#AfricanCreativeSeries: Affen Oluwasegun Ojo is a Nigerian-based contemporary artist more popularly known as Ojayartworksng. His works have become very popular on social media where he has a large following who appreciate his unique black portraits of African women.
Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?
I’m a Native of bayesla state, Nigeria, I was brought up in Lagos, I started painting at a very young age, I discovered my talent of painting while I was in primary school, then I was later enrolled in roadside local art shop where I got to know about the basics of art.
How did you came to pursue a creative path?
Well, it all started when I discovered that I could draw, it all started by me recreating comic characters and a couple of pictures, then I was able to grow into it, I knew art was a part of me and something I loved doing then I decided take it as career path and create a niche for myself.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
My favorite piece has to be The Bantu Knots Piece, the piece has an interesting history, it is a piece that speaks about the African culture especially the women, Many people aren’t aware of the history behind the popular bantu knots hairstyle. The hairstyle features lovely small, coiled buns sprinkled throughout the hair. The style has been worn traditionally for centuries by countless women of African descent.
What are the central themes of your work?
The central theme of my works is majorly the Black culture, which relates to African culture – This is one thing my paintings talk about from the colours used to the fabric used too, which is the Ankara fabric that signifies the African culture.
If you could sit down and have a meal with one artist/designer/musician in the world, who would it be and why?
It has to be Benny Bing because he is my favourite artist and he’s someone that really inspires me a lot, so an opportunity to meet with him is something I’d really cherish because he is one person whose works has contributed to my growth.
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?
Well like I said earlier, I was born and brought up in Lagos, Nigeria which like they say is the business capital of the country. It is the state with the highest combined ratio of all the tribes in Nigeria and one of the most populated city in Africa, and I still stay in Lagos. The environment and culture of the people made me carve out my niche as an artist that focuses on the Black culture.
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?
For me, contemporary art can play a major role in this age, because based on the experiences it is something most people can relate to, also we can see that this new generation of youths in Africa are working on new ideas to transform the economic landscape of the continent, this same group are increasingly focusing on the creative aspect of the economy, also how culture develops at the local level. For example, we see a lot of entrepreneurs that want to see local cultural scene prosper and how it connects with their brands and personal interests.
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?
From my perspective as an independent artist, I’ve seen that there are couple of obstacles to overcome as contemporary art transcends to a global stage, Firstly, there is not yet a fully established infrastructure for the art market, most of the independent artists like me have to simultaneously produce work also work as their own agents. So, there is a need for a stronger institutional base for contemporary art in Africa, one of the key elements to making this possible is working together. This idea brings up a strong and thriving art community that has a voice of its own rather than it being dictated to.
When you are not painting, What other interests do you have?
Apart from painting, traveling is one other that really interests me, I’ll really love to tour the world to also learn about other culture and the people there, who knows – I might get inspired by a few sightings.
I grew up in the serenity of Jos Plateau. Beautiful mountains. No ethnic divide. As pupils and students we lived on mangoes, tomatoes, oranges, guava, raw sweet potatoes and carrots. We were never hungry because Jos Plateau people had a philosophy that as long you’re entering a farm to source for what you will eat, it was not trespassing.
Jos is also hugely cosmopolitan as a result of the tin mining that occurred during colonial times so
It seems as if a new audience is about to get introduced to Nollywood. What would you like them to know?
The Nigerian film industry is huge and have been serving audiences with compelling stories since the birth of what we now know as Nollywood. I’d like people to know that the industry is getting bigger and better and apart from the big feel-good films we are serving the world, there are other filmmakers they should research and look out for their films. Filmmakers like Abba Makama (Green White Green, The Lost Okoroshi), Nodash Adekunle (The Delivery Boy), CJ Obasi (Hello, Rain), Ishaya Bako (4th Republic), etc, are making enthralling alternative cinema.
When and how did making movies become an integral part of your life?
I was still in film school when I made the short film Mummy Lagos, which is probably Nigeria’s only entry into the Berlinale Talent Campus. That was 2006. The film was such a hit at the festival that a writing mentor asked me if I wanted to work with the BBC. They were coming into West Africa for a big-budget series. This was Wetin Dey.
He linked me up with the iconic John Akomfrah and David Lawson of Smoking Dogs. I had an interview, they saw my sample and that was that. I got into the industry after working on such an important series.
