We are spotlighting the work of five Afro-Latinx whose work you should be listening to. These five poets are an excellent starting point for understanding the power of poems as social commentary and gaining perspective on the Afro-Latinx experience.
Yomibas, is a painter best known for his hyper-realistic style. Born in Kaduna State, Nigeria, in 1995, his early work is a compilation of random photographs that depict his expressions of his experiences and observations. He developed an early interest in portraiture, exploring the power of the medium with the aim of connecting his viewers to his subjects.
Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?
My full name is Abbas Yomi Segun, Born on January 15th 1995 in Nigeria and raised in kaduna state, the northern part of Nigeria. I have no background in the arts, wasn’t taught it, I learned from my life experiences. I believe our world is made of art and signs and if we know the language the world is made of then we can read our way through. Art has always been a way for me, fun and growing up it flowed effortlessly, I pretty much left everyone with a piece of art which is also a piece of myself. Money wasn’t a drive for me, thou I made little cash which helped fund my life. I literally have no idea when or how I started, I had no dreams as to what or who to become, I’ve always kept an open mind and pretty much accepted life as it happened, made my first oil painting in high school which later became know and was used for an entry. I realized there was something for me in the arts after high school, seeing the internet came through and all I had to do was make art and put this works out there, how to achieve this became my process, I had no mentor or anyone to hold my hands and say this is the part, i kept failing, learning and growing. The process became my drive.
How did you came to pursue a creative path?
My creative journey started professionally when I stumbled upon the works of Teenez Martinez on a newspaper, a highly known Nigeria pencil artist who became someone I placed on my mental pedestal and I slowly followed his steps without his knowledge and after couple emails and dms, he finally agreed to meet. We became friends and then it grew with time. So my creative path started when I started ripping out people’s works from magazines, articles and newspaper and also the internet, being a visual platform made me realize with dedication and consistency I can play my part on the art world.
Describe your evolution as a visual artist?
Evolution is key, like the famous Quote by Stephen Johnson “we build the tool and the tool builds us” so I believed in the process not only for the desired goal but also for who I will become in the process. It’s a great one but I enjoyed eating dirts and having those sleepless night because it created the desire to grow, to evolve and to become.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
I don’t have a favorite piece so far, all pieces are extensions of myself and when put together one can make sense of my whole experience. So yeah, no favorite piece till date.
What are the central themes of your work?
My works revolves around Imagination, consciousness and the individual journey as the sole cause of the phenomena of his life. I try to portray my conscious experiences in portrait form, it’s a deliberate and conscious effort to force to viewer to see through the lenses I gave. For me, ones I have made a piece of art, then I’ve it to remind myself of what I felt when I contemplated the idea, and if I can show you then it makes the experience less acute. Like Williams Blake clearly states “Man is all imagination and all things exist in the human imagination, all that we behold thou it appears without , it is within in which this world of mortality is but a shadow. So I believe everything is taking place now, so it’s my job to pause for a minute and capture the experience. I believe it’s always the artist who senses that the future is now and thereby uses his works as a ground to prepare for tomorrow, the artist has a unique outside perspective and he is not like stuck to the empirical data’s of our society. He makes unique connections.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Are you working on any particular projects?
I think the base of my paintings won’t change because it says a lot about who we are as a culture and also what we have chosen to forget, so as I remember and awake to this states, I will continue to transcend them in my work but I think the base will not change which is “man is all imagination and all things exist within man, the outside world are just an extension of what takes place within him” I just rounded up my Awakening series which consisted of 12paintings completed over the course of 2years, so am open to seeing what lies ahead for me, so for now no precise projects, just collaborations. I believe as I open myself to experiencing the outside world, something will sip in for my next project.
If you could sit down and have a meal with one artist/designer/musician in the world, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, I will take “Neville Goddard” and “Williams Blake” I have been studying their works for years now and to have that come true will just be a dream come true, besides they are dead. But to come down to contemporary structure, I would love a meal with Cj Hendry, Kehinde Wiley, Marco grasi and Mike Dargas, Just to mention a few, I chose them for the simple reason that their works have greatly impacted the way I do things and if you look closely, you will see their influences in my pieces.
