popular
Image courtesy of the artist.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

In 'Aba Women Riot' Nigerian Artist, Fred Martins, Reinterprets a Groundbreaking Moment In African History

In a new series of prints, the artist celebrates 'the women who lend their voices and stood strong against the oppression of Africans.'

March marks Women's History Month, and for African women, one event that epitomizes the will and tenacity within our community is the Aba Women's Riot, also known as The Women's War of 1929, in which thousands of predominantly Igbo women in eastern Nigeria mobilized to challenge British colonial rule and the barriers placed on women's civic life.

This paradigm-shifting moment in history is the center of the latest series from Nigerian visual artist Fred Martins, who began conceptualizing "Aba Women Riot" in 2019, while reflecting on the invaluable contributions women have made throughout history. "I reflected on the power of femininity and how it has affected history on every stage and era of human civilization," said the artist in a statement.


He expanded on the connection between the historic demonstration and the movements towards liberation that came after, in which notable men are often revered. "The Aba Women's Riots was the game changer that woke [up] Africa and reverberated the continent's voice of freedom. The women's resistance inspired founding fathers of many African nations to seek independence," he adds. "It was the wake of feminism in 1900s Africa."

Fred MartinsImage courtesy of the artist.

The artist released the series during Black History Month to "celebrate the women who lend their voices and stood strong against the oppression of Africans." It consists of several fluid illustrations that "imaginatively reinterpret faces of women on palm fronds as shadows against a dusty earth background," says Martins. "The young palm fronds in Igbo culture are an important 'sacred' tool, symbolic for 'protest.' The women parceled the young fronds to other women in neighboring regions as a message to their allies," he adds.

Martins has often created striking, highly imaginative works that magnify revolutionary Africans. His acclaimed 2016 series "Orange, Black and Freedom," paid homage to the likes of Miriam Makeba, Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and more, through intricate portraits that placed their image within a symbolic afro comb. Other series from the artist include the "Black and Freedom" collection, in which he used butterflies and Black Power fists to represent the past and future of the continent.

With "Aba Women Riot' Martins acknowledges a piece of African history that deserves to be widely commemorated. As we celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout the month, the stunning series is a fitting place to start. See it below and keep up with the artist's work via his Instagram page.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

Image courtesy of the artist.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

Image courtesy of the artist.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

Image courtesy of the artist.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

Image courtesy of the artist.

'Aba Women Riot' by Fred Martins

Image courtesy of the artist.

popular
"Zion 9, 2018" (inkjet on Hahnemuhle photo rag)" by Mohau Modisakeng. Photo courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

South African Artist Mohau Modisakeng Makes Solo NYC Debut With 'A Promised Land'

The artist will present the video installation 'ZION' and other works centering on the "global history of displacement of Black communities" at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery in Brooklyn.

Renowned South African visual artist Mohau Modisakeng presents A Promised Land, his latest solo exhibition, opening at Brooklyn's Jenkins Johnson Gallery this month. This marks the New York debut of Modisakeng's ZION video installation, based on the artists's 2017 performance art series by the same name. It originally debuted at the Performa Biennial.

"In ZION the artist deals with the relationship between body, place and the global history of displacement of Black communities," reads a press release. "There is an idea that all people are meant to belong somewhere, yet in reality there are millions of people who are unsettled, in search of refuge, migrating across borders and landscapes for various reasons."

In addition to the video, the show also features seven large-scale photographs that communicate themes of Black displacement. From 19th century Black settlements in New York City, which as the press release notes, were eradicated to clear space for the development of Central Park, to the scores of Africans who have faced conflict that has led them to life as refugees in foreign lands.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Installation view of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.

The Met's New Exhibition Celebrates the Rich Artistic History of the Sahel Region

'Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara' is an enxtensive look into the artistic past of the West African region.

West Africa's Sahel region has a long and rich history of artistic expression. In fact, pieces from the area, which spans present-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, date all the way back to the first millennium. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara, a new exhibition showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, dives into this history to share an expansive introduction to those who might be unfamiliar with the Sahel's artistic traditions.

"The Western Sahel has always been a part of the history of African art that has been especially rich, and one of the things that I wanted to do with this exhibition, that hasn't done before, is show one of the works of visual art...and present them within the framework of the great states that historians have written about that developed in this region," curator Alisa LaGamma tells Okayafrica. She worked with an extensive team of researchers and curators from across the globe, including Yaëlle Biro, to bring the collection of over 200 pieces to one of New York City's most prestigious art institutions.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Photo courtesy of Upile Chisala.

Join Upile Chisala For Soothing Readings of Her Latest Works

Malawian poet Upile Chisala is set to deliver readings from her three poetry collections on Instagram Live.

Malawian poet Upile Chisala is set to deliver readings of her latest works of poetry on Instagram Live this week.

On the 8th of April, she'll be hosting a session where she'll read from her first two works Soft Magic and Nectar while the session on the 9th of April will include a reading from her latest work titled A Fire Like You. Both sessions will take place at 8 PM (SAST).

Keep reading... Show less
Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.