By Esther Mwema, 2023 Future Money Artist
Sikhula Sonke is a phrase in isiXhosa (a South African language) that means 'we grow together'.
Sikhula Sonke project will reimagine afro-futurist banking based on the financial model called village banking that is prevalent in South Africa and Zambia. Through these informal credit unions between trusted members of a community - particularly among women - people are brought closer to their labour and are more connected to their local resources and areas of knowledge.
Village banking is used widely among rural and peri-urban township communities in the region and many parts of the global south and provides intergenerational knowledge about saving, lending and meeting community needs. The goal is to learn from societies in which resources are shared for the purpose of meeting the needs of community members, rather than for extracting profit. These lessons can be shared through living archives from the global south.
The Afrofuturist living archives will explore the existing financial structures and systems that shape the way that communities in Southern Africa access financing to understand the Afro-futurist possibilities based on the existing system of village banking. We will document Living Archives through audio-visual documentation of real-life stories from elders, then juxtapose this knowledge with the reality of the current global financing ecosystem.
The audio-visual art exhibition will build an imagery that shifts mindsets about wealth and how it is defined as. The living archives will present stories of elders whose knowledge can inform Afrofuturist village banking that is not centred on capitalism.
The project is being done by Esther Mwema, an artist and digital inequalities practitioner from Zambia; and Jon Adam Chen, a Canadian communications specialist who considers South Africa as his second home.