May is Africa Month, and the African Union’s theme for this year is ‘Arts, Culture, and Heritage’. Forever Family just launched its service offering that records the existence of African families. Obakeng Kunupi is the founder and creative mind of the Forever Family e-zine and family directory. His intention is to unite Africans through their rich family history.
“Forever Family is about building connections between families and sustaining them for the future development of Africans,” explains Kunupi. “If we know where we come from – who we are – we know where we are going. Documenting the African family strengthens the family foundations and creates a cohesive unit.”
According to Kunupi, many African families do not have an official family tree similar to those kept by traditional Europeans and Americans. “The African heritage is passed on verbally from generation to generation. It is not easily accessible for the younger generation of Africans, mainly because they live in the cities and not with their elders in the rural areas. As such, the services and products of Forever Family are tools for Africans to make it easier to have each family recorded.”
Forever Family not only records family history but also captures family photographs. “The family directory captures the clan name and the story of how and where the clan originated. It records stories about the family, memories of the elders and dreams of the youth.” The product is web-based, but Kunupi plans to develop it into a fully-fledged digital platform with its own mobile app.
The digital platform is easy to use. Once registered, Forever Family sends a questionnaire to the user. The answers make up the content of the family profile. The second step is to pair the family with a professional photographer who will capture the family in images at a location of their choice. “I see the products and services we offer as a way to create a conversation between young adults and the older generation.”
“Furthermore, it is a tool to restore the strong and positive image of African families that are often distorted in the media.” Kunupi also emphasises that, although Forever Family is centred around African families, any family, regardless of ethnicity, can register in the family directory.
“Culture and heritage begin with unity and collectiveness,” Kunupi concludes. “I draw a lot from the African philosophy of Ubuntu – I am because we are. It helps us build, think, and plan better as a collective. As Africans, we have come a long way and are starting to show support for each other’s businesses. Yet, I believe we can be more structured in our efforts to develop the African continent.”
“The seven principles of Kwanzaa comes to mind: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). These principles drive the conversation towards developing the continent through a people-first approach. As Africans, we can do so much and make it profitable by being the ones that drive the change we want to see.”