Afrosays to me

…random excerpts from my communions with the AfroMuse

Gift & Curse January 17, 2012

The year has put on new clothes.
ThatDarkBetty and thatAfroSays, we bid you enjoy her fashions.


Enter @Osizurunkle

Art has long since provided us a means to appreciate, understand and interpret our surroundings and circumstances, a form of social commentary.


The tradition continues:
@afromysterics, @CavalierSlim, @xoAFRO

One painting, slightly different perceptions;


(Kindly allow the images to load, also preferably viewed on a PC)
Section 1




Some of the key players in the matter; GEJ intentions unclear, wearing what seems to be a joker’s mask

IMF (can you see their logo?), a head seeming to come forth from the logo, whispering, appearing to give orders to Okonjo; who is listening. Eyes closed, appearing to be blind to the suffering of her people, her environment…

The child, representative of the people, crying in anguish because of the future he/they see(s)…bleak

Can you see the logos of two major oil companies?



NOI with the star where her heart should be, signifying her good intentions.

GEJ with the mask, putting on a strangely brave face in the presence of turmoil and chaos

The masses, crying and angry, bewildered by the actions of the government, unable to comprehend a seemingly futuristic action…ignorance, the bane of the ordinary man. (as seen by the sad face beside NOI and the dumb-looking man, holding up the placard, respectively)

A cacophony of violence and diverse interests, fighting for the soul of Nigeria, while its innate strength lies dormant and weakened (signified by the sad horse)




Section 2




Crude- a source of joy and pain,a gift & curse since 1956

The Coat of ‘Alms’ (begging for attention)




Section 3





He was a prophet in his own right. His music; the soundtrack of the current agitation.

(This section of the piece also expresses religious conflicts between Islam and Christianity, the murder carried out in the name of God…)



The timeless conflict that religion inevitably concocts, causing the death of so many and setting the nation on edge. An explosive situation, literally. All happening, with fela’s music remains the soundtrack in the quest for freedom and equity.




Section 4



A bomb. 2015; the predicted expiration date of the entity called NGR, an eye; watching…




Section 5



TUC, NLC, Save Nigeria, Enough is Enough, people protesting for a return to N65, fists representative of the Occupy Nigeria movement.




Section 6




A phone,megaphones, guns, social networking sites and the war being waged on the internet…the people being given a voice of sorts, an avenue to vent/vocalize their thoughts…

The ‘I-better-pass-my-neighbor ‘ generator powering all this…’NEPA’



Twitter and facebook…the chief culprits through which propaganda is spread from every angle, setting a technology-savvy generation on fire, seeing only half-truths and shadows…they need light…figuratively and literally.




