Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Nigeria bans smoking, ritual killings in movies, music videos, skits

The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) Tuesday announced that it would henceforth restrict the depiction of smoking, ritual killings and money rituals in movies, music videos and skits.

NFVCB’s Executive Director, Shaibu Husseini, disclosed this in Enugu at a National Stakeholder Engagement on the “#Smoke-Free Nollywood” campaign, which was organised in collaboration with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Mr Husseini said the federal government would prohibit the depiction and glamorisation of smoking, violence, criminal acts, immoral acts, ritual killings and money rituals in Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry.

He said the country faced a film “industry emergency requiring bold and ambitious actions” from parents, guardians, and stakeholders.

“Therefore, after a series of engagements, the NFVCB, in collaboration with CAPPA, decided to make Subsidiary Regulations to address smoking in movies since this aspect was not expressly spelt out in the extant Law.

“Today (Tuesday), I am delighted to announce to you that the Honourable Minister of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa, under Section 65 of the NFVCB Act 2004, has approved the “Prohibition of Money Ritual, Ritual Killing, Tobacco, Tobacco Product, Nicotine Product Promotion, Glamorization, Display in Movies, Musical Videos and Skits” Regulations 2024. We have forwarded the approved copy to the Federal Ministry of Justice for Gazette,” the official said.

Mr Husseini explained that the goal was eradicating smoking in movies and skits.

He added, “We will work with the industry to see how we achieve zero, completely smoke-free Nollywood.”

He identified the tobacco industry’s tricks to promote smoking but expressed confidence that the government was prepared to counter them.

Mr Hussein said: “Of recent, we realised that tobacco industries hide under the banner of entertainment to flaunt smoking. The NFVCB is well prepared to take leadership in this regard and has planned and begun implementing innovative ways to achieve its mandate, especially at this crucial time when the National Assembly is insisting that there is “Need to Curb the Rising Spate of Cultism, Trafficking, Consumption of Illicit Drugs and other Substances among Youths in Nigeria”.

“The Board had been urged to undertake detailed enlightenment programs in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, local communities, faith groups and other institutions, as well as impose restrictions on home movies promoting social vices.”

Participants at the event included veteran and top filmmakers, producers, scriptwriters, marketers, and distributors from across the country, such as Zeb Ejiro, Fred Amata, Segun Arinze, Bolaji Amusan, and The Aneke Twins, as well as leaders of various guilds and associations in the Nigerian film industry.
Smoke-free Nollywood

The participants affirmed their commitment to a pro-health Nollywood by signing a pledge to ensure a smoke-free Nollywood.

CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, stressed the need for stakeholders to work towards a Smoke-Free Nollywood in the interest of a healthy future for Nigerian children.

Mr Oluwafemi said, “Shockingly, studies have shown that smoking remains prevalent in Nigerian movies in contravention of the NTC Act and the Tobacco Control Regulations 2019, which explicitly prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorships in movies and entertainment. There is also a clear provision for warnings that should accompany any tobacco depiction necessary for “Historical Accuracy and Artistic Expression.”

“With the power to tell the Nigerian story, shape our future, and build a genuinely productive society, Nollywood ensures that the growing concerns of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria are addressed. Movies and music videos must reverse the role they play in painting smoking and tobacco use as an excellent way of life.

“With more than five million young Nigerians aged 15 years addicted to smoking cigarettes, our job, not just as movie practitioners and industry experts but also as parents, is to rise to the occasion and act right to protect our children and prepare for a smoke-free future. We are at a point where we must stop the glamorisation of smoking and, instead, promote healthy lifestyles.”

In-Country Coordinator of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Michael Olaniyan, who delivered a presentation titled “A Code of Practice for Smoking in the Entertainment and Plenary for Next Steps”, urged stakeholders to be careful not to breach the NTC Act while shooting movies.

He added that the Act demands the prohibition of avoidable/unnecessary smoking scenes, avoidable/unnecessary tobacco use of any kind, glamorisation of tobacco use, tobacco brand marking, tobacco product placements and sponsorship by tobacco companies, among others.


The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC)’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ali Nuhu, backed the move to rescue “vibrant and energetic youths from the claws of smoking-related and early health challenges.”

Mr Nuhu, who was represented by the NFC’s Director, Public Affairs, Brian Etuk, lamented that most Nigerian youths have become victims of circumstances having taken to smoking habits, with consequential health challenges and damage to body organs.

“We must, therefore, use the power of film/movie to help address the gradual but avoidable drifts that are ultimately life-threatening.”

Concurring, Enugu State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Ugochi Madueke, noted the “incredible influence” Nollywood holds over public perceptions and behaviours and urged film industry professionals to promote public health by making movies smoke-free.

The Alliance Coordinator for the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, Olawale Makanjuola, congratulated the NFVCB, adding, “We all know the role film, and most importantly, Nollywood, plays in our culture. For us, there is no better partner than the NFVCB and the creative industry in ensuring our screens remain smoke-free, thereby strengthening our public health infrastructures.”

By Jayne Augoye, Premium Times

Monday, February 5, 2024

Tyla's win over Burna Boy and Davido at Grammys 2024 fuels South Africa-Nigeria rivalry

 South African singer Tyla's victory at the Grammys, beating four Nigerian nominees, has fuelled the rivalry as the two nations prepare to face off at the Afcon semi-finals on Wednesday.

"South Africa won today but Nigeria will win on Wednesday where it matters most" one user wrote on X.

Tyla won for her song Water in the Best African Music Performance, over Davido, Arya Starr and Burna Boy.

Nigerians have called on their national team, the Super Eagles, to avenge them.

