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Photo by Ejatu Shaw.

This Dreamy Photo Series Questions the Intersection of Being Black, British & Muslim

We catch up with Sierra Leonean-Guinean artist Ejatu Shaw's contemplative photo series.

Poly- is an honest and thought-provoking photo series that discerns the internal struggle many of us experience—making sense of our given identities while discovering who we truly are.

Ejatu Shaw, a 21-year-old multidisciplinary artist and architecture student at University of Edinburgh, is the brain behind the project. She flexes her various editing techniques to produce unique and impactful images that allow the viewer to intensely experience the thoughts and feelings of the subjects.


Shaw says she started Poly- when Reform The Funk asked her to explore her Black-British-Muslim identity.

"Made up of many different identities (British, Fulani, Muslim, West African—specifically Sierra Leonean and Guinean), the project made me realize that I often struggle to have a firm understanding of myself and my place in all the communities I belong to," she says.

"Poly- explores the conflict I have with my identity whenever I try to connect with my Fulani roots outside of the confinements of Islam (a religion that 99 percent of Fulani people follow), and my struggle and failure to meet both the religious and cultural requirements of my tribe due to my British identity and values."

The artist notes that throughout the project, she used polymeric materials, including plastic bags, cling film, plastic containers and trash bags, to highlight that her identity feels "synthetic and not true" to her.

"The properties of these materials mean they cannot easily be destroyed, the same way I cannot easily rid myself of Islam or my Fulani culture. Plastic cannot break itself down naturally, and instead pollutes our oceans and landscapes. Burning plastic releases toxic fumes," Shaw explains.

"Every time I try to reinvent my identity to suit my values, every time I try to break down the polymeric chain that is my cultural and religious upbringing, nothing but toxicity comes from it and I end up feeling as though I have no identity at all. Throughout the project, my mother and grandmother serve as reminders that the Fulani identity is the only identity I'll ever have both culturally and Islamically and I should never steer away from it."

Shaw says the crescent—a significant symbol in Islam—is in every photo to show Islam's continued presence in her life and identity. "Islam's influences extend beyond theology, affecting day to day cultural practices within the Fulani community."

Although the younger members in Shaw's community relate and connect with her conversation around this conflict of identity, she mentions that the older members, including her parents, interpret Poly- as an homage to her Fulani culture.

"However it is far from that," she says. "I am, in fact, in the process of questioning both my culture and religion, currently feeling myself depart from the two more and more."

Take a look at Poly- by clicking on the slideshow below, and keep up with Ejatu Shaw via her website and on Instagram.

Photo by Ejatu Shaw.

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"Ancestral Manifestations" by Alexis Tsegba. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Meet Nigerian 'New Media' Artist, Alexis Tsegba, Whose Work Explores the Intersection of Nature & Technology

We speak with the digital artist about the Afrofuturistic themes in her work, exploring culture through technology and her creative influences.

As a 7-year-old growing up in Benue State, Nigeria, Alexis Tsegba, loved watching her teenage cousin draw natural, flowing pencil strokes to create comics. But when she asked him to teach her, he pushed her aside with a scoff and a "No!". Later, he offered her his mentorship in exchange for payment. But headstrong and determined, Tsegba picked up her own writing utensil and a sheet of paper and began meticulously sketching out what she remembers as one of her first works.

At 15, she remembers painting water-colors, and at 18, she moved on to acrylics. Despite studying law at the University of Reading, it wasn't until completing her Masters in Creative and Media Enterprise from the University of Warwick that she realized the infinite artistic possibilities available to her.

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Photo of Nnedi Okorafor by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Nnedi Okorafor's Highly-Anticipated Memoir, 'Broken Places & Outer Spaces,' Is Here

This is the first work of non-fiction to come from the prolific science fiction writer.

Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed Nigerian-American science fiction, fantasy and magical realism writer, has released her first work of non-fiction, Brittle Paper reports.

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected is her memoir chronicling the journey from being a star athlete to facing paralysis—to her eventual creative awakening. Published by TED Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint, the prolific author gives us a powerful example and guide of how our perceived limitations can have the potential to become our greatest strengths.

"I've been writing this on and off since it all happened," she explains in a thread on Twitter. "The original manuscript is over 300 pages. I *needed* to record every detail while they were fresh, so there are parts of this book that I wrote while I still wasn't quite able to walk."

Here's a snippet of the synopsis from the publisher below:

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Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun in "Noyé." Photo: Ben Depp.

The 13 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Makwa x Maraza x AKA, Joeboy, Zlatan, Nadia Nakia, TOBi x The Game, Yilian Canizares, Aewon Wolf and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Trump Plans to Extend Travel Ban to Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eritrea & Three Other Countries

Here's what the travel ban could mean for these nations.

On Tuesday it was announced that Donald Trump's administration plans to extend its infamous travel ban to include seven new countries, many of them in Africa.

The countries named on the list, include Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and the Eastern European nation of Belarus. Politico first broke the news.

According to The Washington Post, the move would likely not be a complete ban on citizens looking to enter the US, however it could place various visa restrictions on some government officials and on those seeking certain type of visitor and business visas.

Some nations could also be banned from participation in the diversity travel lottery program, which grants green cards. Trump has threatened to sack the program in the past.

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