The piece in full




They go to church, they ask, “Give us a prophecy!”
They have stopped coming to visit me, their clothes are too clean for my mats and their noses are too urban, too stilted for the modest smell of nature.
Every year, they hear the same things over and over again:
This is your year of breakthrough! This is your year of renewed anointing!
How are they so blind that they cannot see the play of hands? How are they so carried away that they are not aware that the year listens to no man’s speculations?
The year listens to their actions, individually; the year listens to the consequence of these gathering drops in the ocean. The year is the resultant wave, riding on the combined ripples of their decisions, their activities, although some ripples are weightier than others.
Whether they come to consult me or not, the charcoal would talk about them.  Spiritual Amebo[0].
Whether they seek the truth or not, in black gold it is evident. Spiritual Gbeborun[0].
I see,
The circles are distorted and the ripples dance before me, telling a story that is not altogether hidden from you if you cared to open your eyes.
Shey you want to know where it starts? Is it not in the center of it all? Look at that beast of burden, enjoying himself on a bed of flowers…
 Him brother no see palmi[1] drink but him no go give am. Palmwine sef dey, ‘Gorodom[2]’ dey. Them talk say na oyel[3] money, say na for all of us, why them dey laugh and we dey cry?
Fela, he talked about it all and his words ring true today, as true as they rang back then, in rhythm with the sound of the beads that shook on the jiggling waists of his dancers. Abami…
Archbishop na enjoyment, Pope na enjoyment, Imam na gbaladun[4]… Our people too dey fear… Our leaders them be bad people… Suffering and smiling
Shey you see the next ripple? Look above the center, it is the consequence of the activities of the leaders that we elected, it is the consequence of our own choices…
My people dey suffer: Bomb dey blow, we leaders no hear! We dey cry, we leaders no hear! Oga president no see our face, na joke joke masquerade him use take cover face! Madam minister no see hear our cry, na oyinbo dey give am advice! Bomb dey blow! Man dey cry!
And the ripples after? Just above?
Suffer dey but we must talk! Enough is enough, We must to save Nigeria! Whether court talk say make we no cry, na as e pain us we go cry! Whether Labour talk say make we quiet small, na as e pain us, we go shout! Enough is Enough!
My people, the charcoal dust swirls, observe the whorls. The voice of the people is their armament. Look at the final ripples, the voice of the multitude, the cry of the people…
Bullhorn na we grenade launcher! All ojoro[5] must die by fire! Thunder must to strike all the cabal them! No be our money?  No be our oyel? Twitter soldier man, Facebook air marshall, Broadcaster-in-chief, General street protester, all of we come together. We no fit use all our salary enter molue[6] go work; we no fit put all our sweat inside one twenty-five leetah[7] jerry can, pour am for moto. NEPA no dey, PHCN talk say make we buy candle but Mama Bomboy talk say candle don cost. Our voice na we gun! Our shout na we shakabula[8]!
Enough is Enough!
Words employed

  1. Amebo/Gbeborun – Gossip/ Eavesdropper
  2. Palmi – Palm Wine
  3. Gorodum – Oil drums
  4. Oyel – Crude oil
  5. Gbaladun – Enjoyment
  6. Ojoro – Corruption
  7. Molue – Dilapidated mass transit bus
  8. Leetah – Litre
  9. Shakabula – Double barreled Pump action rifle.


The piece is titled Gift & Curse and done with charcoal on pastel by Laolu Senbanjo

Go to to see more of the artist’s work and follow the handle @afromysterics on twitter, also like laolu senbanjo on facebook.


51 Responses to “Gift & Curse”

  1. edgothboy Says:

    Blown! Social commentary at it’s finest. Art,eternal, unbiased, speaking the truth. An insightful look at the events of the past forthnight. *doffs hat*

  2. Nice… Really nice… The artwork was just impressive…

    Good one…

  3. Titan Says:

    Mind. has. been. destroyed. This is genius, a true expression of art as a ‘clarifier’.

  4. @Lebar_ Says:

    This is great post I must say, well timed for the aftermath of the occupyNigeria protests. I wish our people will wake up from their religious slumber early enuff, so as to brace up for 2015, the closest time to our emancipation. Enough is indeed enough.

    I think a lot youths need to read this. Once again, Nice post iLike 🙂

  5. joeyparker Says:

    Wozers of the highest denomination! Bounded by the clarity of the ‘art’; art, a word over-used and washed down in contemporary times, I am delighted deep down, optimistic, and proud to be considered, albeit casually, in this pure artistic circle brewing across the continent.

  6. jayajade Says:

    just went through ‘laolu’s gallery….. awesome stuff… makes me extremely happy to know people like him still exist and thrive….

  7. rhaiharnah Says:

    The Charcoal… Layers and layers.. Told so many stories..

    The description.. The words say it all,and still let’s us look and see with our own eyes..

    The pidgin gives us a charecteristically Nigerian picture and carries us through it all…

    Might I point out.. The 2faces on both sides of the Gorodum… A smiling one,on the left..happy to benefit..happy to steal the tears of the other on the right..while he suffers,while his land becomes waste. Cabal and the Niger Delta??

