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ART X and the rising ‘bourgeois’ visual art scene in Nigeria4 min read

“Africa is one of the fastest-growing markets in the art world today, and Nigeria is equal on the top with South Africa,”

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ART X and the rising 'bourgeois' visual art scene in Nigeria
In this file photo taken on February 07, 2018 Nigerian author Ben Okri poses with a work of art by Nigerian painter and sculptor Ben Enwonwu entitled 'Tutu' sold for 1.5 million dollars at auction in Bonhams auction house London on February 7, 2018. - Tutu, a recently rediscovered portrait of the Ife royal princess Adetutu Ademiluyi painted in 1974 by the Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, led Bonhams Africa Now sale in London on February 28. The painting, one of a series of three versions, once thought lost came to light after having gone unseen for decades in a north London flat. The whereabouts of the other two versions remains a mystery. In the vibrant megalopolis of Lagos, with its 20 million inhabitants, the cultural season culminates this weekend with the international fair "ART X", which has established itself for three years as an essential event, a high mass of modern and contemporary art with a mixed business, recreational and aesthetic objectives. (Photo by BEN STANSALL / AFP)

First, there was Tutu, the “African Mona Lisa” sold last year for 1.5 million dollars. Then a second portrait by revered Nigerian painter Ben Enwonwu, called Christine, sold in mid-October, for 1.4 million dollars.

Both record sales of famous works by the late “father of African modernism”, captured the emergence of Nigeria’s art market. 

A decade ago, major African artists were largely absent from international auctions. But the continent is now a major attraction in contemporary and modern art. 

Since his death in 1994, Enwonwu’s star has only risen, epitomising the growing industry and value for art. 

His two masterpieces were sold by two of London’s most prestigious auction houses, Bonhams and Sotheby’s.

“Africa is one of the fastest-growing markets in the art world today, and Nigeria is equal on the top with South Africa,” Giles Peppiatt, director of African art at Bonhams, told AFP. 

His auction house was one of the first in Europe to bet big on the continent with “Africa Now” beginning in 2007, auctioning African art as a stand-alone sale.

In the vibrant commercial capital of Lagos, with 20 million people, its cultural season, awash with literary fashion and art festivals, culminates this weekend with the international fair “ART X”.

Three years after it began, the fair has emerged as one of the premier art events on the continent, exhibiting the rich array of African modern and contemporary art. 

The famous Tutu, “lost” for almost 40 years and spectacularly found in 2018, almost by chance, in a London apartment, was the surprise attraction of the last edition, drawing several thousand attendees. 

A show-reel of Nollywood’s actresses, traditional leaders, wealthy collectors and artists trooped to the painting of the mysterious Yoruba princess.

At the end of the year, Nigeria’s economic-hub becomes awash with glamour and arts. 

Thousands of visitors rush from one exhibition to another, from ART X to the Lagos Biennale of contemporary art, Lagos fashion week and LagosPhoto, all of which take place between October and November. 

But alongside the art, is an increasing market and appetite amongst investors and collectors. 

New galleries like Art Twenty One have opened in recent years. 

And the auction house Art House Contemporary Limited, whose turnover is more modest than that of its European peers, regularly exhibits the most notable artists in the region: Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo, El Anatsui or Peju Alatise. 

ART X – Collectors or investors?

This year, some twenty galleries and more than 90 artists will be represented at ART X, with representatives from Tate Modern (London) and Smithsonian (Washington) expected to attend. 

Creative audio installations by renowned artist, Emeka Ogboh, based between Berlin and Lagos, will grace the background of the anticipated fourth edition of the fair.

If the appetite for contemporary African art continues to grow, apart from outliers that exceed one million dollars, the majority of works are still sold at “reasonable” prices in comparison with the rest of the world: “between $10,000 and $60,000,” Peppiatt says. 

“Events like Art X are changing the game, they enable cities like Lagos to shine and attract many enthusiastic collectors,” he explains. “This is a very exciting moment.”

The West African oil giant and largest economy on the continent has a growing middle class of rich bankers and industrialists, with a burgeoning appetite for purchasing contemporary art. 

The biggest bids still take place in Europe, where the market is better structured, and better protected against fake works. 

Yet collectors increasingly fly to buy works in London or New York and then bring them back to Africa, says Jess Castellote, director of the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, a private museum that will open next year in the suburbs of Lagos. 

“There are collectors, art lovers who want to reconnect with their culture, their legacy,” he says, explaining that as well as art enthusiasts, serious investors have taken interest in art.

In Nigeria, as in South Africa, multi-million dollar investment funds have sprung up to acquire works and resell them as dearly as possible, again betting on rising demand for art. 

