Saki Mafundikwa wrote the book on Africa’s graphic design heritage — then opened a school of graphic arts in his native Zimbabwe.

Why you should listen

In his book Afrikan Alphabets, Saki Mafundiwaka includes a Ghanaian pictograph meaning “return to the past” This is exactly what he did in 1997 when he cashed in his publishing job 401(k) and left New York to open the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) in Harare. (“Vigital” denotes visual arts taught using digital tools.)

As a kid growing up in Zimbabwe, Mafundiwaka loved to sketch letterforms he saw in books and magazines, but he didn’t know graphic design was a career option until he arrived in America. "Sometimes you have to leave home,” he says, “to discover yourself.” He opened ZIVA to pay it forward. “The dream,” he says, “is for something to come out of Africa that is of Africa."

In 2010, he made the film Shungu: The Resilience of a People, a compelling narrative of the strategies ordinary people use to survive in Zimbabwe today.

What others say

“It is his hope that Africa can imprint itself on the canon of graphic design.” — Camille Lowry

Saki Mafundikwa’s TED talk

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Zimbabwean designer Saki Mafundikwa has a powerful vision for the future of African art. As the founder of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIWA), Mafundikwa is working to bring African art back to its roots. ZIWA, the first school of graphic design in Zimbabwe, and one of the first schools to emphasize the use […]

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The story of writing in Africa: Saki Mafundikwa at TED2013

February 28, 2013

Saki Mafundikwa founded the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, ZIVA, a Bauhaus-style school focused on African heritage. (“Vigital” denotes visual arts taught using digital tools.) It’s the first graphic design and new media college in the nation, and he wanted his students to understand the power of design–and in particular to understand “the long tradition of writing” […]

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