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Immersive South African metaverse set to debut

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Virtual reality marketplace Africarare, billed as the first South African metaverse, will launch next week, housing a digital land with roots in the African continent.

Developed by Johannesburg innovation company Mann Made, the 3D virtual reality (VR) immersive hub houses a metaverse marketplace that will showcase some of the best of African art creativity, and provide a platform for African artists to showcase their collections.

According to Wikipedia, “metaverse” is a VR space where users in different parts of the globe can interact with each other in a computer-generated environment.

The phenomenon has been increasingly gaining momentum across the globe, having initially gained traction within the social media and entertainment sectors. It has started to enter the mainstream sectors, with companies such as Microsoft looking to build an “enterprise metaverse”.

The trend relies on emerging technologies, such as blockchain, crypto, gaming, VR and augmented reality (AR), to create a 3D universe.

According to Mann Made, Africarare will debut a non-fungible token (NFT) collection from South African artist Norman Catherine, when it officially launches at the upcoming virtual SingularityU South Africa Summit 2021, taking place from 12 to 15 October.

The Africarare immersive experience will reside on “Ubuntuland in virtual Africa”. Using the $UBU Coin, land can be bought, traded, kept or used for various experiences, such as art exhibitions, games or social experiences. Once land is purchased, users can create their own applications on top of it and create their own avatars that can be traded, along with unique skins such as hats, jackets and shoes.

“The NFT world has exploded in 2021, already reaching well over $10 billion in revenue, which is phenomenal. We want Africa to be part of that story and believe we can stimulate new digital jobs for our people in future,” says Mann Made co-CEO Mic Mann.

“There is an entire new generation of talent finding employment and creating new opportunities for themselves in this space. Africarare will exhibit art collections from SA and around the world, and will be an ever-evolving platform showcasing innovation, with multiple opportunities for collaboration and engagement.”

According to Mann Made, a collection of five pieces by Catherine −whose body of work spans painting, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media − will be offered in two separate NFT drops.

Catherine held his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg in 1969, which led to a multi-decade career as one of the country’s most prolific artists. His work is included in most South African art museums and multiple corporate art collections, as well as the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

Africarare will launch with art collections from South African artist Norman Catherine.
Africarare will launch with art collections from South African artist Norman Catherine.

Africarare will exhibit art collections from other South African artists, creating an ever-evolving platform showcasing innovation, with multiple opportunities for collaboration and engagement, notes Mann Made.

“NFTs have opened up a whole new medium for artists to explore. I am very much looking forward to being part of this new and exciting digital era of art marketing. It has opened up a whole new audience for artists, and judging by the exponential expansion over the last year, it will be something that will continue to grow and become more accepted,” says Catherine.

His NFT pieces will be auctioned, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Hartbeespoort Animal Welfare Society. The auction continues until 15October and bids may be made using the Ethereum digital currency.

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