Dotted on the continent, are cultures so mysterious like those of the Dogon of Mali, and those that have easily blended well with the western cultures like the Igbo of Nigeria and the Agikuyu of Kenya
Former Malian Photographer Malick Sidibe left us with memories of early years of African independence. In his well-chronicled photography, the photographer who died last year at the age of 80, left a lingering taste of the city life Bamako in black and white. Highlighting the newly born freedom, he would take vibrant revelers in their contemporary styles gracing the night clubs and enjoying the fruits of independence and their youth. Given the scantiness of camera in those years, he was the go to guy for those who wanted to relieve their youth when in their golden years- and he never failed making sure that the negatives would last through the years bringing fresh memories of yesterday.
At the moment though, everyone is a ‘photographer’ with smartphones and social media which documents every detail even for the lonely and the unpopular like yours truly. In spite of the popularity of the camera, there are artist immersed in the craft of photography to add lush to those images and even create memories for future generations. Also given the fast race of eliminating the culture sometimes viewed as ignorant and primitive, some artists have resolved to inter such art in photographs and paintings. One such artist is the Nigerian Oghagbon Eboigbodin Moses.
Oghagbon began his documentary photography and painting with the ‘Argungu Series’- a documentary on the ‘Argungu Fishing Festival’. Declared an intangible culture in 2016 by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the ‘Argungu Fishing Festival’ is practiced in Northern Nigeria by the people of Kabi in Kebbi State Nigeria. The ‘Argungu Series’ documentation began in 2013.
It is not just the Argungu Fishing festival that the artist has been documenting. In the month of November 2018, the artist will showcase the ‘Colours of Uhola’- an exhibition centered on the rich cultural heritage of the Zuru people in Kebbi State. The Lagos born Artist seems to have found fodder for his craft in the serene undisturbed waters of Northern Nigeria. Though the North still has pure cultural practices, some of them are slowly dwindling with people adopting the modern day global village culture.
‘Colours of Uhola’ celebrates the Uhola Festival- an annual cultural festival that is celebrated to send off the rain by appreciating God. During the festival, there is an agricultural display on the first day where the people display the gains from the rains ranging from yam, beans, sorghum to tomatoes, pepper and fruits. On the succeeding days, there will be archery and game hunting competition in the nearby bush. Bathing themselves in the glory of the hunt, women compete on grain grinding which ushers entertainment drawn from Zuru, Wasagu, Sakaba and Fakai regions of the southern part of Kebbi State.
“Each painting is packed with actions, movements and exuberant colors that keeps the viewer captivated.” Prof. John Oyedemi, Department of Fine and Applied Arts in the University of Jos, Plateau State Nigeria speaks of Oghagbon’s work. The detailed exploration of the subject matter makes the paintings evoke nostalgia while passing on the history of the cultures that are now slowly dwindling. Oghagbon’s approach in the use of hues “…Is displayed in the proficient handling of medium, adds Oyedemi. “The use of light and dark values and vis-à-vis create dramatic moments in his works. Examples are identified in the Spirit of Uhola I and II among others,” he proceeds to compare Oghagbon to another Nigerian artist Abiodun Alaku, the university don alludes to the captivating landscapes “that gives the viewer an endless view through the horizon to infinite conclusions.”
Oghagbon’s worship of the cultures of Northern Nigeria, specifically Kebbi State speaks a lot of the beauty of the African continent that is easily being swallowed by the rapidly changing cultural appreciation and adoption. Like a conservationist sticking to the beauty of the extinguishing culture, the artist hopes to evoke nostalgia and love that can only re-gnite the dying embers of certain cultures in Africa.
Dotted on the continent, are cultures so mysterious like those of the Dogon of Mali, and those that have easily blended well with the western cultures like those of the Igbo of Nigeria and the Agikuyu of Kenya. His work therefore is noteworthy in the cultural propagation and appreciation especially of the festivals that still make Africa the magical land of color and celebration.