The first day of the Design Indaba Simulcast held at LISOF, Blairgworie kicked off its first speaker slot with the intriguing, Zimbabwean-born Sunu Gonera, a filmmaker who draws many of his influences from the dusty townships streets where he grew up. When Gonera was a child, the War of Independence in Zimbabwe was at its peak – the harsh realities of his childhood, meant that he spent many waking moments daydreaming and making up stories in his head.
Gonera recounted his journey behind the lens – from an early age, telling stories was a way of escaping. His creativity landed him up in advertising in South Africa after a brief stint in banking after completing his degree from the University of Cape Town. As things would be, the talented Sunu Gonera worked his way up in the world of advertising and was soon drawn to the dazzling lights of Hollywood earning big gigs in the same league as the academy award nominee, Terrence Howard and Tom Arnold and the likes in this debut movie. “Pride.” After rubbing shoulders and living the life with the rich and famous, life took a dramatic turn, with barely a dime in his pocket, he returned to South Africa to start anew.
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Gonera tells of his enduring spirit and his passion for this continent and all it has to offer as his main drivers in telling the African story. Branded as an Afrofuturist, his spectacular storytelling trademark of showing Africa with warts and all, strengthens his position back home as a sought after Creative Director after his Absolut One Source commercial earns him stripes in Cannes as well as at the South African Music Awards and Metro Awards for Best Music Video. Sunu Gonera champions the changing of the African narrative to a positive story and a shining light for the world to see in his bold work. As a trailblazer in transforming the African narrative, Gonera aptly defines the afrofuturist wave as putting this continent on the map and translating its energy into something tangible: “Aspiration is an attitude…. And the joy of Africa is all around us – we don’t have to hide it.”
Gonera’s narrative about the contribution of everyday people in making the day-to-day systems that are important in our lives work, is ground breaking. In his Metropolitan Life advert, “I see you,” he honours the role of the shopkeeper and the taxi driver. Gonera says he did this “because I wanted my mom in the corner shop to look good.”
His portfolio of work, together with other African creative giants, making waves in the movie scene (such as the David Oyelowo’s of this world from “Salma” fame who also happens to be a good friend and colleague) – is reverberating across the world giving Africans an authentic voice. For the sequel to Absolut Vodka’s 2nd ad campaign, Gonera wanted to create Africa’s own mythology and superheros – he is charting his path, uninhibited by where his imagination take him.
“Pick your path, tell you story……When I went to LA recently I felt I was bringing something to the table…. If I hadn’t lost everything and gone home I would not have felt like I have something to bring to the table, ”he says.
Sunu Gonera’s creative genius has set the tone for the rest of the week – keeping the delegates of the Design Indaba 2018 at the edge of their seats with the ingenuity of our design creatives.
Written By: Anda Ngani