Our web series starter kit
Stories from Africa and the diaspora online
1. The Foxy Five
The Foxy Five is essential viewing if you want to get a pulse on intersectional feminism in Africa. Made by black women for black women, The Foxy Five is a dynamic, moving and complex exploration of intersectionality in 2016 South Africa, with a 70’s style and flair. Five black women and non-binary people come together as The Foxy Five, which is a group that fights back against oppression, creates a safe space for each other to heal, and supports each other’s growth.
But like life, not everything is sunshine and rainbows for the Foxy Five. Whilst they call out catcallers and their university and problematic bouncers, they also call out each other and hold each other up to a standard. The show has many scenes where hot topics are discussed at their headquarters from multiple perspectives, including a fantastic monologue from Lebo, a trans woman who calls out the group for not being as inclusive and intersectional as they think they are. Nothing is taken at face value and nothing is portrayed as an issue with a simple solution, which is quite surprising from such a short web series.
The first episode is a one camera setup with natural lighting, and as the series progresses the episodes look better and better, so you really get to see the progression of these filmmakers and their craft. This is a really fabulous web series that explores different daily violences against black African women and non-binary people. You can watch all six episodes on YouTube.
2. An African City
‘An African City’ is a Ghanaian web series about 5 young African women who have lived overseas and have returned to Africa. It is a romantic comedy series modelled on ‘Sex and the City’ that discusses the issues faced by young, single working women in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.
Nana Yaa is a journalist returning from New York City, and she acts as the Carrie Bradshaw of the series by narrating the plot and providing musings and lessons on sex, love and relationships. But more than that, the show speaks to the contemporary situation of ‘returnees’ who must navigate a culture that they both know and do not know. Nana Yaa and her 4 friends negotiate their American and European sensibilities with the culture, politics and men of Accra.
As well as sex, love and relationships, the 5 women also discuss the booming business in Africa, housing affordability in Accra, traditional customs, natural hair and skin bleaching in Season One. The show also has AMAZING fashion, and each episode boasts more and more inspiring Ghanaian looks. Like ‘Sex and the City’, ‘An African City’ focuses on the wealthy 1%, but the shows creator, Nicole Amarteifio, wanted to tell a story alternative to the overwhelming focus on war, poverty and famine in Western representations of Africa. Season 1 of ‘An African City’ is free on YouTube, and you can buy Season 2 through their website.
3. Tuko Macho (Kenya)
In this Kenyan web series, the vigilante group Tuko Macho (“We Are Watching” in Swahili) is taking justice into their own hands. Tuko Macho kidnaps criminals and lets the public vote online as to whether they are guilty or not guilty. They execute criminals that are voted guilty, which causes public debates on capital punishment, the Kenyan justice system, corruption and socioeconomic inequalities.
Tuko Macho is a high-quality production, and its local and international success reflects this. The series is written in Sheng, an urban dialect that mixes Swahili and other local languages, which is great to see in a series that focuses on Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city. Tuko Macho blends crime procedural and thriller genres to unpack moral questions of crime and punishment in modern Kenya.
Tuko Macho is produced by the Kenyan arts collective, The Nest Collective, and you can watch all the episodes on their website. They have also produced other web series and short films which you should check out.
4. Ackee and Saltfish
When you watch Ackee and Saltfish, you’ll immediately become obsessed with the hilarious friendship between Olivia (Michelle Tiwo) and Rachel (Vanessa Babirye). Written and directed by British-Jamaican filmmaker Cecile Emeke, Ackee and Saltfish is a london-based comedy web series that focuses on the conversations and daily interactions between two best friends. The web series is shot in a single-cam style with not much action, so the focus is on their witty banter and arguments. They discuss cultural touchstones, food, black celebrities and their friendship.
Representations of the African diaspora mainly come from America, so the web series received a lot of buzz at the time of its release because of its focus on black women in London. The web series followed Emeke’s short film of the same name, and she has gone on to direct for television, including episodes of Insecure and In The Long Run. All the episodes are available on YouTube, and they are short (most are around 5 minutes long), so you can watch it all in one go!
5. Say It Loud
Say It Loud is a web series that follows the panel show format to discuss topics with a group of young African-Australians. The topics discussed in Say It Loud’s first season are interracial relationships, religion and the idea that “black is cool”. These are topics that are relevant to African-Australians, but are missing in mainstream representations of African-Australians.
A strength of the show is the panelists that they have chosen and the variety of opinions that are shared. The conversations that this show facilitates are informative and relatable, with the panelists sharing their experiences in a frank way. In the interracial relationships episodes, the women on the panel speak about the low desirability of black women in Australian dating, and the men speak about fetishisation of black men. The show also connects to the idea of diaspora by discussing current affairs in Africa and how they affect the lives of Africans living in Australia.
Say It Loud is produced in Sydney and is a great conversation starter. You can watch all the episodes of Say It Loud on YouTube.