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Kenyan-Based Artist Cyrus Kabiru Brings His Afrofuturist Glasses & Bicycles To Cape Town

Kenyan-based artist Cyrus Kabiru's Afrofuturist C-Stunners glasses and bikes are on view at SMAC Art Gallery in Cape Town 29 Jan - 14 March.

All images provided by SMAC Art Gallery


Self-taught Kenyan-based sculptor/painter/eyewear designer Cyrus Kabiru is a key player in Nairobi's Afrofuturist scene who we first caught up with to talk his inventive bifocals in October 2012. This month, Kabiru, who makes sculptural art from recycled materials he finds throughout Nairobi, is bringing his fantastical creations to Cape Town for his very first South African solo exhibition. C-Stunners & Black Mamba, which runs at SMAC Art Gallery in Woodstock through 14 March, sees the arrival of Kabiru's beloved spectacles (which he says in a clip from Afripedia are inspired by his love of boobs), along with the introduction of a new series of re-imagined fixed gear bicycle sculptures. The End of the Black Mamba is a memorial of sorts to Kenya's fixed gear "Black Mamba" bicycles, which are becoming increasingly rare as scooters and motorbikes become more affordable in Kenya. Kabiru's C-Stunners & Black Mamba sculptures and photos are on view now through 14 March at SMAC Art Gallery in Cape Town (145 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock).

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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