Clarke M. (1991) Ndebele: The Art Of An African Tribe


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Upon seeing the way Ndebele people dress, I was straight away inspired to start thinking of ways I can incorporate their style into my work. I noticed that jewellery is an integral part of their clothing. Accessorising is key. In fact, I read that  their attire is actually characterised by this jewellery and that it is not just for beauty purposes. A woman's jewellery is also a symbol of her status as a member of the Ndebele society. I absolutely love the feathers on the head piece in the first image above. It reminds me of native American Head pieces. I also love the colours being used; really saturated and vibrant colours. Perhaps I could try creating head pieces for my project and embellish them with feathers. I could have a whole range of head pieces instead of garments. I feel that this would be interesting because a lot of African cultures are known for their masks and head pieces. 

I like the idea of money being jewellery as seen in the second image above. Jewellery has a lot of connotations; status, value, and so on. It is interesting to see various unconventional materials being used as jewellery. I have recently been interested in old currencies and have even looked at expired Nigerian money. I noticed that we do not have any female figures on our Naira (Nigerian currency). Perhaps by trying to create head pieces or objects with money, I could incorporate the faces of the unsung heroines of Nigeria I have been researching. 

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I read that traditionally, in the Ndebele culture, the jewellery that women wore increased in number after they got married. After they get married, the brides wear copper as well as brass rings around their arms, necks and legs. This symbolises the bond they now share with their husband. The number of rings a woman wore after marriage sole depended on the wealth of her husband. This means the richer he is, the more rings she had to wear. Although it is a lovely sentiment, one could also look at it differently (for the purpose of this project) as chains that bind a woman to a man, stripping her off of her own individuality. I find it interesting how being married gives one such an elevated status and wearing jewellery is what makes on a woman. This reminds me of how when I was little and I did not wear ear rings or Jewellery I would be teased and told that I looked like a boy. Jewellery is such an integral part of many african cultures. Women are expected to adorn themselves with beads and precious stones. It shows beauty, grace, status and sometimes even faith. The Ndebele women are always to wear these arm, neck and leg rings up until their husband dies. When he dies, they are expected to remove them all.


Clarke M. (1991) Ndebele: The Art Of An African Tribe


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When I first saw these houses I actually thought they were either public sculptures or done for art purposes only. I had no idea that it was people's homes and that there was an entire culture and community of people that practice this sort of home decor. I was truly astonished. I love the patterns and shapes of the designs as well as how bold and big they look while at the same time being of an intricate nature. Having done some research on the Ndebele people and learned that they place great value on status, it comes as no surprise to me that up until the late 1990s they were fierce warriors. The war they lost in 1883 between the Ndebele and the Boer workers really put the tribe in harsh living conditions. It is so beautiful to me that something so visually and aesthetically pleasing can come from something so negative. The loss of the war paved the way for these wonderfully vibrant shapes and symbols to be displayed on the surfaces of the Ndebele people's mud walls. These symbols express the hardships they went through at that time. I feel that I would absolutely benefit from drawing inspiration from this form of expressive african art. I have always wanted to tell stories through art. I knew that the Egyptians used symbols to share their own history as can be seen on their own walls. I had no idea that other parts of Africa shared similar skills.


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It would be amazing if I could use symbols to share the stories of the unsung heroines of Nigeria such as Queen Amina of Zazzau / Zaria or Aisha Dan Fodio or even the stories my grandmother would tell me as a child. I could decide on the colour palette of my symbols based on the women's characters. For example if I was focusing on Queen Amina, I would probably choose to use red due to her warrior status. I found that the colours being used on the Ndebele walls actually hold a lot of significance to their culture. They use five main colours within their designs. These are; red, yellow, green, blue, and pink. These colours have all sorts of meanings ranging from protests, status and power or even announce a marriage in the home. The painted walls are created using twigs bundled up with feathers and used as brushes. I love the use of natural materials. Seeing as everything about my project revolves around the motherland Africa, it would be wise to include some sort of natural materials to my work. 


