Set in an alternative African future, Trust is the story of Moraa, a young activist who travels back to her ancestral homeland, Wahengaland, to visit her ailing grandmother. Upon her arrival, Moraa is entrusted with the powerful Wahenga necklace to save their ancestral homeland from the clutches of the corrupt Uncle Max and his destructive corporation, Max Industries. Moraa learns about blockchain technology and uses it to save her community from ecological and cultural destruction. inspired by Kenya’s radically decentralized pastoralist cultures such as the Maasai who have been long threatened and distorted by the colonial ambitions of a centralized state. Through the eyes of the young activist Moraa, the cold alienation of Max City is contrasted with the freedom and trust of Wahengaland.
Moraa is brought to life through the groundbreaking graphic novel Trust developed in partnership by Chief Nyamweya, an artist and storyteller, and Anne Connelly, a Canadian blockchain educator, investor, and our Blockchain Faculty member here at SingularityU Canada.
Through the eyes of a young African woman, the Trust graphic novel is a blockchain learning tool unlike any other which innovatively uses storytelling to educate and inspire African youth to see a future powered by blockchain.
Opportunity on two fronts
“Blockchain’s greatest potential is in Africa, both in terms of the technology and the people building it,” notes Anne Connelly, “Africa is a continent full of exponential growth and potential, light years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of mobile payment systems. Most of the population relies on their mobile devices.” Given the many long standing and systematic issues African countries face, adding blockchain within their existing systems can make an exponential change to how ordinary people can live their lives.
A tale of two passions
The Trust graphic novel sprouted from an unexpected suggestion by Anne’s mother on writing a graphic novel for blockchain education. “I have to give full credit where credit’s due,” recalled Anne. “She told me I should write a graphic novel one day, and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing as I had never read a graphic novel nor been into superheroes.” Slowly but surely, Anne came to the realization that turning a creative project such as a graphic novel into an embodiment of two of her greatest passions (blockchain and helping emerging economies) was a brilliant way to engage with a largely untapped audience. And that’s where Trust was born. “The novel is the outcome of combining Anne’s passion for blockchain education and my love for visual storytelling,” shared Chief.
Stretch goal: One million African youth
Blockchain remains a relatively modern form of currency exchange, and as the years pass, the mantle for unlocking the benefits of blockchain technology lies with the next generation: the children. We often hear the notion that our fundamental systems here in Canada should be made by Canadians, for Canadians. Similarly, it’s more critical than ever that the people building these blockchain solutions in Africa are Africans themselves, so that it’s developed to work by and for the people who actually live there. This is the fundamental goal for Chief Nyamweya and Anne Connelly. “In order to train the next generation of developers, we want this graphic novel to reach 1 million African youth”, said Anne, “We look up to characters we identify with, and much the same way, the Trust graphic novel aims to inspire these kids to realize that they can change the systems they live in. One million children, who may know nothing about blockchain, can have the opportunity to be excited about the potential of blockchain technology by characters that look just like them.”
Although this is a project focused on African storytelling elements, it’s not limited by any geographic borders. Rather, this novel is an opportunity to share African stories with the rest of the world. Anne muses that “everyone’s goal in crypto is to increase adoption. The rising tide lifts us all, and if we can spread adoption, it’s a win for the whole blockchain community.”
What’s next? / On the horizon
Anne and Chief finished funding their project this fall with the support of an incredible blockchain community in Africa and around the world. The graphic novel is set to release online in early 2021. As accessibility remains a core component of this project, the novel will be free to access online. However, their vision doesn’t end there. The duo are now raising funds for a full-length animated video of the novel that will launch on Instagram’s IGTV, working with local social media influencers in Africa to increase the film’s reach.
How can you help?
Their goal of reaching one million African youth is ambitious, but possible. You have the opportunity to aid Chief Nyamweya and Anne Connelly in this journey through your support.
If you also have connections to networks across Africa, including any African influencers who can support the amplification of this novel once published, and publishers and education networks to increase the amount of children can get their hands on a digital copy of their graphic novel, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.