Other Africas: Images of Nigerian Modernity

Oppressor While doing research on Nigeria, I came across this excellent website on an exhibit that ran Jan – April 2002 at Southern Illinois University.

The exhibit’s statement: "Critical observers have long noted that museum collections from Africa are composed largely of the spoils of colonial pillage. Thus the Africa we normally encounter in museums–the Africa of masks and ritual objects displayed on walls and in glass cases–is a fetishized Africa of colonial nostalgia. The objective of this exhibit is to offer images of Other Africas, perspectives that lead us away from the desolate and romanticized Africa of the Western imagination toward those places where African modernities are emerging."

At right is a poster titled The Oppressor:

This popular calendar entitled "The Oppressor," is explicit commentary on wealth and inequality in Nigeria. Here, a very large man dressed in European style clothing (which is indicative of his wealth and status) rests his feet on the very backs of Nigeria’s poor and unfortunate. Although they carry his large platter of food, he offers them nothing even as they are starving. One of the biggest criticisms that Nigerians have of the elite is their failure to share this wealth with others, even by investing in Nigerian businesses. Thus, they are often depicted as greedy and selfish.

This stunning exhibit moves you beyond thinking of Africa through a colonial frame of poached masks and thatched roofs, themes echoed by the statements of the curators. More than worth the click through time.