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The Best African Art In 2014

Okayafrica looks back at the best African art in 2014, featuring work by Wangechi Mutu, Emeka Ogboh, Omar Victor Diop and more.


2014 had no shortage of exceptional images and stories from the African art world. Longtime favorites of ours like Wangechi Mutu, Hassan Hajjaj, and Chris Saunders continued to perfect their trade with exhibition openings across the globe. Morocco opened its first contemporary art museum. Street art took over Accra's streets for the fourth year running. The Brooklyn Museum made a commitment to African art with an ambitious new long-term installation. 1:54 in London, Europe’s leading contemporary African art fair, drew in work by over 100 of the Continent's top artists. LagosPhoto returned for an outstanding fifth year of photographed bliss in Nigeria. First Thursdays became "a thing" in Cape Town. Everday Africa brought their instagrammed images across the Continent all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge. London paid its respects to Nigeria's late provocative photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Mother Of George filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu made his solo photo exhibition debut in NYC. We even got to know a new face in textile, Kenyan-American illustrator/designer Jamilla Okubo, and Adire icon Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye. With a new year just upon us, we looked back at some of the best African visual art 2015 had to offer.

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Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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