DURBAN: Over 30 African countries are represented at the Nature, Environment, Wildlife, Filmmaking (NEWF) Fellows Summit and Congress 2024 edition in Durban South Africa.

Executive Director at NEWF, Noel Kok told Botswana Guardian that telling Africa heritage stories has been impactful, thanks to the fellows of NEWF. He acknowledged that it is impressive that most of the fellows are young people who still have a long way to archive rich stories for the next generations. He emphasised that this year's Congress, #NEWF24, refocuses their lens on the next level of professional development for their fellows. The pan-

African organisation has interestingly attracted more people from east Africa as opposed to southern Africa where the organisation has been established, according to Kok.

NEWF believes that part of their mission is to migrate talent from fiction and music productions, to passionate nature and conservation storytelling for the preservation of the planet and her wildlife. This year's Congress features a slate of panels, case studies and workshops that support the vision for African storytelling.

National Geographic Explorer, Storytelling Manager at National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP), Thalefang Charles from Botswana is also in attendance, with five students to benefit from this Congress. He told this publication that they have enrolled 10 students on Wildlife Photography mentorship program to shape wildlife photography in Botswana and give it a professional perspective. He noted that they have thus selected five among them and invited them in collaboration with National Geographic photocamp, NEWF and NGOWP.

Charles said that the expectation is that these students would learn from the discussions at NEWF. “We are certain that spending time with fellow storytellers will earn them invaluable lessons in nature storytelling. They have all been paired with photographers here who will mentor them throughout the Congress,” said Charles, adding that this would help support the shared mission to remove the barriers to entry and build capacity to foster a culture of equity for African nature, environment and wildlife visual storytellers.

Charles is in attendance alongside Angola Country Director Kerllen Costa, Research Director Rainer von Brandis and Guardians of The River podcast creator and producer and NatGeoExplorer Cat Jaffee. They participated in panels and events throughout the congress which would end today (Friday). The event also included a screening of Nkashi with a new special behind the scenes video about the making of the music for the film that features members of NEWF’s Compose Yourself Music Lab.