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ZIKORA MEDIA & ARTS AFRICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE INITIATIVE
operates as a media production company as well as a cultural institution that aspires to inspire compelling and nuanced storytelling that captures the dignity, humanity, diversity and beauty of Africa and Africans.

The Vision
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THE VISION

The vision of Zikora Media & Arts African Cultural Heritage Foundation is to capture the experiences, expressions and impressions of Africa and Africans through immersive storytelling produced through multimedia and creative multidisciplinary forms including: photography, dance choreography, poetry, visual arts, films.

The Team

THE TEAM

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Chika Oduah
Founder & Executive Creative Director

For twenty years, I've worked as a journalist. My stories are recognized for their depth in capturing humanity and cultural contexts. I maintain a keen focus on Africa. My reporting goes beyond the headlines to explore culture, conflict, history, spirituality, human rights and development to capture the complexities, hopes and everyday realities of Africans and people of African descent. I have engaged in the news media as a reporter, foreign correspondent, television news producer, cinematographer, scriptwriter and photojournalist in the United States and across Africa. I have experience working with newspaper outlets, television news, documentary film, online media, magazines, radio and podcasts. My stories have been published and featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Quartz Africa, Voice of America, The Associated Press and other international news media outlets. I am one of the few reporters who have worked in northeastern Nigeria where the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram was established and continues to operate. My exclusive coverage of Boko Haram’s ongoing war against the Nigerian government has shed light on the elusive nature of the jihadi insurgents and the plight of women and girls and has garnered awards from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Spanish Bar Association and other prestigious institutions. I am also the recipient of a CNN African Journalist Award and was listed among “Nigeria’s 100 Most Inspiring Women” as well as OKAY AFRICA’s 100 Women. I have participated as a fellow in numerous news media fellowships including: the International Women Media Foundation Fellowship for reporting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and African Great Lakes region; International Reporting Project Fellowship in Tanzania; Global Post Ground Truth Reporting Fellowship to report on youth empowerment in Nigeria. In 2023, I was selected to participate in the French-African Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. As an African history enthusiast, in 2017, I created and launched Biafran War Memories, a digital archive which seeks to preserve the history and first-hand accounts of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran War of which my family was directly impacted alongside millions of other southeastern Nigerians. As a member of Moderate the Panel, I moderate at high-level forums. I have moderated and MC-ed forums for The World Health Organization, World50, Women Deliver, The Washington Post, the International Electrotechnical Commission, Future Rising/Girl Rising, and other international organizations. I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S. A proud pan-Africanist, I have previously lived in Kenya and Nigeria and have reported from multiple African countries. I am currently based in Dakar, Senegal. My lifelong dream is to see Africa prosper. “My ultimate aim is to tell nuanced stories that reflect the complexities, hopes and everyday realities of people across Africa, while demystifying what has historically been misconceived as a “dark continent” that still often receives one-sided, simplistic media coverage.”

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Tosin ‘Tosinger’ Taiwo
Director of Performance Arts

