Arts + Culture
Photo by Fifo Adebakin.

Photos: This Is What the Melanin Unscripted x Native House Pop-Up Looked Like

Young African creatives gathered in community to discuss the state of contemporary African culture and music today.

As Lagos and Accra continue to buzz with plenty of concerts and parties to revel in the festive season as well as ring in the new year, young African creatives are also taking the time to gather like minds in community.

Melanin Unscripted, the agency and media platform headed by Nigerian-American visual multi-hyphenate Amarachi Nwosu, recently linked with The NATIVE to host Native House. Guests from near and far came through to the African Artists Foundation in Lagos for a day-long pop-up of cultural activations including a photo exhibition and a series of panels to discuss the state of contemporary African culture and music today.


"The Futurist Exhibition" amplified young African photographers you should know who are challenging stereotypical narratives of Africa, showcasing the work of Nwosu, Manny Jefferson, Stephen Tayo, Lawrence Agyei, Jerusa Nyakundi, Flo Ngala, Wami Aluko, Josef Adamu (Sunday School), Nwaka Okparaeke and TSE.

While attendees perused through the photo exhibition, three panels were held, focusing on West African music being today's newest cultural currency to African youth shifting their continent's narrative through imagery.

Journalist Ivie Ani moderated "The New Scramble for Africa" panel featuring Teezee of The NATIVE, Chin Okeke of GidiFest, Olive Uche, Wale Davies of Show Dem Camp and Dipo Faloyin, managing editor of VICE UK. Ani and the panelists touched on the history leading up to the "scramble," how to maintain authenticity in West African music during this moment and more. Nwosu then gathered Lawrence Burney of The FADER, record exec Tunji Balogun, as well as Nigerian artists Tems and WurlD in conversation for the "Music in Migration" panel for a talk on the importance of online platforms have in the ever-growing music industry on the continent, risk-taking, giving credit to the past while paving a way forward and the industry's future.

To close, journalist Stephanie Smith-Strickland led a panel discussion entitled "The Futurist," where she was in conversation with the featured photographers in the exhibition, touching on African youth culture and the role visual arts' play in shaping the creative landscape on the continent.

Take a look at select images from Native House below, with all photographed by Fifo Adebakin.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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