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Renowned Nigerian Art Curator Okwui Enwezor Has Passed Away

Enwezor's work directly challenged Eurocentrism in the art world.

Okwui Enwezor, the international renowned contemporary art curator, writer and educator, recognized as one of the foremost ambassadors of contemporary African art has passed away after a three year battle with cancer. He was 55.

Enwezor has an illustrious and noteworthy career, setting several precedents for African curators. In 2015, he became the first African-born curator to spearhead the Venice Biennale. He also became the first non-European curator to organize the German-based exhibition Documenta in 2002, according to Art News. He is the only curator to have overseen both the Venice Biennale and Documenta.


Enwezor was noted for his innovative approach that emphasized the work of international artists—challenging the art world's exclusionary Eurocentrism. He became director of the Haus Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany in 2011, but stepped down last June.

"If we have an open mind, Western art doesn't have to be seen in opposition to art from elsewhere," he said in a 2014 interview with German site Freunde von Freunden. "But can be seen in a dialogue that helps protect the differences and decisions that present the material, circumstances and conditions of production in which artists fashion their view of what enlightenment could be."

After moving to the United Sates to study political science, the curator, who was born in Kalaba, Nigeria in 1963, founded his own art magazine in 1994. He had several career highlights throughout his decades long career, one of his earliest was when he curated the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997. "When I started, I always had what I thought was a change agenda," he told the Asia Society of New York in a 2014 interview.

His passing is a major loss to the contemporary art world, and is being felt by several followers of his work— many of whom have taken to social media to pay tribute and reflect on his many contributions to the art world.







Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.

What a year CKay is having. "Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)," a track recorded two years ago, is — without a doubt — one of the biggest songs in the world right now. It's hard keeping up with its phenomenal and unprecedented chart success, but we'll try: it's the number one song on YouTube's Global Chart, getting an all-time Nigerian record of 73.7million views in a week. It's also the most Shazamed song in the world, number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. and number 3 on the UK singles chart, ahead of Drake and Billie Ellish. Plus, a continental record of 25 million monthly followers on Spotify confirms this: the 26-year-old artist born Chukwuka Ekweani is having an incredible moment.

It's fairly easy to get caught up in the numbers, but CKay maintains a grace of humility. "I just express myself," CKay mentions to OkayAfrica. "It's not like I'm calculating anything. I'm literally just vibing, telling my story and giving my energy to the world."

When we last spoke to CKay earlier this year, the Lagos-based musician had just released Boyfriend, a lush project detailing the eccentric moods of a youthful relationship. It was also his first project as a signee of Warner Music South Africa. On a recent Friday afternoon, CKay and I connect again on Zoom. He dons a fly basketball jersey, its blue and orange stripes complemented by his pink dreadlocks. His calm demeanor inspires an easy way of speaking as he ponders his song's success.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Global Citizen x OkayAfrica: The Impact of Conflict on Children

An estimated 1.4 million children have been hit by schools closing in the Tigray region of Ethiopia amid conflict and crisis. Here's how that's impacting Ethiopia's children.

In times of conflict and war, school-aged children could have their futures defined by whether or not they can access education amid ongoing violence.

Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray is in the midst of a war that has impacted millions of lives and affected neighboring regions, Amhara and Afar. The war — which has forced citizens to flee, has tipped the region into famine, and has barricaded humanitarian aid from reaching the most vulnerable — has now been going on for about 11 months.

As the beginning of the school season draws nearer, safely reopening schools, making education accessible, and protecting children from the impacts of violence in the affected regions is a priority for aid agencies.

"As schools prepare to reopen in early October in most parts of the country, in Tigray and the bordering regions of Afar and Amhara, where the conflict has expanded, education remains at a standstill," Director of Education Cannot Wait, Yasmine Sherif, told Global Citizen.

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How Beauty Boy, Enioluwa Adeoluwa, Is Shattering the Expectations of Masculinity In Nigeria

Affectionately known as Lipgloss Boy, Enioluwa has become one of the most popular influencers in Nigeria — and he's done so without conforming to the notions of masculinity or imposed limitations on what a man should be able to do.