A powerful way of conveying knowledge, infographics do not only transmit facts, but also opinions, attitudes, and sometimes even preconceptions. As any other communication tool – media reports, film, photography, literature – they carry within the asymmetrical power relation between the narrator and the subject of the narration. “Until lions have their own historians,” Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has said, “tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunters.”
For Making Africa, the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) created five infographics addressing different aspects of contemporary Africa: design on the continent – schools, studios, practices –, climate change, the shifting face of Africa from pre-colonial period to today, mobile telephony penetration, and internet connectivity. Founded in 1999 by Saki Mafundikwa, ZIVA seeks to fulfil an obvious educational gap in the continent. The institute’s name, ziva, is also a Zimbabwean Shona word that translates to “knowledge.” Mafundikwa coined the term “vigital” to best describe the school’s mission of training students in visual arts using digital tools. ZIVA’s main vision is to propagate a new visual language using digital tools, whose inspiration would be truly African and created by Africans themselves. To date, the institute’s two-year intensive program has successfully graduated 251 students, all of them now working in the design industry in Zimbabwe and abroad. The institute’s impact on the local industry has been quite profound.