"No Nigerian won a Grammy, but a South African won. This is Nigerians being generous so that when we win them in AFCON, they will have something to banter with," another user wrote on X.

Nigerian Afrobeats giant Burna Boy was nominated in a total of four categories but did not walk away with a golden gramophone, yet his spellbinding performance at the award ceremony left the audience in awe.

Despite the fierce rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa, Davido extended his congratulations to Tyla on X and told her to "keep soaring".

South Africa was also represented by comedian Trevor Noah who was at the helm of the prestigious award ceremony as he was hosting for a fourth time. 


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Video - Artist Creates AI Fashion Show for Elderly in Nigeria

Images of African senior citizens walking the runway created a buzz on social media, eventually going viral. These AI-generated pictures challenged the typical depictions of elderly Africans, showcasing them in an empowering way. Karina Choudhury has the story. Camera: Samuel Okocha.


Related stories: The NFT Craze Is Helping Nigerian Artists Go Global

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Thursday, July 6, 2023

Video - Salsa teacher helps to dance the blues away in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the power of dance is being used to battle mental illness and the stigma attached to it. Men and women in the capital, Abuja, are coming together to attend free weekly salsa lessons for those battling trauma and depression … or even just to keep fit. Al Jazeera’s Michael Appel reports.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Seun Kuti released on bail





A Nigerian Afrobeat star facing trial on charges of assaulting a police officer will embark on a delayed concert tour after being released on bail, his manager said Wednesday.

Seun Kuti, who was in court on Wednesday, has concerts scheduled in more than a dozen countries but his departure had been on hold because of the trial, his manager Ayo Moses told The Associated Press.

The son of Nigerian musical icon and political agitator Fela Kuti, who himself was serially detained by Nigerian military regimes, Seun Kuti had been held for more than a week after he was caught allegedly assaulting a police officer in Nigeria's economic hub of Lagos.

At Wednesday's court hearing, the presiding judge ruled that it was the public prosecutor – not the police – that had the power to prosecute the musician. The judge then adjourned the case until a further hearing on July 3.

"He is on bail and as a responsible citizen, he will continue to enjoy his rights because he is presumed innocent," Femi Falana, his lawyer, said after the hearing.

Viral videos appeared to show an agitated Kuti shouting and pushing the officer along a major road in Lagos last week. It is still not clear what caused the confrontation, though Kuti alleged the officer in question "tried to kill me and my family."

While he was in detention, the police searched Kuti's house, causing an uproar among some Nigerians and his lawyers. But Benjamin Hundeyin, a spokesperson for the Lagos police, defended the search as necessary and approved by the court.

"In the course of our investigation, we stumbled on certain suspicious things that needed to be proven/disproved beyond reasonable doubt," Hundeyin said without providing further details.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Video - Nigeria Football Legend Jay Jay Okocha Set For Animated Series Adaptation

Nigeria soccer legend Augustine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha is getting animated.

A reimagining of Okocha’s childhood in Nigeria will be the basis of African streamer Showmax’s first animated series, Jay Jay: The Chosen One.

The virtuoso midfielder Okocha played for the Nigerian national team between 1993 and 2006 and let the country to Olympics soccer glory at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

His show will run to 13 episodes and follow an 11-year-old Augustine who dreams of representing his school at a prestigious football tournament with a team made up of his rag-tag group of friends. Along with his passion for soccer, he loves the animal kingdom, which bestows superpowers on him in return for his fight against illegal poaching.

The series is voiced by a Nigerian cast, led by Prince Unigwe (Glamour Girls, Samson in 2nd February) playing Jay Jay. Also cast are veteran actor Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki and PawPaw, The Johnsons), Samuel Ajibola (The Johnsons); pro-footballer turned actor Eric Obinna, Tinsel actress Mena Sodje, Lexan Peters and Pamilerin Ayodeji (The Father).

It’s already been quite the week for animated soccer series, with Deadline revealing yesterday Argentinian legend and 2022 World Cup winner Lionel Messi is getting the toon treatment at Sony Music Entertainment.

Besides Okocha’s exploits for Nigeria, playing in three World Cups and gaining 73 caps, he had successful spells for Fenerbahce in Turkey, PSG in France and Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League. He also played in Germany and Qatar and retired back in the UK in 2008 after playing for Hull City. He is considered one of the most skilful attacking midfielders of all-time and is considered by many as Nigeria’s greatest ever player.

“I’m honoured to have an animated series that reimagines my childhood,” he said. “Jay Jay: The Chosen One is going to bring back good childhood memories as well as inspire young children who have dreams to be football players. I’m excited about the show and grateful to Showmax and the production team who worked hard to bring it to life.”

Nihilent Limited is producing Jay Jay The Chosen One in partnership with the production studio 5th Dimension as well as animation studio I-Realities.

For Showmax, the series is a first animated effort. The streamer said the show would “give Nigerian children of all ages the opportunity to see themselves represented in animated form which is positive, humorous and educational” and “enchant and motivate kids across our continent through fantasy adventures as well as the power of sport.”

“Not only is Jay Jay: The Chosen One another locally inspired Showmax Original, it marks the beginning of our adventures in animation,” said Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and Connected Video at MultiChoice. “This is a show we believe will find audiences globally and shines the spotlight on yet another world-class African achiever that we hope will be enjoyed by kids and the entire family.”

LC Singh, Nihilent Limited’s director and Executive Vice Chairman, said, “I always knew that creating a sports-based animation series for kids would be challenging and rewarding at the same time. The amount of work that goes into every single frame is immense, but seeing the final product come to life makes it all worth it.”

