Design Inaba, Fred Martins, Nigerian, KOLUMN Magazine

This Nigerian Artist Is Using Afro Combs to Revere Righteous African Activists

This Nigerian Artist Is Using Afro Combs to Revere Righteous African Activists

Design Inaba brings to our attention Nigerian visual artist Fred Martins’ latest collection of conscious art work.

ERIN C. J. ROBERTSON
   |     OKAY AFRICA  
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“The idea was inspired by our traditional West African music.”

Martins, who is currently in Lviv, Ukraine, turns to the iconic afro comb to illustrate portraits of African activists such as Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba and Fela Kuti, all who were discredited for advocating for freedom and fairness for Africans. As you’ll see the black Afro combs are laid out on a bold orange background, which is associated with the incarceration of the activists during their lifetimes.



FELA KUTI
ENTERTAINER, NIGERIAN – Drummer, Pianist, Civil Rights Activist, Songwriter
Musician and activist Fela Kuti pioneered Afrobeat music and was repeatedly arrested and beaten for writing lyrics that questioned the Nigerian government.

Fela Kuti was born on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Beginning in the 1960s, Kuti pioneered his own unique style of music called “Afrobeat.” Rebelling against oppressive regimes through his music came at a heavy cost. Kuti was arrested 200 times and endured numerous beatings, but continued to write political lyrics, producing 50 albums before he died on August 2, 1997, in Lagos, Nigeria.
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The Afro comb dates back to pre-dynastic Egypt, though it became a provocative symbol in the 1970s when its iconography evolved into a black fist, referencing the spirit of the Civil Rights and Black Panther movements, becoming synonymous with black pride and identity. And according to History Workshop, the Afro comb of this era was originally patented by two black Americans, Samuel H. Bundles Jr., and Henry M. Childrey.

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