BY ONOME AMUGE
Google is intensifying its support for young Africans who identify as alternative and non-mainstream content creators to better connect with their audiences, and harness value as they move the culture forward through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and YouTubeShorts.
The American multinational technology company showed this support through a recent Alté residency programme in Nairobi, Kenya which ran from 28-30 June, 2022. Similar to a bootcamp, the programme, hosted and curated by Google Africa, aimed at upskilling and celebrating young African creatives, championing unconventional self-expression in all aspects of life mainly through music, fashion and visual arts, and helping them learn how to connect better with their audiences and move the culture forward through the Google-enhanced platforms.
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The programme also saw the first batch of 25 young Alté creatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa attend the residency where they were equipped with entrepreneurial skills on how they can enhance visibility of their brands.
Google also invited Alté creatives that have global brands such as Tshepo Mohlala, founder of the denim brand, Tshepo the Jean Maker, who gave career talks to the young creative entrepreneurs on how to further build and monetise their brands.
“It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices,” said Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, communications and public relations manager, Google West Africa.
Kola-Ogunlade said the aim of the residency is to amplify the impact of the Alté movement in Africa and the world at large, while also showcasing how products like YouTube and YouTube Shorts and platforms like Google Arts & Culture can help drive the culture forward.
Alté, short for ‘Alternative’, originated as an avenue for unconventional self-expression that transcends traditional culture and is centred on the desire to remain sincere to oneself regardless of existing traditions or cultural restrictions.
The Alternative Movement, colloquially known as the ‘Alté Movement’, arguably has its roots in Lagos, Nigeria, where young Africans embrace the idea of being misfits or non-conformists. Musical artists like Teezee, BOJ, Tems, Odunsi, Lady Donli, among others have driven the movement in the past few years.
The sub-culture is also visible among young Africans across the continent, with Sichangi from Kenya and Amaarae from Ghana among the musical artists from other parts of Africa who are propagating Alté sounds.
Beyond music, Alté has grown as a lifestyle and its influence is also visible in fashion and the visual arts. Mowalola and Tse are some of the creative influencers that are driving the Alté movement in fashion and photography, respectively.
There is also a growing number of creative entrepreneurs in the Alté community who are running their own businesses, carving their distinctive identity, propagating the growth of the Alté community in Africa and thriving within Africa’s creative ecosystem with the support of internet optimisation.
It is currently an emerging culture that is uniquely African and is increasing in popularity among the Gen Z demographic (people born between 1997-2012).
Recent Google search trends from across the continent show an increase in `Alté’ related searches from 2020, with questions like ‘What is alté?’, ‘Who is an alté?’ and ‘How to dress alte?’ being the most searched alté-related questions.
Other top searches in Africa on Alté include alte’ music, alte’ songs, alte’ suit designs, top alte’ vibe, alte’ kids, alte’ Nigeria, alte’ in Ghana Music, and alte’ food.
Historically, alternative youth culture is rarely recognised on mainstream media, pushing creators to consider globally acceptable platforms with no barriers of entry such as YouTube, to connect with their audiences across the world.
Google, through the alté residency, is spotlighting and contributing to Africa’s cultural zeitgeist by exposing Alté creatives and expressionists to skills that can be harnessed through the lens of YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Search and Google Arts & Culture and enable creatives to scale up their businesses and career.
According to Google, the creative economy is projected to reach a global valuation of $985 billion by 2023, representing 10 percent of global GDP before 2030.
The creative economy in Africa, it noted, has recorded massive growth as a result of the influence of the internet, giving artists, musicians, creators and filmmakers an invaluable opportunity to connect with a global audience using digital platforms like YouTube, Search and YouTube Shorts.
This is in line with Google’s commitment to helping creatives across Africa thrive, while also providing a platform for diverse voices and expressions.