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Here Are 10 Times Beyoncé's Work Has Drawn From African Culture

All of your favorite artists look to the continent for inspiration.

The culture, religion, music and aesthetics of the continent have long been a go-to source of inspiration form some of the biggest artists of our day, and when we say big, we mean Beyoncé big.

Beyoncé has looked to African artists and creatives for artistic direction on numerous occasions, and their influence has helped produce some of her most notable works.

Most recently, her and Jay-Z referenced the classic 1973 Senegalese film Touki Bouki In their On the Run II promo poster.


This, of course, is just one example of Beyoncé's affinity for African culture. Below are nine previous instances when Beyoncé looked to the continent for creative vision.

"African-Inspired" Push Party

Ahead of the arrival of their twins Rumi and Sir Cater, Bey and Jay threw an "African themed" push-party that had guests show up in their best African inspired garb. Beyoncé—whose sported ankara print effortlessly on a number of occasions—donned a colorful ankara-style wrap-around skirt and blouse, with henna embellishing her belly. While Jay-Z kept it simple in a black fila and African continent chain.

Beyoncé's 2017 Grammy Performance

While still pregnant with the twins, Beyoncé gave a moving performance of at the 2017 Grammys. The singer performed adorned in a gold beaded number and halo crown, once again paying homage to the Yoruba Orisha Osun.

Beyoncé Channels Orishas In Viral Maternity Shoot

She channeled Yoruba spiritualy once again in her interenet-breaking maternity shoot announcing her second pregnancy. Shot by Ethiopian fine art photographer Awol Erizku, a portion of the shoot featured Beyoncé floating underwater, draped in bright yellow garments reminiscent of the Yoruba orishas Oshun and Yemoja.

'Lemonade'

Beyoncé's seminal work was packed with references to Afro-diasporic religion. In the standout video for "Hold Up," Beyoncé channeled the Yoruba goddess of fertility Osun as she emerged from water wearing a flowing yellow gown, drawing on popular depictions of the deity.

In the music video for "Love Drought" the singer drew on the story of Igbo Landing, the mass suicide in 1803 of a group of Igbo captive, who instead of submitting to slavery in the United States, decided to resist by drowning themselves in the ocean instead.

Several African creatives were commissioned to bring the project to life. Somali poet Warsan Shire's work, which also draws on themes of Yoruba and Santeria, provided the visual album's unforgettable narration, while Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo provided his Sacred Art of the Ori in the music video for the single "Sorry."

"Grown Woman"

"Grown Woman," an afrobeat-inflected bonus cut from Beyoncé's self-tiled sixth studio album, featured striking vocals from Guinean singer and dancer Ismael 'Bonfils' Kouyaté, whose chants appear throughout and illuminate the song's bridge.


Beyoncé quotes Chimamanda Adichie on "Flawless"

The singer sampled the famous words of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie on her 2013 single "Flawless," which Adichie gave in her unforgettable TED Talk, "We Should All Be Feminists."

Beyoncé's Fela-Inspired Album

Back in 2015, R&B singer and producer The Dream, revealed that Beyoncé had recorded a 20-track album inspired by the music of Fela Kuti prior to the release of her 2011 album 4. Though the album never saw the light of day, it did inspire one of 4's standout tracks "End of Time."

Beyonce x Pantsula

For the music video for Run the World (Girls) her lead single from the album 4, the singer sought out Mozambique's Tofo Tofo Dance Crew, who helped create the video's intricate dance number, inspired by their popular Pantsula dance routines.

Fela Kuti Musical

Back in 2009, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and fellow moguls Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith signed on as co-producers on the Broadway hit Fela!, chronicling the life of the legendary musician. Jay Z, like many hip hop artists, is inspired by Kuti's music and revolutionary prowress. The artist named Kuti's 1976 antimilitary anthem "Zombie" one of his "songs for survival" on his 2016 Tidal playlist.

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Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Eliana Murargy Is the Trailblazing Mozambican Fashion Brand You Should Know About

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Mozambican fashion designer Eliana Murargy has been on a mission to re-imagine luxury clothing in Africa since she first established her eponymous brand in 2011. Her latest collection "Basking in the Osun River," does just that. It debuted at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) last month, making her the first designer from Mozambique to showcase at the renowned fashion event.

Murargy put the myriad African influences in her designs front and center with "Basking in the Osun River"—a name which directly reference the mystical Osun River, which runs from Nigeria to the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea.

The designs themselves, are characterized by ethereal and skillfully tailored garments, designed in solid, earth-tones with feminine silhouettes, inspired by The Aje—a female Yoruba figure believed to hold fierce, cosmic powers as well as the water deity Osun. According to the designer, the collection was created with an "exclusive community of West African tailors."

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It's the first of the month and that means we're ready for a new Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help you navigate your October.

You'll see this month that Simone is emphasizing the importance of cleansing the space before conducting a reading with the Adinkra Ancestral Guidance Cards—a deck comprised of 44 Adinkra symbols to help you channel information, messages and direction from your ancestors using Adinkra symbols. First she burns some palo santo, or "holy wood", to invite positive energy and clear the air. She also uses an energy clearing spray to clear the cards and ensure the reading isn't holding on to a previous time.

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Aisha Mustapha, is a 15-year-old student from Nigeria, using her voice to tell her own story. The young writer recently penned a graphic novel about her experience fleeing Boko Haram, locating her family and trying to further her education. It's a heavy subject, obviously, but with her graphic novel, she offers a voice for young people directly affected by the crisis in Northern Nigeria.

The book was published today to mark the International Day of the Girl, a day established by the United Nations in 2011 to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights."

Aisha's talent for storytelling has previously been highlighted in Assembly, a by-girls-for-girls publication by the Malala Fund that brought Aisha's graphic novel to life, premiering it today in conjunction with International Day of the GIrl. Tess Thomas, Assembly's editor, elaborated on the purpose of the publication saying, "We believe in the power of girls' voices to generate change. Our publication provides girls with a platform so their opinions and experiences can inform decisions about their futures."

Aisha's words were illustrated by artist Simone Martin-Newberry, who had this to say about the process of creating the visuals for the graphic novel: "I was very moved by Aisha's story, and really wanted to treat it sensitively and do it justice with my illustrations. My aim was to capture the real emotions and actions of the story, but also keep my artwork bright and colorful and full of pattern, to help reflect Aisha's amazing youthful spirit."

Check out some excerpts from the piece below and head here to read it in full.
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