As a black man, the criticality of the subjects of slavery and colonization is as familiar as my middle name. The Whiteman is usually the villain in this story.
On a critical look, one can form a new line of thought, a thought in sympathy with the Whiteman and a charge for the black race.
Slavery has been a viable trade in Africa before the arrival of Europeans in Africa. History has copious records of this. While the immorality of the slave trade is never in question, colonization only fed off an established business structure thriving in Africa.
We fail to recognize the bravery and faith the Europeans thought to protect, grow and multiply their business interests through hired hands. Wouldn’t the African do likewise if he had a cotton field to grow, a business to scale, or an industry to propagate?
This notion looks at human architecture as the same without casting aspersions on the race and color of the colonial masters. While this stance may be controversial to the already prejudiced, it is a point of view worth considering.
This body of work is a double-edged sword. On one part, it appeals to the western viewer to see the African in classic Western European fashion and feel a connection and recognition of sameness. The choice of garb serves as a mediating motif and a hand of camaraderie between the races. It also tries to simulate the instant connection we feel when we realize someone shares our name, interest, values, and culture.
On the other hand, the introduction of Khaby Lame, a TikTok sensation and social media personality whose ethnicity and roots (Senegalese-born Italian) drive home the story of this project.
His ability to drive complex, knotted theories in easy, relatable voiceless explanations tells how simple some long-held complex beliefs can be made simple.
I opted for the same sensibilities as Andy Warhol, where he critically engaged Marilyn Monroe, a pop culture sensation of the time, in his art. I also added a cutout portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America, in these works. His values are akin to mine.
With this body of work, I hope a new constitution with unity and camaraderie becomes our mindset and tolerance amid our differences.
Lastly, in the wake of Nigerians and Africans at large emigrating to Europe and other parts of the world for greener pastures, I wish to draw the importance of owning landed property and investments where you find root. It is one way we secure ourselves economically and not play the victim.