Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Hyena & Other Men by Pieter Hugo

'The Hyena & the Other Men' series by South African photographer, Pieter Hugo depicts Nigeria's controversial hyena handlers in a remarkable way.

After a friend emailed Hugo a photograph of the handlers taken with a camera phone and similar images in a South African newspaper, he became determined to find out more about them. With the help of a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Ademola, the handlers were tracked down in a shanty town in the outskirts of Abuja.

For eight days, Hugo travelled with these extraordinary handlers, to understand their lifestyle and find truth to the numerous myths surrounding their existence.
Popularly known across Nigeria as the 'Gadawan Kura' (hyena handlers), this unique group have been ostracized from society for many generations. The general belief in the Northern part of Nigeria is that they are armed robbers, debt collectors and drug dealers who use traditional medicine.
In reality, the Gadawan Kura people are similar to members of a Circus, travelling around the country, performing various acts. The difference being, the star elephants, horses and lions are hyenas, bamboos and monkeys. There is no big show with bright lights and fancy dressed circus girls, but bewildered and excited crowds in little market places and villages.

With much amazement, Hugo describes the relationship between the handlers and the animals as 'paradoxical'. Sometimes the handlers are 'doting and affectionate' with the animals. While other times, they are 'brutal and cruel' says Hugo in his personal account of his experiences.

I've been an avid fan of Hugo's work since his Nollywood series. I admire his innovation and daring creativity. My favourite photograph from the series is the third photograph of the little girl lying on top of the hyena. The beautiful juxtaposition of her peaceful face and the hyena's frightening growl is utterly remarkable.
For more of Pieter Hugo's work, click here.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Anatomy of Beauty ~ Imo Nse Imeh

Imo Nse Imeh is a Nigerian American scholar of African art and aesthetics. Imo's parents hail from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Although he is American-born, Imo’s Ibibio heritage has become a central point of reference and contemplation. Thus the Southern part of Nigeria plays a bit part in his inspiration and vision.

There is something about his art work, that is so out of the ordinary, it makes one look beyond the soft strokes of his brush into the meanings behind the figures and faces. I love how he paints stoic faces and tranquil bodies, paired with tortured forms, leaving the viewer with the notion of pain, but at the same time, survival. Imo explains his art as him imagining the world as comprising a conceptual fattening house, in which the isolated black body realizes trauma and devastation, but then emerges with insight, acuity and spiritual prowess.

For me, it is important to show the suffering that black people have endured through the history of time but it is even more important to show that through such trauma we gained knowledge, power and depth which no one can take away from us. This is why i think Imo nse imeh's work is devastatingly relevant to the world we live in today. It reminds us of where we came from, but at the same time shows us the beautiful places that we are going to.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

BluFunk is a FACT~ Keziah Jones

Hi lovers, i sincerely apologise for the lack of posts. I can't believe its been over a month since i last blogged! I thought long and hard about what material i would use for my 'come back' post but i found nothing that 'spoke' to me. Lazy sunday mornings are for me, the perfect lie in day to do absolutely nothing but listen to good music. 'Sophie's breasts' started playing (one of my fave K.J songs) and i was immediately inspired. I wonder why i hadn't done a post on him any sooner. Not only has this artist created his own genre of music, his style is refreshingly individual, quirky with an African twinge. You can't help but heart this guy.
Keziah Jones was born Olufemi Sanyaolu in Lagos in the late 60s. He is a Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist. He describes his musical style as "Blufunk", 'Blues being the basis of where everything came from and funk being a state of mind'. His sound is authentic, like none other i've ever heard, drawing inspiration from his motherland Yoruba sound and an eclectic mix of old school funk & the classic blues.
He taught himself how to play the piano at the age of 13 and picked up the guitar a few years later and the rest is history. Music, he describes was a form of release, a way to 'free your soul'. He went against his Yoruba father's wishes and took to the streets of London to pursue his dream, his talent, his life. He moved to Paris and was 'discovered' and signed to a French label 'Delabel' in 1991. His first album 'Rhythm is love' was recorded and he never looked back. I have never seen an artist, who delivers, album after album. From his album African Space ship, to Liquid Sunshine, his sound has remained distinct, authentic and real. He single handedly made BluFunk a fact, once you hear it, you know.
He reminds me of a cross betweenJimi Hendrix and Fela with a quirky Pete Doherty flare. I love his laid back funky style, the fact that he's always wearing hats and he acts like he doesn't have a care in the world. Not only does he write and sing, but he paints as well. You can see from watching him perform that music is within him, a part of him. It makes me appreciate an artist more when you can tell their creativity is coming from the soul. It makes it even more fantastic that he is a Nigerian. Loves him. Loves him. Loves him. Below is a short film made by the Blacknerds network on Keziah. Be sure to Check it.

'Nigeria is where I'm from, where I'm going is somewhere else'- Keziah Jones

Sunday, 23 May 2010

~Togo Waves & Road Maps~ Emeka Chucks Alams

"We were traded from the gold coast by Europeans by our own African brothers. This trade has changed our world and reshaped our thoughts. Living by European standards throughout the African diaspora we have forgotten what makes our culture powerful, rich and unique. Here we strive for riches and neglect our families, we smile upon others while wishing for their demise, all things associated with the mind frame of those who began this trade.
Formerly - We would gather in large numbers to mourn with those who mourn and to rejoice with those who rejoice. We have forgotten that we came from a continent where guiding, correcting and rebuking children is everybody’s’ task; a continent with green forests, clean rivers and undiscovered natural resources abound. The continent is love. Still, you dont know or understand. This is my effort to get back to that."- A WEST AFRICAN 

Beautiful, inspiring words by Nigerian American,  Emeka Alams, the designer and art director of Gold Coast Trading Co. Although he was born in America, Emeka fondly says 'in his head, he grew in West Africa'. He started Gold Coast Trading as his medium to show the world the other side of his home.  I 'm drawn to the  vibrant colors he incorporates into his clothes in such a random, unexpected way, its like a breath of fresh air. I love the fact that his vision is clear, once i saw the photographs i thought of Africa but through a different perspective. I think the fact that he wasn't born in Nigeria worked to his advantage, because its always refreshing to see what African fashion means through someone else's eyes. The result of that being an African inspired line with (in my opinion) a 'london boy'/retro flare that gives his clothes a kind of spunky, quirky twist. Can you dig it? Cuz i am certainly digging it right about now. This collection is the Spring/Summer 2010 line called 'Togo waves & Road Maps'. There is something almost poetic about this line, that makes me just want to speak to him, hear about his inspirations, and what he has planned for next. For me, the Gold Coast Trading label is amazing in its simplicity, it is basic yet bold, it is distinct, colorful & fresh~ and i LOVE it.

Ps-  ♥ the different currencies in the shorts pocket. Spotted the N100 & N10 instantly :) xoxo