Why Mansa? I have experienced what it is to be Black on three continents. I was born in England to Nigerian parents, lived in Nigeria till my teenage years and now am raising my own family in America. This is what I know to be true: Black culture manifests in many different ways in all of these places and beyond, and yet Black culture is often framed, packaged and disseminated by gatekeepers who don’t live it and don’t know it in its full scope and breadth.
Black culture in many ways is culture. It over-indexes in influence when it comes to music, sports, art, fashion and entertainment in all of its forms, and yet in barely any of these industries do the creators and creatives within those industries control the finances and therefore the power and positioning of what they create. By that I mean its distribution.
As a young boy living in Nigeria, what I saw locally as a representation of myself was curated, governed, and distributed by people who looked like me. That was a powerful thing to experience, but even back then the influx and influence of Western entertainment was in full effect. That reality has only been supercharged by the advent of streaming and its growing global influence.
Distribution through streaming presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to start to reclaim the curation of Black culture by the creators of it for and to its global audience. The effect this will have is to deepen the global scope of what Black culture is, which will in turn benefit world culture as it breaks down stereotypes and exposes the world to the many layers and levels of arguably the most influential culture on the planet.
It’s time to go beyond the tip of the iceberg to the entire thing itself. Mansa’s goal is to partner with the creatives and curators who are responsible for creating that iceberg. They will be our partners and co-beneficiaries as we distribute to the world a streaming celebration of the totality of what global Black culture actually is.
— David Oyelowo