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A New Exhibition In Accra Celebrates The Future Of Ghanaian Contemporary Art

Accra exhibition 'the Gown must go to Town' celebrates the future of Ghanaian contemporary art with work by El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama & more

Taking its name from a line in Kwame Nkrumah's 1963 speech The African Genius, the Gown must go to Town is a new exhibition currently on display at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra. Honoring two of Ghana's representatives at the 56th Venice Biennale, the show highlights Ibrahim Mahama's participation as the youngest artist of the All the World's Futures exhibition as well as Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui for receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Biennale.


Presented by blaxTARLINES KUMASI, a new project space for contemporary art founded by the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)– where both Mahama and El Anatsui are alums– the exhibition also doubles as an end-of-year show for students of the department. According to an official statement, the department has risen to become a hub of ambitious contemporary art in West Africa in the last ten years thanks to a "new spirit of contemporaneity, material and political sensitivity, and reflective public engagement" inspired by the teachings of faculty member karî'kacha seid’ou.

In addition to the two honorees, the exhibition features the work of over 50 artists, including special guests Dorothy Amenuke, Edwin Bodjawah, Afia Sarpong Prempeh, Jeremiah Quarshie, Selasi Awusi Sosu and students from the graduating classes of 2015 and 2014.

The Gown Must Go To Town runs through July 17th at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra.

Update: Due to high demand, 'the Gown must go to Town' has been extended until August 1st.

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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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