the eight favorites of “Africa World” in 2022

“Fela Anikulapo Kuti, afrobeat rebellion”

Fan of Fela Kuti, can’t you go to the exhibition dedicated to him by the Philharmonie de Paris until June 11, 2023? The event catalog is for you. In this beautiful book published in October and coordinated by Alexandre Girard-Muscagorry, Mabinuori Kayode Idowu and Mathilde Thibault-Starzyk, is concentrated the entire universe of the inventor of Afrobeat, the legacy of his family – including his mother, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, famous feminist activist – in his political commitment to the soldiers who succeeded each other in the leader of Nigeria.

To shed light on various aspects of “Black President”the curators of the exhibition called on several contributors, including François Bensignor, author of a reference book (Fela Kuti, the rebel of afrobeat, 2012), but also journalists, artists and researchers. The book, richly illustrated and with neat graphics, presents many vinyl covers, photos signed by Bernard Matussière, Jean-Jacques Mandel or Femi Bankole Osunia, advertising inserts published by Fela in the Nigerian press, or even his diary youth movement and the program of his party, the MOP, which one Thomas Sankara will not deny. Fabien Mollon

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, afrobeat rebellion, under the direction of Alexandre Girard-Muscagorry, Mabinuori Kayode Idowu and Mathilde Thibault-Starzyk, ed. Textual and Philharmonie de Paris, 208 pages, 49 euros.

“African Textiles”

A total: just over 4 kg, 450 large format pages (25.5 cm x 34 cm), 400 color photos, more than 200 explanatory notes… What a wonderful book African fabrics, published by Citadelles & Mazenod, highlights the little-known art of weaving on the continent. Cotton, wool, silk, raffia, hemp, bark, leather: the materials follow each other on the pages in myriad techniques and colors. Wedding or ceremonial pendants, everyday clothes (boubous, loincloths, skirts, tunics, shawls, etc.) or even talismanic outfits, the repertoire is rich.

“Textile and sartorial aesthetics are arguably one of the most important and ancestral African art forms, recalled in his introduction Duncan Clarke, independent researcher and textile merchant. If the sovereign attraction of African sculpture cannot be denied, it also tends to surpass the place of textiles among the great achievements of men and women in this vast continent”, added the specialist, graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

The work, Duncan Clarke emphasizes, has the merit of integration “in one volume a set of the finest and most representative pieces preserved by museums and private collections around the world”. A luxurious way of “celebrating the artists of the past while serving as a reference for the present and the future, whether they work in Africa or elsewhere”. Olivier Herviaux

African fabrics, by Duncan Clarke, Vanessa Drake Moraga and Sarah Fee, eds. Citadels and Mazenod, 450 pages, 165 euros.

“Afriques Musiques, a history of African rhythms”

These are names that resonate like so many legends in African musical heritage. The OK Jazz in Kinshasa, the Bantous of the capital in Brazzaville, the Bembeya Jazz in Conakry, the Rail Band in Bamako, the Orchestra Baobab in Dakar, the Almighty Poly-Rythmo in Cotonou… These formations – and many more others – born in the 1960s and 1970s forged the soundtrack of the “golden age” of African music, a period discussed in detail by writer, producer and photographer Florent Mazzoleni in Afriques Musiques, a history of African rhythms, released in October.

The author is careful to place the emergence of the emblematic styles of sub-Saharan Africa – Congolese rumba, highlife, afrobeat, ethiojazz… – in their cultural heritage, with particular importance of the Cuban influence or Mandinka tradition, and in their political context, with the example of the role played by Sékou Touré in influencing Guinean musicians but also the South African Miriam Makeba. Recent genres such as mbalax in Senegal are not forgotten and the book is illustrated with many album covers and black and white photographs specifically signed by the Burkinabé Sanlé Sory. FM

Afriques Musiques, a history of African rhythms, by Florent Mazzoleni, ed. Out of Collection, 248 pages, 32 euros.

“Black Infinity. The Art of Dark Fantasy »

Bringing together nearly 300 works of art, the book Black Infinity invites you to explore the universe of dark fantasy. A movement initiated decades ago by artists from Africa or the continent’s diasporas, it brings new visions and unpublished stories that break away from Western representations of modernity.


“The World of Africa”

Every Saturday, find a week of news and debates, by the editorial staff of “Monde Afrique”


Ekow Eshun, remarkable author of 21st century Africa. Contemporary photography of Africa (ed. Textuel, 2020), curator and journalist, giving rise to artistic forms as diverse as photography, plastic arts, design, fashion, architecture, cinema, literature and popular culture. These connections reveal the spirit of freedom that animates the 120 artists present and their emancipatory energy to rethink notions of gender or identity. So they articulate fantasies of a future free from oppression by hybridizing history, myth, spiritual practice and the memory of slavery.

