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Sikhula Sonke: Living Archives of Afrofuturist Village Banking β€” Future Money Final Grant Report #2

How do we define wealth?

Sikhula Sonke: Living Archives of Afrofuturist Village Banking is an audio-visual art project to document the practice of rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA) in Southern Africa, specifically in Zambia and South Africa.

'Sikhula Sonke' is a phrase from the the South African Xhosa language which means 'we grow together'. ROSCAs take different terms according to each community and can be called 'Village banks', 'Chilimba', 'Umgalelo' or 'Stokvels' depending on the community or type of credit or saving association.

Check out the project on

Project Update

Following our progress report, Sikhula Sonke is now available online through our website made for community members to connect with the village banks in Southern Africa.

The creation of this living archive has shown us that village banks are:

  1. inclusive systems in southern Africa that promote economic and cultural resilience by collectively encouraging and self-regulating savings and wealth generation.
  2. defining wealth beyond exclusively financial terms. Wealth is relational and rooted in community rather than exclusively individual.
  3. advanced, inclusive, and feminist systems that are supporting communities to care for themselves.
  4. "Afrofuturist" in nature because they serve as a sight of colonial resistance because they promote autonomy and dignity of those excluded by financial institutions.
  5. democratic in nature, allow for self-governance and the creation of their own constitution.

Empowered Women_Village Bank Constitution

Empowered Women_Village Bank Constitution page 2

Progress on Objectives (KPI’s) (progress on project)

Sikhula Sonke project's related activities stayed the same since conception, mainly because we took a reflective approach to shape the artwork according to the contribution of the communities we collaborated with.

In this regard, we were able to achieve:

3 Impactful Stories: The mixed audio from all communities was edited into three parts on the following topics:

  1. Village Banking (An Introduction)
  2. Empowered Women through Village Banking
  3. Resilient Families through Village Banking

The complete unedited archive is available in English and isiXhosa from all the six communities we spoke to. This has been transcribed into English.

Visual Artwork: The project was presented at the Open Studio at the 2023 ILP Summit in Costa Rica.

Article: A summarised version of the longform article is available on the new Sikhula Sonke website.

Website: A 1 pager website to experience the exhibition here.

Short video about Sikhula Sonke conceptual process

What’s Next?

Sikhula Sonke has always been a community led and community centered project, so this work ultimately returns to the communities who weaved their beautiful stories to imagine and redefine wealth as we know it. This is done by sharing the virtual exhibition without different communities and knowledge sharing through an in-depth article that analyses the systems thinking fundamental for village banks.

The fundamental thing is to show that this concept is practiced in cultures across the globe, and has been so for centuries.

The best next step is for village banks to speak to each other, share knowledge, and find ways to use technology to model these concepts without leaving anyone behind.

Community Support

This amazing work would not have been possible without the support from the communities and community liaisons in Zambia and South Africa - who opened up their lives to share a deeply held tradition for us to share with the world.

This project was done in collaboration with:

  1. Empowered Women Village Bank group in Lusaka, Zambia
  2. Three Stokvel groups and Umgalelo's from Cape Town and Eastern Cape, South Africa
  3. Mthwakazi for the beautiful music made with the traditional uHadi instrument which uses the calabash

Express gratitude to the wholesome ILF team - Lawil and Ayesha are superstars. Thank you to Hollis and Kokayi for your visions of this space. And to the beautiful people of Costa Rica who shared the ethos of Pura Vida with us.

Technical Aspects

The project was in two parts - archiving and art.

The archiving was done through the use of ZOOM recorders and headsets. Adobe editor was used to editing and mixing the audio. In addition, Obsidian was used as a secure tool to record ideas and make connections between different concepts. A transcription tool was used, and we hired a local expert to trascribe the text in isiXhosa.

The art was achieved by collecting commonly used objects in the communities we spoke to - and a common thread was the calabash, plates, and fabric. It was amazing to witness the commonalities between Zambian and South African traditional culture, and ways of thinking about money.

Position Statement

We need to start thinking and living differently, to make the ideas we are shaping a reality. Our imagination must translate into action for us to create a world where the amount of money in your bank is not reflective of your value as a person or having the basic nutrition and housing necessary to live in dignity and peace.

Relevant Links/Resources

Future Money Podcast: Sikhula Sonke - Living Archives of Afrofuturist Village Banking

Full unedited archive and transcript under the open license CC-BY-NC

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