States of the Arts


Yaro II

by Marcia Kure
Drawing, painting

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A reddish humanoid stands with knobbly knees knocking, head bowed, and feet turned inwards. It seems to cradle a baby, which is distinguished by its lighter shades. Though faceless and almost featureless, the guardian’s appearance suggests comfort: its edges are reassuringly round, its posture protective. ‘Yaro’ means ‘son’, a perfect name for the swaddled child, but the series from which the work is taken adds more disconcerting connotations: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. We are left worrying what snatching has occurred here. Perhaps the infant has been stolen from their rightful home, or perhaps the loving parent figure is the victim, robbed of a discernible identity by the artist.

Words by John Wadsworth


directed by Stephanie Linus
Feature film

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In Dry, we intrude on the personal trauma of a thirteen-­year­-old girl, Halima. Nearly five decades separate the adolescent from her husband, Sani. Although they are united in wedlock, this bond was forced into place. We share Halima’s helplessness as she hopes to escape the horror of domestic abuse, and stand by her side as she gives birth. Pain is exposed candidly, with no heed paid to our discomfort. Stephanie Linus both directs and portrays Zara, a doctor returning to Nigeria to give aid. Fate leads her to a kindred spirit, to offer empathetic support.

Words by Hugh Maloney

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
Graphic novel

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Okonkwo is keen to rid himself of his father’s reputation as poor, lazy, and effeminate. He follows customs closely, creates his own wealth, and is a renowned wrestler. Things Fall Apart documents the colonialisation of Nigeria from Okonkwo’s perspective and, in doing so, humanises a chapter in the country’s history too often reduced to chunks of territory. The village’s daily life, language, and tradition are attentively detailed by Chinua Achebe, but become threatened as the novel progresses. The title forewarns us of Okonkwo’s crumbling status, culminating in a devastating final paragraph.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe


by Fela Kuti

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‘Zombie’ combines an urgent political message with an unstoppable groove, co-opting the insistent drive of dance music into the service of civil protest. Electric guitar strums and brass funk riffs are mingled with call-and-response vocals, then stretched out into a twelve-minute structure. Adopting ironic pidgin English, Fela Kuti derides the Nigerian military’s brutality and unquestioning obedience, an attack that would cost his mother her life. As the rhythmic edifice builds around him, his caustic words swell to seemingly omnipotent proportions.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe

More to discover

Yaro II: You can see more of Marcia Kure's work on the Susan Inglett Gallery website here, and the Galerie Peter Herrmann site here. Polly Brock has interviewed the artist for Art/ctualité, and Megan N. Liberty has written about her work for Hyperallergic.

Dry: You can watch the trailer here. Udoka Okafor has interviewed Stephanie Linus for The Huffington Post, Glendora Meikle for NPR, and Uche Okeke for Autchman Filmz.

Things Fall Apart: You can read an excerpt here. Jerome Brooks has interviewed Chinua Achebe for The Paris Review. Ruth Franklin has written about him for The New Yorker, and Howard W. French has written about Things Fall Apart for The Nation.

Zombie: You can listen to the song here, and download the song for free here, via The Quietus. Lindsay Barrett has written about the musician for The Wire, as has Dr Janet Topp Fargion for The British Library.

Further articles on Fela Kuti include those by: Raimi Gbadamosi on the musician's use of sex and politics, for The Conversation; Remi Adekoya on Kuti's legacy, for The Guardian; and Neil Spencer, again on his legacy, for The Observer (UK).

Question of the day

Which Nigerian artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The Biafran War is recounted by various richly characterised protagonists. (→)

– Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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