The news comes a week after Showmax owns MultiChoice teamed with Sky and NBCUniversal to launch a new Showmax-branded group. The service will be relaunched at a later date, powered by NBCU’s Peacock streaming technology and combining MultiChoice’s investment in local productions with international content licensed from NBCU and Sky, as well as third party content from HBO, Warner Bros International, Sony and others, and include live English Premier League football.

By Jesse Whittock, Deadline

Related story: Jay-Jay Okocha inducted as Bundesliga Legend

Friday, February 3, 2023

Artist from Nigeria turns flip-flops into portraits







Eugene Komboye, a Nigerian artist, is turning discarded plastic flip-flop sandals into colourful portraits in an effort to help clean up the environment in a country where plastic pollution is prevalent.

What started as an assignment in college in 2017, has become a full time job for Komboye, whose studio in the city of Abeokuta in the southwest state of Ogun now trains aspiring artists who want to follow in his footsteps and create flip-flop portraits.

Nigeria produces at least 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, according to government figures, with some of it finding its way into the ocean and rivers.

Flip-flops are the footwear of choice for many Nigerians and

Komboye, 30, sources his material mostly from dump sites, landfills and river banks. Back in his studio he disinfects and washes his findings before cutting them up and pasting them on a board to create a face on each one. Some customers come to his studio with photographs which he will use to create a personalised portrait.

By Seun Sanni, Reuters

Related stories: Video - Changing Face of Nigeria’s Art Scene

Nigeria artist creates art with oil kegs in effort to reduce waste

Nigerian painting sells for $1.4 million

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Video - UK returns stolen Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

A London museum is returning its collection of 72 Benin artefacts - the first institution in the UK to do so on such a scale. British soldiers stole thousands of artefacts in the late 19th century from the Kingdom of Benin, which is now in Nigeria. In recent years, museums in Germany, France and the US have repatriated artefacts looted during colonial wars.

Al Jazeera 

Related stories: UK Museum Agrees to Return Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Germany has agreed to return Nigeria’s looted treasure. Will other countries follow?

Nigeria to build new museum for looted art


Friday, November 18, 2022

Nigeria artist creates art with oil kegs in effort to reduce waste

Growing up, Nigerian artist Oluwajuwonlo Adeyemi saw her mother discard large plastic kegs of cooking oil she used for her catering business in Lagos.

Distraught at the thought of adding waste to sprawling dumpsites in a city where only a small fraction of rubbish is recycled, Adeyemi turned them into faces that have become a trademark of the artwork.

She cuts off the top of the keg and paints it, using the handle as a long nose and the round screw-top opening as a mouth.

The colourful masks then become the heads of the protagonists in her paintings, on which she uses materials such as fabric and string to add texture and dimensions.

"Instead of me just painting the face, I wanted something that I can feel, something that can look real... that will look real to others," Adeyemi told Reuters in her studio.

The 20-year-old marketing student has exhibited twice in Lagos. Some of her pieces have sold for over $1000, she said.

Through her work, Adeyemi also hopes drawing attention to her mother's discarded oil kegs will raise awareness about waste reduction.

"Whenever she is throwing them away, it affects us and it pollutes our environment," she said, noting that re-using the kegs was a way of "stopping the pollution".

Reuters, by Seun Sanni

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Germany signs deal to give ownership of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Friday, November 11, 2022

Video - Returning the Benin Bronzes of Nigeria

The Benin Bronzes, arguably some of Africa’s priced treasures; looted from southern Nigeria's Benin Kingdom by European powers, have begun their long journey back home. Could this be a start of a process that could see the return of the remaining looted artifacts? We will find out in this week’s program. 


Related stories: Germany signs deal to give ownership of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Nigeria receives stolen artifacts repatriated from the U.S.



Thursday, October 27, 2022

Nigeria receives stolen artifacts repatriated from the U.S.

Nigeria has received 22 pieces of repatriated Benin Bronzes from the United States, the latest arrival of the country’s stolen historic objects.

The artifacts were received on Tuesday from the U.S. Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H. E. Zubairu Dada.

The Nigerian government has been among many African countries that have been pushing for the return of stolen African artifacts to their countries of origin.

Hundreds of the historic objects are on display in foreign countries despite repeated calls for them to be given back.

Most of the artifacts were stolen from their countries of origin during the colonial period.

Earlier this month, Nigeria offered to loan the artifacts back to countries that would agree to the repatriation request.

“Many museums are responding positively, and it is the right thing to do for any museum of a country because you cannot illegally take artifacts away from their original place, display them in your museums,” the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Abba Tijjani, said.

By Jerry Omondi


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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Germany to return 1,130 looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, said Tuesday Nigeria has signed an agreement with Germany for the repatriation of over 1,130 looted Benin Bronze artifacts back to the country.

Mohammed disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington DC after three museums in the U.S. repatriated 31 Benin Bronze artifacts to Nigeria.

He commended the German government for that effort, adding that Nigeria is also getting positive response from France and Mexico to return some of its stolen artifacts.

In 1897 during a British raid on Benin, the royal palace was torched and looted, and the oba (ruler) was exiled.

The British confiscated all royal treasures, giving some to individual officers and taking most to auction in London.

The estimated 3,000 objects eventually made their way into museums and private collections around the world.

The minister said the world had seen that it was an ethical and moral issue to return the artifacts back to their owners, noting that it is not a matter of law as claimed by the British Government.

“This is important for the British Museum to understand and for the British Government to know, because I was also in the British Museum to ask them to return thousands of the artifacts in its custody.

“The standard response is that until the British Parliament changes the status, they are not in position to so do.

“The U.S. and Germany are now seeing that this matter is not of law but of morality, it is about doing the right thing. I hope that the British government will also learn from the two countries and do same,’’ he said.

According to him, Nigeria is planning to sign an agreement with the British government on November 28 to return about 86 other artifacts from various museums in UK.

