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Archangel by David Alabo. Photo courtesy of artist.

NextGen: David Alabo's Afro-Surrealist Art Will Blow You Away

The Ghanaian-Moroccan artist creates offbeat and fantastical worlds that highlight Africa and its diaspora in a stunning way.

This week, we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it.

Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

We'll highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in the return of our profile series, 'NextGen.'

In an age where films like Black Panther bring Afrofuturism to the forefront; Ghanaian-Moroccan afro-surrealist David Alabo shines just a bit brighter than the rest. His work takes viewers to worlds where magic, heads, outer space, animals, Africa and landscapes collide.


David Alabo. Photo courtesy of artist.

Alabo's work on a music cover while studying economics at New York's Baruch College landed him a CNN feature and a plethora of opportunities. Since graduating, he's now based in Accra creating work that tips its hat to Ghana, East Africa's Maasai people, North Africa's Arab influences and our home's vibrant colors and gradients. Music is still a large part of the 22-year-old's creative process. He vibes to it as he creates his work's settings-mountains, plains, hills, galaxies.

Alabo's Afrofuturism is, "the fusion of afrocentric elements with surrealism to create paradoxical fantastical worlds that highlight African culture and its diaspora in both a familiar and strange way."

His computer-generated oeuvres, "may not make sense at first but over time they send a message. Sometimes, the message is open to interpretation. They have a lot to do with fantasy and immediately strike the eye."

Birth by David Alabo. Photo courtesy of artist.


Much like the abstract greats that influence him—Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Basquiat—Alabo takes us on a contemplative journey.

The future for African artists is "brighter than it has ever been," he says. "The internet and social media are massive platforms to display work. We put issues that affect us in our art. This is the time for every african to just do it. Ride the wave."

In the upcoming weeks, he will display his unique viewpoint at the inaugural Yaatribe (Young African Artist Tribe) Gallery alongside photographer, Diego Asamoa and when that is a success, he hopes to expand the project beyond his country's borders.

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

Film
From "A Jornada"

Why Brazilians are Embracing Afrofuturism

The afrocentric philosophy of imagining a black future is finding a rich following among young Afro-Brazilians

The film poster for the "A Jornada" film would be striking in any country. A dark-skinned man and woman, naked but covered only in gold geometric shapes, lovingly embrace each other. In Brazil, a country where advertisements never show black couples or even dark-skinned black people, the film poster is an affirmation of blackness for Afro-Brazilians—something very daring and even dangerous in the country.

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Literature

The Afrofuturist Books That Should Become Movies—and the Actors Who Should Star in Them

We decided to give the industry a head start on which Afrofuturist film adaptations should go into production and who to hire. You're welcome.

African and diaspora writers have been producing excellent fantasy and sci-fi for a long while now. Great authors like Octavia Butler and Nnedi Okorafor have been churning out good reads for years, and it is mind boggling how many novels written by such talent are yet to be adapted into films, like many of the works of their white counterparts.

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Still from Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's TED Talk

Watch Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's  TED Talk on How Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Fight Climate Change

The Chadian activist—and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020—says traditional knowledge, as practiced in her native Mbororo community, is one of the keys to combatting climate change.

In a new TED Talk, climate activist, geographer and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, discusses the role that indigenous knowledge can play in combatting climate change.

During the 13-minute talk, Ibrahim emphasizes how the exploration and acceptance of various knowledge systems–including those that fall outside of the scope of typical scientific research–can add to our understanding of ways to protect the environment. "I think, if we put together all the knowledge systems that we have -- science, technology, traditional knowledge -- we can give the best of us to protect our peoples, to protect our planet, to restore the ecosystem that we are losing," says Ibrahim.

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Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach.

South Africans Condemn Police Brutality During National Lockdown

A number of videos have emerged on social media allegedly showing the intimidation and assault of several Black South Africans by law enforcement.

South Africa recently began a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed across the nation to aid the police in ensuring that the rules of the lockdown are upheld. However, disturbing footage has emerged on social media allegedly depicting law enforcement agents assaulting Black South Africans.

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