ONYE OZI ARTIST FELLOWSHIP
A program by
Afro Urban Society
6 months of conversation, reflection, project exploration, construction-deconstraction, challenge, history, identities, Blackness.
June 6, 2020
Register at: afrourbansociety.com/onyeoziartists
‘Onye Ozi’ (‘Messenger’) brings Bay Area artists of diverse African ancestry across disciplines to create work that uses their personal experiences and artistic practice as a virile catalyst for social change. Fellows will reflect on the embodiment of the term paired with the phrase ‘ọnụ ụzọ’ (portal), how they/their work creates a pathway of discourse among new Black immigrants* and existing African American* communities. Read more about at Afro Urban Society
A quote by Byb
Onye Ozi Fellowship has emphasized on my credo to which there is only one Black identity. This identity is plural, meaning it is spotted with our global diversified origins, identities, infinite creative talent, beauty, community strengths, and an innate aspiration to excellence.
Byb Bibene, recipient of the program, is developing the project [Re]member as part of the fellowship.
The project [Re]member investigates through dance, installation, live and recorded music the history of the rebellions of captured Africans in the slave ships during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and in the plantations in the Americas and the Caribbean. The project strives to recover the names of numerous African men and women who led resistance revolts to break out to freedom. In the Americas, many men and women formed free communities. However, their names and faces remain unknown or not celebrated for the most part.
In the installation component of the project, there are prints of photographs and sketches of the African leaders. They are placed on stands in a formation shaped like a boat on the stage. The movement vocabulary of the solo dancer uses an ethnic dance aesthetic that invokes a degree of spiritual state in the body and the vocals. The music overlaps recorded rhythms and live music by one vocalist and one guitar player. The trio, dancer, vocalist, and guitar player embody the spiritual forces that drove the uprising of the Africans. The project also uses symbolism composed of elements found either on a slave ship such as chains, belles, wooden bars, a flag, a horn… There is also a machete utilized as weapon. This machete is a physical and metaphysical symbol of strength and connectedness between the human to the ancestral realms.
Phase 1 - Collaborators
Ida Karin (Musician/ Performing Artist)
Ida is a singer-songwriter, performer, and guitarist who expresses herself through musical styles of the African Diaspora( R&B, Jazz, Afro-Beat, Reggae). Based in the Bay Area, California, Ida makes music to inspire people of color worldwide to celebrate themselves in a world that is often socio-politically unsupportive. Ida is currently working on her first EP of original music and has performed in small venues in Oakland, as well as for Angela Davis at the "Voices From the Resistance" Event at the Brava Theater in San Francisco.
Nkan Eledua (Vocalist/Performing Artist
Kemisola (Nkan) started her career in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Her dexterity in singing, acting and dancing is with a great style and uniqueness. She has performed and has been featured as a solo Artiste in different bands all around the Bay Area. Her style of music is stylistically and culturally Afrocentric and cosmopolitan. Nkan recorded an album called "The music of our Ancestor” produced by a London based producer; Kayode Samuel. People who have seen her perform, call her “The Soul of Bay” Nkan is a brand that will definitely sparkle up any event!
My Ancestors Fought for Freedom
"Africans started to fight the transatlantic slave trade as soon as it began. Their struggles were multifaceted and covered four continents over four centuries. Still, they have often been underestimated, overlooked, or forgotten. African resistance was reported in European sources only when it concerned attacks on slave ships and company barracoons, but acts of resistance also took place far from the coast and thus escaped the slavers’ attention."
Who's the community audience?
This project is intended to the people of African descent in general, Although, the project will reach out to members of the African communities through partners at Priority Africa Network, Global Communication Education and Art, and Africa Advocacy Network, Ingeta Association, and Congo for All association. We will be in conversation with the African American Art and Cultural Complex in San Francisco, and Ile Omode School in Oakland whose works focus on bridging African Americans to Africans via history and culture studies and programs.
Around 1570, Yanga along with a group of slaves revolted against their Spanish captors and settled in the hilltops near Veracruz, Mexico. The Maroons as they were named, built a contained colony where they and other runaway slaves lived. They lived unbothered for 30 years.
Was the first leader of the massive runaway slave settlement of Quilombo dos Palmares, or Angola Janga, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil. Zumba was a slave who escaped bondage on a sugar plantation and eventually rose to the position of highest authority within the kingdom of Palmares, and the corresponding title of Ganga Zumba. Although some Portuguese documents regard Ganga Zumba as his proper name, and this name is widely used today, the most important of the documents translates the name as "Great Lord." In Kikongo, nganga a nzumbi was "the priest responsible for the spiritual defense of the community" which was a kilombo or military settlement made up multiple groups.
Was an Afro-Brazilian warrior of the colonial period of Brazil and was part of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a settlement of Afro-Brazilian people who freed themselves from enslavement, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil. After being arrested on February 6, 1694, she committed suicide, refusing to return to a life of slavery. She is a mysterious figure today, because not much is known about her life. Most of the stories about her are varied and disconnected. She and her husband Zumbi dos Palmares, the last king of the Quilombo dos Palmares, had three children.
Nat Turner's rebellion was one of the bloodiest and most effective in American history. It ignited a culture of fear in Virginia that eventually spread to the rest of the South, and is said to have expedited the coming of the Civil War. In the immediate aftermath of the rebellion, however, many Southern states, including North Carolina, tightened restrictions on African Americans.
Say Their Names
Sengbe Pieh or Joseph Cinqué
Three Fingered Jack or Jack Mansong
Benkos Biohó or el rey del arcabuco (king of the thick forest)
Alonso de Illescas
Joseph Chatoyer or Satuye
My artistic work is very much oriented towards social justice issues in general and particularly to the socio-political, religious, and historical justice of the African People globally. Each of my projects underlines one aspect of the African People's past, present, and future condition.
Throughout all these years living in the African soil of the Congo, I never questioned what it meant to be Black because I never saw myself as a Black person but rather as a Congolese man belonging to the Tsangui and Kongo ethnic groups. Moving to America changed a lot, in the sense that not only I became "Black" with everything it entails in this country, also this "new" social identity allowed me to question this Black identity and the historical ramifications of the term Black. This project underlines two things: the common history shared by Africans and Africans Americans and the lost memories of the history that finds its causes in the enslavement then the colonization of the African people. By questioning this shared history, the project allowed me to look at the tremendous work of the African women and men who fought hard battles to lead their people to freedom. Slavery and colonization contributed to the quasi lack of knowledge of the Black people's history. Because, for a very long time, their history never was part of the school's curriculum; thus, the Africans and African Americans have had more knowledge about the European's history than their own. This project allows an analysis of the points of connectedness between the Africans and African Americans with the lands of Africa via the medium of movement and music.
- Byb Bibene