In the complex fabric of Nigeria’s cultural landscape, a unique fusion of history and contemporary art has given rise to a diverse spectrum of artistic representations. These pieces of art pay tribute to the timeless soul and Afro-folk aspects that continue to influence current Nigerian art.
From the calming tones of musicians like Asikey George to the alluring photography of Becky Awo Likita of Renniphotograph, from the resonant verses of Fatima Salihu’s poetry to the immersive experiences of the Soul and Afro Folk Festival in Jos, this collection of diverse works offers a unique window into the rich and dynamic cultural heritage of Nigeria.
Asikey George: Resonating Melodies of Tradition and Innovation
Asikiya Albright George, also known as Asikey George, is an alternative Pop and Soul Musician. Her music deftly unites tradition and modernity in ways that speak of her cultural origins and the tenacity of the Soul and Afro-folk genre. Asikey tells tales that probe the issues of love, identity and society through entrancing words and hauntingly beautiful vocals. Here is one of her songs titled ‘Dark’ feel the afro-ness of it:
Her sounds evoke nostalgic feelings, carrying the spirit of Afro-folk and reconnecting individuals with the core of their being.
Renniphotograph: Capturing Ethos through the Lens
The art of Renniphotograph, a photography artistry of Becky Awo Likita who is based in Jos, captures the soul and landscape of Nigeria. In particular, her photographs explore the intricate love languages between humans and nature. She tells stories through her lens by capturing impressionable moments, of the everyday life of a Nigerian to the varying gestures and movements of the animals in the forests, making a rich Afro-folk cultural tapestry.
Photo credit: All photos by Renniphotograph
She recently held her first solo exhibition which took place on the 16th day of July, 2023 with the theme: “We are timeless”. Through her work, the beauty of Afro-folk traditions is brought to life, showcasing the connection between heritage and contemporary existence.
Khadijat Muhammad Bah: The Painter of Dreams
This artist of the textile art form has learnt the art of Tie and Dye. She twists and crumples textiles into the art of colourful patterns. Born and raised in Lagos but shuttling between Kano and Abeokuta, you’d come to appreciate the metamorphosis of Khadijat into a Painter of dreams on textiles as Kano and Lagos are the cities of textiles.
Photo credit: All four photos by Khadijat Muhammad Bah
The Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria are popular with the tie-dye art form called Adiré. It embodies the soulfulness of African culture and therefore reawakens the Afro-folk traditions.
The fashion industry is swept with the colours of the textile art of Tie and Dye. Khadijat who has learnt this craft from her father, echoes a unique representation within the cultural landscape of Nigeria.
Soul and Afro Folk Festival Jos: Bridging Time Through Music
A yearly Soul and Afro Folk Festival began about three years ago under the theme: Soul, FolkNchill was born when three alternative music Artists Doug Kazé, Agbutun Abuluya and Eric Limani formed a trio. An environment that blends ancient rhythms and modern-day beats is fostered by this event, bringing performers, Musicians and enthusiasts of the alternative music genre. Live performances are the core of such events where the listeners get to connect at a Celestial level with the performing artists, from the rhythmic sounds produced by the fingers of the different performers.
Photo Credit: two photos by Gil Dachomo
The guitar is one of the primary accompanying instruments of play, with the Violin and keyboards depending on the artist who has the stage. The cosy and friendly atmosphere of Jos city and of such events ensures that the spirit of Soul and Afro folk is reinvented and sustained.
Fatima Salihu: Echoing Ancestral Voices in Modern Poetry
If you’re amongst those who wonder if there’s a conflict between the Arts and the Sciences, then having to read the Mathematician and Poet from Niger state, Fatima Salihu would get you enthralled. Her poetry explores both modern issues and her cultural history. Her poems weave together the present and the past with echoes of the past. She echoes the deep essence of Afro-folk narratives through her words as she discusses identity, womanhood, and societal issues on love, pain and forgiveness. As a link between generations and a representation of Nigeria’s cultural character, Fatima’s poetry captures the essence of the theme. Her poetry touches the soul in a soulful way through a recollection of the past in verses carefully paced. In one of her Poems from the collection ‘SKETCHES’ she tells us about Poets grieving, thus:
Poets of grief
Who said poets do not grieve?
When they knit pain into words
And spread them on the sentience of vision
Haven’t you heard about Nana
She lost her mother at a time of war
Her hands, buried into the sand
Looking for trails leading back into
Fatima Salihu again celebrates womanhood, with allusions to cultural landmarks of the beauty that is the Gurara waterfalls in the poem titled ‘MY MUM’
You are beautiful
As the flow of gurara
White and pure in elegance
A creation to be marveled
Photo credit: Adamu Yahuza Abdullahi
To come to appreciate the soulfulness of contemporary Nigeria, Fatima Salihu’s ‘Sketches’ should be on one’s reading list, for her poetry has a cadence that could easily turn to music.
By way of conclusion, the essence of Soul and Afro folk influences appears through the works of a variety of Performers, Artists and events from the likes of Asikey George, Khadijat Muhammad Bah, Fatima Salihu, Afro folk festival and the photography of Becky Awo Likita in Jos. In addition to contemporary issues, these artists and the events represented echo the rich and vibrant Afro-folk spirit and culture of the past.