Our Editor-in-chief, Adedayo Laketu had a discussion with media mogul Zintle Ramano, on media in South Africa and the future of things across the continent.
Tell us about BAAB?
Zintle Ramano: We’re a media group giving opportunity to creative talent within the continent of Africa through our online platform our services range from brand strategy and marketing, talent management, image and style consultation as well as photography. We began in 2011 as a Tumblr page, overtime we gained quite a big following from mainly our readers in the US of over 5k, eventually I wanted to place foot and make the brand have its foundation within South Africa. Last year we became a website – blackafricanandbeautiful.com – that still did not define who we were in our positioning. In April we went through a rebranding phase and converted into a media house called BAAB Media Groupwith HQ in Johannesburg and subsidiaries being developed in Luzern, NYC and CPT (Cape Town).
What’s the creative scene in SA ?
Zintle Ramano: It is very diverse and there is so much talent, but you don’t really get to tap into every aspect of it because the keyholders to the industry don’t want to open it up so, you really have to know how to navigate and know who to talk to in order to occupy the space. The two major cities making names for themselves within creativity would have to be Johannesburg and Cape Town amazing work being produced.
Africa’s creative and business scene is growing and gaining more global awareness, how do you navigate/interact t withhis new age Africa as the founder of a media platform?
Zintle Ramano: It warms my heart to see how much the New Age is growing and placing itself in the world. You have entrepreneur foundations like Tony Elumelu Foundation and emerging platforms like She Leads Africa for women in business and it is so fruitful to just witness this need for growth in the economy being stimulated. The way I interact with it is I’m always recruiting and looking for people to be a part of my team but, I don’t want just anyone – I want the best and professional people but most importantly African. Secondly, my clients are all local businesses they’re all African owned from Aimanosi Lingerie (Nigeria), Musgrave Gin (South Africa) and African Goddess (South Africa) in doing so capital continues to circulate within the continent – it doesn’t leave and go to America, it doesn’t leave and go to Europe it stays here. Eventually, I hope to take it to the next level with investing in the continent.
Investing in the continent, tell us about that? How do you feel about white cooperations buying off our African talent disguised as “investing”.
Zintle Ramano: I’m glad you asked me that. I’ve noticed in the continent there’s this perception that if you have not been recognized by an American owned orEuropean owned entity then, you haven’t made it. And it’s blasphemous because it leaves no space for true African growth, for Africa to reach its full potential. I call it; modern day colonization, these brands come from overseas infiltrate our spaces and economies and as an individual for your career it’s beautiful, it’s lovely however as a brand or someone developing an entire company and believes in the ethos of being Africanand embracing it, it’s anti-progressive. Because what these cooperations do is keep you where they want you to be, mould you into what they want you be and they won’t be in the forefront but, definitely in the background gaining capital off of your hard work. Modern day colonization.
How does your brand sustain the many challenges that come with running in Africa?
Zintle Ramano: My first challenge will always be that I am young, black and a woman, so that entails that I’ll always be undermined regarding my capabilities. I have literally had an experience recently where I involved these men from corporate in a project they ignored my calls, emails and on day of shoot they came to set drunk, not in the clothes we briefed them to be in and so on and that’s something that another man will never have to experience, because they respect him. So, I definitely try to be more vigilant and strict with who my brand is associated with. There are certain experiences that you will go through as an African woman, that a black man will never have to go through. Another thing would be right now South Africa is going through its first recession since 2009, that’s due to a socio-political issue, now one has to think of budget cuts and adapting to this new economy. I think within Africa that is one thing that is always going to be a challenge how the economy swings at any given moment. Another thing is time, punctuality is so important. That’s one thing I learned and mastered in Switzerland it’s so important to keep a watch on you, your phone is not enough excuses like “African timing” I do not accept and want to hear at all. Essentially discipline and those who can adapt to change will always be on top.
How does your platform help bring Africa together as one?
Zintle Ramano: Basically, it’s in the name itself; Black African and Beautiful.
We are a space for everything black, African and beautiful and I think even in our slogan itself “black is Beautiful” we bring people together.
I believe in community and togetherness, it’s like that proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” and BAAB is my child.
“Black is the new cool”, what do you think about this narrative?
Zintle Ramano: Black has always been cool. Black is the standard of cool. When you look at pop culture, every single element in it has been of a result of blackness. Look at Gucci and stealing Dapper Dandesigns, grillz used to be ghetto, long nails and gelled edges used to be “unclassy”, then there’s this new thing of exotifying being African and the black Americans are embracing it which is wonderful considering their history. So Drake and Afrobeats, dashiki’s and Hollywood moving away from the slave narrative into what will be the biggest film of 2018 Black Panther. Black is the standard of cool. Yes!