The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded on 25 May 1963 with 32 signatory governments in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. It was an intergovernmental organisation and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was one of the leading heads. On 9 July 2002 it was dissolved and replaced by the African Union by South African President Thabo Mbeki (AU). The OAU had core objectives in promoting political and economic integrations between member states and eliminating African continent colonialism and neo-colonialism. Today is the fifty-eighth anniversary of this organization, and we, from IABW, would like to celebrate it promoting the theme of this year: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want”.
The first artist we would like to mention is Diébédo Francis Kéré.
Born in Gando, Burkina Faso and graduated at the Technical University of Berlin. Diébédo Francis Kéré is an architect who lived in Berlin, Germany and founded Kéré Architecture. He has been recognised nationally and globally receiving many awards including the 2012 Global Holcim Awards of Gold for his first building. In various nations, such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Germany, the United States, Kenya and Uganda, Kéré has undertaken projects, such as the Serpentine Galleries to design the Serpentine Pavilion. He holds lectures from the University of Harvard, the University of Architecture in Yale and the Swiss academy of Mendrisian Architecture. In 2017 he took up his professorship at TU München for “Architectural Design and Participation” (Germany).
Gando Village is situated south-east of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. In tin or straw roofs there live 3000 people in small mud huts. The huts are grouped into local families. The village does not have access to drinking water or electricity and the alphabet rates are below the national average of 25%. Burkina Faso is the seventh least industrialized country in the world, according to the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index. The country’s growth is hindered by lack of schooling, low wages and life expectancy, and much of the population is subsistence farms, relying on the harsh environment. This artist wanted to create a sustainable village for all, indeed he enshrines all the values promoted during this day: art, heritage and culture. Let’s hope that he will continue spreading African heritage all over the world!
Diébédo Francis Kéré https://www.kerearchitecture.com/
The second artist we would like to mention today is the South African sculptor and graphic artist: Lungiswa Gqunta (born 1990).
Her works have been exhibited in many galleries, including the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Africa, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Kunsthal Zurich University. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, she obtained a bachelor’s degree at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2012. Her dissertation examines colonial environments and the resulting geographical legacies. Gqunta is also the founding member of iQhiya Collective, a network of young black women artists. In her works, she uses found materials such as empty bottles of alcohol, diesel, broken sheets and wood frames, to construct the designs of various types of abuse and structural injustice in South Africa. She uses many recycled objects, also to promote the message of respecting the environment.
Gqunta represents a pride for Africa and we wish her the best luck for the future!
Another emerging artist is Thandiwe Muriu.
The leading photographer from Kenya uses colors to energized ‘her Africa’ story. As an illustration cover of the thirteenth UNESCO 13th Intergovernmental Committee of the 2005 Convention, Muriu’s job, part of her editorial series CAMO (2015), has been chosen. Since she was 14 has been involved in photography. She would post it online, and for a shoot, people began to email her. She studied higher education at business school and works simultaneously for Mutua Matheka or Emmanuel Jambo, a rare woman in the environment. Since graduating with an affinity for 8th illustration, she definitely devotes herself to fashion photography and signed her first foreign campaign deal at the age of twenty-three. It is important to her, like her fellow people, to emphasize the natural beauty of the women she associates with. Her compositions are in accordance with the black femininity appearance standards. Too much the front pages of magazines lack essential templates for African readership at home and in the diaspora. So, now Muriu is one of the greatest emerging artists, who is spreading his African roots and heritage all over the world!
Nástio Mosquito, who was born in 1981 in Angola, was mostly educated in Portugal, and now lives in Belgium, became one of the most thrilling artists of his generation.
His works are based on video and music, performance, and installation in the broadcast industry, where he had previously been a director and cameraman. He also plays roles in imitation, not only in his own valued conviction but rather of observing the stupidity of man in real life, so as to articulate his thoughts. Mosquito is an artist who in many ways points us to a world where simple differences between art styles, popular culture, and the classification of cultural identities have become obsolete or meaningless. His consciousness as a person in the art world goes hand in hand with his concerns about African politics, particularly Angola – in dealing with the legacy of a long and violent civil war – sexual politics, unchecked consumerism and other globalization symptoms. In addition to a vibrant web presence, published also a new release album called “Se Eu Fosse Angolano”. He participated in music festivals in the fields of visual arts – Biennale Bordeaux (2009), Tate modern (2012), Berardo Collection (2013). He exhibited in Birmingham (2015) his first solo museum exhibition “Daily Lovemaking”.
Last but not least, the artist and designer from Johannesburg, South Africa, is Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum. Her art has appeared in various galleries and museums, such as Tiwani Contemporary in Londres, England and the Johannesburg Museum of African Design. Driven by an obsession with ancient mythologies and modern theory, Sunstrum examines the history of time, the geology and the world. Her art on paper, large-scale sculptures and stop-motion movies have their roots in autobiography, which deals with the evolution of cross-border personalities, human links and traditions. Sunstrum examines how one’s sense of identity emerges in geographical and cultural environments based on their encounters in a number of different locations. Her drawings: narrative worlds which seem both modern and old change between fantastic and representative representations of geological, subterranean, cosmological and precipitous landscapes.
We would like to celebrate today talking about these vibrant and talented artists, spreading their art. We, truly believe in African heritage and we would like to promote it as much as possible. We wish you all happy 25th of May from IABW!
“Creativity takes courage.”
— Henri Matisse