Works by Onitsha-born Nigerian sculptor and painter Ben Enwonwu, whose body of work showcases an incredibly diverse range of art works, spanning over various mediums. Enwonwu also has a crater on the planet Mercury named after him.
Enwonwu - his father a sculptor, his mother a cloth merchant and his son, Oliver Enwonwu also an artist in his own right - was surrounded by art in various forms growing up and all through his life. Throughout his art career, he dedicated himself to redefining the meanings and conversation surrounding ‘African art’ in the global art world and was once quoted as saying:
“Art is not static…Art changes its form with the times…African art has always, even long before western influence, continued to evolve through change and adapt to new circumstances.”
After first studying art at government colleges in Nigeria, and temporary relocating to England to further his studies at Goldsmiths University and Oxford University, Enwonwu returned to Nigeria in 1939 were he began to teach art at schools in Umuahia and Benin City. In 1948, he became an art adviser to the Nigerian government but left the country again in 1950 to tour and lecture in the United States where carried on working as a freelance artist.
In 1966, Enwonwu became editor of Nigeria Magazine and was also a fellow of Lagos University between 1966–68. He once again worked for the Nigerian government, this time post-independence, as a cultural advisor between 1968–71. He was appointed the first professor of Fine Arts at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, from 1971 to 1975, and was also an art consultant to the International Secretariat, Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), Lagos, 1977.
Enwonwu is also well-known for his illustration of the cover of noted Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola’s novel The Brave African Huntress.
A pioneering force in the rhetoric surrounding the early Modern African Art movement of the 20th century, Enwonwu passed away in 1994. His work is displayed in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos and can also be viewed at the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art.
David Pace is the resident director of Santa Clara University’s study abroad program in West Africa and spends up to ten weeks each year with students in the small country of Burkina Faso, where he has been photographing annually since 2007. This is one of his series Market Day, images captured in Bereba, a village in Burkina Faso.
Our Africa’s tribe of the week: Hausa
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They live primarily in the Sahelian and Sudanian areas of northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, with significant numbers also living in parts of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Togo, Ghana, and Sudan. The Hausa are a minority in every country they reside in except Niger, where they constitute the majority. Predominantly Hausa communities are scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route across the Sahara Desert, especially around the town of Agadez. A few Hausa have also moved to large coastal cities in the region such as Lagos and Cotonou, as well as to parts of North Africa such as Libya. Most Hausa, however, live in small villages or towns in West Africa, where they grow crops, raise livestock including cattle and engage in trade. They speak the Hausa language, an Afro-Asiatic language of the Chadic group.
The Hausa people have a very restricted dressing code due to the fact of religious beliefs. The men are easily recognizable because of their elaborate dress which is a large flowing gown known as Babban riga and a robe called a jalabia and juanni.. These large flowing gowns usually feature some elaborate embroidery designs around the neck. Men also wear colorful embroidered caps known as fula, and depending on location and occupation, may wear a Tuareg-style turban around this to veil the face (known as alasho or tagelmust. The women can be identified by their dressing codes in which they wear wrapperscalled abaya made with colorful cloth with a matching blouse, head tie and shawl.
Hausa have an ancient Chadic/Sahelian culture that had an extensive coverage area, and have long ties to the Tuareg, Berbers, and other peoples in West Africa, such as the Mandé, Fulani and the Wolof of Senegambia, through extended long-distance trade. Islam has been present in Hausaland since the 14th century. Muslim scholars of the early 19th century disapproved of the hybrid religion practised in royal courts, and a desire for reform was a major motive behind the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate. It was after the formation of this state that Islam became firmly entrenched in rural areas. The Hausa people have been an important factor for the spread of Islam in West Africa. Maguzawa, the animist religion, was practiced extensively before Islam. In the more remote areas of Hausaland Maguzawa has remained fully intact, but as one gets closer to more urban areas it almost totally disappears, appearing occasionally in the folk-beliefs of urban dwellers. It often includes the sacrifice of animals for personal ends, it is thought of as illegitimate to practice Maguzawa magic for harm. What remains in more populous areas is a “cult of spirit possession” known as Bori which still holds the old religion’s elements of animism and magic.
The most common food that the Hausa people prepare consists of grains such as sorghum, millet, rice, or maize, which are ground into flour for a variety of different kinds of dishes. The food is popularly known as tuwo in the Hausa language. Usually, breakfast consists of cakes made from ground beans which are then fried—known as kosai—or wheat flour soaked for a day then fried and served with sugar—known as funkaso. Both of these cakes can be served with porridge and sugar known as koko. Lunch or dinner are usually served as heavy porridge with soup and stew known as tuwo da miyan taushe. The soup and stew are usually prepared with ground or chopped tomatoes, onions, and a local pepper sauce called daddawa. While preparing the soup, most of the times spices and other vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin, or okra are added to the soup. The stew is prepared with meat, which can include goat or cow meat but not pork due to Islamic religion restrictions. Beans, peanuts, and milk are also served as a complementary protein diet for the Hausa people.
This is Africa, our Africa !
Gas prices doubled in a year, but as gas controls everything, when fuel prices double, prices for everything double. Ashraf El-Gaaley, a Sudanese blogger, explains that this increase is only a fraction of what’s rightfully pissing off Sudanese citizens. In a country, still entrapped in civil wars, where 75 percent of the budget goes to military forces and less than 5 percent of the budget goes to education, they’ve reached a breaking point with political, economic, and security failures. The government knows this, and they’re clamping down more brutally than usual.
Gurunsi architecture in Burkina Faso and Ghana
Wasma Manour: Single Saudi Women
Since 2008, my photography explored the spatial and material constructions of Saudi women who do not fit the stereotype: women who have chosen to live alone despite their belonging to a culture where male presence, shaping lives and spaces, is the norm. Pictorial conventions in mass media exhibited recurring visual tropes that stereotype and limit Saudi women to being placed under two categories: she is either passive, docile and therefore in crisis, or defiant, rebellious and consequently liberated. The women I’ve met and photographed revealed a complex set of negotiations made to reconcile with their identities and assert their sense of individualism. My work interrogates these two polar existences by showing that the participants exist and function in a wide area between them.
It could be argued by some that my choice of apparatus is politically motivated. Especially since issues concerning Saudi women’s visibility have been a subject of heated debates of two opposing and equally hegemonic headings: ‘liberation’ and ‘domination’. I should clarify that the position I hold both as photographer and citizen belongs to neither camps. The hope and aim of my project from the outset is to bring forth an alternative, and more encompassing, view of what it means to be a single Saudi woman.
This group is of particular interest for visual enquiry, and unlike previous attempts utilized to ‘interrogate’ Saudi women, I considered the potential a multi faceted approach, by giving the women I’ve met and worked the opportunity to discuss (c-type prints, 8” x 10”) and reveal their identities through their narratives, their spaces and their things. My personal investment in this endeavor was encouraged by the diversity of experiences I have encountered. And to illustrate that even through photography, I was able to capture the many realities and the plentiful negotiations that are worked out on a daily basis. The challenge was to aesthetically narrate the multifarious ways in which Saudi women assert their subjectivity. And to create images from interacting with their worlds. The objective, therefore, has been (and still remains) to represent that rich world in a plethora of settings and spaces, and hope to transmit some of its texture and flavor.
– Wasma Mansour, 2012