GUAP Interviews: Jermaine Craig – Founder of Kwanda, For The Isolation Issue [@Jermainecraig] [@JoinKwanda]

Destinie Paige

Jermaine Craig is The Founder of Kwanda, A Modern Collection Pot For The Black Community

Over the last few months, the Covid:19 lockdown has affected the lives of millions of people all over the country. However, in the midst of the fear and confusion, came an army of young creatives who came to entertain, inspire, and motivate the masses. 
This cover is called the ‘Isolation Issue’ because it was created in the thick of the Covid:19 lockdown. We worked with talented photographers to shoot individuals via face-time and had the opportunity, to speak to them about the impacts of Covid:19 on their creativity. We had the chance to interview and feature Jermaine Craig, who is the founder of Kwanda – which is a modern collection pot for black communities.

Credits: Destinie Paige @onlydestt

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Jermaine Craig. I’m British Nigerian and my work is focused on using technology and transparency to organise collective financing within and for black communities on a large scale. I’m building a company called Kwanda – a modern collection pot for black communities.

What inspired you to do what you do?

I don’t know that there was a single thing. I’ve always been called to advocacy, I’m sickened at injustice, I’ve loved technology and futurism since I was young, and from an objective point of view, I think black communities are the most vibrant, inventive and creative so they naturally spark my curiosity. I selfishly want to invest heavily in those communities and see what radical changes black people bring about in the future. If I had to point to one thing, I’ve always been very inspired by political leaders who had the integrity to stand for their country’s people. Kwame Nkrumah, Haile Selassie, Serêtsê Khama.

How has covid:19 affected your work?

My work was birthed along with the same timelines as covid:19 so I can’t say exactly how it has affected it, I just know that it’s proven my adaptability early which I think is a crucial need If I’m to do my work effectively long after covid:19 has passed.

What was the biggest challenge of working from home whilst in self-isolation?

Throughout my career, I’ve worked from home (as a freelancer or sole business owner). That said there have been some challenges. My home is designed as a creative space. If I’m not working I want to be outside observing, discussing, and meeting people. My home is typically for sleeping and working. Now there’s no opportunity to go out, work and creation is constantly staring me in the face and it’s hard to break away from it.

On a day to day, how do you balance a personal and professional life, especially now that you’re working in quarantine?

I schedule personal life into my calendar. I have times I block for an ambiguous activity that’s entirely personal. It’s the only thing that’s working at the moment. Since the quarantine, airplane mode on my phone has become a tool I use to switch off and begin shifting the balance.

What are some of the highlights/successes you’ve had most recently?

I’m doing work that serves people first so the highlights keep coming. Recently (and still in progress) we organised food assistance to homes across West Africa that have been critically affected by the lockdowns, and every time somebody received that support they were generally shocked. It was as if the world surprised them and was a little less harsh than they had judged it to be. Seeing footage of their reactions and hearing their prayers, that was a big highlight and big success for me.

What’s next for you on your journey?

Prior to the lockdowns I had secured some accommodation in Lagos, Nigeria, and was planning to relocate, so I think Africa is next for me. I want to explore Africa and imbue that in my work. I like to go where life takes me when we speak about the ‘journey’. My day is well planned, my life isn’t.

What would be your advice to other creatives, struggling to main creativity and motivation in isolation?

It’s difficult to give advice right now. Some of us need to let go of creativity and motivation for a while and sit through that. My advice is to let go and sit through whatever presents itself to you, there’s a job to do on the other end of that.

What have you learnt about yourself and the world whilst in isolation?

I’ve learned that I’m pretty self-sufficient. I purposely fought against social media, distracted working, FOMO, work dependence, and all these modern ills when there was no reason to, and so mentally I’m able to withstand this period of isolation quite well. I’ve learned that the world has a kind and giving spirit, it’s just a shame we need a crisis to unearth that.

How do you hope our society will change for the better after COVID -19?

I hope more people work on things that they believe truly matter. I hope we’re all stronger and fearless as we march on into the future and the challenges that are yet to come.

Check out the GUAP Arts & Culture section, to discover new art, film, and creative individuals.

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