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Artists across the African continent are increasingly creating ripples in the NFT space. Young creators especially have been keen on pushing the NFT trend in recent months.
South African Artists Join the Future
Moving along with the NFT trend, South-African artists have begun to offer tokenized versions of their work for purchase.
Since the NFT boom that began in late 2020, NFTs have grown into a staple in the art community. They allow artists to stay on top of emerging digital developments. South African artist, Fhatuwani Mukheli, believes NFTs present a great opportunity to interact with the digital space and blockchain technology. According to Mukheli, the world is constantly advancing, and adapting to its changes is essential. So despite being a more “traditional artist” Mukheli has learned to embrace NFTs.
Among a myriad of benefits, non-fungible tokens provide creators with access to a wider audience. Furthermore, digitalization places them on nearly even footing with other artists globally. This is one thing Mukheli was quick to stress. The NFT niche facilitates easy entry into what is now a global market and allows for better connections with fans and consumers. Mukheli discussed how in the past, South Africa typically took a few years to catch on to prevalent trends in the western world. However, with non-fungible tokens this is not so:
We are current, so we are in the future,” Fhatuwani says.
NFTs Offer African Artists a Global Platform
Being non-fungible means that each NFT is unique and cannot be swapped with another identical one. In addition to this, with non-fungible tokens, artists can continue to profit from their work. Creators, for example, can earn a commission on every resale should it be written into the NFT’s smart contract. Mukheli, who has already sold 2 NFTs, pointed out that as an artist, your name will always be associated with your NFT on the blockchain.
I’m a very traditional artist,” says Mukheli, “but I realize that if I’m just going to hold on to what I know, the bus is going to miss me. I think the most amazing thing with this digital space is it makes us compete completely at the same time with everyone in the world.”
Young Nigerian Creators Have Big Hopes for NFTs
Peace Ojemeh is a 24-year old Nigerian digital artist inspired by previous record NFT sales. Beeple sold out for $69 million while the famous “Disaster girl” raked an impressive $550,000. The sales, according to Ojemeh, inspired her and a host of other Africans to start Haze Monkey – a novel NFT project with team members across the world.
Reading about Disaster girl, a meme I casually use in my WhatsApp chats with friends,” commented Ojemeh, “selling for such a ridiculous amount of dollars, was an awakening. I just knew I had to get in on NFTs,”
African artists first got into major NFT conversation this time last year when Jason Osinachi’s art was featured on Christie’s. Jason was described at the time as Africa’s “best-known” digital artist. Since then, however, a flurry of young creators like Ojemeh and Mukheli are flocking into NFTs.
Like Jason, artists such as Ojemeh are thriving on uniqueness and originality to sell their art. Creators include a distinctive cryptographic signature that lends an air of exclusivity, especially to digitized artworks. Rarity is a huge part of what drives the NFT market forward.
Ojemeh believes the NFT project, Haze Monkey is beyond her, and perhaps beyond Africa. Now with thousands of followers and successful Discord channels targeting non-English speakers, Ojemeh is confident her NFT team is in the right direction.
Climate Impact of NFTs
NFTs are based on the same technology behind cryptocurrency. Due to this, they are open to the same problems faced by digital currencies, particularly how energy-intensive they are. NFTs require massive amounts of energy to create and verify on the blockchain.
Among South African artists, eco-activism could be described as a fundamental principle. This makes their adoption of NFTs somewhat questionable. However, various individuals have worked to reduce the climate impact of non-fungible tokens.
An art collective known as The Tree established a platform where artists can list their NFTs for sale. Following this, they can work alongside Cape Town-based charity organization Green pop to plant trees and reduce the carbon footprint of tokenized artworks.
For “afridelic” artist vonMash, the solution was to switch from the Ethereum blockchain which uses PoW verification, to Cardano with the less harmful PoS verification system.