Tell us a bit about where you were born and where you are living now. Are all these places important to your identity and to your artwork?
I was born and raised in Nigeria, the northern part, born in a small town called Barnawa. Had a simple upbringing, supported greatly by both parents, am the 2nd amongst 4kids to whom all were boys. Am the only one who reflected a desire for creation, was quite the task as one can’t get attention off oneself being the only creative in the house. Environment played a key role in my career part but as time went by, I realized that one has to tune into another frequency if one is to succeed or keep the fire burning, as we all know the mindset that goes with being an artist, mostly neglected and looked upon as the most irrelevant beings in society. So as I grew up, I had to make my environment within my mind, I listened to positivity 24/7 , kept a very little circle and avoided the blind desires of men who don’t know who they are. This played a key role to my process, self reliance is key to the artist and also to any career path that one chooses to follow.
Africa is a new economic frontier where young people are shaping Africa’s future. What do they want to see, hear and read that will inspire them to embrace African arts and culture?
I think art is very individual considering the fact that none can or will ever be able to think, do or act like we will. So every artist tells a story if we only we listen, no work or art is irrelevant. So I strongly believe the culture, society and minds are eagerly awaiting the manifestation of the artist, no Audience comes with expectation to see a play, they only come to be marveled, inspire , impressed or to be critical and if the play is good, you get an applause but if it’s not they won’t come back, so yeah, the artist must love solitude and believe that he/she is creating because everything with depth has a profound truth and the world awaits and hungers for truth
It can be argued that Africa’s time is now. How do we prepare to take full advantage of the opportunities that are constantly unfolding in front of us? More importantly how does the African contemporary art establishment position itself to emerge as a ‘global player’ whose voice can be heard and respected?
I will advice on this, we have to adopt the infinite mindset and not the finite mindset, the solution is to range against the dying of the light with art, with poetry, with great music and to not go quietly into the good night sleep at the moment end of the day. So the infinite mindset is one that is not about victory or losses but about a continuous struggle of adventure, curiosity, bewilderment and one of awe in which we try not to win or be first but to be, to create and to inspire, if we make this our mantra and keep in the back of our minds, not only will there be a revolution but we will set the foundation to which others will and can stand. As Allan Harrington said “we must never forget that we are cosmic revolutionaries not studious conscripted to advance the natural order that kills everyone, having invented the gods, we can turn into them” or as Williams Blake clearly states “in the universe, there are things know And there are things unknown andin between there are doors” so in my opinion if the artist is to create a genuine work he must be willingly to open that door which leads to truth and virtue.
Africa is often portrayed as a starving continent, which is ignoring the fact that centuries before colonizers began depleting the region of its resources, Africans had advanced food systems in place. When enslaved Africans were taken to the Americas, they brought their culinary wisdom with them, forever changing the way we cook and consume food.
Since the 17th century, When Africans were forced into slavery in the New world, they and their descendants have had a round impact on what Americas grow and eat. Watermelon, Okra, Yams, and some peppers are all indigenous in Africa.
Here are seven foods that originated in Africa that remain popular today:
The continent of Africa is bursting with festivals and music celebrations preserving our heritage and culture. Throughout the whole continent, colourful and vibrant festivals range through musical, religious, cultural and harvest to name just a few. Some of these festivals are popular and attract crowds from around the world, but all offer a distinctive form of celebration that highlights the wide array of African cultures and customs.
If you plan on journeying to the Motherland this year, Here are festivals from various countries around the continent you shouldn’t miss when you visit this magical place.
Bouake Carnival – Ivory Coast
Each year in March, natives and tourists join together to enjoy music and eat traditional foods during The Bouake Carnival. The celebration, held at St. Michael’s Cathedral, is known as a celebration of life and friendship. Tourists and natives join together to enjoy great music, eat traditional foods, explore the cultural markets and join in the well- known street parties and parades. So if you are looking for a hot spot, or maybe even a little culture shock, you should definitely go and check one of West Africa’s largest Carnivals, Bouake Carnival.
