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Star shine, moon glow from Water Life collection by Aida Muluneh commissioned by WaterAid and supported by H&M Foundation

Ethiopian Artist Aida Muluneh's 'Water Life' Is a Response to the Urgent Threat of Water Scarcity

The photo series, shot in the hottest place on earth, will be showing at Somerset House in London starting this September.

The Ethiopian artist Aida Muluneh will bring her highly-acclaimed photo series "Water Life" to London's Somerset House this September, as part of the creative institution's "ongoing strand of environmental programming." The highly-acclaimed series addresses water scarcity—particularly its grave impact on the wellbeing of women and girls.

Described as an "afrofuturist work," the series was shot in Dallol, Afar in Ethiopia, an extreme setting known to have the hottest and driest conditions on earth. "Taking inspiration from traditional ornamentation and body paint from across the African continent, the Ethiopian-born artist has explored not just issues of water scarcity and ecological emergency but also the vital role of art in advocacy and how Africa is represented in global media," reads a description of "Water Life."

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Ethiopia Planted a Record-Breaking Number of Trees in a Single Day

In just one day, 350 million trees were planted in the country as part of efforts to tackle deforestation and climate change.

In 2017, India set a new record for the number of trees planted in a single day at 66 million. Almost two years later, Ethiopia has surpassed that record with a colossal figure of 350 million trees. It's certainly no small feat and the East African country is leading the rest of the world when it comes to addressing deforestation and its contribution to the increasingly urgent crisis that is climate change.

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Arts + Culture
Heads of a Royal ancestor, arts of the Kingdom of Benin of the end of the 18th century are on display on May 18, 2018 at the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac in Paris. Benin is demanding restitution of its national treasures that had been taken from the former French colony Dahomey (current Benin) to France and currently are on display at Quai Branly, a museum featuring the indigenous art and cultures of Africa. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bringing African Artifacts Home

What would it take to finally return the looted treasures of the African continent to their rightful owners? We spoke with curator Niama Safia Sandy about the future of African art repatriation.

Last November, France's President Emmanuel Macron oversaw the return of 26 artifacts that were stolen during France's colonial era back to their home in Benin. The move came after years of petitioning on the part of African governments and the commissioning of a report by the French leader that highlighted the need for full restitution to take place between European colonial powers and their former African colonies.

Macron's actions—while they could be read as performative measures, intended to serve France's economic interests on the continent by painting him in a positive light—was considered a constructive solution to the problem of art repatriation. It's a simple concept: a former colonial power admitted and apologized for stealing valuable cultural relics in the past, and then gave them back.

The process of art repatriation should be that simple, but in reality, it isn't. While efforts have been made to return these items to their rightful African owners—Germany recently returned a looted 15th century stone cross to Namibia—the majority of African cultural relics still live in museums far outside of the continent's borders. After all, France only returned 26 items, while the Quai Branly Museum in Paris alone houses 70,000 African objects, according to The New York Times. And apologies, when they do come, hardly suffice.

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Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown 2017 (Red Magazine).

British-Ethiopian Author, Lemn Sissay, Wins 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Sissay's win marks the second year in a row that an author of African descent will be taking home the prestigious prize.

The UK's prestigious PEN Pinter Prize is awarded every year to a British writer who shows "outstanding literary merit" by casting an "unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world." This year, the coveted prize has been awarded to author, playwright, preformer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay.

Sissay, has enjoyed a long and successful literary career. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the 2012 Olympics in London and was awarded an MBE for his services to literature by the Queen of England. He is Poet Laureate of Canterbury and the winner of a NESTA New Radical Award for his work as a poet and a children's rights campaigner.

Sissay, who was born in England to an Ethiopian mother and has written extensively about the abuse he faced growing up in foster homes. He shared his story in a TED Talk entitled "A Child of the State" in 2014.

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