My name is Tosin Taiwo (aka Tosinger). I am a Singer, Actress and Media Personality with more than 15 years of performance arts experience spanning across Africa, Europe to America. I have a passion for Africa, her culture, the empowerment of black people everywhere, cultural preservation and the diaspora, and this is reflected in my creative work, profession, artistic brand and expressions. I am a multi- genre singer, however, my sound has been described as soulful/folksy. Lyrically, I incorporate Yoruba folklore on a contemporary musical platform. My musical goal is to heal and inspire, and to promote African culture in the diaspora. I am influenced by the likes of Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, Cesaria Evora, Angelique Kidjo, Khadja Nin to name a few. My latest EP is titled 'Ode to Accra' inspired by my love for the city and her people. My desire for the diaspora to “return home” if not physically but at least spiritually is evident in my music. My original songs are always, mostly themed with the message of “Home”, “Africa”, “Return”; - the yearnings of the diasporic soul. I had the privilege to open for the legendary AfroJazz Musician, Lagbaja during his US tour. I have also performed at Shrine World Music Venue, Felabration Festival, Inman Park Festival, Freedom Park, International Women’s Day Atlanta, Women in Film & TV Atlanta, SouthWest Arts Center, Word of South Festival, Florida, High Museum of Art, Zoo Atlanta among others. Most recently, I was the pioneering TEDx music performer at the inaugural launch of TEDx Atlanta Women (SOAR 2022). I play the acoustic guitar and the Yoruba talking drum. I was honored with the inaugural Women4Africa UK 'International Woman of the Year' award for my role behind and in-front of the entertainment scene promoting Africa. As an actress, I have a vision of bringing to life- authentic and empowered African female characters in both African and Western storytelling. After my Masters in International Relations (Nottingham University), I got my feet wet in musical theater. I started off as a vocal ensemble cast of select Broadway Musicals. In Atlanta, I played a multi-role and was cast as the African Queen Mother, Girls’ School Proprietress and Mami Water in 'A Song for Adaeze', a workshopped afrofuturistic musical performed at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival and Atlanta Music Theatre Festival. I produced and method-acted ‘We3Queens’ a unique live art/human installation performance art project to create awareness of the empowering energy and historical impact of three powerful African Queens who resisted colonialism. Apart from being a Singer/Actress; I am also an Event Curator and Media Personality. After graduating with a Masters of Arts Administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I started curating and marketing arts and music events, promoting upcoming artists through my outfit - Dreamweavers Entertainment & Terra Cotta International. Pre-pandemic shutdown, for about five years, I organized stage performances in an intimate setting for upcoming African Indie artists in Atlanta to showcase their talents. Professionally, I work administratively for local Atlanta Theatre Companies as a Freelance Marketing/Social Media Manager. I am passionate about preserving the art of African folktales and oral storytelling on my youtube channel - ‘Tales With Tosinger’ and perform as a Children’s Storyteller in Atlanta. My children's short story book of folktales- ‘Seven Afrofolk Tales in Seven Days’ is available on Amazon. As an On Air Personality, I co-host the ‘African Experience Worldwide Show’ radio program on WRFG 89.3 FM Atlanta. I also host ‘Diaspora Talks with Tosinger’ on Afrovibes TV. Presently, I am developing and tapping into the healing nature of my essence to make accessible, in the future, African-centered wellness products and services. I continue to be an African cultural ambassador in ways I know how to, this is my life’s calling and mission, to heal and to connect the diaspora to Africa through music, arts & culture. Africa is the origin. Africa is the destination. Africa my Africa, unite and progress, come full circle! Ubuntu! Together we will rise, together we will take our rightful place. Africa is HOME.

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Parminder Vir OBE
Director of Film & TV

Parminder Vir OBE has dedicated over four decades of her distinguished career to amplifying untold narratives and resourcing the skills and imagination of underserved communities. At the core of her mission lies an unshakable faith in the transformative potential of ideas and stories to ignite profound change. Her multifaceted expertise spans African entrepreneurship, award-winning film and television production, and unwavering advocacy for the arts and culture. As CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Advisory Board Member, Vir masterminded and executed a comprehensive entrepreneurship programme, impacting over 10,000 African entrepreneurs across 54 African nations from 2014 to 2021. Her tireless commitment to championing entrepreneurship as the cornerstone for Africa's social and economic advancement continues to inspire action. An award-winning producer and investor in film and television, Vir has more than 30 years of production experience in feature films, drama, and documentary productions for prominent platforms such as the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Carlton Television, ZDF, and ARTE. She also served as the CEO of her production company, Formation Films. Vir co-founded the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN), an alliance of UK Broadcasters for greater diversity in the media. As an investment manager with Ingenious Media, she managed the Ingenious Media World Cinema Fund, overseeing investments in two international film slates valued at £40 million and introducing new investors to the company. Additionally, as a non-executive director with Goldcrest Films, she advised on a £20 million capital fund investment in Oscar-winning and critically acclaimed films and a distribution deal valued at £17 million with Lions Gate. Her passion for storytelling drove her to challenge mainstream narratives in film and broadcast media, generating a body of work that pushed for a more inclusive representation of perspectives emerging from the margins where cultural innovation often begins. She has served as a non-executive director on numerous government boards, contributing to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, the UK Film Council, the UK India Business Council and the UKTI Asia Task Force, influencing international strategies and policies. In recognition of her ground-breaking contributions to the film and television industry and her advocacy for equality, Parminder Vir was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2002. In 2010, she received an Honorary Degree Master of Arts from the University for the Creative Arts. Born in October 1955 in Punjab, India, Parminder migrated to England with her family at the age of 10. She began her professional journey as an arts administrator at the Minorities' Arts Advisory Service and later transitioned to the Commonwealth Institute. Subsequently, she joined the Greater London Council as the Head of the Race Equality Unit for Arts and Recreation. Parminder Vir is married to Professor Julian Henriques, a distinguished teacher, writer, and award-winning film director of Jamaican and English heritage. They have two daughters: Mala Henriques, who lives in Colombia and works with Impact Hub, supporting social entrepreneurs, and Anuradha Henriques, who lives in London and works for BBC Films as a development executive. Anuradha is also the Associate Director of the award-winning film Rocks, released in 2020 on Netflix and the co-founder of Skin-Deep Race + Culture. This London-based multimedia platform works with new artistic talent to amplify race, culture and politics discussions through print, film, and live events.

