podcast and music festival

Harnessing the Power of Podcasting to Rewrite Africa’s Story:

Insights from Dr. Thebe Ikalafeng

By Authentic Peace

Peace & Ikalafeng

The opportunity to speak with Dr. Thebe Ikalafeng, the founder of Brand Africa and a leading advocate for a brand-led African renaissance, is one that demands attention. As a global African authority on branding, Ikalafeng’s vision is clear: “When we build great brands, we build a great Africa.” His dedication to this vision was palpable as he prepared to address the SA Podcast and Music Festival, organized by Authentic Peace. The event, which celebrates the influence of podcasting, served as the perfect platform for Ikalafeng to share his insights on the power of podcasters in reshaping Africa’s narrative.

Watch Dr. Ikalafeng share his passion in this video

With over 30 years of experience in branding and marketing, Ikalafeng’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. Born and raised in Kimberley, his career took flight in the United States, where started his corporate career at Colgate and culminating in his role in the continent as chief marketing officer for Nike for Africa. This foundation provided the “hygiene factors” that helped him gain recognition and access to influential circles. However, it is his unwavering commitment to Africa that sets him apart. His creation of the Brand Africa initiative and the annual ‘Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands’ research and ranking of brands underscores his mission to promote African brands.

Ikalafeng’s impressive resume includes awards and accolades that span decades. From receiving the Marquette University American Marketing Association award for marketing excellence upon graduation in 1992 to being named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine, his contributions to branding and reframing the African narrative are unmatched. His work with BLG, a brand-led advisory group, the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA) and particularly, Brand Africa, has been pivotal in shaping the continent’s branding landscape. His recognition with Lifetime Achievement awards by Financial Mail AdFocus and the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa, and honorary doctorates by the University of South Africa and the University of Johannesburg for his contributions to branding further cements his status as a luminary in his field.

According to Ikalafeng, the rejection of African brands by Africans themselves is a significant barrier to the continent’s growth. His latest survey reveals that only 14% of Africans prefer local brands, while a staggering 86% favour international ones, with Nike topping the list overall for seven consecutive years and BBC as the most admired media brand. This preference for foreign brands is reflective of a broader issue: most of the African storytelling, especially in news and current affairs, is conducted by entities outside Africa. This was confirmed by the study by Africa No Filter which established that 6% if foreign correspondents in Africa are not based in Africa. This external narrative often skews perceptions and undermines the continent’s achievements and potential.

This is where the power of podcasting comes into play. Ikalafeng passionately believes that content creators, particularly podcasters, have a unique opportunity to compete with and redefine the stories being told about Africa. He references the success of “Podcast and Chill with MacG,” which boasts over a million YouTube subscribers, as a testament to the immense influence that African podcasters can wield. By creating compelling, authentic content, podcasters can shift the narrative and foster a greater appreciation for African brands and stories.

Ikalafeng’s belief in the transformative power of podcasting is rooted in his extensive experience and deep understanding of branding. He has lectured at esteemed institutions, given keynote addresses at major summits worldwide, and collaborated with influential media figures. His extensive travels across all 60 African countries (including disputed countries and foreign controlled islands in Africa) have provided him with a unique perspective on the continent’s potential and the importance of a unified African identity.

Dr Thebe Ikalafeng giving an opening Keynote at #SAPMF

During our interview, Ikalafeng’s enthusiasm for an African renaissance was evident. He spoke candidly about his vision for a continent where African brands are celebrated and supported, because brands build industries and industries build nations. His life’s work, from his corporate achievements to his branding initiatives, is dedicated to this cause. His adventures, from trekking with rare silverback gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda to summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro, walking the 116km King Moshoeshoe Walk in Lesotho, among his breathtaking adventures across the continent illustrate his deep connection to Africa and its diverse cultures.

The SA Podcast and Music Festival provided a fitting stage for Ikalafeng to amplify his message. As he addressed the audience, his call to action was clear: embrace the power of podcasting to tell Africa’s stories. He urged podcasters to leverage their platforms to promote African excellence and to challenge the dominance of foreign narratives. His message resonated with the audience, many of whom are already using their platforms to highlight African achievements and foster a sense of pride in African identity.

Dr. Thebe Ikalafeng’s insights are not just a call to action but a beacon of hope for a continent poised for greatness. His endorsement of podcasting as a tool for change is a powerful reminder that the stories we tell shape the world we live in. By harnessing the creativity and influence of podcasters, Africa can rewrite its story and pave the way for a brand-led renaissance.

In conclusion, Ikalafeng’s advocacy for African brands and his recognition of the power of podcasting provide a roadmap for a new era of African storytelling. His work continues to inspire and challenge Africans to take control of their narrative and celebrate their unique identity. The SA Podcast and Music Festival is just one of many platforms where this transformation is taking place, and with leaders like Ikalafeng at the helm, the future of African branding looks brighter than ever.

For more information on Dr. Thebe Ikalafeng and his work, visit https://www.ikalafeng.africa and www.brand.africa or follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, and X @thebeikalafeng.

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