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Peres Owino Bringing Nobility Back to African Storytelling

Peres Owino, the acclaimed writer behind the docudrama “African Queens: Njinga,” is on a mission to restore dignity to African heritage narratives. 

“There’s an African phrase that says women hold up half the sky,” says Peres Owino.

With twelve Daytime Emmy nominations and a recent NAACP Image Award nomination, Owino’s work is making waves in the industry.

” African Queens: Njinga ” tells the story of Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba, a 17th-century African queen who defied gender norms and fought against European colonialism. Owino hopes that Njinga’s story will inspire viewers to embrace their nobility and dignity, even in the face of adversity.

African Queens: Njinga | Official Trailer |
Netflix

“The energy going into Njinga was that of positivity, and celebration. Who are these women, and why doesn’t the world know about them?” Owino explained in an interview with OkayAfrica. “I’m grateful too that we had the wisdom to say we want female African voices and writers to write this story.”

Owino emphasized the importance of authenticity and collaboration in storytelling. “Collaboration is a huge deal to me, collaborating with the right people who are equipped to tell the story you’re trying to tell… I consider myself an African first… I’m a gatekeeper. I’m representing my continent. I’m taking ownership and filling in a gap for somebody who could not be in this room for one reason or another.”

When asked about her approach to portraying underrepresented historical figures, Owino stated, “Our job in this space as writers speaking for the African, whether it is present or ancestral, is to always make sure the nobility is placed there, where it belongs… I’m not saying create false narratives, but in everything you write, make sure that even when you’re representing the characters that are not likable, you give them their dignity, their nobility.”

Her passion for storytelling and dedication to authenticity has earned her critical acclaim and numerous nominations.

“I hope that we can take our 21st century lenses, put them aside for a minute and just ask ourselves what would it have been like to be living at that moment in time, facing those kinds of obstacles… I hope it inspires. Njinga was a princess, but she grew up in a kingdom that was only ever ruled by men. She became the first queen.”

With several projects in the works, including feature films and historical dramas, Owino is dedicated to sharing diverse narratives and making us curious about one another.

“I believe the job of art is to make us curious about one another… There are always meaningful stories to be told.”

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