Travel
Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Travel Diary: How Hakeem Adam Fell In Love with Maputo In 10 Days

An OkayAfrica contributor revels in all things art and architecture in Maputo, Mozambique.

In OkayAfrica's latest Travel Diary, our Accra-based contributor Hakeem Adam recently ventured to Mozambique for the first time and shares his experiences through stunning images.

Peaceful, calm, clean, positive energy are the words I've been using to describe my time in Maputo, Mozambique to basically anyone that would listen to me. The Portuguese-speaking Southern-African country was the first I have had the pleasure of visiting in that region and the visual, spiritual and mental experience has provided me with a much-needed contrast to my ideas of an African capital city in many ways.

The enchanting city moves at its own pace, a gentle and graceful saunter that calms and relaxes anyone who has become numb to the non-stop barrage of stress that is symptomatic of most capital cities. In Maputo, the air is clean and refreshing and the weather is mostly warm without it being sticky with humidity. Rather, the strong breeze from the Pacific Ocean keeps everything gentle as you get swaddled in Mozambican hospitality.

ColabNowNow, a 10-day artist residency organized by the British Council, #SouthernAfricaArts and Maputo Fast Forward ( a month-long festival centering the arts in Mozambique), was the reason for my being in Mozambique. The program brought together nine artists from West, East, Southern Africa and the UK to work collaboratively towards producing work with a digital focus. This offered me the opportunity to meet and interact with Mozambican artists as well as explore their studios and hubs.

Very quickly, you learn that art is one things that grounds the city of Maputo as the expression of their creativity is woven into the engineering of their daily lives—from the rich and colorful alchemy of European and tropical architecture lending the city an iconic look, to the amorous and ingénue community of artists, activists, curators and researchers who are actively engineering unique ways and spaces for their expression. Indeed, most of the artists we visited had all designed their homes as active exhibition spaces where their work and pieces from other artists in the same community embellish their living and working spaces.

As a visiting artist, Maputo was a much needed breath of the fresh air that is art from a hectic year. The architectural and design landscape of the city, as well as the mind-blowing work that is going on in the arts scene there were the two things that will forever stay with me.

However, my best description of my time there are highlighted by the images I took.


Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Most Mozambicans will tell you that the best place to see Maputo is across the bay in Katembe, a town close to the capital. This beautiful vista does show off the impressive skyline but minimizes the intricate architectural details that make Maputo unique.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

The green, grand Maputo Railway Station is one of the first things you discover when researching Mozambique from outside the country or the Portuguese-speaking world. The neoclassical beaux-arts style edifice is indeed one of the most beautiful train stations in the world with its hypnotic archways and imposing scale.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Most buildings in Maputo are a blissful product of an alchemy between Portuguese architecture and tropical architecture, accented by radiant color, decorated breeze block and ornamental security features.

The Santo António Da Polana Church is another architectural marvel of Maputo, with its design mimicking an inverted flower frozen in fall.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

From within, the church blooms with emotion that suits a sacred space with stained glass windows illuminating the shade of the falling inverted flower.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Katembe is another town close to the capital, but is separated by the ocean by way of the bay of Maputo. This limits movement of the many who journey from Katembe to Maputo for work each day to travel via ferry.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

There is ongoing work on an imposing suspension bridge, now the longest in Africa, which is supposed to decrease the burden of the journey and become a new addition to Maputo's breathtaking skyline.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Butcheca is one of Mozambique's best known visual artists with a very arresting sense of scale and perspectives in his mixed media work. He lives in Katembe in a bespoke house, perfectly sculpted to match his creativity.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Butcheca's house is one of the most awe-inspiring places I visited Mozambique as the entire structure exists to display and service his creativity.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Botanica is a serene garden restaurant in Maputo. The space hosted the exhibition for the Colab Now Now residency. It one of the many beautiful spaces that show off the work of Mozambican artists.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

DEAL Espaço Criativo (Design, Entertainment, Art and Literature) is a studio and creative hub run by twin sister's Nelly and Nelsa Guambe and Ab Oosterwaal. Like Butcheca's and other Mozambican creative spaces, everything in DEAL is thoughtfully curated to be aesthetically pleasing whilst providing space for artists to create as well.