In 2010, as greenhorn filmmakers without a real producer, we applied for the Hubert Bals Fund film grant from theNetherlands and got a digital production grant to make Confusion Na Wa.
The film went on to win Best Film at the AMAAs in 2013 as well as the Jury Prize at the prestigious Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. As I mentioned earlier, it was one of the very first films from Nigeria to be picked up by Netflix and was a reference point for modern African studies in some American universities. Making that film was important to my growth as a filmmaker.
How long have you been directing for?
I started working professionally since 2006 on BBC’s Wetin Dey. I shot my first film in 2010 with funding from Hubert Bals Fund of International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film was not released until 2013 where it went on to win Best Film and Best Nigerian at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards, the biggest accolade for our homegrown cinema. It also won 2014 Jury Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in LA. So directing for me has been for 14 years now but I have only three released films- Confusion Na Wa, The Lost Café and Oloture.
What has been the general reaction to your new film “Oloture” in Nigeria?
Released worldwide on Netflix on the 2nd of October 2020, Oloture became Nigeria’s first major international crossover film, consistently staying in the top 10 of diverse countries like France, Brazil, Iceland, Oman, Israel, Kenya, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Jamaica and over two dozen countries. After a few days of release, it peaked at number 7 worldwide on the planets biggest streaming platform. Such a incredible attention for an African film.
The reaction in Nigeria has equally been massive. Oloture was number 1 for two consecutive weeks! Most people who saw the film recommended it to their friends and also came on social media to talk about sex trafficking and how Nigeria and the international community should take the issue serious. It has been one of Nigeria’s most talked about films, ever.
Is it a true-life story? What propelled you to bring attention to that specific story?
Yes it is loosely based on a true life story inspired by a premium times report and as it is written at the end of the film, other investigative journalists around the world as well.
What would you like viewers to take away from this film?
The international menace of sex trafficking is still huge out there and we need people to channel the anger of how the film ends towards policy makers who have the power to raise awareness and also protect these ladies.
In 2016, Reed Hastings said the most exciting thing about global Netflix is finding local storytellers and giving them a platform. That’s it. We now have a platform to showcase authentic African stories to millions beyond the continent as is the case with Oloture.
What would you say are the biggest triumphs and challenges of the Nigerian film industry?
The Nigerian film industry is a huge global phenomenon and we continue to make giant strides internationally but we have our challenges especially filmmakers who are pushing to tell compelling third cinema stories.
The irony, is sometimes I have to go all the way to Europe to source for money to make a movie because there isn’t a funding body here..
Confusion Na Wa got funding from Netherlands. The Lost Café, produced by Regina Udalor, had support from Norway and France. I have been clamouring for a National Endowment Fund for Arts, an independent federal agency that will fund, promote and strengthen the capacity of artistes by providing opportunities in Artsparticipation.
Investing one naira in the intellectual development of a Nigerian could augment the national revenue more than one naira invested in another field. Many countries provide that opportunity for their filmmakers and I think Nigeria needs to look at that model.
Are there any filmmakers who have particularly influenced your work?
Diverse filmmakers have inspired me but the works of Gaston Kabore, the late Idrissa Ouedraogo, Abderrahmane Sissako, Fernando Meireless and Alfonso Cuaron greatly appeal to me.
What are some of your Favorite African films?
I love Gaston Kabore’s Wend Kuuni and Buud Yam, Djo Munga’s Viva Riva, Fernando Meireles’ City of God, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and a host of other third cinema films.
Sandy Alibo spent the past few years building and promoting Surf Ghana, the very first Surf and skate crew to come from Ghana.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT “SURF GHANA” AND HOW
DID IT ALL START?
Surf Ghana is a collective of surfers and skateboarders based in Ghana founded in 2016 by Sandy Alibo. The collective collects used sports equipment in Europe and the U.S and teach the youth how to skate and surf, organize numerous events during the year to promote the surf and skate culture in Ghana.
For example, The Skatetour Gh, Noise!, MASS, Skate Gal Club, are our signature events (for us and made by us). This year, we’ve just started to create a program to develop job opportunities and we team up with brands like Jameson, MTN, United Nations, etc.
It all started in March 2016 in Busua, a fishermen village in the Western Region of Ghana. We met Peter, Ben, Justice all surfers. We started an Instagram account to showcase this beautiful area of Ghana and tell the stories of these new athletes. They received a lot of good feedback on social media about this initiative from Ghana but also from the diaspora living abroad. And with a little elbow grease, we started some surf lessons and skate lessons with the local community.