Dora Milaje Outfits - Ruth E. Carter

 "The fictional Dora Milaje — “adored ones,” an all-female military group that protects the King and the fictional nation of Wakanda — are perhaps the most obvious example of female strength" - Arica L. Coleman TIME  

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One of the main inspirations for this project is the Dora Milaje warriors from the movie Black Panther.  The outfits worn by these fierce women are simply beautiful. Infant, throughout the movie there were such intricately designed costumes. Ruth E. Carter's attention to detail is really impressive. I also really liked Angela Bassett's crown in the movie. This was inspired by the hats traditionally worn by married Zulu women. I was surprised to find out that the crown/hat was 3D printed. Carter says that “I felt that if she was the queen, there needed to be kind of like a legend [about the hat]...or some kind of words written about the queen’s hat—that if it faced north, south, east, and west, it was perfectly cylindrical. There was no side that was not perfect...It looked like it was made out of leather, and I thought, ‘I love that shape!’” I love the concept of the Dora Milaje warriors. It makes me want to experiment with stones and beads. Perhaps I could try creating an all female warriors' uniform. 


Dahomey Amazon Warriors

Dahomey Amazon Warriors


Beckwith, C. and Fisher, A. (2000). Passages: Photographs In Africa

Tuareg Women


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                                                                                                                         Tuareg Ladies                                                                   Women being Walked by a man on a camel

I absolutely adore the colours of the fabric the women are wearing. The beaded Nikafs (Face covering) also look so nice. It would be interesting to see if I can create samples of a similar nature using pendants and beads. I also love the patterns on the fabrics. They remind me of ankara material (traditional african print fabrics in Nigeria). 


 Men On Camels, Women On Donkeys


To me, the women in this image look absolutely tired and miserable. I cannot wrap my head round why they have to be on donkeys while the men on camels. Camels are more majestic and physically on a higher level than a common donkey. I think this is really interesting. 



Beckwith, C. and Fisher, A. (2000). Passages: Photographs In Africa


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I absolutely adore these ritual celebratory attires. It is like an explosion of rich and vibrant colours. I feel that this encapsulates the African culture in terms of clothes. There are so many symbols within the garments above, each telling a story, depending on their performances. The masks are really interesting too. I like the limited use of colour on the masks to contrast with the really saturated colours of the outfits. I might entertain the idea of making masks as a final outcome.


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Camille Walala uses powerfully positive digital print. I am a huge fan of her bold style. The colours are so vibrant and compliment the shapes really well. Most times I am not a fan of too much patterns, but somehow she makes it work. The look good both on fabric and on walls. I prefer her work large scale on buildings or as interior. I feel that I also want my work to either be a piece of art or something to do with house interiors (because women in Nigeria are supposed to be housewives). 

I also found out the Camille Walala's influences include the Memphis Movement and the Ndebele tribe. This makes me adore her work eve more because I am such a huge fan of the Ndbele African art. I have been using it in my samples, perhaps now I can try out Walala's style as well and see what works better.




John Baldessari

"I guess a lot of it's just lashing out, because I didn't know how to be an artist, and all this time spent alone in the dark in these studios and importing my culture and constant questions. I'd say, 'Well, why is this art? Why isn't that art?'' - John Baldessari


When I first saw the image above, I was quite confused as to what to think. All I had in mind was the fact that it seemed to be a series of images that perhaps tell a story of the various locations being shown. This reminded me of my own idea of showcasing the various parts/locations of Africa in which the women suffer the most. For example, I could look at areas in Nigeria where the Chibouk girls may have been during their journey to the forest where they were kept hostage. I might even be able to create a series of print designs, making these locations the background and at the focal point have the name of each girl printed on it.


I absolutely love Baldessari's work. I love the cool tones colours he used and the way he captures the images. They have a vintage feel to them. I found out that he also introduced text to his paintings to convey messages. Since my project is very text based, I am glad to have come across Baldessari's work and hope to use this research to inform my future print samples.

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Hassan Hajjaj


I love the composition of these images. I feel that it is very empowering to have the Niqab (Hijab) - something that is seen as a symbol of oppression - as being something to celebrate. Being a muslim woman in today's society is challenging for many relearns. mist of which is because our identity is on display due to the hijab. It invites judgements before getting to know the individual. I love how the women in these images have such confident poses. They seem to be sure of themselves and comfortable in their own skin. 



