film-making debut, The Black President. Five years in the making, the documentary focuses on the creative struggles and genius of Zimbabwe-born artist Kudzanai Chiurai. It premiered at the Berlinale in Germany last year to resounding applause.
The film highlights Mcata’s deep sense of responsibility to drive home the message that introspection and self-reflection can serve society, arguably, as potently as the outward actions of activists and politicians. How? “By making yourself one less problem: by constantly being open to learning, sharing and being contagious,” he says.
Mcata’s own creative contagiousness seems to know no bounds. He puts it down to “that never-say-die DIY gene”, the same one that kicked in when he and a few friends started a “little band” called the BLK JKS. Crossing creative thresholds – never mind genres – takes guts, and talent, along with responsibility. Could they be the hallmarks of a true African artist? We think so.
Find Mpumelelo on Twitter: @BLK_JKS