The minister said the campaign of the current administration for the return of and restitution of Nigeria’s looted /smuggled artifacts from around the world, which was launched in November 2019, is yielding positive result.

He said in January, Nigeria and the U.S. signed the bilateral cultural property agreement to prevent illicit import into the U.S. of some categories of Nigerian artifacts.

“This agreement solidifies our shared commitment to combat looting and trafficking of precious cultural property while also establishing a process for the return of trafficked cultural objects, thus reducing the incentives to loot sites in Nigeria.’’

Oba of Benin hails US museums

In his remarks, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, commended three U.S. museums for the repatriation of 31 Benin Bronze artifacts, which were violently taken away from the Royal Palace of Benin by British forces in 1897.

Oba Ewuare II, who was represented by his brother, Aghatise Erediauwa, said the decision of the Smithsonian is now being emulated by numerous other Museums around the world who had continued to hold onto heritage art.

“The accepted narrative is that works which were looted or acquired in ethical ways should be returned to their places of origin,’’ he said.

By Emmanuel Elebeke


Related stories: Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

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Museum in Britain to return Benin bronzes to Nigeria

UK Museum Agrees to Return Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Friday, August 26, 2022

Germany signs deal to give ownership of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Germany signed an agreement on Thursday to transfer ownership to Nigeria of the Benin Bronzes, among Africa's most culturally significant artefacts which were looted in the 19th century.

British soldiers took hundreds of bronzes - intricate sculptures and plaques dating back to the 13th century onwards - when they invaded the Kingdom of Benin, located in what is now southwestern Nigeria, in 1897.

The artefacts ended up in museums around Europe and the United States. African countries have for years fought to recover them.

Germany returned the first of the sculptures to Nigeria in July.

On Thursday, the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (SPK) and Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) signed a deal transferring their ownership from the Ethnological Museum collection in Berlin to Nigeria.

The agreement, which the SPK described as the most extensive transfer of museum artefacts from a colonial context to date, covers 512 objects which ended up in Berlin in the aftermath of the 1897 looting.

The first objects will be physically returned to Nigeria this year. About a third of the treasures will remain on loan in Berlin for at least 10 years and exhibited at the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. The loan might be extended.

"This represents the future concerning the artefacts issue; a future of collaboration among museums, a future of according respect and dignity to the legitimate requests of other nations and traditional institutions," said NCMM's Abba Isa Tijani.

He urged museums outside Germany to emulate the agreement.

French art historians have estimated that some 90% of Africa's cultural heritage is believed to be in Europe. African countries have long sought to get back works pillaged by explorers and colonisers as Western institutions grapple with the cultural legacies of colonialism.

Earlier this month, London's Horniman Museum said it would return 72 artefacts, including 12 brass plaques, to the Nigerian government, following a similar move by a Cambridge University college and a Paris museum last year.

German Culture Commissioner Claudia Roth said it was an example for museums in Germany with colonial-era collections and that further agreements would follow in coming months.

By Madeline Chambers


Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

The 'Mona Lisa' of Nigeria returns back home

Monday, August 8, 2022

UK Museum Agrees to Return Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

A London museum agreed Sunday to return a collection of Benin Bronzes looted in the late 19th century from what is now Nigeria as cultural institutions throughout Britain come under pressure to repatriate artifacts acquired during the colonial era.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in southeast London said that it would transfer a collection of 72 items to the Nigerian government. The decision comes after Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments formally asked for the artifacts to be returned earlier this year and following a consultation with community members, artists and schoolchildren in Nigeria and the U.K., the museum said.

"The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria,'' Eve Salomon, chair of the museum's board of trustees, said in a statement. "The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step, and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer term care for these precious artifacts.''

The Horniman's collection is a small part of the 3,000 to 5,000 artifacts taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 when British soldiers attacked and occupied Benin City as Britain expanded its political and commercial influence in West Africa. The British Museum alone holds more than 900 objects from Benin, and National Museums Scotland has another 74. Others were distributed to museums around the world.

The artifacts include plaques, animal and human figures, and items of royal regalia made from brass and bronze by artists working for the royal court of Benin. The general term Benin Bronzes is sometimes applied to items made from ivory, coral, wood and other materials as well as the metal sculptures.

Increasing demand for returns

Countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Greece, as well indigenous peoples from North America to Australia, are increasingly demanding the return of artifacts and human remains amid a global reassessment of colonialism and the exploitation of local populations.

Nigeria and Germany recently signed a deal for the return of hundreds of Benin Bronzes. That followed French President Emmanuel Macron's decision last year to sign over 26 pieces known as the Abomey Treasures, priceless artworks of the 19th century Dahomey kingdom in present-day Benin, a small country that sits just west of Nigeria.

But British institutions have been slower to respond.

Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Information and Culture formally asked the British Museum to return its Benin Bronzes in October of last year.

The museum said Sunday that it is working with a number of partners in Nigeria and it is committed to a "thorough and open investigation" of the history of the Benin artifacts and the looting of Benin City.

"The museum is committed to active engagement with Nigerian institutions concerning the Benin Bronzes, including pursuing and supporting new initiatives developed in collaboration with Nigerian partners and colleagues," the British Museum says on its website.

BLM inspires museum to 'reset'

The Horniman Museum also traces its roots to the Age of Empire.

The museum opened in 1890, when tea merchant Frederick Horniman opened his collection of artifacts from around the world for public viewing.

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, the museum embarked on a "reset agenda,'' that sought to "address long-standing issues of racism and discrimination within our history and collections, and a determination to set ourselves on a more sustainable course for the future.''

