This October two young Bristol creatives are spending two weeks in the capital of Senegal, as the first part of a pioneering cultural exchange between Bristol’s Afrika Eye festival of African arts, cinema and culture and Dakar’s Images et Vie film festival.
The exchange has been made possible by the British Council and its Our City: Your Eyes initiative.
Making the trip will be 24-year-old Joel Douglas, a Bristol-born and raised poet, rapper and music producer of Jamaican/Pakistani descent who performs as Splitz P, and British Rwandan Pierre Niyongira, a Bristol-based film student, who will turn 21 on the day he flies out.
Together, Splitz and Pierre will spend two weeks exploring Dakar’s lively arts scene, collaborating with local artists and creating work of their own to share during the next Afrika Eye festival in Bristol, happening from 4 – 12 November. The festival will, in turn, host two Senegalese emerging arts professionals who will then take their Our City: Your Eyes inspirations back home with them to Dakar.
TBM: So, tell us a bit more about the exchange…
Splitz: The main purpose of the visit is to soak up Senegalese culture and the Senegalese vibe. More importantly, soaking up all Dakar has to offer while creating a piece of creative content in the form of spoken word and capturing all the colours of the Dakar environment on film.
Pierre: The idea is to produce a short film about Dakar from our perspective; we want to show the diversity and similarities between the two different cities.
What do you do here in Bristol?
Splitz: In Bristol I’m currently honing my musical skills and craft, working closely with Behnam Muzik on an album and with the amazing Timbali, working with colourful new-wave reggae sounds. I complement this with youth work, at the Docklands Youth centre in St. Paul’s, and at the Felix Road adventure playground in Easton, doing various play work.
Pierre: I am currently a filmmaking student at UWE Bower Ashton, just going into my final third year (shout out to our amazing film lecturer Freya Billington). When I am not at uni I am cooking at Tobacco Factory. I’m also involved in quite a few projects in Bristol, such as Cables and Camera, Great Trading Empires of Africa and Diversity Artist Network.
What aspects of Bristol are you sharing with Dakar and why?
Splitz: Bristol culture, especially the inner city culture. Growing up in different urban environments I’ve engaged with countless cultures. This will all help me, I hope, to build bridges with the people of Dakar and find common ground. We will are on a mission to return back to Bristol with amazing content.
Pierre: Everything from its street art to the music – especially the music as Joel is producing the music score for the short film and that will heavily be influenced by Bristol culture and a mixture of Afrobeat and Senegalese music. In my opinion, music surpasses the boundaries of languages and should make it easier to make a connection between the two cities.
What are you most looking forward to?
Splitz: Dakar seems vibrant, appealing, colourful and it is my first time going to Africa! To be placed in such a dynamic and exciting city is going to bring me nothing but inspiration and creativity. Being half Jamaican means I’ll be able to connect with my African roots and, being raised a Muslim, it means I’ll be able to connect with the people in that respect too. I’m also looking forward to getting to work with Pierre, creating something amazing. I can’t wait to start writing while I’m there and helping Pierre with the filming. It’s going to be an absolute blessing of an experience and I cannot wait!
Pierre: I am most excited to experience the Senegalese creative art scene in Dakar, specifically meeting all the different artists that Dakar has to offer. Senegal is known for its fashion, music and contemporary art and has contributed to some of today’s artistic thinking. Besides the art scene, I am also looking forward to being a part of the culture, meeting the people and visiting all the famous landmarks.
Lead image by Javier Hirschfeld. For news on the exchange and more on the festival, follow Afrika Eye on Twitter