About Fak'ugesi Festival

Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is at the forefront of Africa’s culture and technology scene. Explore what we stand for and how our journey evolves.

The Fak'ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is rooted in showcasing and developing skills in technology, art and culture in Africa. Founded in 2014 as a collaboration between the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and the Wits School of Arts, Digital Arts Department, the festival takes as it starting point the idea that in order for innovation with technology to succeed, a strong connection needs to be made to African cultural practices and creative encounters.

Journey of the Fak’ugesi Festival

2014

Inception

Since its inception, the Fak’ugesi Festival has injected vibrant energy into Braamfontein in early September every year by curating a program that speaks to the rhythm of the arts and technology industries. This program allows audiences and participating practitioners to show, make, talk and touch on all things industry.

See more in our Activities section…

2014

From Rise Digital Africa to Own Your Force

The thematic guide for the Festival each year channels contextualised and varied articulations of Fak’ugesi’s foundation. The theme’s year on year demonstrate how the festival and the creative and tech industry as a whole have evolved simultaneously, feeding off each other for creativity and critical reflection.

The visual signifiers each year, from clenched fists and lightning bolts to cupped hands holding a circuit board heart and an afro queen, pay homage to the spirit of youth and the cultures of technology that continuously develop within different urban and digital contexts. They touch on the importance of the continent in visualising digital futures, as well as touch on the feminine and human energies that electrify communities within our continent.

2015

Rise Digital Africa

The annual theme focus began in 2015 with a revolutionary tone –  ‘RISE DIGITAL AFRICA’ [2015 video link] mirroring the increased focus on Digital for Africa and the festival’s declaration that Africa is the home of digital creativity, inserting into our imaginaries Johannesburg as the meeting point for the continent’s digital and creative practitioners and professionals. This theme worked to incite a sense of energy and a feeling of action.

Annual Poster Competition

Each year we invite designers, illustrators and digital creatives to submit poster proposals for the annual on the festival’s theme.

Watch more on the 2015 Residency, a focus on future cities in Africa

2015

The Festival and the City

The 2nd year of Fak’ugesi Festival brought the first direct collaboration with the City of Johannesburg ( 2015, 2016 and 2019). Building on an understanding of the connection between urbanity and how the digital is formed and used within city spaces. And situating Johannesburg and Braamfontein as the centre of culture and technology for Africa.

2016

Afro Tech Riot

In 2016 the theme ‘AFRO TECH RIOT’ [2016 video link] reflected the student uprising and the regenerative power that technology holds in the hands of digital creatives with hearts and minds in the right place. Here young creative and industry professionals alike recharge their creativity and build their networks with professionals and emerging creatives from across Africa and the globe. They are able to generate new questions and work through potential solutions that make Africa’s unique position visible.

Poster illustrator: In 2016 we drew inspiration from the ‘Fees Must Fall’ riots across the country. Many protesters were seen filming and using their mobile phones and tech to mobilise action during the protests. Feminine hands using mobile devices to inspire the riots became the key visual element used by illustrator Michael Tymbios to bring to life the Afro Tech Riot theme.

Click here to download the 2016 festival report.

2016

African-centered Digital Imaginaries

The festival does not only see its role as presenting to its audience key debates in the arts and tech spaces; it provides opportunities for audiences to expand their digital imaginaries by looking at our humanness, our vernacular and traditional cultures, how we navigate physical space, and thinking ways to re-imagine what is meant by ‘public’ and to remind ourselves of what can be left out when contemplating the virtual or digital. Being grounded in an African perspective is what allows for the understanding of the threads that need to be pulled together to create and develop from a point of inclusivity, criticality and contextualised future thinking for Africa.

2017

Brave Tech Hearts Beat as One

Having established these grounding elements in the first two years, the annual themes turned to growing and supporting a community, highlighting a sense of empowerment and collective self-awareness. ‘BRAVE TECH HEARTS BEAT AS ONE’ [2017 video link] in 2017 took into context global technological engagement and the difficulties experienced globally in 2016. Thematically the slogan referred to ideas around unity and the role of supporting and collaborating with each other through difficult times. The hands in the poster signify supporting and protecting, holding a beating technological heart. 

Poster Illustrator: Competition winner Sindiso Nyoni tapped into how the festival inspires and celebrates brave creatives to expose their hearts and create unity. The Illustrator depicted two hands holding the beating creative tech heart of the festival, symbolising the power of community and collective action in the face of adversity. Electric bolt veins and circuitry patterns echo our festival look.

Click here to download the 2017 festival report.

2017

Audience & Impact

Fak’ugesi has reached an annual audience of 6000 participants, with the majority of them being young innovators, artists and digital practitioners.

The festival has reflected and contributed to the growth of the digital creative sector, having gone from developing and igniting the fire of African digital creativity to a place that supports professional capacity building, skills development and platforms outstanding African technology and creativity.