The museum's website acknowledges that Frederick Horniman's involvement in the Chinese tea trade meant he benefitted from low prices due to Britain's sale of opium in China and the use of poorly compensated and sometimes forced labor.

The Horniman also recognizes that it holds items "obtained through colonial violence."

These include the Horniman's collection of Benin Bronzes, comprising 12 brass plaques, as well as a brass cockerel altar piece, ivory and brass ceremonial objects, brass bells and a key to the king's palace. The bronzes are currently displayed along with information acknowledging their forced removal from Benin City and their contested status.

"We recognize that we are at the beginning of a journey to be more inclusive in our stories and our practices, and there is much more we need to do," the museum says on its website. "This includes reviewing the future of collections that were taken by force or in unequal transactions."


Related story: Nigeria to build new museum for looted art


Friday, April 29, 2022

Video - Nigerian artist turns waste into creative pieces

Nigerian artist Blessing Ibiye uses scrap metals and disposed of tyres to make creative pieces that earn him a living.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Nigerians offer artworks to British Museum in new take on looted bronzes

A new guild of artists from Nigeria's Benin City has offered to donate artworks to the British Museum in London as a way to encourage it to return the priceless Benin Bronzes that were looted from the city's royal court by British troops in 1897.

Created in the once mighty Kingdom of Benin from at least the 16th century onwards, the bronze and brass sculptures are among Africa's finest and most culturally significant artefacts. European museums that house them have faced years of criticism because of their status as loot and symbols of colonial greed.

The Ahiamwen Guild of artists and bronze casters says it wants to change the terms of the debate by giving the British Museum contemporary artworks, untainted by any history of looting, that showcase Benin City's modern-day culture.

"We never stopped making the bronzes even after those ones were stolen," said Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro, a founding member of the new guild and the instigator of the proposed donation. "I think we make them even better now."

"Part of the crime that's been committed, it's not just ok, these were looted, it's the fact that you've portrayed our civilisation as a dead civilisation, you've put us among ancient Egypt or something," he said.

The artworks on offer, unveiled in Benin City in a ceremony attended by a member of the royal court, include a 2-metre-by-2-metre bronze plaque with carvings representing historical events in Benin, and a life-size ram made entirely from spark plugs.

Asked to comment on the offer, the British Museum said only that it was a matter for discussion between itself and the parties offering the objects.

Zeickner-Okoro, who travelled from Benin City to London this month partly to advance his initiative, said he had a meeting coming up with curators from the museum's Africa department.

While Germany has said it wants to return Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria, the British Museum, which houses the largest and most significant collection of the items, has stopped short of making a clear commitment.

It says on its website that its director, Hartwig Fischer, had an audience with the Oba, or king, of Benin in 2018 "which included discussion of new opportunities for sharing and displaying objects from the Kingdom of Benin".

But many people in Benin City see no justification for European museums holding onto loot.

"They must bring it back. It is not their father's property. The property belongs to the Oba of Benin," said bronze caster Chief Nosa Ogiakhia.

Zeickner-Okoro, who grew up partly in Britain before moving back to Benin City, acknowledged that the Benin Bronzes' presence in European museums had allowed them to reach a global audience. But he said they should now return to the place and the people that created them.

"The descendants of the people who cast those bronzes, they've never seen that work because most of them can't afford to fly to London to come to the British Museum," he said.

"They have these catalogues, PDF copies of the catalogue from the British Museum, which they use to reference the work of their ancestors, and I think it's so sad."

By Tife Owolabi and Estelle Shirbon


Related stories: The NFT Craze Is Helping Nigerian Artists Go Global

Britain open to loan Nigeria stolen art

Friday, June 25, 2021

Digital art thrives among crypto-curious Nigerian artists


At only 29, Nigerian pop-artist Osinachi has sold paintings on Microsoft Word for several thousand euros, or the equivalent amount in ether, a cryptocurrency often used to buy digital art.

One of his works, Becoming Sochukwuma, shows a black dancer wrapped in a tutu made of African fabric, dreadlocks tied in a bun, swirling on a computer screen.

But what makes the painting truly unique is its endorsement with an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) -- a set of data stored in a blockchain that is used as a certificate of ownership.

The digital painting was sold in April for $80,000 worth of virtual money on the crypto-art market, a growing business in Africa's most populous country.

Worldwide, NFTs, which serve as a unique identifier, have reassured collectors when buying online art and propelled digital artists to stardom. Between January and May, NFTs generated around $2.5 billion worth of transactions according to the website sparking the interest of global auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's.

Osinachi's pieces have done very well on this emerging market and in just a few months the young man has become the most famous African crypto-artist.

He was already using Microsoft Word to paint when he was at university but "gallerists didn't care about digital art" until recently, he told AFP.

It was in 2017 that he discovered he could sell his artwork directly to buyers using a blockchain - where a record of NFT ownership can be stored.

In the past six months, as crypto-currencies and NFTs have boomed, digital art like Osinachi's has thrived.

"Now, galleries are after him," said Oyindamola Fakeye, creative director at the Center for Contemporary Art in the country's cultural capital Lagos.

"He has a very positive influence on other African digital artists."

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, are terms that are no longer foreign to Osinachi, who spends a lot of time in person and online explaining what they are to other artists.

Many creative minds and entrepreneurs in Nigeria are inspired by his success.

It's a "revolution in the art space", said fellow crypto-artist Niyi Okeowo, whose afro-futurist work combines photography, 3D and graphic design.

Nigeria has about "a hundred" digital artists, Okeowo says, and "most have been inspired by Osinachi".

With its large, youthful, creative and connected population, the West African nation has "the potential to lead" when it comes to NFTs, Osinachi believes.

"We have plenty of talents here. The creative energy in Lagos alone is baffling among young people."