WHAT IS THE GOAL BEHIND SURF GHANA?
We use the practice of extreme sports as a driver for diversity in education, social inclusion, and empowerment of the youth. Surf Ghana is a voice of diversity that pushes a narrative of freedom and self-expression creating a counter-culture, a platform for the Youth. Our collective also wants to improve physical and mental health. For example in Ghana, life expectancy is currently 63 years, and in Europe, it is 81 years. We think skateboarding and surfing can offer full-body workout and reduce major health problems in Ghana like diabetes and obesity. Also, we create a platform for local artists to promote a culture of tolerance, respect, and celebrate African young creatives.Finally, we teamed up with talented local artists like Art Soul Kojo, Ahmed Partey, David Alabo, Awo Tsegah…
Our main goal is to create a sporting ecosystem that could benefit sports athletes and Ghana as a tourist destination. Plus, our next project is to create the first skatepark in Ghana in 2020: A safe space to practice sport and to connect the youth through art.
WHO ARE THOSE INVOLVED IN THE SURF GHANA PROJECT?
We can count today 25 active members based in Accra, Busua, Krokrobite, Kwahu, Kumasi. They all practice skateboarding or surfing and they also contribute as filmmakers, photographers, writers, artists, journalists, carpenter, mixologists, etc. Joshua, Justice, Kwaku, Addy, Mensah, OG, Sandy, Kuukua, Lauren, Jovita, Harmonie, Sarah, Anastasia, Ria, Ben and many more.
Moreover, we have implemented the process of design thinking in our collective (zero hierarchy, brainstorming culture, test and learn the process, WhatsApp group culture) to grow faster and try a new way to work in Ghana that can directly benefit the youth and help them to be a better entrepreneur. Spmething like a youth leadership program, maybe ?
TELL US ABOUT WOMEN AND SKATEBOARDING IN GHANA?
Skateboarding is new in Ghana. And in the past 5 years, less than 10 girls tried to practice it regularly. Despite the fact that our events were opened to everybody, girls and women didn’t seem interested.
Therefore, seeing this, in June 2019, Sandy Alibo (Founder of Surf Ghana) and Kuukua Eshun (a Ghanaian writer and filmmaker) decided to create the skate girl club, an initiative to empower women through skateboarding. The main goal is to connect creatives women and improve their wellbeing. The access to the club is free and the organization offers skateboarding lessons and also different art workshops (tye and dye tee-shirt, water painting, gardening workshop, nail art) and activities like yoga, hula hoop, soul sister circle, etc. We count now more than 60 active members who come regularly at our monthly meet-up.
This project is a success, we received so much support and positive feedback about this initiative.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE BIRTH OF SKATE TOUR GHANA?
The skate tour is our annual road trip that we plan with 20 Skateboarders, filmmakers, photographers, event managers, web developers, etc.
With the help of the tour, we get the opportunity to meet all kinds of children from different towns that have different backgrounds. We are trying to build a community that children can rely on. For our last trip, we taught up more than 1000 children how to skateboard in exactly 12 days. In the past two years, we toured in Busua, Cape Coast, Cape three points, Takoradi, Abonom, Accra, Kumasi, Peki, Ada, Akosombo, Ho, Keta, Ada, and even Lomé.
We believe, this project has a huge positive impact in the Ghanaian community and above all has encouraged the youth to practice sport to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing. Moreover, we believe traveling is the best way for Ghanaians to discover their own truth.
HOW DO WE GET MORE WOMEN TO PRACTICE SPORTS IN
GHANA, AND IN AFRICA?
For example, the number of attendees at the Skate Gal Club keep increasing and prove than Women-only spaces are a necessity. This, because they provide an opportunity where women can talk about anything from skateboarding to mixology, from fashion to domestic violence and more, all in a “safe space”.
However, for this project, we aren’t attempting to change Ghanaian’s mind about feminism; we’re creating a space where all women can talk about whatever the subject might be.
We also noticed that in Ghana, many women find physical training in the presence of men to be intimidating. Plus, we think that creating this kind of welcoming, inclusive, safe spaces could be handily accomplished by providing exclusive places for women and girls to train.
