Africa Refocused: A Collaboration Between NEWF and National Geographic
"How do you change the story? You change the storyteller."
Noel Kok
National Geographic Explorer and NEWF co-founder
Telling stories of Africa by and from the perspective of African people.

While African people have been sharing stories about Africa’s wildlife and natural heritage for centuries, the dominant storytellers in global conversations about Africa’s environment have historically been people who are not native to Africa. National Geographic Explorers Noel Kok and Pragna Parsotam-Kok created Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) to refocus these stories to ensure that the stories of Africa are told by and from the perspective of African people. The Africa Refocused program expands the reach and impact that Noel and Pragna have achieved through NEWF to further train and elevate African nature, environment, and wildlife storytellers.

NEWF offers professional development, capacity building, mentorship, and networking opportunities through convenings such as the annual NEWF Congress and NEWF Fellows Summit, as well as NEWF Labs that provide specialized training such as dive certification, cinematography, music composition, and science communication that enhance storytelling. The Africa Refocused program supports NEWF in offering these opportunities and more across the continent.

NEWF Fellows
African countries
films in production
story programs

Latest Stories

"Our vision is that the stories of Africa that advocate and celebrate the protection of her natural history are told by a connected network of visual storytellers, organically led by African voices. And my dream is that that vision is realized."
Pragna Parsotam-Kok
National Geographic Explorer and NEWF co-founder

Training Underwater Storytellers

The Sodwana Bay Storytelling, Research and Dive Center — affectionately called “eKhaya,” a Zulu word that means “home” — will host NEWF Fellows participating in specialized skills labs including dive courses and cinematography workshops. In addition, the center will support the local community by providing facilities for swimming lessons, film screenings and discussions.

Impacting Conservation Through Film

Africa Refocused supports a vibrant community of African filmmakers who are changing the way people see Africa, telling nuanced stories informed by their own lived experience, and inspiring communities to protect Africa’s nature and wildlife. Their work has been recognized at international film festivals, and has introduced global audiences to the power of African stories — all told by African people.

Convening Storytellers: NEWF Congress

Now supported by Africa Refocused, NEWF’s signature annual event, NEWF Congress, brings together emerging and experienced filmmakers, storytellers, scientists and conservationists. NEWF Congress provides a platform for them to network and engage, advance and enrich Africa’s film industry with an increased pool of diverse storytellers, and celebrate Africa’s natural heritage through film. Watch the video here.

Meet the Team

National Geographic Explorer, co-founder and Executive Director

Noel Kok

Noel is co-founder and executive director of NEWF. He is an ideator and storyteller passionate about creating access and capacity building, and refocusing the narrative of Africa to how the stories of Africa are told and who tells them.
Story Lab Lead

Wambui Waweru

Wambui is a Kenyan writer, producer and director. Her love for publishing, both as a writer and editor, lends strong storytelling experience to her role as Story Labs lead for NEWF. Her work centers around the enhancement of Fellows’ story development to produce compelling films.
Cinematography and Post-Production Lead

Thuku Kamau

Thuku is a filmmaker specializing in cinematography and post-production. He lends his skills and creative talent to NEWF both as the lead on technical labs, which includes elements of peer-to-peer mentorship and curriculum design, and as a content creator.
National Geographic Explorer, co-founder and Executive Director

Pragna Parsotam-Kok

Pragna is co-founder and executive director of NEWF. Passionate about representation and female mentorship, she places great value on the power of community and its ability to bring stories to life for nature and her people.
Communications Lead

Stefanie Titus

Stefanie is a writer, editor, impact communicator, scuba divemaster and the former director of an ocean initiative. She channels her passion for amplifying African voices, particularly those of women, into her position as communications lead with NEWF.
Dive Labs, eKhaya Storytelling, Research and Dive Centre

Silindile Mbuyazi

Silindile is a scuba divemaster, instructor and shareholder in eKhaya. Inspired to make a difference and share her knowledge of the ocean, she leads NEWF Dive Labs in Sodwana Bay and hosts educational community cinema screenings, swimming lessons and dive training for local youth.
Operations Lead

Marcia Buwa

Marcia is an award-winning South African composer, musician, and sound engineer with formal training in jazz and a background in corporate team management. With her vibrant energy, she started as an intern and now uses her brand marketing experience to lead special projects and operations for NEWF.

Thobile Maphanga

Thobile is a dance practitioner, scholar, writer and assistant curator of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. She started with NEWF as a freelancer at its inception in 2017 and has grown with the organization, sharing her skills in administration and logistics.

Photo credits (from top of page): NEWF, Mark Thiessen, NEWF, Qiniso Dladla, Jamila Janna/NEWF, NEWF, Pragna Parsotam-Kok, Leigh Vogel, Elke Bertolli/NEWF, Jamila Janna/NEWF, NEWF, Noel Kok, Pragna Parsotam-Kok, Rebecca Hale, Luyanda Shabalala, Rebecca Hale, Aphiwe Mame, Fritz Tyson Kariuki, NEWF, Thomis Sweet-Harvey

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