Featured

Video: Ghana's Fantasy Coffins

[embed width="620"][/embed]


In Teshie, on the outskirts of Ghana’s capital, Accra, prevails the curiously morbid yet wonderfully upbeat art of fantasy coffins. Its godfather, known as Paa Joe (below), is one out of a handful of artists in the Ghanaian district making something that everyone will need but will largely overlook in the meantime.

Having run his business since the sixties, Paa Joe’s work has been exhibited for people to oooh and aaah at in a string of notable art galleries and museums around the world. He is also the nephew and former assistant of the late Seth Kane Kwei who is the professed pioneering father of fantasy coffins in the early 1950s in Ghana. The coffins are referred to, locally, as “Abebuu adekai” which means “boxes with proverbs” and are fast becoming an integral part of the funeral customs in the Greater Accra area. From pineapples to cows to Coke-bottles, each coffin is designed to reflect the life of its occupier with ambition, character, and trade being the most common sources of inspiration for the artist.

From feelings of uneasiness to amazement and sheer delight, his art has certainly received a mixed reception. Paa Joe insists that coffins are something special and should be treated with sensitivity and respect. When asked about his process of work, he maintained, “It can’t be rushed. I have to really think about the design.” One thing’s for sure, fantasy coffins are redefining what it means to go out in style.

 

 

Literature
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.

As a father-figure in South African hip-hop, there's a lot Emile Lester Jansen, aka Emile YX?, knows. He'll also tell you, there's a lot he doesn't. But the knowledge Emile has gained, over his 3 decades in music, he's always tried to share with others. His latest project is no different. The Black Noise founder is working on a book that identifies the similarities between Bushmen expression and hip-hop, and how this knowledge can help empower anyone who has a love of the culture.

The book, which will be called Reconnect The String, comes on the back of this year's 21st anniversary of the African Hip Hop Indaba, one of the landmark hip hop events in Cape Town created by Emile, which has helped many an artist launch their career. As a teacher and a musician, he's long been involved in using hip hop to uplift communities—first through the seminal group Black Noise, founded in the late 1980s, with its rhymes rallying against Apartheid, and then through the Heal the Hood organization, a non-profit that grew out of the group's efforts to use its love of hip hop to fuel youth development initiatives in townships on the Cape Flats.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Sango's ‘Da Rocinha 4’ Is a Polished & Grinding Take On Baile Funk

We speak with the Seattle-based DJ and producer about his new album and the music bridges connecting Brazil, the US and the world.