Nigerians are also fond of cryptocurrencies, contributing to the success of NFTs.

In times of economic crisis, with a devalued naira, a growing number in the country are chosing to invest in digital currency.

Last year, more than $400 million were exchanged in cryptos, making Nigeria the third-largest user of digital money worldwide, behind the US and Russia, according to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data.

Entrepeneur Uyi Omokaro was an early believer in the potential of NFT in Nigeria.

This month, he launched Wearmasters, a platform to sell Africa-made NFT art, where he hopes to bring on some of Nigeria's most talented emerging artists like 23-year-old painter Daniel Pengrapher

"Our ambition is to give them international visibility through NFT."

For now, NFT collectors are few in the country. One of them is Michael Ugwu, director of a digital studio in Lagos.

"I'm one of the only ones," says Ugwu.

He started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2017, after several devaluations of the naira, before discovering his real passion: the crypto-art market.

"The traditional art space can be a little bit snobbish," said Ugwu. On the crypto-art market, he says he "found a community, so welcoming, so interactive".

He owns about "a hundred" NFTs he says proudly, but he also considers them investments.

Ugwu has used NFTs as insurance to obtain loans on the crypto-finance market, a process that would take months in the traditional banking system.

Ugwu remains confident, despite recent crypto crashes that automatically devalue his collections.

"Most of my friends think that I'm crazy... Let's wait and see in 10 years."


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Monday, May 10, 2021

Germany has agreed to return Nigeria’s looted treasure. Will other countries follow?

The bronze plaques from his birthplace looked strange at the British Museum.

Enotie Ogbebor, a visiting artist, knew they were cultural treasures. West African sculptors had crafted them over six centuries to tell the history of Benin, a kingdom that stood in what is now southern Nigeria until British troops invaded in 1897.

But on display in London, he recalled, they carried the aura of war trophies.

Colonial soldiers had plundered his ancestors’ land, seizing what became collectively known as the Benin bronzes. Thousands of plaques, masks and figures wrought from largely metal, ivory and wood landed in museums across Europe and the United States.

“They look so out of place, out of context,” said Ogbebor, 52. “To see them in isolation, far away from home, kept for onlookers to gawk at without any real understanding of what happened — it’s like being a witness to your family story told wrongly.”

Some of the bronzes are now set to come home: Last week, Germany became the first country to announce plans to send hundreds of pieces back to Nigeria, starting next year.

The German restitution pledge, the largest thus far, has injected momentum into the push for other governments to do the same as nations worldwide grapple with histories of racial injustice. Protest movements have placed a fresh spotlight on old atrocities, toppled statues and called for the recovery of items stolen — often violently — during colonial rule.

“To hold onto the works is to add salt to an open wound,” said Ogbebor, a member of the Legacy Restoration Trust, which represents Nigeria’s government and regional leaders.

Germany’s culture minister said the shift stemmed from “moral responsibility,” and a handful of museums elsewhere have launched their own efforts as curators reexamine the bloody origins of prized artifacts.

Benin bronzes can be found at 161 museums around the world, according to research by Dan Hicks, a curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford and the author of “The Brutish Museums.” Thirty-eight are in the United States. Only nine of the institutions are in Nigeria.

Many institutions remain hesitant to relinquish the work.

The British Museum — owner of the world’s biggest collection, at roughly 900 pieces — is legally prohibited from releasing the Benin bronzes because Parliament regulates its inventory.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which has said it acquired Benin works from donors, has revealed no plans to return them. (The Met did not respond to requests for comment.)

Pressure has swelled over the last year, however, as protesters flooded cities, reinvigorating dialogue around painful memories. Atop the African Union’s agenda this year: fighting the coronavirus — and recovering stolen heritage.

“In the present moment, we are seeing a reckoning with institutional racism, which starts with the observation that institutional racism has a history,” said Hicks, the Oxford curator.

The Horniman Museum in London, a registered charity that holds 15 of the bronzes, announced in March that it would explore “the possible return” of anything plundered. Days later, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said it would send back the bust of a Benin ruler. And last month, the National Museum of Ireland pledged to release 21 works to Nigeria.

Returned art will be installed at the forthcoming Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City, which Ghanaian British architect David Adjaye has signed on to design. (Though the doors aren’t slated to open until 2025, organizers say secure storage is likely to be ready by the end of next year.)

Little remained after Benin fell.

The kingdom, which dated back to the 11th century, had been one of West Africa’s great powers. Historians say its earthen walls rivaled the Great Wall of China.

Then came the British, who by the mid-1800s were exerting control over the surrounding areas. Benin enjoyed trade influence that irked colonial leaders, researchers say. The breaking point came when West African forces ambushed a British expedition that had not received permission to enter the kingdom, killing dozens.

Britain responded with 1,200 troops, warships and 3 million bullets, according to Hicks’s research. Benin burned to the ground. Official documents offer no casualty number, but researchers estimate widespread death.

The British military called the destruction “punitive.”

Soldiers went on to loot the kingdom’s riches, telling British authorities that the ivory alone would cover the cost of the mission. Some kept the bronzes for themselves, making them family heirlooms. European art scholars lavished praise on the works, and they were quickly auctioned off.

The spoils of Benin sat on display in England just six months later.

Nigeria has been calling for their return since it gained independence in 1960. The theft stripped away centuries of knowledge, said Victor Ehikhamenor, an artist from Benin City. Generations lost the opportunity to build on the work of their forebears.

“I grew up with the leftovers,” he said.

And the narrative of white dominance lives on in revered places. Schoolchildren see the “punitive” language next to popular exhibits. Google “Benin bronzes,” and the search engine delivers a harmful euphemism: “Discovered by: British forces.”

