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Felicia Abban "Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits)" (c.1960–70s). Digital images generated from original prints 50×40 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Photos: Inside Ghana's First-Ever National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The "Ghana Freedom" pavilion, designed by David Adjaye is the first of its kind at the international art exhibition and features the works of six prominent Ghanaian artists.

The 58th Venice Biennale, a top destination for international design, art, architecture and more is underway now in the Italian city.

This year, Ghana unveiled its first-ever national pavilion, designed by none other than star Ghanian architect David Adjaye and curated by Ghanian art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim.

Commissioned by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the country's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture with the strategic supervision of Okwui Enwezor, the pavilion—which opened to the public this past Saturday (May 11)—has been named "Ghana Freedom" after the popular independence song by E.T. Mensah.

The pavilion features the work of six Ghanaian artists who embody this spirit of freedom, including photographer Felicia Abban, painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, pioneering sculptor El Anatsui, as well as visual artists Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu.


LynetteYiadom-Boakye Just Amongst Ourselves(2019) series of paintingsoil on linen and canvas. Dimensions variable.Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by David Levene.

"Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer," says Adjaye of the history-making earth-house pavilion which he designed to reflect West African heritage and "illustrate the elliptical forms" used architecturally by people across the diaspora.

"The commitment and inspiration shown by the President in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community," he adds.

John Akomfrah The Elephant in the Room. Nocturnesis. Co-commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ghana, Sharjah Art Foundation and SmokingDogs Films with support from Lisson Gallery. Photo by David Levene.

Ofriatta Ayim, described the spirit of African unity evoked by Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah as an inspiration for her curatorial work. "It means a lot for us to have our first national pavilion at such a narrative-building event as the Venice Biennale, especially at this moment," says Oforiatta Ayim. Adding that she pulled from an intergenerational pool of artists to relay both the struggle and growth of Africa's first independent nation.

El Anatsui Yaw Berko(2019)Aluminum printing plates, bottle tops and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by David Levene.

"The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our 'year of return'; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned, and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world; and of finally moving out of the 'postcolonial' moment into one we have yet to envision."

The Venice Biennale runs through November 24. Check out more installations from the "Ghana Freedom" pavilion below.

Selasi Awusi Sosu Glass Factory II (2019)Three-channel colour and black-and-white video installation with glass bottles, stereo sound. Courtesy of the artist.

Photo by Davide Levene

El Anatsui Earth Shedding Its Skin (2019) Bottle caps and copper wires. Courtesy of the artist.

Photo by David Levene

Ibrahim Mahama. A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History1649( 2016–19) Smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth, and archival materials. Courtesy of the artist and White Cube.

Photo by David Levene

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Just Amongst Ourselves(2019)series of painting soil on linen and canvas .Courtesy of the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Photo by David Levene

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Watch the Retro Music Video for Dyo's 'Go All the Way' Featuring Mr Eazi

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Mr Eazi teams up with budding Nigerian artist Dyo, for her latest single "Go All the Way."

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Join Us For an Everyday Afrique Party This Labor Day In NYC!

Featuring music by DJ Moma, DJ Tunez, Rich Knight, Boston Chery and DJ Buka.

Everyday People, OkayAfrica and Electrafrique are back with the best Labor Day weekend party around with Everyday Afrique.

Come hang with us for another installment of the party that brings out the New York City's finest.

This September 2 we're taking Everyday Afrique back to The Well in Brooklyn, where you can dance and drink the day & night away across the venue's outdoor and indoor spaces.

Grab Your Tickets to Everyday Afrique's Labor Day Party Here

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OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

Years ago, Sibu Mpanza found himself experiencing two realities Black South African students are still battling with even today: crippling financial woes at university and debilitating depression.

An aspiring musician who ended up studying psychology instead at the University of Cape Town, Mpanza began skipping as many classes as he possibly could. He would spend copious amounts of time at a computer hidden away in the corner, passing the hours watching funny videos on YouTube. In fact, he says he spent so much time on YouTube that he was literally one of the very first people to view Beyoncé's epic "711" music video—something Mpanza recalls in stitches.

He was searching for something, although admittedly, he didn't quite know back then what it was exactly. It eventually got so bad that in his second year of university, he packed up his things, dropped out and moved to Johannesburg to see if he could become what he'd always imagined he could eventually be.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the name Sibu Mpanza is not only an undeniable success story but an entire brand.

Mpanza is a full-time YouTuber who has been able to capitalise on creating hilarious content about his life and pretty much anything that interests him. While he initially "blew up" because of a YouTube video he put out, a video which called out White students at the University of the Free State who were recorded beating up protesting Black students at a rugby game, he's since moved onto a second channel, More Mpanza, where he makes content that's a lot more fun, apolitical and doesn't take a toll on his mental health. As if two successful channels weren't enough, he's also got a third channel, Arcade, where he and his business partner talk about things they enjoy in the technology space.

For anyone looking to just let off some steam, watch a YouTuber who's willing to poke fun at himself or find some really quality content in an era where everyone seems to have a YouTube channel about something or the other, Mpanza is definitely your guy.

We caught up with him to talk about what inspired his various YouTube channels, the fame that comes with being a household name and what's really important to the young South African creative.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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