Photos

First Look: This New Book Celebrates Women Photographers from the African Diaspora

'Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora' features 100 women photographers of African descent across the diaspora.

DIASPORA—The last book that celebrated black women photographers in all their glory was published 31 years ago. For these black women photographers and creators, that's 31 years too long.


Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora is the inaugural and commemorative book featuring 100 women photographers of African descent across the diaspora. A bi-annual journal will follow suit to represent a collective voice of women photographers of African descent; which will include photographic essays with in-depth interviews and essays that will analyze the work of four to five photographers.

Mfon is the brainchild of award winning documentary photographer, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and critically acclaimed, award winning visual artist, Adama Delphine Fawundu. Crystal Whaley, Emmy award winning producer, is also the deputy editor. Through Mfon, all three women seek to fill a void and create a powerful collective of women photographers, journalists and scholars.

Check out a selection of images from the book and OkayAfrica's conversation with Barrayn on who Mfon was named after, why it's needed now and more below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

OkayAfrica: Why is a compilation like Mfon needed now?

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn: There are women photographers of African descent who have been doing incredible work for many years now. I don't feel like we have gotten recognition. I don't think that we've been celebrated in the grand way that I think that we should. The last time there was an actual book on black women photographers was in 1986. This book will show what we are doing collectively across all genres and across all levels of experience.

I really wanted to make a statement and show an incredible list of 100 women of African descent creating amazing images and telling amazing narratives.

[oka-gallery]

OKA: What was your research process like for the inaugural book?

LAB: My co-editor [Adama Delphine Fawundu] and I are best friends and we've been wanting to do this book for 10 years. But we weren't able to get a publisher then, so last year we took the proposal that we did 10 years ago, we dusted it off and proposed it again to the Brooklyn Arts Counsel—and we got a small grant.

And I told her, "Let's do a hundred!" But she was said, "Oh, that's a little ambitious." Since we're both photographers, 100 women photographers weren't so out of reach. We know who our peers are, we know who our contemporaries are and we travel a lot to Europe and West Africa, so we are checking out what's happening anytime we travel.

OKA: Why did you name the book, "Mfon?"

LAB: The journal is named after an amazing photographer—Mfon Mmekutmfon Essien—who passed away before I got a chance to meet her. I was looking forward to meeting her, because she was in an exhibition that was called "Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers" at the Brooklyn Museum. It was a huge show, it was a big deal and she passed away just right before it opened—it was really devastating. When you walked through the exhibition her work was the first work you saw. It's a huge milestone in any photographers' career to be shown in the Brooklyn Museum, so I was always devastated by that. Soon after the exhibition opened, a lot of the photographers held a vigil for her and it was really beautiful. And she was loved, she had a lot of friends, she was a muse for and support for other photographers—you'll probably see her in other people's work. She was a real communal figure and I always thought about her wondered what her life could have been.

So I was just thinking, "I'm my sister's keeper." I want to bring all of my sisters with me with whatever I'm doing if I can. That's why I decided to name it after her and also with being photographers of African descent, she was Nigerian-American, so she represented continental Africa as well so it was perfect.

For more information on Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora and to pre-order, click the link here. A portion of the pre-order sales will contribute to the Mfon Legacy Grant, which will be awarded to emerging black women photographers of African descent.

Wizkid at Gidi Fest 2018. Photo: Tej/Gidi Culture Festival.

The Significance Of Wizkid's Failure To Perform At Coachella

And what consequences this could have for future Nigerian and African music shows abroad.

Nigeria's Wizkid didn't perform at the 2018 edition of the Coachella Valley and Arts Festival. While leading musicians across genres from all parts of the world climbed the stages over two weekends to provide concert-goers a live experience of their art, Starboy was absent. He was booked, his name was announced in the line-up, and two slots, over two weekends were allocated for his set. But he missed his placement due to "his inability to get US visas" for his band members.

Wizkid didn't just miss this chance. Africa did. Due to the significance of the his set at such a global stage, the Afrobeats movement did. Everyone, from creators, through the facilitators of the art, down to the consumers, everyone missed out on a crucial chance to bring our music to a diverse audience, at arguably the biggest music festival in the world. The timing was right. Wizkid, due to strength of his art, and the efficacy of his deals, found himself as the anointed one from Africa to do that.

Keep reading... Show less

The IAAF Says Caster Semenya Must Lower Her Testosterone Levels Or Compete in Longer Distances

A new controversial set of rules will affect Caster Semenya severely.

South African middle-distance athlete Caster Semenya might be forced to compete in longer distance dashes.

This comes after the International Association of Athletics Federation announced that this Thursday it will reveal new rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism (high levels of testosterone in the female body). The rules, according to a report by the Daily MailDaily Mail, will force Semenya to either take medication to reduce her naturally occurring testosterone levels or move to longer-distance events.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

11 South African Hip-Hop Songs About Weed

4/20 Special: Here are 11 South African songs to get high to.

You can't separate hip-hop and weed. Dr. Dre's debut album The Chronic was named after the herb and the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Quasimoto pretty much made careers off rapping about weed.

The tradition is alive wherever hip-hop exists. In South Africa, weed has been rapped about just as much as the aforementioned artists have. And according to Lord Quas on "America's Most Blunted" from the album Madvillainy, listening to music under the influence of weed makes it sound better.

"Listening to music while stoned is a whole new world. Most cannabis consumers report it second only to sex. And grass will change your musical habits, for the better."

In light of 4/20, we list some South African hip-hop songs, both old and new, about weed. If you're a smoker, these songs could come in handy for you today.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.