2018

Tap Your Digital Source Code

TAP YOUR AFRO SOURCE CODE’ [2018video link] in 2018, like in 2017 brings to the fore an emphasis on making in collaboration and sharing through cross-regional and cross-sector work as a way to think about the growth prospects of digital innovation from within the continent.

> Poster Illustrator: 2018’s competition winner Sonwabo Valashiya, drew inspiration from the popular Marvel Afro-futurist release, Black Panther. Connecting the vision of the film with that of the festival, the poster spotlights Africa as an innovation hub and thought leader.

Watch more on the 2018 Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency, artist from SADC, India, Egypt and Switzerland.

2018

Activities

Each year a variety of activities feed off the core theme, including workshops, talks, market hacks, exhibitions, installations, hack-a-thons, exhibitions, an arcade hub, conference and more.

2019

Own Your Force

By 2019 through ‘OWN YOUR FORCE’ [2019 video link], the festival has become a location for ideas incubation, multi-sector and multi-region creation and policy development for the industry. It is a meeting point for artists and technologists from across the continent to share ideas, critically engage and exchange knowledge.

Poster Illustrator: 2019’s winner Leigh le Roux brought together ideas around feminine power, Afrocentric sensibilities and youthful vibrancy, and combined these with Fak’ugesi Festival’s recognisable tech electric and afro-futurist visual language. 

Click here to download the 2019 festival report,

2019

Cross-sector & Cross-regional Connections

The festival also presents the opportunity to document and generate possible collaborative solutions to what is taking place in digital arts and digital creativity as well as its sub-sectors – gaming, animation and VR, AR, XR, digital and electronic music and installation art concerning technology and culture. In addition to this, the Festival supports and contributes to unpacking and aligning digital creative economies in South Africa and the region. By inviting specific actors across various sectors to engage with one another through discussions and research presentations, as well as through hackathons that bring together unlikely collaborators.

2019

Festival-generated Research

The reports generated from these engagements serve as documents of where experts and emerging practitioners see their industry in the present and in the future, highlighting an imagined trajectory that is useful for holistic visions of African digitality. These also serve as resources for further research, advocacy and policy development.

Who is Fak'ugesi?

The team, partners, facilitators and participants who contribute towards bringing Fak'ugesi to life each year share our enthusiasm for making Africa the central actor in shaping the intersection of art, technology and culture.

Levinia Jones

Head of Arts South Africa and Southern Africa at British Council

Mélissa Dusart

Audiovisual Project Manager at IFAS

Bandile Gumbi

Project Manager at Goethe Institut Johannesburg

Noluthando Nomvalo

Gallery Assistant ay TMRW Gallery

Lawrence Boya + Melissa

City of Johannesburg

Kholi Ndlovu

Building Manager at Tshimologong Precinct

TK Ndlovu

Founder of The Radioactive Blog and Giving Poetry Wings

Matthew Brown

Game Design student and 2019 Game Jam participant

Dr Akati Khasiani & Mars Masaai

HEVA representatives

Natalie Paneng

Digital Artist and 2019 Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency Participant

Kombo Chapfika

Digital artist, DLA 2019 & Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency Participant

Naddya Adhiambo Oluoch-Olunya

Animator & illustrator, DLA 2019 participant

Ling Tan

Designer, maker and software developer specialising in wearable technology and community participation.

Lindelani Nedoboni & Sandile Mhlongo

Founders of Masidlale, a travelling showcasing platform designed to tour Southern African and regionally made indie games and present them to new audiences.

Ilze Wessels

Architect and 2019 Internet Yami-Ichi participant

Francois Knoetze

Performance artist, sculptor and filmmaker who exhibited his work ‘Core Dump’ in 2019 Oulimata Gueye. Art critic and curator

Babusi Nyoni

Innovator with a focus on the uses of AI on the African continent

Ahmed Almoghazy

Storyteller, 2019 ColabNowNow participant

Nomfundo Nyakale

CAPASSO representative, working on the licensing of production music and broadcasters

Oliver Mayhew

Artist exploring the junctures between current technologies and traditional forms of expression, 2019 Conference attendee

Ben Myres

Co-founder and creative director of Johannesburg-based games studio Nyamakop

Activities

Fak’ugesi Festival takes place annually in Johannesburg, South Africa. Plus year long pop up programming at regional & international Festivals, and the Tshimologong Innovation Precinct. Digital Cultural Economies, Digital Art, Critical Engagement, VR / AR, Gaming, Animation and Sound.

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Make

Workshops, Hackathons, Game Jams

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Talk

Conference, Talks, Events

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Industry

Research, Residencies, Community

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Show

AR/VR Exhibitions, Games Arcade, Animation Screenings, Digital Art Exhibitions

Community

Festival Residencies & Partner Linked Creative Programs.