I love how Hajjaj uses the Nike brand logo as well. The unconventional view of associating Hijabi women with the sports world is really inspiring to me. The use of colour is also highly fascinating to me. I never would have thought that having so many contrasting colours in one image would look good but somehow they do. All the images are really busy. What I particularly love about them is that I can relate to the cultures. The african attire in combination with the islamic veils encompasses what modern northern Nigerian women would wear. 

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Jim Golden

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I absolutely the way in which these images depict every objects. Jim golden says that this is "a takedown from a tried and true merchandising technique...It’s a very accessible for the viewer and allows for the combination of all types of different objects in one image.” I admire his use of one bold colour as the background. I have never seen anything like this. It makes me want to use recycled materials. 






I love the vintage feel of the images, they give off such a nostalgic tone. Its like each image tells a specific story. That was my aim for this project; to be able to present messages and tales of the unsung heroines of Nigeria through images and prints. I love how Patrick Pound covers the faces of some of the people in his images. This raises questions regarding identity. 



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I absolutely love Tasnim Baghadi's style. She works in such a free and experimental way. I am thinking of distorting the figures of the chibouk girls in order to try working in a similar manner to Baghdadi. I can use acetate for the drawings and layer them onto my text prints. I am excited to try this out and see what it looks like. 

Lamb, V. and Holmes, J.(1980). Nigerian Weaving

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I really enjoyed learning about the traditional weaving methods in Nigeria (northern Nigeria specifically). It is so interesting to see what one can do with fabric. I learned that the northern weavers usually made the Emir and his council's attire. I think that this is really interesting; woven garments have very high value in this part of the region. Maybe I could experiment with weave and finding a way to combine that with my prints.

Women In My Life That Inspire Me



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This is an image from my mother's 1st Birthday. I want to use this image as the main image I use within my samples because she is my biggest inspiration. 

Orphans and Internally displaces Women And Children In Kano State

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I wanted to include this image in my research because the basis of my project revolves around empowering women and trying to show the negative effects of living in such a male dominated society (Boko Haram). The image above was taken about two years ago during my EPQ project on Internally displaces peoples of Nigeria. I visited a family of 13, who had to flee their homes when Boko Haram attacked their area. They went from having a good stable life to having nothing and living in a poultry farm. The girls in the image above are orphans who are being raised by their grandmother. They aim to become doctors. I think that it is truly inspiring that they still have such big and positive aims and goals for the future despite all the horrors they've witnessed. 

Queen Amina Of Zazzau Biography



Nana Asma'u is the daughter of Usman Dan Fodio, a 'sufi-inspired and Fulbe-led' Sokoto Caliphate's founder. What I find inspiring about Nana Asma'u is the fact that she advocated education for females at a time when the thought of females doing anything other than domestic house work was not entertained in Nigeria. Like her father, Nana Asma'u was educated in Qur'anic studies as well as western studies. She devoted her life to the education of the muslim women in Northern Nigeria and even became an author. There are over 60 surviving works she has written over the course of 40 years. She left behind a large body of poetry written mainly  in Arabic, the Fulani and Hausa.

I find her poems really inspiring as they all highlight issues that were happening at the time. Most of these issues are still a problem in Nigeria today. This makes me wonder if we have even grown so much as a nation. It reminds me of Carol Ann Duffy's poem 'history' and the idea of humans not learning from their mistakes and repeating past events over and over again. Nana Asma'u was well versed in Arabic, the Fula language, Hausa and even Tamacheq Tuareg. I aspire to be fluent in most of these languages. The rest of her written works are related to Islamic education. In many ways Nana Asma'u reminds me of my grandmother, who was the first female in her hometown to go to school.

Excerpt From Wikipedia:

"Starting around 1830, she created a cadre of women teachers (jajis) who travelled throughout the Caliphate educating women in the students' homes. In turn, each of these jajis in turn used Nana Asma’u's and other Sufi scholars writings, usually through recited mnemonics and poetry, to train crops of learned women, called the ’yan-taru, or "those who congregate together, the sisterhood." To each jaji she bestowed a malfa (a hat and traditional ceremonial symbol of office of the pagan Bori priestesses in Gobir) tied with a red turban. The jajis became, thus, symbols of the new state, the new order, and of Islamic learning even outside women's community. In part this educational project began as a way to integrate newly conquered pagan captives into a Muslim ruling class. It expanded, though, to include the poor and rural, training teachers who travelled across the sprawling Caliphate."

