Audio

Nigerian Sound Artist Emeka Ogboh's 'Lagos Soundscapes' & 'The Ambivalence Of 1960'

Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh's "The Ambivalence of 1960" complies archived speeches from Nigeria's 1960 Independence celebration.


What happens when one stops thinking of the random echoes, honks and yells that build the soundscape of a city as being forgettable background noise and, instead, redefines them as important narrations that deserve to be listened to. What insight would that conceptual shift bring? Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh has been concerned with questions of listening and hearing, and the audible expressions that fill and characterize cities for a few years now. Concentrating most of his work in Lagos, Obgoh records the soundscapes of the bustling Nigerian metropolis acquiring a collection of sounds rich with sociopolitical complexity.

Ogboh’s interest in exploring Lagos through the chorus of sounds that fill the city came while taking a media class on the audible spectrum taught by Austrian multimedia artist Harald Scherz at the 2008 Fayoum Winter Academy. The class transformed the way Ogboh engaged with Lagos enabling the artist to hear a multitude of metropolitan compositions floating throughout the city instead of isolated noises. The danfo bus drivers yells and cries stopped being simply ploys to fill a vehicle but became vocal mappings of Lagos, the shouts, hollers and laughs that filled market places became sonic examples of the diverse socio-economic make-up of the city. Even the recorded uproar that came when the power cut off while Nigeria played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup shifted from being simply an angered ruckus to becoming honest commentary on the government’s provision of resources.

For the past six years Ogboh has been bringing the audible eccentricities of his city to museum exhibitions around the world. His most recent project The Ambivalence of 1960 is being showcased at the Casino Luxemburg as part of the museum's exhibition Hlysnan: The Notion and Politics of Listening, which brings artists from around the world together to present pieces dealing with the intersection of active listening and the sociopolitical realities of our world today.

Ogboh’s The Ambivalence of 1960 is a six-minute collage of audio excerpts from archived speeches given by prominent individuals during Nigeria's 1960 independence celebrations. The audio splices together remarks by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (the first president of Nigeria), Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (the prime minister of Nigeria) and Princess Alexandra of Kent (the representative of the Queen of England) as they speak of their hopes for Nigeria on the eve of the country breaking free from its colonial chains. Producing a type of sonic haunting from the past, the crackled voices that play in Ogboh's piece hold hopes and dreams that bear chilling relevance to sociopolitical issues present in Nigeria today — such as religious tolerance uniting its diverse population, the economic development of the country, and questions of human rights and individual freedom. By creating The Ambivalence of 1960, Ogboh contrasts the grand aspirations from Nigeria's past with the failings of the present, producing a powerful reminder of a reality that still needs fighting for.

Listen to The Ambivalence of 1960 in full above and watch a clip in which Emeka Ogboh speaks about his recent showcase below. Check out Ogboh’s Lagos Soundscapes soundcloud page for more sounds of the city.

Emeka Ogboh from Casino Luxembourg on Vimeo.

popular
WURLD performing at ART X Live! Photo courtesy of ART X Lagos.

Here's Everything that Went Down at ART X Lagos 2019

Photos, paintings and a surprise performance by Mr. Eazi—the fourth edition of ART X Lagos was an unparalled celebration of Nigerian and African art.

OkayAfrica is a media partner of ART X Lagos 2019.

As I stepped into the Balmoral Hall in Federal Palace Hotel to view the fourth edition of ART X Lagos, I was welcomed by the painting "Far from all odds" by the Cameroonian painter Anjel (Boris Anje). The vivid acrylic on canvas is arresting because it depicts the obsession with popular luxury fashion brand names—names like Fendi and Hermès—that is familiar to many in the crowd and particularly to Africans for whom it is more than just critique on consumerism but also critique on the notion that aligning oneself with Western luxury items and names equates to superiority. This feeling of seeing shared experiences, particularly shared African experiences, duplicated in art is one that I experience over and over as I immersed myself in the works of some of Africa's most talented artists.

Keep reading... Show less
News

21 African Artists To See At Venice Biennale 2015

The 2015 Venice Biennale, curated by the Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor, will feature work by 21 African artists.

All images courtesy of Venice Biennale

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Still from Burna Boy's Tiny Desk concert video via NPR.

Watch Burna Boy's Mellowed-Out 'Tiny Desk' Concert

Watch the 'African Giant' run through some of his hits like 'Gbona,' 'Ye' and more for NPR's Tiny Desk concert series.

Burna Boy is the latest artist to grace NPR's famous Tiny Desk.

The Nigerian "afrofusion" star took to the set for a mellowed out performance of four of his biggest tracks. Getting straight to business, the artist opened his set with a toned down rendition of his single "Gbona" before heading into the socially-aware "Wetin Man Go Do." It's much calmer of a performance than we're used to seeing from the artist.

Next he performs a funky version of "Dangote," before rounding his set out with his magnum opus of sorts "Ye." He's backed by the band The Outsiders and vocalist Christina Matovu throughout.

Burna Boy has had a stellar year, releasing his seminal album African Giant, performing at Coachella and winning several awards—including 'Best African Act' at the BET Awards—in the process.

Check out his full Tiny Desk performance below, and revisit a recent Tiny Desk performance from British-Nigerian rapper Dave from last week and check out Burna Boy's okay acoustics performance of 'Anybody' from August.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Simi in "Selense" (Youtube)

Watch Simi's Beautiful Music Video For 'Selense'

Premiere: Simi shares the upbeat new video for "Selense," a song about time which draws inspiration from classic highlife.

Nigeria's Simi comes through with the new music video for her recent single, "Selense."

The song, which sees her sing about using your time and years on this earth preciously, gets a beautiful new video that follows Simi's verses about different characters who may or may not be spending their hours in the best way.

The upbeat new music video, which was directed by Adasa Cookey, is getting premiered here on OkayAfrica today.

"'Selense' is a song about time," Simi tells OkayAfrica. "The song draws inspiration from classic African highlife. A timeless classic that is perfect for all seasons."

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.