Trust, a graphic novel and motion comic, imagines an alternative African future 




Freehand Studios -an African digital arts and social impact studio has released TRUST – a graphic novel, motion comic and NFT collection created by Chief Nyamweya, Anne Connelly and Sarah Mallia.

Set in a fictional African Republic, TRUST is a gripping story of a young whistleblower, Moraa, who uncovers a plot by one of the most powerful men in the country to illegally acquire the oil-rich Olorur Valley in Wahengaland. With the help of her community and blockchain technology, she goes on a perilous journey to protect her homeland – the last autonomous region in the country – from cultural and ecological destruction at the hands of the ruthless oligarch, Max. Along their journey, they learn about the power of blockchain to organise, fundraise and transform their future.

“Young Africans are hungry for a vision of an African future rooted in trust, sustainability and freedom from unaccountable state power. It is the desire to satisfy this hunger with a story of a practicable grassroots alternative that led us to create this transmedia project called ‘TRUST’,” said Chief Nyamweya, the co-founder of Freehand Studios. “We wanted to use the power of storytelling to speak to readers and viewers about blockchain technology, inspiring them to see a decentralized future rooted in justice and ecological sustainability.”

The TRUST Graphic Novel is co-authored by Chief Nyamweya, a Kenyan writer and illustrator best known for his masterfully masterful black and white illustrated graphic novels and Anne Connelly, the founder of Exponential Technologies, a company dedicated to blockchain education.

Since its inception in 2019, TRUST has received overwhelming support from the blockchain community from across Africa and around the world. They have partnered with blockchain education providers from Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa,  as well as several blockchain media outlets.

“We have received support from blockchain communities including Algorand Foundation, Interchain Foundation, Gitcoin Grants, Consensys, Cardano Foundation, Conflux Network, the Graph Foundation, the Foundation for Art and Blockchain, and Africalia, a sign that there is support for TRUST’s message from across the industry. Remarked Anne Connelly. “This is evidence that graphic novels and motion comics can be used as both entertainment and educational tools that allow readers and viewers to use visual elements to support the synthesis of complex concepts.”

Launched at an event that attracted Nairobi’s vibrant tech and creative communities, the novel and motion comic are being distributed freely worldwide via online platforms including webtoons, YouTube and the Trust Website.

“In order to reach more audiences across the continent, we decided to adapt the graphic novel into a motion comic which is being released along with the graphic novel,” said Sarah Mallia, co-founder of Freehand Studios and producer of Trust Motion Comic. “We are proud to have worked with prominent Kenyan actors such as Melvin Alusa, Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Nick Ndeda, Sitawa Namwalie, Tana Kioko, Elsaphan Njora and Aroji Otieno whose voices have brought the pages of this graphic novel to life and made this a truly African story.”

Freehand Studios aims to inspire young Africans to engage in the positive transformation of their societies Anne and Chief’s vision for TRUST is that millions will have access to inspiring and culturally relevant stories that allow them to reimagine their own futures.

A unique NFT collection from the TRUST story Universe is now available while a free copy of the graphic novel is available for download.

Chief Nyamweya is an author, visual artist and co-founder of Freehand Movement: an African digital arts and social impact studio. His work fuses storytelling, Illustration and animation to create visions of an alternative African future. Chief was originally trained as a lawyer and chartered accountant before taking the unlikely decision to pursue a career as an artist. In 2016, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Singularity University in San Francisco and in 2019, he was listed among the Business Daily Africa’s top 40 under 40 Men. The 36 year old father of two has since published a graphic novel Art of Unlearning (2019), subtitled ‘how to discover your passion and share it’, as well as directed several animations such as Big Brother is Coming to the Farm which explores the dark side of the digitization of food production and Uli and Tata’s African Nursery Rhymes a children’s animated series. His latest project, a trans media story called Trust (2022) set in a fictional African nation he calls Wahengaland, is set to be released in September 2022.

Anne Connelly is passionate about harnessing blockchain and decentralized technology to transform the lives of people in developing countries. Anne is Faculty at Singularity University, teaching global leaders how exponential technologies can solve problems that impact over a billion people. She has been an active part of the global blockchain community since 2012, working with Decentral, Ledger Labs, and ixo. She is currently consulting to companies including Uulala, Bunz, and DLTvc. She has engaged with the Ethereum community since 2014 and has both participated in and judged at hackathons including Blockgeeks, Consensus, and EthDenver, and has spoken at conferences including Ethereal, TokenFest, Empire Fintech, and at numerous meetups in Toronto, California, New York, and Cape Town.

She previously worked with Doctors Without Borders Canada in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and currently serves on their board of directors. Anne has a Bachelor of Life Sciences from Queen’s University, an MBA from McMaster University, and a Fintech Certificate from MIT. She was honoured as one of CBC’s 12 Young Leaders Changing Canada and one of the Fifty Most Inspirational Women in Technology in Canada.

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