Fak’ugesi Conference 2017

In 2014 a bunch of thinking people from Wits Digital Arts, Tshimologong Precinct and JCSE found a way to celebrate African innovation through technology by giving life to Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival. Fak’ugezi is Zulu for “add power” or “switch on the electricity”. This year marks the festival’s 4th year running and Retro Rabbit Design was there to get lit the fak’ugezi up.


The conference started with the usual introductions and who’s who speeches, the blah di blah’s and coffee machine mingles. Then it was the first Keynote speaker’s turn: William Kentridge. What a guy! He is best known for his animated films and drawings and animated drawings and wow. William showcased some of his work which included a live audio improv session over an animated film. It was dope. A well communicated piece of work, completely void of language. This part of the conference alone turned your ticket into gold.


Next on the agenda was the curators of the 2nd season of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, a project founded by William Kentridge. It is a place where artists meet to combine their experimental works in dance, performance, image etc. It might be better described in the Centre’s own words: “The Centre is a physical and immaterial space to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing  work. Often, you start with a good idea, It might seem crystal clear at first, but when you take it to the proverbial drawing board, cracks and fissures emerge in its surface, and they cannot be ignored. It is in following the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks, that the Centre nurtures, arguing that in the act of playing with an idea, you can recognise those things you didn’t know in advance but knew somewhere inside of you.”


After a well needed lunch break, we enjoyed the collaborative show-n-tell’s of a few film, design and music artists including Nonku Phiri, Hannah Faith of Soulection, Mahaneela Choudhury-Reid of WeAreInBloom, Rendani Nemakhavhani and Benoit Hicke of the F.A.M.E Festival. These left us with that “proudly South African” feeling and also some “I wanna do cool sh!t too”.


The line-up then continued with a presentation by the Daring Curating forum followed by the second keynote, Jepchumba, digital artist and founder of African Digital Art. She was very engaging and had the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter. Ever heard of a gravity light? Google it. It had my right brain bitcoin mining using old chipboards and sacks of sand for days. Damn right.


The next conference event that really stood out to me was the Conversations on community driven urban design through the use of new technologies. The City of Johannesburg is using Minecraft (yes, the game) to get young people involved in city planning end development. They train participants to use Minecraft, then they give them parts of Johannesburg (modeled in Minecraft) to improve and be creative with. Apparently a huge success. Who would’ve funk.


The day ended with Weheartbeat, demo’s by Masego and Evil Needle and a listening session with Hannah Faith. Maybe next year we’ll go to the beat party too, or the ani-marathon, maybe just all the way. Just send us to the whole thing. Awesome conference. Thank you Fak’ugezi, thank you Retro Rabbit.