Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photos: Danielle Mbonu's New Hair Braiding Series

In Isi m Ebube (which translates to On my Head Glory), Danielle and her creative team send a message to Nigerian girls & women suggesting a new take on braiding styles.

Danielle Mbonu is a 21-year-old Nigerian-born multi-disciplinary artist. She focuses on photography and has very recently delved into the world of film after doing the creative direction on Naira Marley's music video for "Aye." Danielle has a record of documenting the creative essence of her city: Lagos. Her photos, without failure, display a rich sense of youthful freedom.

On her latest, titled Isi m Ebube (which translates to On my Head Glory), Danielle and her all-Nigerian team send a message to Nigerian girls and women suggesting a new take on braiding styles. With this series, modeled by four stunning ladies in extraordinary hairstyles and, she wants more girls her age to be open to trying new styles regardless of public opinion.

We spoke with Danielle Mbonu about her new series below.

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

What influenced you to do a hair series?

I've just never really liked the criticism around black women with braids and black women with wigs. It's like we can't win. Personally, I've always been a braids person and I just feel like we have to embrace our culture. In this particular series it's showing how with Nigerian culture, braids are synonymous with royalty. In rural areas, the people with the most glamorous braids are seen as the royal ones and i just wonder how come with more present generations we don't dignify the art.

How has hair affected you personally?

In so many ways. Currently I have bantu knots on my hair and everyone is just like Danielle what's on your hair and, it's just like, hair is not that deep. Since I was younger my mom has always done this on my hair and obviously people did always make fun of me but I just never cared. And at the end of the day, it's important to not let what others say get to you, because I feel like a lot of girls get weaves because boys have always said girls with weaves look much better than girls with braids. So for me, braids is me sticking to my culture and embracing it.

What was the creative process for achieving this series?

So we partnered with Darling Nigeria which is an extension company that is fairly new for the hair and styling. The backdrops were all hand painted by Dricky, we were emulating our local salons that we would go to when we were younger and the models are all from different tribes and the hairstyles were made according to where they're from.

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

How long have you been working on this?

I've been working on this for a while actually. About a year or two ago, on Independence Day I met this girl at Tarkwa Bay that had green-white-green braids and I was so fascinated. I saw that a lot of people in Nigeria, regardless of status, use their hair to express themselves in a way and ever since I've been documenting hair and taking pictures of people interesting hair.

A lot of your work relates to different aspects of Nigerian culture.

Being born and raised in Lagos and then being Igbo and having to go to the village every Christmas I've just always been surrounded by culture and I've always just loved being Nigerian and I just really showed that in my photos because this is who I am and I can't help it.

What was the transition like moving from photography to film directing?

The thing is it's not a transition. I understand people look at directing as a more profitable career as opposed to photography so they expect that once I start directing I won't do photography anymore but no, photography is my main thing, it's what I love to do.

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu

Photo: Danielle Mbonu


Backdrop art: Dricky Stickman

Styling: Momo Lagos

Models: Anya Ekung, Annabella Godwin, Jessica Duru, Momo Mho

Hair Stylist: Kehinde Are (25th Fairy Hair)

Photographer: Danielle Mbonu (Danmbo)

Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery

The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019

1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."

Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957

Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:


31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

get okayafrica in your inbox


Listen to Sibusile Xaba‘s New Jazz Single 'Umdali'

Sibusile Xaba's single 'Umdali' featuring Naftali and Fakazile Nkosi comes ahead of Brownswood Recording's highly-anticipated contemporary jazz compilation album 'Indaba Is'.