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Rudolf Okonkwo
Director of Literary Arts

Let's get this small matter out of the way first. I am my grandfather. In this latest incarnation, I am a Nigerian-American journalist and writer based in New York City. I write a weekly column for Peoples Gazette online newspaper, syndicated to SaharaReporters, The Cable, Ikengaonline, Premium Times, and many other news websites. I am an adjunct professor of Afro-diaspora literature and Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City during school sessions. Every Saturday, I host HaveYourSay247, an online audience participation show. And on Sunday, I host 90MinutesAfrica, a news and current affairs interview program covering events across the continent. As if those were not enough, on any other day, once I put on my white gown and dark sunglasses and hang my hammerscope over my neck, I become the host of the satirical show, "Dr. Damages Show," on IrokopostTV online. I have done it for so long that the New York Times, BBC, and Guardian of London have all featured the good doctor. My most recent books are, "This American Life Sef" and "The Secret Letters of President Donald J. Trump, age 72 1/6." I am also the author of a book of essays, "Children of A Retired God." Because of this book, pastors still pray for me to repent and make heaven. A chapter of my memoir, "Because I am my Grandfather," was a finalist in the 2010 John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize Competition. My short story, "The Butcher, the Surgeon & Me," was a finalist in Glimmer Train's 2009 Open Fiction Competition. I just finished work on my first novel, "Tomorrow is Pregnant." During my sojourn, NPR and BBC Africa Service all interviewed me. My works have appeared on Quartz, This is Africa, La Repubblica, et al. Some of my journalism journey's highlights include delivering a keynote speech to the Nigeria Association at the London School of Economics, London, in Feb. 2018. I also gave a keynote Speaker in November 2017 at the First Nigerian Satire Festival, Abuja, Nigeria. I covered the 2017 Presidential election in Kenya; the Chinua Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in 2009, 2010, and 2011; the Christopher Okigbo International Conference at Harvard University in 2007; hosted and moderated an online conference on Nigeria's response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in August 2022. I also organized and moderated a Presidential Debate during the run-up to the 2023 presidential election. I obtained a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, in Ondo state of Nigeria, and an MFA in Professional and Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University, USA. I believe so strongly in the Gospel of Thomas. "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." I cherish my friends more than anything else. I agreed with Rod Mckuen when he said, "Friendship is about being a friend and not having a friend. And so it is that love is about loving and not being loved. The gift that one receives for giving is so enormous that it is almost an injustice to accept it."

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Nneka Mogbo
Director of Events

