My cultural identity has always played an integral part in my life. The term “Black British” cruelly tells me, that although my nationality is British, my true home is not the UK. The term “Black British”, puts people of Afro-Caribbean descent in this strange limbo. We are British but seen as black. We are African and Caribbean in our home countries, but once our accents come out, we are seen as British.
With regards to myself, what makes it even more difficult is that I am half Cameroonian and half Nigerian, so I have a dual heritage. My father is Nigerian, but I grew up with my mother who is Cameroonian. My mother famously refers to herself as a “city girl”, meaning one who was raised in the city, and although my mother grew up in Cameroon, her knowledge of her own culture is very limited.
So, the question is, how do you learn about your own culture? You could use a book, but it can be tedious. You could use “word of mouth”, but you have to find the right person. On the other hand, you could use art and this is why I applaud Lola.
The_iNTERLUDE is a clever exhibition that does a fantastic job of transporting the viewer to a period in Nigeria’s history. Gone are the days of Britain’s colonial grip on Africa’s giant. We are taken to a time in which high life has spread its roots throughout the country.
When I look at the figures of all the pieces, they are painted with a variety of colours ranging from; yellow, pink and blue. I find this to be very symbolic of the power of melanin. Melanin is this powerful pigment that effectively absorbs visible light, it is adaptable and versatile. It is art such as this, that makes me see my skin as colourful and rich. In the pieces “Sunday’s Best” and “Guardians” we see traditional Nigerian attire; geles and agbadas. “Sunday’s Best” perfectly captures the essence of a proud Nigerian Lady, an individual who exudes a no-nonsense and an ambitious attitude.
Moreover, “Evening Guest” shows the viewer, the multiple delicacies of Nigeria. In the piece, we see a woman being greeted by a small banquet; Supermalt accompanied by tilapia, mini kebab skewers and puff puff.
“Different Faces” is also a good piece, if you pay close attention Lola pays homage to the famous Nigerian musician, Lagbaja.
Finally, with the piece “Home Going”, Lola pays tribute to her hometown, Hackney. I feel a strong connection with this piece because it makes me think of Neasden. Although my roots are West African, Neasden is a part of who I am as an individual.
From the moment I entered the exhibition, I was sent on a trip to 80s Nigeria. For an exhibition to make me feel nostalgic, I commend Lola. The private viewing played Fela and was accompanied by chin chin. It is little touches such as these that enhance a person’s experience.
I said this before, and I will say this again. The_iNTERLUDE is an exhibition that is quintessentially Nigerian to the core. All in all, it did a fantastic job of reminding me why I should be proud to be Nigerian.