“Rich Nigerians who used to spend 250,000 pounds on a watch or a luxury car now prefer to invest in a painting or a sculpture,” Castellote says. 

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Burna Boy confirms show in South Africa

Burna Boy promises to donate part of proceeds from South Africa show to Xenophobic attack victims.

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Burna Boy promises to donate part of proceeds from South Africa show to Xenophobic attack victims.

Burna Boy has indicated his readiness to perform in South Africa and donate part of the proceeds to victims of the xenophobic attack.

Months after weighing in on xenophobic attacks in South Africa, Burna Boy has confirmed his preparedness to perform in the country.

In a recent tweet, Burna Boy noted that the show, which is tagged Africans Unite, will be the first of many.

The African Giant singer also hinted that he will be donating part of the proceeds from the show to victims of xenophobic attacks in the country.

Part of the proceeds will be donated to the victims of Xenophobic attacks by me!” Burna Boy’s statement said in parts.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, a South African online platform reported that Burna Boy will be in South Africa for a concert.

In September, Burna Boy had weighed in on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa vowing not to step in the country again.

The ‘African Giant’ further narrated how he suffered a Xenophobic attack in 2017 and had since refused to return to the Nelson Mandela country.

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Blind singer rises from street beggar to star in Kaduna, Nigeria

Makaho faced years of discrimination and discouragement before a wealthy fan decided to fund a recording session in 2016

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Blind singer rises from street beggar to star in Kaduna, Nigeria
Yahaya Usman, popularly called Yahaya Makaho, a blind singer who rose from being a street beggar to a famously known singer in northern Nigeria (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Yahaya Makaho feels his way to the microphone before launching into a song for his new album at a recording studio in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna.

Blind since early childhood, the singer has overcome obstacles that often crush the dreams of disabled people in this region and risen from street beggar to star. 

In the last four years, his songs and music videos have become hits among the roughly 80 million Hausa-speaking Nigerians and broader West Africa. 

“I see myself as a superstar who has broken the jinx associated with physical disabilities,” Makaho, 37, told reporters, wearing his trademark sunglasses. 

“I have punctured the stereotype people have that once you are blind all you can do is take a bowl and go begging for alms on the streets.”

Life can be tough in northern Nigeria, where poverty rates and unemployment are high — and for blind people, the options are usually severely limited.  

Makaho — a nickname meaning “blind man” in Hausa under which the singer is widely known — has had to come a long way to record his 370 singles and three albums.

He lost his sight to measles at the age of three and was eventually sent away from his rural village to an Islamic school after doctors failed to heal him. 

Blind singer rises from street beggar to star in Kaduna, Nigeria
(Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

There he was told that begging was his best chance to make ends meet after he tried his hand at small odd-jobs and petty trading. 

“It hurt me to be always asking people for money. Begging kills the spirit and I decided to become a singer,” he said. 

“I didn’t know I had singing talent, I just wanted to do something meaningful with my life and the idea of being a singer just popped up.”

‘Singer with a difference’ –

It has not been a smooth rise since that decision. 

Makaho faced years of discrimination and discouragement before a wealthy fan decided to fund a recording session in 2016. 

The singer has carved out a niche by focusing on the pressing problems that confront his fans in their daily lives. 

With his soft voice, he croons his way through lyrics that tackle ills such as begging, drug abuse and corruption. 

Blind singer rises from street beggar to star in Kaduna, Nigeria
(Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

“Yahaya Makaho is a singer with a difference,” said Ahmad Bello, a music critic and linguist at Bayero University in the city of Kano.

“People love his songs not just for the beats but primarily for the messages embedded in them which touch on burning social issues.”

Dwelling on sensitive subjects has proved problematic on occasion.

Makaho upset some in northern Nigeria’s blind community after he wrote two singles that criticised the widespread practice of street begging — often the only means of earning an income for the visually impaired. 

“They ostracised me for exposing the ills of begging in my two tracks and dubbed me an enemy,” he said. 

Makaho managed to resolve the conflict and has now established a foundation that provides school tuition, uniforms and brail books to help disabled youths get an education. 

The singer’s fortune has soared and he now provides a comfortable life for his family. 

He has made the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and hopes to be able to build a recording studio of his own.  

And as he racks up hit after hit, his success is providing inspiration for blind people in his home region struggling to fulfil their potential. 

“I’m fascinated by his songs which I find very pleasing,” said Hamisu Mohammed, who lives at a colony for blind people in Kaduna. 

“Whenever I listen to Yahaya’s song being played on the radio I feel a sense of pride that he is one of us, the blind.”