"If you love music, you have to be the one that opens doors. You have to be the one that builds a bridge on which everybody can be free to walk on. I know that that's my mission." These words from the music artist Angelique Kidgo speak to me, because I love the arts — especially music. There’s something about gathering and creating a sound that can be enjoyed for years. For a long time, Africa has been considered in the light of what can be reaped, appropriated and enjoyed in foreign environments. Our music is one of (if not our only) exports that cannot be replicated by foreign minds. I am a multi-hyphenate creative who advocates for fellow creatives in a wide variety of creative industries, namely music. I have worked with international non-profits and creative agencies dedicated to the advancement of artists and community development. I have curated a collection of literary works originally written in French, Arabic, and English for the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative. I photographed Tunisia’s first all-female DJ academy while researching stambeli — a traditional spiritual music form in Tunisia. This work was featured in OkayAfrica. I specialize in developing content, coordinating events, and working with world-class musical talent. Raised in Georgia, in the United States, I have lived and worked in a number of countries including Tunisia and Algeria. I currently live in Nigeria. A strong believer in work that is inclusive, purposeful, and forward-thinking, I have and continue to collaborate with various non-profits, brands, and creative initiatives driven by women from around the world. Recently, I was a Fulbright Fellow teaching English in Algeria. I am the founder of Úrú Music Collective, a talent management and label services agency that connects artists, songwriters, musicians, and creatives primarily based in Africa and the Middle East with exciting new global audiences. My vision for Africa is for us to realize, value and indulge in the beauty of arts made by us and for us. I want to use the Arts as a bridge for innovating our education, healthcare, tech, entrepreneurship and community systems. This is why I believe organizations such as Zikora are so important. We need to connect our stories, spaces and people to impart change that builds the Africa of today & tomorrow. We deserve to thrive.

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Melissa Chemam

Director of Journalism & New Media

Hi, I’m Melissa Chemam. I'm a French-Algerian journalist, covering African affairs, Global North & South relations, social change and activism. I also write features, in English and French, on art, music, films, culture in general. I have lived and worked in Central Europe, the US, France, the UK, Kenya and the Central African Republic. I have traveled across Africa – from Liberia to Somalia and Algeria, where my family is from. I have almost two decades of experience as a journalist. As a reporter, audio producer broadcaster, podcaster, correspondent and researcher, I have worked for the BBC World Service, CBC, AFP, Reuters, France24 and DW. My reporting has been published by The Independent, Aljazeera, Byline Times, Art UK, the New Arab, Reader's Digest, BBC Culture, UP Mag, iNews and other media outlets. Currently, I report for RFI English. In the area of cultural journalism, in 2015, I started writing my first book, Out of the Comfort Zone, which was centered on British music, art and activism, including a comprehensive history of Bristol’s music, street art and protest culture. I mostly thought of it as a history of British counterculture. Over a span of three years, I interviewed more than 30 musicians and artists, members of the music scene and historians. The book was selected by Rough Trade as one of the 20 Best Music Books of the year in 2019. Between October 2019 and June 2022, I worked part- time as a Lecturer in Cultural Journalism at BIMM Bristol, and in Journalism / Media Production at the University of the West of England in Bristol.  I'm also a public speaker, podcaster and researcher and I write poetry and fiction.

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Cynthia Butare
Director of Zikora's Francophone Africa Network

I am a Rwandan-Swiss communication strategist. For ZIKORA, I will be leading the creation of content in French and spearheading our projects in Francophone Africa. In my professional life, my primary focus lies in capturing authentic moments and narrating stories that showcase the richness of our culture and history. Since living in Rwanda in 2014, I've served as a civil servant from 2019 to 2023, where I contributed significantly to the communication and content strategy of the renowned tourism brand Visit Rwanda. Moreover, I've played a role in the Kigali Cine-Junction Film Festival, an event crucial in linking African cinema with local audiences. Beyond these roles, I've worked as the head of communication and storytelling for VANLELES, the world’s first female-owned high jewelry brand deeply rooted in African heritage. When I'm not working on communication projects, I love to pick up my camera and capture moments. My passion for documentary photography allows me to shed light on narratives that often go untold, emphasizing the depth and diversity of African cultures.

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Vivian Chime
General Secretary

I am a Nigerian journalist. I specialize in reporting on climate change, global health and development. I have worked and freelanced for 350.org, Climate Tracker, Premium Times, CJID, Ripples Nigeria, New Telegraph, Sparkling 92.3 FM, amongst others. My reporting has been supported with grants from the Maternal Figures and African Resilience Network. My stories have garnered international recognition, including the International Center for Journalists Global Health Crisis Reporting award. My reporting was awarded by the 2020 Dubawa Fellowship. In 2022, I covered the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt. Currently, I work for TheCable as a climate change reporter. I am passionate about journalism because of the power it wields in creating a better and functional society. My journalism career started as a student reporter at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where I received a BA in Mass Communications. I trained with The Telegraph, a national Nigerian newspaper. I was a correspondent covering the legislative assembly and an on-air presenter with the urban radio station Sparking 92.3FM in Calabar, Nigeria. I have worked as a freelance reporter for Ripples Nigeria and one of Nigeria’s most trusted online media outlets, Premium Times.

