Nigerian artists are constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity.
Visual artist, Fred Martins, in a new and powerful series uses the afro comb to depict various African personalities who fought for liberation and were incarcerated. He illustrates activists such as Fela Kuti, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.
In an interview with Design Indaba, the artist shares why he chose the Afro comb as a symbol, saying:
Lately, I started listening to some early 90’s West African highlife music, the nostalgic feeling from that retro world inspired me. Their passé style made me brood on our music and culture and later, on the African struggle for freedom, social justice and fairness. And on those that gave their all, breaking into pieces like a comb trying to liberate the scalp from lice. So I illustrated strong and symbolic images in honour of some celebrated African activists and past leaders that still inspire a lot of people.
Afro combs were worn in the 70’s by fluffy-afroed youths in America as a protest against repression and it goes beyond style and adornment, a comb has a strong historical play for Africans. Combs were connected to both cultural and religious beliefs, even though they were fashionable and also used for combating lice, ticks and fleas. The over 5500-year-old Afro-combs discovered in Kemet (Egypt) disproves the present theories that denies Egypt its blackness. It connects Africans to their ancestors.
See the powerful photos from the series below.
1. Fela Kuti
2. Marcus Garvey
3. Martin Luther King Jr.
4. Nelson Mandela
5. Patrice Lumumba