Voicing untold stories – 5 min with Saba Aregai

Got a case of the mondays, huh? We’ve got your back on that and thought we’d help you get through the day with this 5 min chat we recently had with our video curator Saba Aregai who’s been a contributor with us at Stocktown since the very start, for almost 4 years now, submitting her selected video gems that make us proud. Saba Aregai is a video journalist, filmmaker, and photographer from Maryland. She graduated from Temple University (2013) with a Bachelors of Arts in Media Studies and Production and a minor in Geography and Urban Studies.

Accordingly, she attended a school for television production and was immediately ‘turned off by the idea of having so many levels and restrictions when it came to storytelling’. In her opinion everything just ended up diluted – ‘If you have a story, tell the world in the best way you can, a way that feels comfortable and in the realist way possible. Don’t let people interpret and exploit your life for profit or charity, think for yourself and share it through whatever it is you do. And most importantly, tell your community’s story. Don’t let news organizations or whatever define where you come from. A degree or a resume means nothing when you actually come from it. Fight for that’. With the hope to offer a platform to communities and groups of people who ‘may not have the opportunity to express their voices otherwise’ – Saba is a fighter whom we applaud and admire.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Saba— about her work on ’Ras Nebyu talks roots and influence’ a short film featuring DC-rapper Ras Nebyu who talks about his work and aspiration to create a positive and progressive image of African culture. Saba shared her thoughts on inspiration, the creative process behind the video, and the importance of staying true to yourself in the media world.Photo: Mark Morris

Photo: Mark Morris

At Stocktown, we seek to inspire our readers by sharing videos that uncover artifacts of urban culture by publishing videos that wow our crowd, please tell us about your work as video journalist, what triggers you and what inspires your work?

– What inspires me is my family and my community, culture and experience. I grew up listening to stories of immigration and adaptation as well as culture, heritage, and war. Not only did I hear these types of stories, but I am a product of them. My parents raised me without a guide or even a clear idea of what it meant to live in a society where I wasn’t understood or necessarily accepted. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into and I knew that from an early age, so when they spoke about their journeys I listened and asked question trying to put the puzzle together in understanding my own life. I loved every minute of it. Through that I gained a love for history and geography. I am a map wiz. I love to connect people’s past to their present and understand how their location on the map plays an affect in who they are. Also what inspires me to document is the underrepresentation of community members actually and being able to tell their own stories. I want to provide real coverage and produce media that isn’t just looking at a community from an anthropological standpoint, but actually use community members to help craft and steer the content in a direction where they themselves can tell their own stories. It’s hard to do that when you haven’t lived the lives they’ve lived on a daily basis. The current state of media and news is to generalize and report what you observe and because of this, many stories are being diluted and disregarded. Nowadays, a resume beats real life experience and I want to eventually change for myself and others. All of this combined is what inspires me to document.

Tell us about the creative process behind ‘Ras Nebyu talks roots and influence’.

– I think art is a powerful medium and tool because it comes in so many different forms and when an artist can display something deeper than trend and provoke emotion and thought, ultimately contributing to the idea of purpose and being, people from different generations can see their own stories within, no matter when or where this piece was created. I saw that in Ras Nebyu’s vision and how he translated that into his music.

Anything particular message you’d like to convey through this short?

– My whole goal is to provide the viewer with personality and perspective so the only way to do that is getting an artist in their comfort zone. Though I do video interviews for news platforms primarily, with these artist interviews I wanted to take the camera out of the interviewees faces and have a real conversation, not having to worry about the way people will perceive their image or having to worry about a journalist re-writing their words. These are the things they want people to know about them and the things they want to be associated as. For this interview I meet Ras Nebyu at the nearest Metro (train) station between us and we sat on one of the benches as the trains rode by. We recorded the audio interview there. After we were done, I asked him to ride the train with me. I wasn’t really sure about anything as far as look or location. I had one thing I definitely wanted , which is the first shot with the Capitol building in the distance. It’s a really great spot and that’s all I really knew going into this. So we hopped on the train and we talked and I filmed the whole thing. Guerilla style.

What made you go for Ras Nebyu? Why did you decide to make a feature about him?

– Besides the fact that he is really amazing at what he does, I believe he had a story and insight on a subject many can relate too, and he does it flawlessly. He has an immigrant background as well, from the same area as me (the Washington D.C. area) and though we may not have known each other prior, those points gave us a connection. I believe he has the capability to represent many young people and I thought it was important he let his current and future listeners know what it all meant and what he wanted to do with those messages. I was familiar with his music and the impact he was creating in such a short amount of time. D.C is a great city for many things but unfortunately not the best to showcase artistic talent sometimes, so hearing his name around town as well as the internet I decided to look into his work. When I heard and saw the visuals of his work I knew there had to be something deeper. Many people abandon their heritage and culture when trying to hop into the entertainment industry and it takes a lot of courage to keep, let alone incorporate those pieces no matter what stage you are on so I knew he had something to say. Ras Nebyu spoke to me as a person and not just as an artist. I think a lot of consumers are forgetting to ask questions when they listen and watch things. They forget that these artist are human beings and not just spectacles. Besides that, he has a great personality. We laughed alot during the process and it was an overall great shoot and experience for me. It never sucks to speak with kind people.

Good luck with that Saba, I’m certain you’ll make wonders, what awaits in 2014?

– I’d really like to broaden these interviews from just artist to everyday people doing amazing things for their communities. I have a pretty broad definition of art so I’d like to speak to anyone that can be relatable and inspire people to see things and situations differently. Right now, I’m working on projects I really have been wanted to work on for a long time. I’m taking control of my own life, direction, and craft and I’ll see where I end up, I most definitely will continue on this web series.


Visit Saba’s webite  > > sabadocuments.com


Ras Nebyu talks roots and influence


Videographer/ Editor: Saba Aregai

Featuring: Ras Nebyu