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Mercy Item

Executive Assistant

I am a journalist and radio news anchor based in Nigeria. I’ve worked for Family Love 99.9 FM, 106.9 Gouni Radio and presently, 100.3 Udoka FM, all broadcasting from Enugu State, Nigeria. I was a co-host and analyst of Top 9 Stories before 9 on Family Love 99.9 FM, a program centered on topical socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. I’ve also anchored Health Coach where amongst many issues addressed, radio interviews were conducted with the National Aligned HIV/AIDS Initiative on the increase in ‘HIV/AIDS’ within southeast Nigeria. I have been a producer of a literary art radio program called The Book Show. Currently, I host a program called Southeast iReport, a citizen-reporting platform for residents in southeastern Nigeria to share verifiable and authentic reports, observations and complaints within their localities. The program is used to influence the accountability of public officeholders to the people. Passionate about women’s rights and development, I also host a program called Femini where issues of women in today’s society are discussed. In 2017, I freelanced as a research assistant for the Centre for Memories Enugu, a history and art museum focused on Igbo cultural identity. I was a volunteer lecturer for the National Open University of Nigeria’s Prison Lecture Scheme in 2019. In 2020, I served as media adviser to QuickChop Services in Umuahia, Abia State. I obtained my Bachelor's degree in mass communications from Godfrey Okoye University in Nigeria. I believe that with the strength, innovativeness, and resilience that Africans possess, all Africa needs to do is rise to the challenge of changing the existing narratives that have plagued her for so long.

The Manifesto

THE MANIFESTO

Zikora is Unapologetically African

We believe that:

Uplifting one community in Africa can have a far-reaching impact across Africa

Africans must be at the forefront of the positive impact work on the continent

Africans must be at the head of the table for laying the course of where Africa will go 

Africans must identify what their nations and cultures must value, prioritize and reject

Nature is a powerful presence that can heal, uplift, revitalize and spark inspiration. Therefore, nature should be respected and not desecrated; preserved and not destroyed.

Art and storytelling are crucial tools for positive impact work that will elevate Africa’s position in the global geopolitical arena thus African artists, storytellers, media professionals and journalists have an important role to play in shaping Africa today and tomorrow

To make better decisions related to national and regional governance, Africans must be better informed about the current affairs of their countries, the historical context of the continent’s current conditions, the systematic exploitative extraction of natural and human resources in Africa and the visionary African thinkers and artists of the past and present

Thought leaders, artists, art enthusiasts, researchers, storytellers, community leaders, youth leaders and activists in Africa must commune together in safe, joyful, spaces.

The Movement

THE MOVEMENT

ZIKORA MEDIA & ARTS AFRICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION is galvanizing a movement of visionary thinkers and creators who are all working together for one purpose: to actualize a more just, prosperous, egalitarian, united, conscientious and resilient Africa. Media and art are the most powerful tools in our movement.
This movement is based on storytelling. In our movement, we bring to life compelling and nuanced stories that capture the dignity, humanity and beauty of Africa and Africans. 

Join the movement. 

What We Do
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WHAT WE DO

We tell stories about Africa and people of African descent. We tell these stories through our film productions, our events, our journalism, reportage, literary arts, photography, visual arts and performance art.

 

We achieve this through our

6 CREATIVE BRANCHES: 
Film & TV
Journalism & News Media
Literary Arts
Performance Arts

Events
The Collective Tree

We produce inspiring gatherings that bring together thought leaders, artists, art enthusiasts, researchers, storytellers, community leaders, students, scientists, innovators, groundbreaking professionals and activists to explore and appreciate cultures and arts from Africa and to share ideas for how to make a positive impact in Africa. Our events are highly curated, immersive spaces that are Intimate, Informal and Inspiring.

Zikora’s events are called circles.

We also nurture a collective of storytellers, artists and progressive thought leaders.

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