Open and close

Year: 2003
Materials: Wood, cowries, electric steel
Housed: Artist

Exhibited in: Black President : The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

Fela’s music was very sexy and when I think of his concerts I think of the women in his band, dancing and gyrating to the beat, scantily dressed in woven fabric and painted with fluorescent colours and beads. They were symbols of African beauties. Fela married all of these women to give them respect and sense of pride, marrying them all at the same time to eliminate the sentiment of whom was senior to another. When he did this it was spectacular because there were so many of them; twenty-three in total. People found it amusing but I thought it was wonderful and inventive. Looking at the idea of using Fela’s women to convey his spirit is apt because they gave life to his concerts. I am using cowries in the sculpture to make their costumes. Cowries in Nigeria are used as currency and for magical purposes. My sculpture will therefore be a fetish of some kind. A tall gyrating structure decorated with cowries and motorised. Fela was a symbol of West African style he had so much power but all of his strength could not save him from AIDS. This is a contemporary plight. I would like to convey his dynamism and power, his vulnerability in death and the irony of life. ‘If you say African woman na woman, she go say- she go say aah I be lady oh’.

Interested in acquiring this work?