CELEBRATING HERITAGE

The works of lifetimes: African Twilight, The Movie

Double volume-opus turned film is by photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

In Summary

It represents the life’s work of three people who have dedicated their lives to African Heritage.

Dancers in appliqued masquerade costumes from the Ibo of Nigeria
Dancers in appliqued masquerade costumes from the Ibo of Nigeria
Image: PAPILLON EAST AFRICA

The spectacular launch of the double-volume opus, ‘African Twilight, the Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies of the African Continent’, by photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher is a culmination of a long journey.

It represents the life’s work of three people who have dedicated their lives to African Heritage. The book is now the subject of a feature-length movie to premiere in Nairobi at the Alliance Francaise Theatre on Monday at 6pm.

The movie will then travel to London for a showing at the Tribal Gatherings Gallery on May 25-26 before its US premiere in Los Angeles, sponsored for a gala benefit of the Los Angeles Bead Society.

Other showings are being planned in Washington DC, New York City, Ft Lauderdale Florida and other major cities.

The movie is the product of a local filmmaker, Enrique Manjai of RealityMediaOnLine, who has spent several weeks finishing the movie for public viewing.

 

WHAT IT FEATURES

The film takes viewers through the moment art lovers board the train at the Railway Museum in Nairobi to cross the Athi Plains to African Heritage House. There, they disembark to a sumptuous buffet, including the roasting of a huge bull by the Carnivore, Indian delights and various breads and salads from the Ole Sereni Hotel.

There are also tasty finger foods from the Hotel InterContinental, as part of their 50-year Golden Lady Celebrations for their hotel in Nairobi, and luscious desserts by the Nairobi Serena Hotel. 

Other sponsors include Stanbic Bank, Safaricom and Qatar Airlines, who held a raffle for tickets on Qatar Airlines to any destination in the world.

The film presents the new Arts and Culture CS Amina Mohammed at her first event in her new position. She lays out her vision for preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the country and the continent.

This is followed by a moving tribute to legendary fallen comrade and co-founder of African Heritage Band Ayub Ogadaas he passed away during preparations for the show. His protégé, a young musician named Papillon, performs his ode to Ayub, ‘Ayubu’.

Former African Heritage dancer Fernando Anuangu’a dances to this music with his troupe of Maasai dancers, who have performed at Espace Cardin in Paris.  

Model Rose Akinyi, adorned in Maasai beadwork and wearing a Rendille necklace, offers a libation from a Maasai calabash. 

Then enters a horn-blower, blowing an ivory and silver horn from Guinea, dressed in embroidered velvet trousers and elaborate silver jewellery from Ethiopia, based on an ancient tradition from the old City State of Benin.

This ushers in an updated version of the African Renaissance Show. It was first presented in South Africa after the South African government combed the continent to find the best cultural show in Africa to present, when it hosted the first Telecoms Conference for 4,000 delegates in South Africa in l998. 

 

VANISHING TEXTILES

The show moves swiftly through the vibrant cultures of Africa, featuring the hand-woven and hand-printed textiles of the continent, which are vanishing, many now extinct. 

This includes the opening segment of the show, featuring the stunning royal Kente and Adinkira cloths from the Ashanti of Ghana; beaded elephant masks and stilt walkers from Cameroon, gauzy silken Shema cloth from Ethiopia (featuring the first design by Alan Donovan in l971 for an African Heritage Street Festival in New York city that year).

There is also the famous mudcloth of Mali, textiles and jewellery and authentic costumes from Togo, Benin, Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Madagascar and South Africa, and a grand carnival finale featuring beadwork from the Kamba, Kikuyu, Masaai, Turkana, Rendille and Pokot women of Kenya and the Dinka of Southern Sudan. 

During a lull in the proceedings, Sally Karago is presented with an African Heritage Lifetime Achivement Award. This is as she showcases her stunning wedding gown of Uganda bark cloth adorned with porcupine quills, and two porcupine-studded bridesmaids (which won the first Smirnoff Fashion Award in l993) and a pair of her Turkana-inspired designs, with models adorned from chest to chin in beadwork.

Two chiefs from Nigeria were honoured guests of African Twilight. They presented the writer and host with a certificate of chieftancy as the Obalaje of Ido Osun for his work in preserving and protecting the arts of Nigeria, Kenya and the African continent. 

The two chiefs were Nike Seven Seven Okundaye, who has spent a great part of her life reviving the textile arts of Nigeria, and who held several exhibitions at African Heritage in Nairobi.

The other is Muraina Oyelami, from whom I bought my first three contemporary African artworks in l967, when I was in Nigeria serving with the US State department during the Nigerian-Biafran war. That started me on my lifelong passion for collecting and promoting African arts.  

Musicians Papillon, Herit and Justo Asikoye performed throughout the show, with recorded songs from African Heritage Band and Salif Keita of Mali. Asikoye is from Jabali Afrika, who travelled across 11 cities of Europe with me in 1998 — a tour that included two live elephants to welcome guests to the Kenyan African Heritage Festivals held by the InterContinental Hotels and Lufthansa Airlines.

The show ended as the train arrived to end the evening of music, dance, acrobatics, cuisine, culture, costumes and fashions. One faded into the other that was the African Twilight Celebrations, which will now continue in African Twilight–The Movie.  

 

Guests to African Twilight-The Movie are advised to arrive at the Alliance Francaise at 5.45pm for admittance to the theatre. Mayers Water will present water and beer tasting as guests await entry.