    I looove…

  8. MzLucyM Says:

    WOW!!! This is truly an amazing piece, nd the interpretations, on point. God help Nigeria!

  9. Dee Says:

    Lovely piece….apt rendition of the state of the Country…
    Bravo… This piece was definitely worth the wait.. Yes I’d been waiting for new new piece

  10. ThePoiisonIvy Says:

    I am speechless. The art is wonderful. I didnt view it with a PC,but the little i was able to figure was . . . . .
    Very vivid description. As a nation, we can only hope,pray and fight. I looooooooved this post.

  11. maxImeaner Says:

    The profundity of this piece is awe inspiring. My favourite character is Dignity, the centre of the the piece, and aptly between our resources and the ones who we give them to. The look of oblivion amidst chaos. Bartered crude oil for crude pleasures; revelries and material things. It is our only shield against theft. See as we lie unconcerned!


  12. bigboiler Says:

    This blog would never cease to impress me. Art at its finest. I love this.

  13. Nono Says:


  14. awizii Says:


    Afromysterics, we want more art! *chants*


  15. vixenpixie Says:

    This is such good work… i really enjoyed each unveiling…

  16. @Qurr Says:

    Awesomely breathtaking!!!


    Let there be more of this, please!

  17. PreyingMantis Says:

    Two observations:

    Section 2: If the title of this piece titled gift & curse is derived from this section, then section 2 is an empty illustration. How is crude a source of pain/gift? Is it for the lack of it or abundance? Or the environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, the oil companies & their greed or the jobs (skilled/unskilled) this sector has provided.
    The coat of ‘alms’ begging for attention. How? Why? How does this fit into section 2 and the title. This is vague. All I see is one jolly horse on the right & the other one on the left.

    Observation 2:

    I noticed that a fundamental piece in this puzzle is missing – Corruption. Corruption lies at the centre of Nigeria’s precarious condition. There’s mention of religion, almost a mockery of it & its faithfuls in this piece. However, corruption which is practised by everyone including atheists isn’t mentioned. This piece also portrays the average Nigerian as a victim, however, it is interesting to note that Nigerians need to take responsibility for their actions especially at the election polls. I noticed ‘ignorance’ in the piece & I assume this caters for education which the country needs.

    All in all, a remarkable piece.

    • OsizUrUnkle Says:

      You have, on your own, given some of the reasons why crude oil is a gift and a curse (“environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, the jobs (skilled/unskilled) this sector has provided”)

      The coat of alms; its current state shows a breakdown of order, a deviation from the norm, begging for attention in the sense that the situation needs to be noticed and redressed. (although I’ll accept something catchier)

      Dividing the piece into sections was tricky because it wasn’t the artist’s intention while he was creating, *shrug* I think he drew as the images came to him.

      Corruption could be implied by the dollar sign on the eyelid of the figure close to the barrel, profiting at the expense of his counterpart.

      The mockery of religion you think see is probably due to the viewpoints expressed by commentators but the piece is largely open to interpretation, draw from it whatever conclusions you will.

      Thank you for highlighting the issues of ignorance and the need to take responsibility; very key.

      I wonder if you’ll be open to being a commentator on a subsequent piece?

  18. @real001 Says:

    This was freaking great!

  19. ThinkTank! Says:

    This is what art is.

    There is so much to see in and say of this picture even beyond what the artist intended and there is the true art….the magic…it is not in the work itself but in the response it elicits. and this work elicits many responses…triggers many emotions…

    it is art at its most poignant. I love it.

    I personally feel that the descriptions and interpretations were a bit of a distraction. Everyone sees a plethora of things. Let them see and feel for themselves. However, the commentary at the end was very apt. Very.

    I imagine that the words read like the sound that the picture would make if it it could speak or shout or cry or protest.

    it is art and I love it.

    Happy new year.