“These works were not legally acquired,” said Ehikhamenor, a member of Nigeria’s restoration effort. “Museums are oversaturated with colonial conquests.”

Today, he said, the people and institutions that benefited from Benin’s collapse have a chance to make amends.

Museums can put the Benin bronzes in the mail or transfer ownership to Nigeria. Leaders in Benin City have embraced the idea of loaning them out to museums across the globe, just as Spain might let France borrow a Picasso painting — on fair terms, as equals.

By Danielle Paquette

The Washington Post 

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The NFT Craze Is Helping Nigerian Artists Go Global

In March, Oyindamola Oyekemi Oyewumi, a 24-year-old Nigerian artist who creates portraits using ballpoint pens, tweeted her drawing of Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson.

Hoskinson noticed the tweet and put it up for sale as a non-fungible token (NFT), or one-of-a-kind digital item with its own digital signature. By the end of the month, the tweet sold for $6,300 and now it’s Hoskinson’s Twitter profile picture.

“Luckily for me, Hoskinson himself told me about NFTs. He gave me a link to read about NFTs and, after reading about it, I decided I want to try it out,” Oyewumi told CoinDesk. Last week Oyewumi sold the first NFT she minted by herself on Mintable, and a friend helped her convert her crypto earnings to the local naira currency.

NFTs are all the rage this year, especially after the artist Beeple sold a digital art collage for $69.3 million through the British auction house Christie’s in March. Christie’s also announced Thursday it will be selling nine NFT collectibles known as CryptoPunks. This month, American-Senegalese R&B singer Akon launched AkoinNFT, an NFT platform to “supercharge and empower” artists and brands.

Now the trend has spread to Nigeria, where local financial institutions are banned from servicing crypto firms. This means Nigerians cannot convert digital assets to naira through traditional crypto exchanges. But that hasn’t wiped out crypto in Africa’s largest economy, thanks in part to its young and tech-savvy population. Users began switching to peer-to-peer platforms to avoid using banks and the use of crypto continues, as evidenced by how local artists like Oyewumi are embracing NFTs.

Although more Nigerian artists are entering the NFT space, they do so wary of the hype. Some Nigerian artists told CoinDesk that although minting their artwork comes with a number of advantages, they have concerns about the impact of NFTs on the art world in general.

Only good for already-established artists

Oyewumi feels the NFT culture is only beneficial to those artists who already have a large fanbase.

“If I put my art up as NFTs, sure, lots of people will see it. But some people will still prefer to purchase work from artists they already know. People might end up just creating pieces and uploading but not be able to sell anything,” Oyewumi said.

For instance, NFT art collector Michael Ugwu typically likes to check out an artist’s online presence and work before purchasing his or her art. A London-based music executive and entrepreneur of Nigerian descent, Ugwu owns around 40 NFT pieces by artists from around the world, including Nigeria. Ugwu told CoinDesk he only buys art he loves, but there is also a business perspective to consider.

“I also want to know that there’s going to be a global marketplace for that piece, if I want to sell it on the secondary market. It’s much easier to sell a Fewocious, a Billelis or if you get lucky and get your hands on a Beeple. So based on those factors, from African artists I primarily acquire work that I feel has a global audience,” Ugwu said.

He added that for some African artists, minting their first pieces could be a challenge due to the Ethereum gas fees sometimes needed to sell an NFT.

“It’s not cheap. A typical African artist may or may not have the $100 or $200 it’s going to cost them per piece. So that’s a small barrier,” Ugwu said, adding there are some platforms that waive or subsidize the minting fee.

Oyewumi feels new artists may also struggle with pricing their pieces and end up selling their art for less than what it’s worth.

All about the money

One NFT art piece in Ugwu’s collection is by the acclaimed Nigerian digital artist Osinachi.

Osinachi, 29, has made a name for himself as a digital artist and produces most of his work using Microsoft Word. When he first started making art in the late 2000s, his primary goal was to see his work displayed in a traditional art gallery. Over the years Osinachi reached out to numerous galleries but received no response.

Then he discovered crypto art.

In 2017, Osinachi learned people were posting artwork as NFT collectibles. With some help from the community, Osinachi minted a few of his works. In 2018, his art was featured in the Etherealblockchain summit in New York.

The following year Osinachi’s dream came true when he was invited to show his work at a contemporary art gallery in Switzerland. In 2020, his art was featured in CoinDesk’s “The Most Influential People in Crypto” list. The same year, he quit his job as an academic librarian at the University of Nigeria Nsukka to focus on his art full time. A month ago he sold one of his digital paintings, “Am I pretty?,” for 13.2 ETH (+5.85%) (around $27,600 as of Friday).

“A single NFT sale can translate to my one-year salary when I was working at the University of Nigeria,” Osinachi said.

Now, he is helping other Nigerian digital artists mint their work. Osinachi told CoinDesk that thanks to the NFT gold rush, digital artists like him are getting the attention they deserve and (thanks in part to the Beeple sale) learning that digital art can be priced as high as or higher than traditional art.

But he is also concerned about aspects of the traditional art world flooding the NFT space.

“Now, you also see marketplaces paying attention to certain big names. They care about the big artists that would make huge sales, and not necessarily about the art that is being made,” Osinachi said.


Oyewumi, who set up her NFTs by herself, found the process to be complicated and experienced a number of unfamiliar technical issues.

She also saw a colleague’s art minted without the artist’s knowledge or permission. As NFTs went viral, scammers took to minting other artists’ work. In early March, illustrator Derek Laufman lashed out at NFT platform Rarible when a Twitter user notified him his art was listed on the website for sale without his knowledge.