Usman Dan Fodio's Biography

The Role Of Women In Nigeria - PDF

Lemire,B. (2010). The Force Of Fashion In Politics And Society





'History' By Carol Anne Duffy


This poem is one of the many poems that highlights issues to do with age, females and history, however what makes it stand out is the way in which it combines all those issues. The poem History has a significant meaning in the sense that it describes History itself as a tired old woman. I find this really intriguing because since this project focuses on the role of women all over the continent of Africa, I wanted to view how women in the western world expresses their own view on gender roles. In the African culture, old women are highly valued and respected. They have all the tales and folklore. They are the matriarchs of the family and they are highly respected. In Nigeria, the older the woman gets, the more seriously she is taken. However, in this Carol Ann Duffy poem 'History', the old lady is tired, frail and neglected. She 'smells of pee' and seems to have had enough of life.

I understand that the poem is trying to show how women throughout history have been sitting on the sidelines. This poem intrigues me because it makes a strong connection between how we treat old women and how we treat history. History has to witness the present and the past being repeated, over and over. It is as though as humans we never learn from our mistakes. The same mistakes whether social or political are being made. What if it was 'herstory' and not 'history'? Would things be different? This poem makes me wonder what life would be like today if women always had a voice.

History - A Poem By Carol Ann Duffy

Harriet Tubman


The reason why I chose to do some research on Harriet Tubman is due to the fact that she is such a historical figure in not just Black history but an embodiment of what the horrors and difficulties women are capable of withstanding. I read a quote by Tubman, which describes not only the pain she endured, but her yearn for freedom.

"I prayed all night long for my master till the first of March; and all the time he was bringing people to look at me, and trying to sell me."

This makes me think of the Chibouk girls and wonder just how horrifying it must have been for them. Most of them under the age of 16, having to live weeks on end in harsh conditions and being sold off into the world as though they were nothing. I wonder what it felt like when the realisation that this was their life now dawned on them. For Harriet Tubman, she explained that "I changed my prayer...First of March I began to pray, 'Oh Lord, if you ain't never going to change that man's heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way.'"

My Ancestry

Heritage Definition:
 1. Property that is or may be inherited. 
 2. A special or individual possession; an allotted portion.
 3. God's chosen people (the people of Israel, or the Christian Church).
To me heritage stands for the music, tales, and even clothing passed down to us from our ancestors. The folklore, the clothing as well as the food are all huge aspects of any culture. For this project, I aim to go back in time and interpret the history, tales and legends of strong African heroines that have been passed down many generations. I want to experiment with the idea of presenting these histories in a different way by placing women in positions of power. In order to do this and make this project personal, I needed to take a deeper look into my own ancestral roots. 


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I started my research by looking up the concept of 'Heritage'. I wanted to explore this by looking at my own ancestry and looking at tribes and the stories they passed down through generations. However, I came to the realisation that although these stories were told to teach people moral lessons, people (women in particular) still struggle to find their voices in society. By looking at my places of origin, I realised that these are the places women seem to suffer the most. Through my research I hope to try and retell these stories and make it so women are celebrated. 



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Having recently discovered my senegalese roots, I wanted to incorporate this into the unit 7 project. I found that Senegal was one of the major areas in Africa that slaves were being traded. What stands out to me about Senegal is the 'Door of no return'. It is located in a building called 'The House of Slaves' was has since been reconstructed and re-opened as a museum in 1962. It is believed that more than a million slaves passed through the doors of the house. Although this has not been confirmed, I find it highly tragic. Even tough I am an African, I have been lucky enough not to have been so affected by our involvement in slavery because it was not practiced in Northern Nigeria. Unlike in southern Nigeria where chiefs sold people into slavery, in the North our rulers never allowed it. Learning about my senegalese ancestry and 'The door of no return' affected me because now I am aware that there is a possibility of some of my ancestors being slaves. It is not distant anymore but something that is deep-rooted in my own family and people's history. 


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Emory Douglas (Revolution Posters)

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I was really inspired by the posters I saw in this book.  They are images from Emory Douglas and I absolutely love the way they combine text with images - not just images but drawings. I hope to use this type of juxtaposition in my own work. I would be interesting to see how I use my own images with the text (names of chibouk girls).