The Festival Of Roses – Morocco
If you plan to be in Morocco in May, then head to theFestival of Roses held in the small town of Kalaat M’Gounna. The city is known for its beautiful landscape of pink Persian roses, which is why locals celebrate the flowers. The three-day celebration filled with food, dancing, and singing attracts more than 20,000 people every year! The streets are then covered with a blanket of roses for shows and concerts of Berber groups. You can of course also shop in the souks or even learn how rose water is made. On the last day of the festival, one of the most beautiful women in town will be elected as the Miss Roses of that particular year.
Nyege Nyege – Uganda
Nyege Nyege stands for peace, love, and abundant joy, for underground music and musicians in Africa, according to event organizers.
The four-day international music festival aims to showcase “The Pearl of Africa” through music and art.
Zanzibar International Film Festival – Tanzania
Established in 1997, the Zanzibar International Film Festival is East Africa’s largest film and arts festival, exhibiting the latest and best films and promoting films, music, art, and design.
In addition to nine straight days of music and film screenings, attendees have the chance to attend discussion panels and workshops.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival – South Africa
Affectionately referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. The festival is famous for its star-studded line up of local and international artists.
Last week we had a chat with Okiinshowara from Ivory coast, We continue our series of discoveries of African creatives. We are pleased to feature Derrick O Boateng from Ghana. He is a contemporary Art photographer who was born in Ghana and resides in Accra.
Portraying beauty is one of Derrick’s main aims, because he strives to change perceptions about Ghana and Africa in general through his Art.
Hi, can you introduce yourself to our readers… Who is Derrick O Boateng?
I am Derrick Ofosu Boateng. I was born on the 2nd of June. I attended Kumasi High school in the Ashanti Region of Ghana and I am currently a student at the University of Ghana business school. I am a fan of Soccer, music and watching movies.
How did your encounter with photography come about?
My encounter into Photography was quite Unexpected. I realized I was into photography when followers on Instagram kept commenting under my post that I had Good images and should keep it up.
How powerful is photography in changing people’s perceptions about Africa?
Photography has always being a Tool to interact with different people in different places. The stories told with photography are exceptional, emotional and live. Some Photographies portray Africa in a positive way and it strongly changes the perception and mindset about Africa. I have had so many testimonies on the fact that my photography has changed their perceptions about Africa and it feels so great.
Can you talk us through a specific example of a photo you have taken and its “back story”? What inspired you to take this specific image? What specifically about the situation you witnessed did you want to capture?
“The story about this man and lots of people I have listen, who have similar stories inspired me to
create this picture.”
I spoke to Baba Abdul Mohammed about his cloth business and why he came to Ghana. Baba Abdul Mohammed is from Niger and he is in Ghana to make a better living to reach his family in Niger. I asked him why he came to Ghana and he explained to me that making life better in His country is a bit difficult as compared to Ghana. He also said, aside from his cloth business, he does sell herbal medicine and beads.
He ended saying he finds peace and freedom living in Ghana.
Is there a particular story you are trying to tell with your photography?
Who or what influences you?
My main mission as a photographer is to change the bad perceptions and mindset about Africa. Also, I want my pictures to promote love among People. I also want to showcase the rich and extraordinary lifestyles and cultures of We Africans which the world has not recognized.
Where do you see the future of photography heading within the continent? What is the future?
Photography in Africa is growing with Time and it looks great. A lot of young people have started fond interest in it and they are changing the world with their images. I see African Photographers winning all big competitions and changing the lives of people.
What is your creative process like? Where do you start? Where do you get your ideas?
My Creative process is quite simple and easy. Firstly I find concepts and it normally comes from the environment, People, music, and imaginations. I search for the needed materials for the
pictures. I then look for preferable models and locations for the pictures. I personally direct the
models and shoot them. After the shoot, I sit quietly and edit
What is your particularity and your unique selling point as a Ghanaian creative?
