Saki Mafundikwa: Ingenuity and elegance in ancient African alphabets
“It is his hope that Africa can imprint itself on the canon of graphic design.”Camille Lowry
Why you should listen
In his book Afrikan Alphabets, Saki Mafundiwaka includes a Ghanaian pictograph meaning “return to the past” This is exactly what he did in 1997 when he cashed in his publishing job 401(k) and left New York to open the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) in Harare. (“Vigital” denotes visual arts taught using digital tools.)
As a kid growing up in Zimbabwe, Mafundiwaka loved to sketch letterforms he saw in books and magazines, but he didn’t know graphic design was a career option until he arrived in America. “Sometimes you have to leave home,” he says, “to discover yourself.” He opened ZIVA to pay it forward. “The dream,” he says, “is for something to come out of Africa that is of Africa.”
In 2010, he made the film Shungu: The Resilience of a People, a compelling narrative of the strategies ordinary people use to survive in Zimbabwe today.