Anthony Azekwoh, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student and digital artist, minted his first NFTs last month but finds the NFT space quite “tricky.”

“It’s been very complicated for me as a Nigerian. I come from a place where you make money through years of hard work, but with the NFT space it’s a situation where in a single minute you’re making millions of naira. I feel like the relationship most Nigerians or most people from places like Nigeria would have with the NFT space is, ‘Wow, how does any of this work? How is it possible?’” Azekwoh told CoinDesk.

But it’s not all bad.

Like Osinachi, Azekwoh is wary of the focus on monetization in the NFT world and determined to help other Nigerian artists. With his NFT earnings, he has set up a fund that pledges 200,000 naira to young local artists between the ages of 15 and 25.

Ugwu believes that although the NFT space in Nigeria is still small, it has the potential to propel Nigerianartists to the global stage if local digital art curators emerge in the coming years.

There are “a lot of great artists out of Africa, and Nigeria, who are focused on physical work, and I’m all for them getting a better understanding of the opportunities of NFTs,” Ugwu said.

Despite the many complexities, younger artists like Oyewumi and Azekwoh, inspired by veterans like Osinachi, are slowly working out the kinks and establishing themselves as global artists of the digital era.

NFT newcomer Oshomah sold his first multimedia artwork two weeks ago and has minted his second. Oshomah said that at the moment he could probably only name 10 Nigerian NFT artists, but there are hundreds of talented artists who, with some help, can enter the space in the months and years to come.

“You will see a lot of artists come out of Africa [who] will give Beeple a run for his money,” Oshomah said.

By Sandali Handagama


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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

'The system is rigged': Seun Kuti on reviving Fela's political party

The musician and youngest son of the Afrobeat legend has been galvanised to act after police brutality in Nigeria

“For 60 years nothing has really been solved in this country,” Seun Kuti says. “Healthcare, education, electricity, transportation, welfare – nothing has been accomplished.”

Galvanised by the brutality meted out by Nigerian police against protesters in October last year, the 37-year-old Grammy-nominated musician and youngest son of the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti resurrected his father’s socialist political party, the Movement of the People. Against a backdrop of widespread and mounting frustration over how Nigeria is run, he hopes the MOP can be a vehicle for change in 2021.

The “weird” past year was, he says, compounded by peculiarly Nigerian challenges. In October Kuti marched alongside thousands of others in the #EndSars protests against police brutality, nursing the wounds of shot demonstrators. The protests, some of the largest in Nigeria for decades, erupted after footage emerged of police brutality by the notorious Sars unit. But the underlying causes were broader, Kuti says. “The people made it known that EndSars was a slogan. How I interpreted it was they wanted an end to oppression, not just a manifestation of it that is Sars.”

More recently, he lost his band leader, Dave Obayendo. “We couldn’t even tell whether it was Covid or not, he wasn’t tested,” Kuti says. “The hospital turned him back. Before they took him to the next hospital, he died in the car.” The rejection of patients by hospitals is rife, he says, sometimes for issues such as a lack of adequate equipment.

The MOP was founded in 1979 by Fela before his sole, failed presidential bid, one episode of an extraordinary life of music and resistance during which he faced near-endless violence and suppression by Nigerian authorities.

According to Kuti, the prospects for anti-establishment parties, though still remote, are better now. “Today it will be easier for such a message to reach the core of Nigerian people than it was in the 70s. The problems are so glaring,” he says. “Elites have imposed this sinister, anti-poor capitalist system, going on for years and years, but are people really in favour of it? How can you be a capitalist with no capital? You’ll begin to see that the system is rigged.”

Kuti hopes the new version of the MOP, which brings together an array of small leftwing activist groups, will more effectively articulate these issues, “giving the masses a voice and building class consciousness”. But he scoffs at the prospect of a presidential run and says the group’s aims are long-term. “No, that’s not me. I’m an artist. But we will have candidates across the country for sure,” he says.

“The military hierarchy has consistently made sure that they are the ones in power, we have to put an end to it. We have to build a mass movement from the grassroots up, giving ordinary Nigerians a platform.”

A bleak sense of deja vu feels hard to ignore in Nigeria. In the 1980s Muhammadu Buhari, who is now the president, was a military dictator and a prime target of Fela’s ceaselessly political songwriting. Then as now, economic suffering, a weakening currency and a flailing anti-corruption campaign were causing widespread dismay.

The killing of scores of protesters by army and police officials in October, including at the Lekki tollgate area of Lagos, was one of several episodes where protesters and critics were attacked, arrested or met with state aggression.

“During one protest a guy came to my house who had a gunshot wound in his side like this,” Kuti says, gesturing to his torso. “People talk about the Lekki massacre but they shot people everywhere, people were shot to death all over Lagos.”

MOP’s first meeting was due to be held in December at Fela’s old club, Afrika Shrine, a bohemian enclave where he often performed. But scores of armed police surrounded the building and banned them from organising, so the meeting was held elsewhere.

“It just shows that they [the authorities] are spooked,” Kuti says. “They are trying to send a message, but they can’t stop what we’re doing.”

Rolling joints with his own self-branded rolling paper, Kuti describes how the absence of touring over the last year has been hard. “I miss my band, we had plans last year that were cancelled, but I’m hopeful we’ll start things up again this year,” he says. Playing his saxophone, he says, brings him joy.

Although music, family, and new business ventures to offset the lack of performing are time-consuming, political change is front of mind.

“Maybe it can be hard to be hopeful but I’m hopeful, Kuti says. “We want to set up different ways of reaching out to the masses because frankly they are ignored. We can’t bring change without the people, so giving them a voice is the most important thing.”

By Emmanuel Akinwotu

The Guardian

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