Category Archives: Opinions

Lemi on colonialism in art and the image of Africa

Lemi’s art makes a strong statement about how African people have adopted Western values and thus lost freedom of thought and action as a result of the colonialist era. Even now, the strands of colonialist mentality are still visible through the Western potrayal of African culture, impregnated with prejudices of the Black continent being an under-developed and savage environment.

ikoyi blindness

The Black man and woman is still colonised today. Look all around you and see what I mean. Most of the women in Africa and the Diaspora have their hair permed permanently. We wear Western clothes in Africa. We speak English to our children as the first and major language. Our culture and tradition is rapidly disappearing. With Christianity and Islam in total dominance as religions of Black people, tell me how Black art cannot and still continue to be colonised today? We’ve got to first emancipate ourselves from mental slavery before our minds and art can release itself from being colonised.


if you see smth

Lemi distinguishes between the image of Africa thaWestern culture has produced and the representation he gives to his own culture:

The primitive image of Africa is represented by the Western information machinery. It is mostly about wars, hunger, starvation and underdevelopment. I’m trying to portray the image of our society albeit critical at times but in the vein of us taking a look at what is wrong to come up with a progressive and lasting solution. The image of hope, self worth, pride and dignity of the African. This I hope to leave as my legacy.



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Lemi on art & politics

Everything we do is political. The way we carry on in life is very conscious, so why shouldn’t art that mirrors a society be political? Art is social and political at the same time. Even decorative art expresses the wishes of a segment of society, which is definitely politically conscious no matter a presumption of innocence or nonchalance.



Have the social or political messages Lemi explored in his artwork changed over time? Let’s see what Lemi has to say:

You know in life, they say, the more things change – the more they remain the same. Things have gone awry and worse since when I was designing for Fela Kuti back in the 1970s but the picture of the bitchiness of life has not changed, it is helping to iconise Fela Kuti as a prophet. Everything he spoke about 30 years ago is screening and rolling in 3D slow motion…more evidently so than when he was shouting himself hoarse decades ago. In the same vein, my work has become more meaningful today. People are beginning to appreciate the bravado of it when it was done. Sometimes I feel apocalyptic!


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Edge09 Afrobeat Panel Discussion

Next day after the launch, a panel discussion having the Afrobeat phenomenon as its theme took place at Rich Mix. The very special guests were Lemi Ghariokwu (of course), Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi, Wunmi and Rich Medina – key figures for the birth and development of Afrobeat. Paul Bradshaw from Straight No Chaser was the moderator of the forum.


The talk revolved around the lack of promotion of Afrobeat in today’s musical culture. Each guest has expressed his concern about the representation of African identity worldwide and how Africans themselves are now influenced by hip-hop and overlook the richness of their own cultural heritage.


Delving into subcultures and youth culture has brought up the effect social change has had over the music industry and how the genre landscape has taken shape in different countries.

You can read a review of the discussion here

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Comments on Lemi

You made history, Lemi. Definitely, you did. And the most wonderful thing about you is how humble you are, despite being such a gifted artist. And, also, despite having played such a huge part in helping Fela deliver the message that he did deliver to the world. Thank you, Lemi, for showing us what it is to be a genuine human being.

Carlos Moore

with all the great work you have done and you are still so humble! I appreciate you Man Lemo!

Cordelia Okpei

Wow,Lemi you are deep, and wisdom ooze from your words

Lekan Shittu

I’ve known Lemi for few years – and he has not diminished in his style, composure and inability to lie down with negativity…from a cub reporter, to a publisher…Lemi remains a litmus test to me and my generation on how to remain grounded in reality (the true hub of humanity) irrespective of your station in life.
Really, I have a sneaky feeling, I’m going to write a treatise on Lemi one day…very soon. And the tentative title? BUILT TO STAND


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