Photo by Hakeem Adam.

It is very easy to fall in love with the pace of life in Maputo and the many other treasures that make the city sparkle.

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Hakeem Adam is an instinct creative in love with beautiful sentences and the angst of communicating complex ideas in poetry. He frequently expresses this angst in simple sentences on his blog. He also loves to talk about African film and music classics on his platform, Dandano. Keep up with Hakeem on Twitter at @mansah_hakeem.

Art
Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Headdresses 2 (Collaged) by Helina Metaferia, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and PRIZM Art Fair.

Here's What to Expect at This Year's PRIZM Art Fair In Miami

The yearly art fair, now showing at Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach tackles 'Love In the Time of Hysteria,' with works by artists from across the diaspora.

PRIZM Art Fair is back again for its seventh edition, once again highlighting some of the brightest artists from Africa and the diaspora during Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach.

This year's exhibit, entitled Love in the Time of Hysteria, features several works curated by William Cordova, Ryan Dennis, Naiomy Guerrero, Oshun Layne as well as PRIZM Art Fair's founder and director Mikhaile Solomon. It includes pieces from 42 international artists, hailing from over 13 different countries, including Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, Norway, South Africa, Ghana and the United States.

"Love in the Time of Hysteria illustrates how love, compassion and respect endure in a social milieu riddled with divisive political rhetoric, unprovoked attacks on members of marginalized communities and broad societal malaise as a result of economic inequity," said PRIZM in a press release.

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Burna Boy. Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage (via Getty Images).

The 20 Best Nigerian Songs of 2019

Featuring Burna Boy, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Zlatan, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Teni, Davido, Lady Donli and many more.

2019 was another huge year for Nigerian music.

Zlatan's presence was ubiquitous and powered by the zeal for zanku, a dance which is now de rigueur. Rema led the charge for a group of young breakthrough artists that include Fireboy DML and Joeboy. They all represent an exciting crop of talents that point the way forward for Nigerian pop.

Burna Boy's new dominance, built around his excellent African Giant album, delivered on his rare talents, while the long wait for Davido's sophomore album, A Good Time, paid off in satisfying fashion. Simi's Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 announced her departure from her longterm label. Tiwa Savage also made a highly-discussed move from Mavin Records to Universal Music Group. Meanwhile, Yemi Alade exuded female strength with her latest record, Woman of Steel.

Not to be left out, Wizkid sated demands for his fourth album with a new collaborative EP following a year of stellar features that included his presence on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift, an album which also boasts Tekno, Mr Eazi and Tiwa Savage. Mr Eazi also notably launched his emPawa initiative to help fund Africa's promising up-and-coming artists.

Asa returned in a formidable form with Lucid, while buzzing artists like Tay Iwar, Santi, and Lady Donli all shared notable releases. Lastly, the beef between Vector and M.I climaxed and sparked a resurgence of Nigerian rap releases from Phyno to Ycee, PsychoYP and more.

Read on for the best Nigerian songs of 2019. Listed in no particular order. —Sabo Kpade

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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OkayAfrica Presents: 'The Adinkra Oracle' December Reading with Simone Bresi-Ando

We're back with another Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help guide you through the end of the year—and the end of the decade.

It's the a new month and that means we're ready for a new Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help you navigate your December.

After cleansing the space, Simone will pull five Adinkra Ancestral Guidance Cards from a deck of 44 Adinkra symbols—these cards help to channel information, messages and direction from your ancestors using Adinkra symbols when read correctly. Remember, as Simone says, "these readings tell you what you need to know and not necessarily what you want to know—our ancestors are emotionally pure."

Simone gives a general reading of what December has in store to help you know what actions and thoughts are necessary to get the best out of the month. This is a special installment as it also guides you through the end of the year—and the end of the decade.

Watch below.

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