Magazine article New African

Enthralling: Words, Symbols, Songs

Magazine article New African

Enthralling: Words, Symbols, Songs

Article excerpt

The British Library, perhaps one of the most revered institutions in the world, is currently home to a captivating exhibition of West African art, literature and music, revealing a fascinating heritage of words and story-telling over the centuries. New African previews it.

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song traces a millennium of West Africa's history, from the great empires of the Middle Ages, through to colonialism and independence, and right up to today's leading writers and artists, such as Africa's first winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Wole Soyinka.

By looking at topics such as protest and religion, the Library showcases the incredible creativity that has come from the region and celebrates how West Africans have harnessed the power of words and influenced culture today.

On display in the exhibition, which opened on 16 October, is an impressive array of West Africa's literary history, from early illuminated Qur'ans and manuscripts to recent graphic novels.

Playing alongside beautiful objects, books, artwork and textiles are fascinating historic and contemporary recordings. Starring a centuries-old drum language, recordings of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and a modern performance of Sunjata, the medieval epic narrative, the exhibition reveals how West Africa's literature has thrived and travelled through generations of oral history, as well as writing and symbolic systems going back to the Middle Ages and before.

The Library is also pleased to reveal a brand new costume by Ray Mahabir, Artistic Director or South London's Sunshine International Arts, which stars in the exhibition. …

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