Tag Archives: Lemi

Art’s Own Kind Podcast

We’ve got a brand new, funky fresh podcast made by Folded Wing , featuring interviews from Lemi,  Tony Allen, Rich Medina, Dele Sosimi, Wunmi and Ammo Talwar on the spot at Rich Mix during the first days of the exhibition, so you can get a feel of what the people involved had to say about what was happening around the Art’s Own Kind project, Lemi’s art and the Afrobeat decades and music phenomenon as well.

Listen to the Art’s Own Kind podcast HERE !

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Pimp my ride

Check out Lemi decorating a very cute vintage car.

Proper pimped, I should say.




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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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Lemi is in the UK!


Only 4 days left until the launch of Art’s Own Kind exhibition and further exciting news: Lemi arrived in the UK today! He flew to London with his wife after having a few problems with his visa. But it has been sorted and we’re ready to kick off the exhibition!

Art – Bureaucracy: 1 – 0

Lemi pix

I will be heading down to London tonight and beginning with tomorrow will blog from Rich Mix, jungle fever live ! Woop woop

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Cynthia’s trip to meet Lemi

Read Cynthia Torto’s (general manager of Punch Records) exclusive account of her trip to Nigeria in January 2008 to find out about how she got in contact with Lemi, her encounter with him and what he’s like. Enjoy!

I originally was put in contact with Bisi Silva, the director of the Centre of Contemporary Art in Lagos. She curated Lemi’s latest exhibition in Lagos. The Plan was that we would bring over that exhibition and show it here. Simple right? No! Third party negotiations are always long winded and unfortunately, we were unable to come to a suitable agreement. I’m a very impatient person when it comes to things like this, so I managed to find a by-pass and I emailed Lemi directly. Luckily, I was already due to go on holiday in Ghana around that time so we made arrangements for me to come across to Lagos and talk to Lemi in person.
I’ve been to Nigeria before but never as an adult so I was really excited. I was also very keen to meet Lemi. I’d obviously read up about him and people had told me lots but I’m always keen to discover people for myself especially when they’re artists. I like to see them outside of the shield of their art too. Before I’d even left the UK I was already developing a huge amount of respect for Lemi, just from the few telephone calls and emails we’d exchanged.

To cut a long story short (cos I’m getting tired of typing!). I spent two very intense days with him but it felt like 2 – 3 months. Not in the sense that it dragged out but because I felt I had learnt so much! Lemi is a very open person. Between him picking me up from the airport, or my hotel, or the time we spent talking and going through his archive in his studio, he was very generous with his knowledge, opinions, stories and spirit. I really got a true sense of him, his work and his time with Fela Kuti. Thus I was very determined that the work that we produced should and would be about Lemi – his story, his work and his art. Historical giants like Fela Kuti can sometimes cast shadows on the people around them and Lemi and his work positively counteracts this.

cynthia & lemi

We spent much of the time just talking – about life, personal inspirations, modern music, west African attitudes to life, art and of course Fela. It’s very rare to meet people who are truly themselves 100% of the time. For Lemi and his family to allow me into their lives was a great honour.

I truly left Nigeria with a fascination and love not just for Lemi but for Nigeria and the art coming out of there at the moment. It’s such a shame that so few people get to experience this.

Cynthia Torto

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The Edge09 Forum with Lemi and Tony Allen

Afrobeat: A Culture – The Edge09 Forum featuring Lemi Ghariokwu & Tony Allen

Edge09 in conjuction with BASS festival presents AFROBEAT: A CULTURE – a forum for all Afrobeat headz with a stellar panel that includes Lemi Ghariokwu (The Man responsible for Fela’s artwork), Tony Allen (Afrobeat Master drummer), Rich Medina (Jump’n’Funk NYC), Wunmi (Afrobeat Queen), Dele Sosimi (Keys/Egypt80). The discussion will be hosted by Paul Bradshaw (Edge09/Straight No Chaser). Join us and a host of invited guests to assess the global impact of Afrobeat – a culture of creativity and resistance.

Forum – Weds 10th June @ 1pm-2.30pm

Exhibition Art’s Own Kind – 8 June – 6 July 2009

Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Get an idea about who’s going to be there watching the following videos

Check out Wunmi’s performance at London Jazz Cafe:

And here’s some sounds from the master of drums himself, Tony Allen:


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Lemi Ghariokwu – the bio facts

Lemi, also called the inventor of ‘Lagos Afro Pop Art’, was born in Lagos in 1955 and has always had a keen interest in art. He had no formal training, but his mother was artistic, as she used to weave and trace drawings, and his sister also used to draw, but never took it seriously.


Lemi says he used to paint Mickey and other cartoons when he was a kid and this shows in his style: a cross between illustration and cartoon, his album jackets displaying a diverse narrative pattern which actually tells the story about the social issues the lyrics of the songs approach. Lemi designed 26 album sleeves for Fela over 19 years. But how did he get to meet the king of Afrobeat?

In 1974, he became friends with Fela through an acquaintanceship with the journalist Babatunde Harrison, who has seen a drawing of Lemi’s in a bar they both used to go to. He asked Lemi to do a portrait of Fela and then gave it to him. The musician was impressed and tried to give Lemi money for it, but he refused it and instead got a pass for all of Fela’s shows.

This was the year of the naming of Kalakuta Republic, so Lemi started frequenting the place and assimilating the ideology, already having a Pan-Africanist mindframe: ‘I spent my life at the Shrine. I worked alone. I did my drawings there’, said Lemi. He was the YAP (Young African Pioneers) news editor, designing 2 cartoons a week (one colour, one black & white) depicting and criticizing what happened over the week, as the organization also used to make ‘subversive’ posters which were banned in 1977.


Once he got into the business, he became quite prolific and now his clientele includes artists from Ghana, Cameroun and beyond. People on rotation at his place include: Ras Kimono, Charlie Boy, Shina Peters, Sunny Ade, Alhaji Kollington, Evi Edna Ogosi, The Mandators , Majek Fashek, Alex O.
He is also into sculptures, public paintings, general graphic works, magazine paste-ups, corporate stationaries and other artistic endeavours.


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