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AMA Awards 2019: The complete list of nominees and winners

Here is a list of all the winners at the 15th edition of the AMAA award

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AMA Awards 2019: The complete list of nominees and winners

Barely one week after the Headies Awards took place in Lagos, the Africa Movies Academy Award (AMAA) followed. The Award was held on Sunday, 27th October 2019 at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The award was hosted by actress Kemi Lala Akindoju, Lorenzo Menakaya, and comedian, Funnybone.

The AMA Awards was founded by Peace Anyiam Osigwe about 15 years ago with the objective of honouring and promoting excellence in the African movie industry and uniting the African continent through arts and culture.

Here is a list of all the winners at the 15th edition of the AMA award:

1. Michael Anyiam Osigwe Award For Bestlm by an African-born Director Living Abroad

  • Julius Amedume – Rattlesnakes (Winner)
  • Tosin coker – Lara and the Beats 
  • Robert O. Peters – Makeroom

2. Best Diaspora Short Film

  • Bail (UK) (Winner)
  • Oath Bound (UK)
  • Fevah (UK)
  • I Am Superman (Brazil)

3. Best Diaspora Documentary

  • Wax Print 1 FABRIC, 4 continent (UK)
  • The Guardian of No Return (Guadalupe) 
  • Dare to Dream (USA/CUBA)
  • Drugs as Weapons Against Us (USA)
  • My Friend Fela (Brazil) (Winner)

4. Best Diaspora Narrative Feature 

  • Nine Nights (UK)
  • Olympia (USA)
  • Traffik (USA)
  • Hero (Trinidad and Tobago/Canada) (Winner)
  • Sprinter (Jamaica)

5. Best Achievement in Production Design 

  • Redemption (Mozambique) (Winner)
  • Rafiki (Kenya) 
  • Ellen, The Ellen Parkies Stories (South Africa)
  • Urgent (Morocco)
  • Burial of Kojo (Ghana)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda)
  • Delivery Boy (Nigeria)

6. Best Achievement in Costume Design

  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Light in the Dark (Nigeria)
  • Rafiki (Kenya)
  • Kings of Boys (Nigeria)
  • Lara and the Beats (Nigeria)
  • Urgent (Morocco)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda) (Winner)

7. Best Achievement in Make-Up 

  • Makeroom (Nigeria)
  • Gold Statue (Nigeria)
  • Veronica’s Wish (Uganda)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Before the Vows (Ghana)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda) (Winner)
  • The Burial of Kojo (Ghana)

8. Best Achievement in Soundtrack

  • Subira (Kenya)
  • Mabata Bata (Mozambique) (Winner)
  • Farewell Ela Bella (South Africa)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Lara and the Beats (Nigeria)
  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • Redemption (Mozambique)

9. Best Achievement in Visual Effects 

  • Makeroom (Nigeria)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Knockout Blessing (Nigeria) (Winner)
  • Mabata Bata (Mozambique)
  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • The King of Boys (Nigeria)
  • Burial of Kojo (Ghana)

10. NFVCB Award For Best Nigerian Film

  • The Delivery Boy 
  • Lara and the Beats 
  • Makeroom
  • King of Boys (Winner)
  • Gold Statue
  • Up North 
  • Knockout Blessing

11. Best Documentary

  • Djambar, Sembene the Unsubmissive (Cameroon)
  • The State Against Mandela (South Africa)
  • Golden Fish, African Fish (Senegal)
  • Skin (Nigeria)
  • Khartoum Offside (Sudan) (Winner)
  • Le loups d’or de Balole (Burkina Faso)
  • Sur Les Traces de Mamani Abdoulaye (Niger)
  • No Gold For Katsaka (Burkina Faso)
  • Mother, I am Suffocating, This Is My Last Film About You (Lesotho)

12. Ousmane Sembene Award For Best Film in an African Language 

  • Makeroom (Nigeria)
  • Mabata Bata (Mozambique)
  • Rafiki (Kenya) (Winner) 
  • Bahasha – The Envelope (Tanzania)
  • Azali (Ghana)

13. Efere Ozako Award For Best Short Film

  • The Fisherman (Ghana)
  • A Tune of Kora (Senegal) (Winner) 
  • ICYASHA (Rwanda)
  • NAMOW2018 (Kenya)
  • Vagabond (Ghana)
  • Measure of a Woman (South Africa)
  • Mma Moeketsi (South Africa)
  • Motsakwa (Botswana)
  • Tonight’s Opening Act (Egypt)
  • Hello Rain (Nigeria)

14. Best Achievement in Sound 

  • The Last Victim (South Africa)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Makeroom (Nigeria)
  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • The Burial of Kojo (Ghana)
  • Urgent (Morocco)
  • Mabata Bata (Mozambique) (Winner)
  • Redemption (Mozambique)

