South Africa’s digital arts festival Faku’gesi kicked off this Thursday, 14 October. The festival, which is a hybrid event, is taking place via a virtual platform and in the Tshimologong PrecinctinBraamfontein.

Now in its eighth year, the festival features an array of artists from across African countries. This year, under the curatorial leadership of social sculptor and creative entrepreneur dillion s phiri, Fuku’gesi will explore the state of digital creativity and innovation in Africa.

This year the festival has a built in online, digital platform with Bettershared to showcase and exhibit the artistry content in a centralised place, the Fakugesi Virtual gallery. The gallery is a creative and engaging experience to explore what you would normally experience physically in 3D form, loaded with explosive interactive global content.

“This year the theme ‘#Buildcosyouhaveto’ is calling on creatives across Africa especially those using technology to build because they have to – the social changes as a result of the pandemic have forced a lot of artists to accelerate their practice & innovate in the digital space,” Phiri says. “Over the past eight years, Fakugesi has directed efforts to not only celebrating creatives using technology but creating Laboratories & Programs that are meant to provide mentorship, advance skills and create global networks for African creatives.”

The 2021 edition will feature all aspects of digital creativity from Across Africa.

The festival kicks off with six digital artists being invited to Tshimologong Precinct to show their skills and battle for a prize under a chosen theme in partnership with ByWayOfIllustration. Day one will also highlight The Art of Non-Fungible Tokens, a panel hosted by phiri will look at how digital artists are leveraging the shift to the digital world through NFT’s and other mediums.

Animation is a growing medium for digital storytelling on the African continent and is filled with vast opportunities. Conversations on the Bootstrapping of Animation in partnership with Goethe-Institut’s Cav’ Creative Economies & Animation SA, a roundtable on womxn in animation with Mounia Aram and Camille Eden, vice-president of talent and recruitment and Nickelodeon on Saturday, 16 October explores animation’s role as a storytelling tool for African narratives and highlights great talent on the continent.

For the business end of creativity, The festival will also feature talks on Regulations and Funding featuring South African institutions like Film Publication Board, Gauteng Film Commission, and continental and international bodies like Africa No Filter and IFAS. There will also be a discussion on platforms for creatives from the institutions and companies building the platforms like New-Comma, IFAS, Bettershared and others.

The immersive reality conversations dubbed #ImmersiveJuakali planned to take place on Tuesday, 19 October led by Nyambura M Maruingi of Akoia offers an opportunity to explore African extended reality (XR) content through the work of a key selection of creators at its forefront. The conversations and accompanying digital exhibition highlights the immersive storytelling and extended reality technologies that are emerging as the field grows across Africa.

The growth of the gaming industry is well documented worldwide. As part of the Fak’ugesi Arcade on Wednesday, 20 October in partnership with Telkom, the festival will present a three-day hackathon aimed at continuing the much needed development of the continent’s gaming landscape as well as contextualise the gap between our audiences and creators. The festival will debut as a presentation of the South African Game Development Ecosystem 2020 research report and host conversations on Platforms and support of the ecosystem in relation to the report and also the Games we play from the creators in Africa.

As part of the Alumni Programme supported by the National Arts Council, three maker spaces across Cape Town, Johannesburg & Durban will be offering 3D printing workshops viewable online on Thursday, 21 October via the website and socials.

Friday 22 October and Saturday, 23 October we will change gears to focus on digital music. From an evening Soundclash featuring musicians in South African and the UK, to an earlier DJ Masterclass by Soft Grapes on Friday to on Saturday having two sessions on aspects of creation and distribution of digital African music featuring South African artists such as Bylwansta and Nonku Phiri curated and hosted by multi-talented creative force, Nandi “Mamakashaka” Dlepu.

The festival’s grand finale will feature performances from a line-up of artists such as Bylwansta and Nonku Phiri.