“The book highlights an important but often overlooked part of the field of contemporary art: the work of black artists, from Africa or the African diaspora, who take motifs and genres of the fantastic notion for dealing with the issue of racism and social injustice, but also for imagining alternative scenarios and sketching new social models”refers to his foreword Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery in London. OH.

Black Infinity. The Art of Dark Fantasy, by Ekow Eshun, ed. Textual, 304 pages, 49 euros.

“Dakar, nest of artists”

Dakar is not the only African capital where prices are rising more than anywhere else on the continent. It is also an intense cultural bubble. The former fishing village of Lebou turned overpopulated city of more than a million inhabitants, offers a refreshing vitality to West Africa. The beautiful Dakar, nest of artists, gives to read and see the crazy creativity through the eyes of a hundred famous or lesser known personalities. A “emotional walk” which will take us Youssou Ndour, Coumba Gawlo, Dip Doundguiss, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, but also filmmakers, slammers, stylists, academics, from all generations.

“They agreed to share their relationship of love or dissatisfaction in this amazing city”, explains author Aïsha Dème, known for her cultural activism in favor of her country.

Through the totality of appearance, emotion and speech, the intimate and memorial history of Dakar is also woven. An original and exciting way to (re)discover a sometimes confusing but always surprising city. Coumba Kane

Dakar, nest of artists, by Aisha Deme, ed. Malika, 368 pages, 45 euros (sold in Senegal and online from January 2023 on Amazon, Fnac, etc.).

Colonial deframing »

In 1931, the Surrealists forcefully denounced the colonial exhibition organized to glorify the French Empire. In Paris, they publish leaflets “Don’t visit the Colonial Exhibition” where they satirize propaganda conveyed through clichés “from an easy life, from black women with big tits, the very elegant non-commissioned officer in his canvas suit rides a rickshaw pulled by a country man, adventure, advancement”. It is in this event that unfolds Colonial deframing to mark from the beginning the subject that will be in the book: to propose a critical re-reading of photographic production, “in a colonial context” of the interwar period.

The reproduced photographs – in part also presented in the eponymous exhibition organized at the Center Pompidou until February 27, 2023 – were taken for many of them from the collection of the historian Christian Bouqueret. The images returned by photographers after ethnographic missions, by special articles of magazines passionate about the frontiers of empire, or to respond to public orders constitute some of the chapters of the colonial imagination. which is the attraction and fascination for these “strange worlds” express themselves without filter. Laurence Caramel

colonial deframing, under the direction of Damarice Amao, ed. Textual, 192 pages, 45 euros.

“Sandé, secret society girl”

The Sandé is the main female secret society present in Sierra Leone and Liberia within several ethnic groups. Its main mission is to initiate girls to prepare them for marriage. This is the counterpart of the male society, the Poro, who are more educated and know the rules better. Both passionate about Sandé, Christiane Kauer and Claude Michalak combined their knowledge to tell the origins and rituals of this society whose beliefs were formed by a rich production of objects of worship. While, as a general rule, mask use in Africa is reserved for men, the sowei mask, particularly in Sandé society, is an exception by “an idealized image of beauty, female perfection and its powers”. The book, richly illustrated, reproduces many specimens among other ceremonial objects. LC

Sandé, secret society girl, by Christiane Kauer and Claude Michalak, ed. Gourcuff Gradenigo, 188 pages, 59 euros.

“Pharaoh of the Two Lands”

Recent advances in archaeological and epigraphic research carried out in Sudanese Nubia have made it possible to deepen the knowledge of the kingdom of Napata and, in doing so, of the epic of one of its kings whose appetite for conquest led to the creation of XXVe Egyptian dynasty, in VIIIe centuries before our time. This dynasty dominated for about fifty years in a territory that stretched from the Nile delta in the north to present-day Sudan.

The book, published by Éditions du Louvre and profusely illustrated, traces the emergence of this kingdom, its expansion and then its descent from its original cradle located at the level of the fourth cataract of the river. The sources – inscriptions on objects placed in the pyramids and the monumental stelae – constitute a material considered exceptional for an ancient and “a region of Africa very far from the Mediterranean”. They offer a dazzling dive into this still-unknown civilization. LC

Pharaoh of the Two Lands, the African epic of the kings of Napata, under the direction of Vincent Rondot, ed. El Viso and Louvre editions, 448 pages, 39 euros.

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