HOW DO YOU EXPECT SURF GHANA TO IMPACT WOMEN IN
SPORTS AND IN GENERAL?
Our collective craves a space to call women, where they don’t have to feel threatened, hit on, talked over, or mansplained to. Where they can learn from each other, feel positive and get inspired.
We hope that with this project, we can create a better equal representation of women and men.
Through extreme sport, women practice being open and authentically themselves, we think that we help give them the courage to feel more comfortable in Ghana, knowing that a skate gal club is here and got their back.
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 througha 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 whatare 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.
Sho Madjozi will be sharing the stage with Black Eyed Peas and Diplo as they are set to perform at BUDX during Super Bowl LIV weekend.
The Super Bowl LIV will take place on February 3rd at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, United States.
Along with Madjozi, two other South African “Kings of Culture” – Karabo “Poppy” Moletsane and Moonchild Sanelly – will join 200 influential creatives from over 20 countries in a curated jam-packed itinerary of imaginative activations including being a king of music, art, fashion and sports together with electrifying live performances and unforgettable collaborations.
“It’s such a privilege to be invited to show the world’s creatives the vibrancy of African music,” the starlet said in a press statement shortly after the announcement was made
In representing Mzansi’s creative voice, joining Sho Madjozi is Illustrator and street artist Karabo “Poppy” Moletsane. She will be stamping her unapologetic expression and her Afro-futuristic visuals at the official live BUDX Art activation by customising sneakers, coinciding with the biggest sporting event of the year: The Super Bowl LIV weekend
International influencers at BUDX are also in for an unfiltered taste of African Imagination from the innovative mind of Moonchild Sanelly as she curates content of her BUDX experience. Moonchild’s signature blue hair, poetry-turned-rap and spectacular stage performances have earned her 1000s of fans internationally, including Beyoncé who included Sanelly on her album “The Lion King: The Gift”.
“African creatives have a unique voice, style and edge with a worldwide influence. Budweiser “King of Beers” is excited to have identified exceptional culture shapers from the continent. We have created the BUDX platform for these Kings to claim the spotlight on the world’s biggest stage while sharing their inspirational stories,” said Thomas Lawrence, Marketing Manager of Budweiser Africa.
BUDX is taking over a hotel in South Beach with a series of curated events and performances for the “Kings of Culture” from around the world. Influencers and trailblazers spanning diverse cultural fields that include art, music, fashion and sports will join Budweiser’s global creator community BUDX. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity enables “Kings of Culture” to claim the spotlight on the world’s biggest stage, tell their stories of ambition and collaborate and network with the world’s top creatives to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to claim the spotlight on the world’s biggest stage.
MoyoAfrika has decided to take you on a journey through Africa, through its many and diverse talents, by offering you a series of interviews with young creatives on the continent. We want to show you the diversity of our cultures, the innumerable talents on the continent and how our young people use new technologies to showcase their creative minds.
Africa has a youth bulge; at least 40% of our population consists of the youth. Creativity and innovation are the best tools the youth have at their disposal to chart a new path for their respective countries. Our main goal is to showcase the upcoming artists and give them the exposure they deserve.
For the first interview, we met Ouattara Moussa Idriss Mahaman as known as O’kiins Howara. He is an Ivorian, self-taught photographer and student of communication. His main working tool is his smartphone.
Some sculptors need a ton of marble or steel to get creating. Laetitia Ky, an artist based in the Ivory Coast, just needs some wire, thread, and her own hair. When we talk about art, we introduce ourselves in an unlimited space: there are no rules about content, nor matter, nor tools. innovative hair sculptures of Laetitia Ky it makes us expand the look towards a new concept.
Having amassed over 250,000followers on Instagram, Ky explains, “Thousands of people can say the same thing without it having the same impact. What makes the difference is the way you say it. Art makes it possible to reach more people because it finds an original, particular way to speak about the subject so that many people will linger.
Her Instagram posts range in emotion and topic, from a playful light bulb to a pistol meant to symbolise her opposition to gun violence.
Meet Sean McCollet born in Johannesburg and raised in Cape-town, Sean McCollet’s is television presenter for the SABC 1 show Instapreneurs – a reality show that follows the lives of modern-day public figures who have created a brand for themselves online.
He’s also an artist manager and publicist who has managed the likes of Boity Thulo, Pearl Modiadie, Khanya Mkangisa, Lehasa Moloi and more.