    • OsizUrUnkle Says:

      i get what you mean by the comments being distracting, they could restrict or taint people’s perceptions and experience of the piece. Laolu’s paintings can be overwhelming sometimes, the commentary was meant to act as a sort of compass to help navigate the complexity, but we tried to keep it to a minimum (apart from afro’s piece which i think killed it too)

  20. weird_oo Says:

    *sigh* Art. That is all.

  21. 0latoxic Says:

    No. Words. Only. *applause*

  22. Shomade Says:

    This is extremely impressive art work. A very welcome difference. Love the “pidgin poetry”. Kudos.

  23. Hot damn! This was so vivid, it brought tears to my eyes…the painting, the interpretations, the differing perspectives, they say it all…

  24. Haemlet Says:

    Touche! Addressing the core of our problems vividly and graphically. Sweet

  25. Ayob Alariwo Says:

    Creativity @ it’s best…. Thou i cudn’t read it all… I’m rightly informed…indeed a A picture is worth a thousand words but a thousand words on a picture and makes it priceless….. Anoda Nice n DEEP one 4rm Afro-Says

  26. Moonraker_00 Says:

    Beautiful. So beautiful. Great concept to the telling of a story that means so much to us.

  27. listener Says:

    Howbeit all this beauty was created in so little time? Genius i guess. *joins queue of fans*

  28. I’ll just say I’m speechless.

  29. Wow! I was not expecting this at all. I was blown away. By just looking at the art work, it gives a vivid depiction of what is happening in our country. Art at its most expressive. I love!

  30. terdoh Says:

    The hand holding the pump machine just over the cross-skull, the apparent suicide ropes that seem to hang everywhere, the play on religion, the empty purses/wallets, the pure art that seeps from every inch of that image… is simply breathtaking.

    More of this, please.

  31. Olaitan Says:

    WOW, truth must be told, this is an excellent one.

  32. I almost forgot, there’s an exhibition of some of the artist’s work at the Jamaican High Commission in Asokoro (Abuja), from now till the 21st. Pop in if you can (70 Yakubu Gowon Crescent, Asokoro). Tell a friend

  33. PreyingMantis Says:

    @OsizUrUnkle: Let me know when.

    Btw, is the artist familiar with Fela’s Egypt 80s band album artwork? This painting is about 80% similar to it. The elements that make up the painting: Shell’s logo, d barrel of oil, NNPC, the spirals, etc. I’ll check my collection and confirm.

  34. Mia Farraday Says:

    The artist, Laolu, is wonderfully talented.

  35. genieslamp Says:

    Art has always been more wonderful than mere words….. We want more wonder! Great job.

  36. @msloluR Says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow.
    I’m in awe. Ds post is awesome. D depictions,d art,d words, d literature,d depth, d truth.
    D nation is cursed, d unending pathetic situation we r faced wd.
    Richest nation wd d poorest people; corruption has pierced so deep in d society and our leaders are a shameless lot.
    Ds is y d white man will continue to look at us as foolish. We are slaves to corruption and greed.
    I digress.
    Ds post is awesome and ur minds…amazing.

  37. PreyingMantis Says:

    Just checked. Different material.

    To the artist: Great job.

  38. vhyktorhia Says:


  39. Rikkytoyin Says:

    Ingenious! The artist sef na prophet, even the writer na prophet! Wish many more could read this. Is there a way you can get a column in a daily newspaper to make it a weekly or monthly article? People would eagerly wait to read from you. Wish you all the best.

  40. ibetapassmynebo Says:

    The Artwork
    The story. . .
    All on point. . .
    2015 and it may be over 😦

  41. ifeoluwa Says:

    An artistic piece of the situation in Nigeria..God will deliever us..

  42. The theme song for this post should be “Let’s Get Blown”, cos that’s what I am right now…BLOWN!!!

    I wont attempt to comment. Whatever I have to say wil be inadequate. *sigh*

  43. Candor Says:

    Saved this page! Won’t ever be deleting it.

  44. blogoratti Says:

    Great piece of art and writing*

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