Arts + Culture

This Striking Nigerian Portrait Series Challenges Viewers To See Beyond Skin Color

Ima Mfon's 'Nigerian Identity' photo series calls for the appreciation and respect of Nigerian culture and its many identities.

In his latest project, Nigerian Identity, photographer Ima Mfon challenges preconceived notions of African identities with a series of stripped-down portraits.


"Drawing inspiration from photographers who have created typologies of their subjects, including the German August Sander, the American Richard Avedon, and the Nigerian photographer J.D ‘Okhai Ojeikere, I use a plain background to eliminate any cultural or ethnic context, whether of urban disrepair or African wilderness," the Lagos-born artist writes on his website. "I want to contest the superficial travel or tourist photography approach to peoples who may be unfamiliar to the photographs’ viewers."

A diverse group of young New York and Texas-based Nigerians served as Ima's subjects, each of whom he photographed in a uniform manner. He also adjusted the participants' skin tones so that each person shared the same rich, deep complexion.

This striking edit celebrates a physical feature for which Africans are often oppressed and marginalized, while also calling into question the harmful tendency to reduce an individual's identity to a color.

"As an African living in America, I find that the line between celebrating and exoticizing African culture is increasingly blurry," writes Ima. "To add some clarity to the current discourse, I photograph my subjects in an elegant and direct manner. It is my hope that this will create a connection between subject and viewer. It’s also my way of challenging viewers to understand what it is like to be 'the other.' Above all else, it is a reminder that the culture and identity of a people should be always be appreciated, respected and honored."

The project is available for viewing now through November 14 at the SVA Gramercy Gallery in New York and will also be showing at the Lagos Photo Festival starting October 24.

To learn more about Nigerian Identity and Ima Mfon's other works, head here. You can also follow the artist on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Music
Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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