15. Best Achievement in Cinematography

  • Mabata Bata (Mozambique)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa) (Winner)
  • Mother, I am Suffocating, This Is My Last Film About You (Lesotho)
  • Redemption (Mozambique)
  • Rafiki (Kenya)
  • Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • The Burial of Kojo (Ghana)
  • Redemption (Mozambique)

16. Best Achievement in Editing

  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • The Burial of Kojo (Ghana)
  • The Last Victim (South Africa)
  • Rafiki (Kenya) (Winner)
  • The Gold Statue (Nigeria)
  • Diamond in the Sky (Nigeria)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda)
  • Sew The Winter To My Skin (South Africa)

17. Best Achievement in Editing 

  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • The Last Victim (South Africa)
  • Rafiki (Kenya)
  • Diamond in the Sky (Nigeria)
  • Gold Statue (Nigeria)
  • Lara and the Beats (Nigeria)
  • Redemption (Mozambique) (Winner)
  • Up North (Nigeria)

18. Best Animation 

  • Kitwana Journey (Kenya)
  • Choices (Nigeria) (Winner)
  • Isolated (Kenya)
  • Afrogames (Burkina Faso)

19. Best Young/Promising Actor

  • Youssef Alaoui (Ayoub) – URGENT
  • Angel Onyinyechi Unigwe (Adaeze) – LIGHT IN THE DARK 
  • Cynthia Dankwa (Esi) – BURIAL OF KOJO (Winner)
  • Emilio Bilio (Azarias) MABATA BATA
  • Jamma Ibrahim (Amir) – The DELIVERY BOY
  • Catherine Credo (Neema) – FATUMA

20. Best Actor In A Supporting Role 

  • Remilekun Reminisce Sarafu (Makanaki) – KING OF BOYS 
  • Jarrid Geduld (Abie) – ELLEN, THE ELLEN PARKIES STORY (WINNER).
  • Zolisa Xaluva (Wyatt Earp) – SEW THE WINTER TO MY SKIN
  • Kanayo O. Kanyayo (Chief Otuekong) Up North
  • Kobina Amissah-Sam (Kwabina) The Burial of Kojo
  • Bucci Franklyn (Dagogo) Knockout Blessing

21. Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Eniola Shobayo (Vivian) Knockout Blessing
  • Linda Ejiofor (Oby) Knockout Blessing
  • Kandyse McClure (Golden Eyes) Sew the Winter to My Skin
  • Adesua Etomi (Kemi) The King of Boys (WINNER)
  • Joke Silva (Mama Jumoke) Light in the Dark
  • Arlete Bombe (Mia) Redemption

22. Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Gabriel Afolayan Gold Statue
  • Joseph Otsiman (Kojo) The Burial of Kojo
  • Chinedu Ikedieze (Big Chi) Lara and the Beats
  • Jimmy Jean Louis (Robert McQueen) Rattlesnakes
  • Gil Alexandre (Bruno) Redemption
  • Marc Zinga (Mercy of the Jungle) (WINNER)
  • Ezra Mabengeza (Samson) Sew The Winter To My Skin
  • Ayoub Bombwe (Mwanyusi ) Fatuma

23. Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sheila Munyiva (Ziki) Rafik
  • Rita Dominic (Jumoke Arinze) Light in the Dark
  • Jill Levenberg (Ellen) The Ellen Parkies Story
  • Beatrice Taisamo (Fatuma) Fatuma
  • Seyi Shay (Lara) Lara and the Beats
  • Sola Sobowale (Eniola) King of Boys (WINNER)
  • Jemima Osunde (Nkem) The Delivery Boy
  • Samantha Mugatsia (Kena) Rafiki

24. Best Director-First Feature Film

  • Blitz Bazawule – The Burial of Kojo (Ghana) (WINNER)
  • Adekunle “Nodash” Adejuyigbe – The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • Sippy Chadha – Subira (Tanzania)
  • Nicole Amarteifo – Before the Vows (Ghana)

25. Best Director

  • Wanuri Kahui – Rafiki (Kenya)
  • Adekunle “Nodash” Adejuyigbe – The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • Daryne Joshua -Ellen, The Ellen Parkies Story (South Africa)
  • Jahmil X. Qubeka – Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa) (Winner)
  • Kemi Adetiba – King of Boys (Nigeria)
  • Mohcine Besri – Urgent (Morocco)
  • Mickey Fonseca – Redemption (Mozambique)
  • Joël Karekezi- Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda)

26. Best Film

  • Rafiki (Kenya)
  • Mercy of the Jungle (Rwanda) (WINNER)
  • The Delivery Boy (Nigeria)
  • Ellen, The Ellen Parkies Story (South Africa)
  • Sew the Winter to My Skin (South Africa)
  • Redemption (Mozambique)
  • King of Boys (Nigeria)
  • Urgent (Morocco)

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