I think my unique selling point is the type of images I bring out and the inspiration People get from. A lot of people see my uniqueness as clock blocks and others also think the use of children which are fine.
According to you, what is the way for creative Africans to make themselves known and make a living from their art?
I think the best way to get known as a creative person is to work hard and be very consistent on your work. I believe everyone should have a particular style as a creative in order for his works to be known everywhere. Branding and interacting with people who appreciate your works is also very important
What is it like to be a young creative in your country and what are your daily struggles as a young Ghanian creative?
The Problem as a young creative is no interest and value from the People in our localities. My struggles are difficulties in finding some needed materials for a project and a lack of enough capital to finish a project.
Do you know the Ankh’s power?
Ankh is one of the most common and important symbols of Ancient Egypt.
It represents life in the language of Ancient Kemet (Land of Blackface) and portrays both the mortal life and the afterlife. It also took an important place in many pharaoh’s reigns from representing faith, royalty during Amun’s and Sun during Akhenaton. Furthermore, it was believed that deities gave them Ankh to represent their power to sustain life and revive human souls in the afterlife.
The symbol was always associated with air, water (which was believed to regenerate life) and Gods because every of their representation was associated with an Ankh in their hands or as ornaments.
This powerful and spiritual device got many conflicting descriptions and has many interpretations.
It represents female energy with its crown and male energy with its shaft.
2- Divine female energy
It also for others, visually looks like the reproductive organs of a woman and validates its meaning of life, with the crown that represents the wombs to the fallopian tubes; to the shaft being the birth canal.
3- Symbol of technology and electricity
Many historians believe that electricity isn’t a nowadays discovery, Egyptians may have already used electricity years from now and the Ankh might have been in some way able to conduct electricity. Isn’t it crazy?
4- Portal of eternal life
For others, its circle depicts the sun God Ra and it represents the portal to many dimensions to eternal life.
5- Tuning fork
The Ankh is perceived as a tuning fork that can create a frequency or produce a sound that has healing or meditation attributes. It can also allow to connect ourselves with higher consciousness and raise knowledge in our minds.
6- One of the funniest theory is that it was used to open ancient beer bottles.
Where do they find this kind of inspiration?
Sometimes represented in gold or blue, its representation matured with time. It is also very popular in Western culture and by people of African descent in the United State to claim their cultural identity.
This symbol crossed centuries to remind us that we come from Kings and Queens, we come from Great Gods and fierceness, we come from knowledge, technology, and pride.
Being a historic symbol and spreading a spiritual message, some were calling it genuinely « The religion of Life », mother of all religious beliefs with a purpose to celebrate life and respect every form of life, whether its flora and fauna. It is a divine sign that didn’t lose its actual force but became more of a symbol for black identity, spiritual appurtenance, meant to express freedom and ownership of our own path.
Some purists are mad that its now sacred aspect isn’t respected, that anybody can get access to it, now it is «normal» or not «avant-garde» to wear one, even as a tattoo of an Ankh. Moreover, they want you to introduce it to your journey and how you see the world, what it teaches about life and afterlife, really embrace the sacred power of the sacred Ankh, also a form of getting back to our roots, to our ancestors. As some use it to sleep at night and hide it under their pillow for good energy and favorize sweet dreams about being lost in the middle of the ocean, the energy Ankh generates is infallible, powerful and needed for more generations to benefit.
Ankh is still a powerful tool, even if its actual purpose was maybe lost in hecatombs years ago. Indeed, people are still working on collecting pieces of information to bring its powers back. Nowadays, its energy is most of the time used in necklaces, ring, even inspiring artists through paintings and sculptures.
At the end of the day shouldn’t we celebrate life, as the Ankh does? Live and enjoy every day fully, embody every wrong, every right, drive the ancient energy of the Ankh to nourish your purpose, your strength!
Have you ever wore one? Tell us how does it feel and what do you want to express with your ankh.
Written by Yao Boni.