Beckwith,C. and Fisher A. (2000). Passages: Photographs In Africa



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Beckwith,C. and Fisher A. (2000). Passages: Photographs In Africa



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Beckwith,C. and Fisher A. (2000). Passages: Photographs In Africa



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Boko Haram And The Chibok Girls


 I am choosing to include the story of the chibouk girls in this project because to me it indicates the failures of the Nigerian government and society when it comes to female rights and education. What happened to these young girls is the epitome of of that failure. The terrorist group that kidnapped them is called 'Boko Haram'. This is in the Hausa language and the direct English translation is 'Education is a Sin'. I find it highly repulsive that these men claim to follow Islam and then go on to perform such horrible actions that totally do not coincide with the religion. Not only that, but the amount of damage caused throughout the country has been affecting many children including myself and my siblings. Children are now so aware of death and destruction. 

I want to pay homage to these girls and their families. Through this project I hope to find a way of incorporating their story into my work. I would like each pice I produce to have some sort of connection to these girls.

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A Diary Entry From 2012 highlighting my thoughts on the events taking place:

People must be at home before Magrib. People must be extra careful at all times. People must try not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. If children are killed during the bombing sessions and if parents refuse to get their kids to safety and what so ever, the police won't take responsibility. No more motor cycles must be seen on the road at 6pm. Cars should also follow the curfew. If anyone is found disobeying these rules that person must be punished......
They never end! Its been a week. Tears filled my eyes as I watch and listen as what used to be our peaceful Kano crumble to pieces. Why?  This is so unfair for the people. Innocent people, innocent children and maybe even animals were killed on Friday. As if that wasn't even enough, now we have to follow some rules and curfews. From what I see here, our old Kano has disappeared as if it had never been. It has been replaced by a battle field. I don't even know if it will ever be back to normal. Can I never be able to call Kano my sweet home? Could this be the end of it? Have these people finally gotten what they want? No, they haven't and they will never. Someday, somehow this would all be history and I would want to live to see that day. The day every man is joyous, the day we will all be peaceful and happy, the day Kano will rise and be glorious, the day we would be proud to call Nigeria our home. All that seems so impossible, but after these passed weeks, I don't believe in the word impossible anymore.  Last year I would have told a person who said there would be a huge crisis that would cause buildings to combust and people to burn, silly. I would have told a person who said Kano will change insane. But now, look at us. Who are we to believe in the word impossible. We never new what we had then, was enough. Peace was enough, but we were never grateful until it was snatched from us, like some piece of candy being snatched away from a baby. I feel so scared, so lost. All we can do now is hope for the best. That was the only thing that wasn't taken away from us, the only thing that keeps us going. The thing we shall all cherish now, forever and till all this is over. Hope.

Escaped Girls Tell Their Stories

Names Of Girls Kidnapped

House of Slaves

It is widely believed that academics throughout history have downplayed the horrors and the role Gorée Island played in the Atlantic Slave trade. Many argue that it is highly unlikely that as many as a million slaves walked through the 'door of no return'.


"The most haunting thing about this place is the “door of no return.” It’s been visited by Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, and represents the moment of farewell – a final goodbye to the continent many called home. There is plenty of mystery and speculation about this door. Some historians say it was merely used to throw garbage into the sea, while others believe that slaves would exit through the door to board a ship bound for the Caribbean." - Michelle Brock

Although there has been much dispute about the number of slaves that were in the building and whether or not it even played as major a role in the Atlantic slave trade as it is made to seem,  most of the people in Senegal see it as more than a memorial site. They look at the building and they see a historic site that was used during the transportation of Africans to British, French, Spanish, Dutch, and even Portuguese colonies of the Americas.


It is believed that a large number of the slaves that were taken from Senegal ended up becoming a part of sugar industries. Having listened to Steel's song "Door of no return" and watched the video, I feel that I have a better understanding of just how sad and tragic it was at the time. It was such a disruption to the African culture and growth that its effects still cause issues today. For this project I want to highlight these issues in a different way by making the focus women. Perhaps by exploring the possibilities of mental female enslavement, I will be able to show how some women in certain african cultures are treated with such lack of dignity. 


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