The Artist Is Present: Williams Chechet Utilizes Pop Art To Remind You To Know Your History

Meet the Nigerian multi-hyphenate creative whose work speaks for itself—check it out with OkayAfrica.

Williams Chechet is a multi-talented pop artist, graphic designer, illustrator and muralist who's one to watch. The Nigerian creative is influenced by his culture, history, afrofuturism, afrobeats and hip hop—and this screams at you when looking at his body of explosive work.

He seamlessly speaks through his vibrant visuals. Chechet's past work and due props include a series centered around leaders in Nigeria, a renowned celebration of heritage called We are the North on Northern Nigeria, a CNN Africa feature, a mural for Hard Rock Cafe Lagos, live art on MTV Base, album covers for M.I., Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, clothing with Pop Caven and an American streetwear brand we can't disclose just yet. More recently, he's collaborated with Cameroonian pop artist Fred Ebami on an icon series.

"Disconnect" from Willams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

Born in Kano, raised in Kaduna and schooled in the eastern part of Nigeria, Chechet has moved around quite a bit. One thing has remained true no matter where he's been: art has always been a major part of his life. His story is a testament to the importance of being lead by your passion—he's been drawing since he was a kid. After reluctantly studying building engineering for 3 years, he switched gears and started anew with industrial and graphic design. He recounts schooling for a total of 9 years. While in school, he received a call from M.I. to design an album cover and this would be the beginning of his relationship with Chocolate City Records as a resident freelance artist. The opportunity would open many doors.

Today, he excels in a Nigeria where he doesn't always have the right tools to print or art materials to use. He excels on a continent where people have only recently started revering the creative industry. He reminds his viewers the importance of knowing their history and introduces Africa to the world by shedding light on his home. He states it is important to, "Hold on to Africa while embracing the West."

His creative process is one rooted in not planning things out. Like many artists, Chechet is often triggered by images. He's studied the work of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kaus, Shepard Fairey, Ben Enwonwu and Lemi Ghariokwu. He intensely views the world around him. "Inspiration meets you when you are in the process of creating," he says.

The sky is truly the limit for this artist. He has desires to explore sculpture and photography and is set to exhibit in Marrakech and has a solo show in the works later this year.

His buoyant work is sure to draw you in as it has done for much of Nigeria—check it out below.

"Hadassah" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Adamu's Weekend" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"BillioNaire" from Williams Chechet's "Royal Niger Company" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Ham" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"16th" from Williams Chechet's "Royal Niger Company" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Excellence" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"PoP from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Rouge" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

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Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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This EP Blends the Afro-Brazilian Rhythms of Bahia With Bass Music

Get into Telefunksoul and Felipe Pomar's Ré_Con Ba$$ EP.

Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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