One of the mistakes we make in Africa is we believe our population is ‘westernising’ – as if anyone of us, least of all Africans, just easily peel off our culture, ethnicity, language, identity and adopt another, in this case, a westernised European culture and identity. The reality is that Africans modernise – their culture remains strong while evolving and adapting to modernity.
As there are Millennials and Generation Y and Z, so too can we define an Afripolitan generation, who are deeply rooted in Africa, in African cultures and philosophies, yet at the same time modern and sophisticated. This is a new generation of young, urban, technologically and socially networked, yet culturally rooted Africans. As the pace of urbanisation in Africa breaks records, the community gathering under the tree has been replaced by the WhatsApp group, with its members tucking their smartphones into stylish traditional headdresses.
The Afripolitan is the traditionally dressed group of young Zulu girls ordering at a KFC, or topless Zulu maidens taking a selfie with a highend smartphone at the Zulu ceremony. It is multigenerational shoppers where gogo, mom, auntie and kids go shopping together at month end at the mall – more of an experience than a shopping visit. It is the LSM 9 mom, who shops at Woolworths yet also pulls over at the hawker hotspot and buys her veggies from the vegselling mamas. It’s the mom in Fourways cooking a Sishebo for her family and tuning into Unilever’s Perfect Sishebo Show for her cultural dish. Its Uber Eats discovering that high-end Afripolitan consumers want culturally-relevant Afripolitan food on their app.
The huge and growing ‘kasi kos’ (‘township food’) sector includes culturally African food such as mogodu, amaplati, isishebo which consumers prefer, not because they are cheaper, but because they are culturally relevant and soul food. This is why the R87 billion a year kasi kos sector is growing, supplying premium, trendy, culturallyrelevant dishes on their menus. Be aware of the impact of cultural nuances on the buying and consumption habits of modernising consumers. At every level, from shopping malls to corporate takeouts, to retailers and township takeouts, prepare and adapt for the age of the Afripolitan!
Written by GG Alcock
GG is founder of specialist marketing company Minanawe and author of ‘KasiNomics’. He was raised in one of the most poverty stricken and violent parts of Kwazulu-Natal, Msinga. GG’s activist parents raised their two sons in a mud hut with no running water, electricity or modern conveniences. Instead they grew up like young Zulu boys herding and hunting. Zulu reared and bred, the boys learnt the essence of how to survive in a harsh world – valuable skills that have undoubtedly contributed to GG’s success as an entrepreneur.
GG is a regular speaker on a range of topics – from business to motivational to trends talks on subjects including entrepreneurship, the informal market, diversity ad culture, marketing communication to the mass market and the route-tomarket strategies of the informal sector.
For more information or to contact him, visit www.ggalcock.com.