By Yasmin Attwood, Second Year English
‘Afrika Eye: More Than a Number’ is a beautiful photography exhibition that showcases 12 photographers who aim to explore ‘an Africa caught between modernity and tradition’, alongside capturing the diversity of the continent with these photos, portraying community as well as personal moments.
The title of the exhibition comes from a Bob Marley lyric: ‘we’re more than sand and the seashore, we’re more than numbers’. This poignant message aligns with the intentions of curator Cynthia MaiWa Sitei, who seeks to assert the individuality of African peoples, rather than the homogenised views of the African continent that have tended to prevail in the West.
Ethiopian photographer Maheder Haileselassie Tadese captured a series of photos of people’s walls. She wants to raise questions about what subconscious expressions these walls give of their owners, through various choices such as colour, displaying pictures of family, or religious symbols. These pictures invite viewers to look closely and think about the fragments of information these walls reveal to us.
Another favourite of mine was Sarah Waiswa’s collection ‘Ballet in Kibera’, which showcased the globalisation of the modern world as children in Kenya learn the Italian renaissance dance form of Ballet, and poise gracefully in this black and white photo series.
Jacques Nkinzingabo chose to directly challenge the media’s representations of Rwanda; most of us immediately think of the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide and know little else about the country or its people.
In these portraits, the photographer gave people the choice of how they wanted to represent themselves to show how they have flourished as individuals, as well as reminding us through the title ‘I am a survivor’, that these individuals have lived through the violence of the civil war and/or its aftermath.
Other photographers featured in this exhibition include Amina Kadous, Salih Basheer, Nana Kofi Acquah, Brian Otieno, Fatoumata Diabaté, Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui, Tom Saater, Wafaa Samir, and Steven Chikosi.
Each brings a new perspective to this exhibition, focusing on highlighting racial solidarity and preserving culture. This gallery is not just well composed photographs, but meaningful in its important representation for minority ethnic groups and cultures across Africa.
In the words of the curator:
‘to be seen and looked at – across race, gender and class – is a human right’.
'Afrika Eye: More than a Number' is exhibited in a small gallery in the Trinity centre, which has free entry and is open on the 7-15th of November 2022.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Yasmin Attwood
What piece at 'More than a Number' spoke loudest to you?