Then there are the more awkward interactions, like Kanye West’s visit to Uganda, during which he met with longtime president Yoweri Museveni and handed out crisp white Yeezy sneakers and Beats By Dré speakers to orphans. Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s brief meeting with president Paul Kagame in Rwanda was less eventful, but more meaningful.

Hmm. Kanye West meets Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni
Hmm. Kanye West meets Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni
Image: Press Unit/Handout via Reuters

All this hype, however, made it all the more painfully obvious how difficult the arts can be for Africans themselves. Films that challenged society were banned or censored, even as they were celebrated elsewhere. Musicians who used their platforms to challenge repression were silenced and governments found new ways to keep young fans away from potentially subversive art and music.

Music, art, design and fashion aren’t just commercial ventures in Africa—often they are platform with a higher moral purpose, even it is only to challenge what the world thinks about Africa. This is exactly why the globe’s current love-affair with African culture must find a way to benefit and empower Africans. In 2019, Africans should deserve their returns.

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