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Afrobeat: The Way She Moves

Nayo Sasaki-Picou | Nigeria

Onome all dressed before showtime.

We often remember the artist Felt Anikulapo Kuti as the sole hero and motivator of the Afrobeat genre. Currently one of the carriers of his legacy is his son Femi Kuti, but untold are the stories of the women who carry other versions of the legacy of the artist. The women who have always inspired the Afrobeat narrative, upon its foundation with the late Fela Kuti. My work seeks to to illuminate the role of women on stage and beyond within these stories.

The photos document performances by Fela's son Femi Kuti's band throughout their preparation and performances in the summer of 2015 and 2016. Capturing the experience of Afrobeat through the female lens, these photos position the women as not secondary but central narrators of the stories of Afrobeat.

My work intends to have the women tell their histories of Afrobeat through a lens that has been activated by the female gaze. 

Through reflecting on the ways the black female body is often portrayed via photographic lens, these photos were taken in Lagos, Nigeria from a female lens, of which seeks to center the women of the Afrobeat movement into a visual narrative. These photos capture the complex performances that are negotiated by these women as they dance on stage alongside Femi Kuti and his band. 

Upon watching these live performances, I became so enthralled by the way these women curated their outfits and then moved their bodies on stage to the sounds of the band for hours straight. This live performance challenged my original imaginary of these performances as being driven by male energy. The female's were as active in adding the aesthetic of movement and soun on stage. I questioned why throguh visual representations we had been conditioned to view men as the only central performers? This produced this project as I prompted myself to seek: How does (She)Afrobeat move?

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