For black history, Femi, Made In Legacy+
Every February, tagged Black History Month (BHM), provides opportunity to recognise contributions of African people in world history.
It is also to honour the persistence, determination and commitment of today’s black leaders, who champion justice and equality in their communities, especially at a time when mis-education, hate, bigotry, fundamentalism and corruption have become prominent in modern conversation.
This year, LAF Foundation featured contributions made by Africans on the continent and diaspora and also introduced several partners and community activists who are social, racial, and economic justice leaders as a reminder of the words of the historian Carter G. Woodson, who created Black History Month in 1926.
“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
The 2021 edition began on a bright note in consonance with the theme: Black Family, Representation, Identity and Diversity with the Legacy + album launched by the duo of Femi Anikulapo Kuti and Made, his son, on February 5 at the New Afrika Shrine.
Both albums that make up ‘Legacy +’ are steeped in the tradition of afrobeat invented by Fela Kuti (Femi’s father and Made’s grandfather), with the two artistes bringing their own unique vision and sound.
With tracks such as, Stop The Hate, which honours Fela in a traditionally fun, sharply political, and For(e)ward, a modern and progressive freedom manifesto, the two artistes push boundaries of the subgenre even further.
Beyond the celebration of black history, February is also when Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba race, led by His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, holds prayers for the well-being of the black race in what is called Odun Aje.
The event held on Monday, February 23, 2021 with a traditional procession by the Ooni.
The event captured the aim for which it was established:
• To ensure the revival, resurgence, propagation and promotion of Black and African culture and black cultural values and civilisation;
• to present Black and African culture in its highest and widest conception;
• to bring to light the diverse contributions of Black and African peoples to the universal currents of thoughts and arts;
• to promote Black and African artists, performers and writers and facilitate their world acceptance and their access to world outlets;
• to promote better international and interracial understanding; and
• to facilitate a periodic ‘return to origin’ in Africa by Black artists, peoples, writers and performers uprooted to other continents.
While appraising the relevance of BHM, the avant-gardist, Abinoro Akporode Collins, an artist who sees art as a means to document history, impact the present and foresee the future, said, “And the artist is a medium through which messages that can impact the world are passed. I am a multimedia and dimensional artist. My art infuses classical, conceptual and often-metaphysical touch using repurposed materials; iconical stainless steel is a medium that is a primary material I use in my art. Working with the medium helps me give new meaning and purpose to these mediums.”
For the sustainability of the African history, he said, “the beauty of being an African artist based in Africa is the depth of creating from firsthand experience of living in Africa and able to tell our narratives through my art. Our cultural, social and political landscapes are a base of inspiration to my art because I am directly and indirectly impacted by what it is to be an African. My series on ‘nonconformist’, which challenge the negative narrative about our identity in terms of our colors, our unique body features, our hair type and texture, our way of life. Surviving years of racism and inhuman treatment but yet standing tall against all odds to celebrate what makes us Africans. My works are deeply rooted in my experience as an African with a view to inspire and impact the world.”
In her brilliant submission on mental health and post-colonial Africa, the convener of @mymindfirstaider, Florence Peters, said, “the psychological oppression of slavery, colonialism and migration, meant a period of reinventing and rediscovery for the black community. The effects of slavery and colonialism increased negative self-perception in black people, the response to these issues was psychopathology like anger and despair.
“As a result, black people have thrived to place themselves in a favourable and acceptable manner to the other cultures— adapting and seeing oneself through the eyes of the rest of the world. This colonial encounter has facilitated an enduring impact on us psychologically. The African community suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns. The negative stigma surrounding mental health plays a big role in this. Instead of seeking professional help with issues such as depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar, many isolate and wrongly diagnose themselves, this is often classified as a spiritual problem. Masking the pain and emotional discomfort they feel, this is more prevalent amongst men. We must challenge this stigma and bring more light to mental illness in the African community.”
The writer Adeyinka Olaiya, who has made his mark in Brazil and beyond, said, “celebrating the Black African History in Brazil and in the diaspora is a divine confirmation that our gods, the gods of our forefathers are still very much at work, and they are fighting their cause.”
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