Photo Credit: Courtesy of Soju Africa
This Young Filmmaker Is Aiming To Build Solidarity Within The Diaspora
For New York resident and Sierra Leonean-Nigerian-American Oluwaseun Babalola, finding content that represented all of the amazing things that the youth on the ground in Africa were doing, was hard to come by.
Growing up, she identified with both her mother’s Sierra Leonean roots as well as her father’s Nigerian roots. When she became older, she really wanted to explore the concept of identity as it relates to people of African descent.
So, she set out to create an original documentary series that focused on the topic.
‘Soju‘ (pronounced Show-ju), which means represent in Yoruba, one of the native languages of Nigeria, is a series that aims to build commonality among those in the diaspora. She chose the title as a way to normalize a word in an African language and to force Africa to come from people’s mouths. After all, it’s an African focused show, why not have an African title.
“Ultimately I want us all to learn from each other, wherever we are in the Diaspora,” Oluwaseun told Travel Noire. “Soju can also mean to cultivate in certain contexts, which is also appropriate.”
One of her main goals is for young people to understand that while our Blackness may come from different regions or contexts, we all come from Africa. Especially with it being so many convos centered around what it means to be Black these days.
She uses money that she has saved from her job to not only fund her travels to and from the continent but to also purchase equipment needed to film.
The former editor and now producer has shot 18 episodes across 7 countries so far. Those countries include Botswana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Kenya to name a few.
The pilot episode, ‘Africa’s Future Reimagined,’ takes a look into what it means to be African. She goes on the ground to give viewers an inside look at the youth culture in various African nations while interviewing those that are really doing the work on the ground to better their communities.
“I’m happy that I can contribute to something like this and highlight what it means to be Black from a global perspective.”
She aims to focus on topics that are really important to not only her but also those in global communities. She wants to provide more exposure so that people all around the world can learn more as well.
As of now, she has paused her filming to work on generating more income to fund the project. She would eventually like to create a space that will bring people together in person for more dialogues.