Part of a yearlong survey (in monthly instalments) in which artists, curators and cultural commentators explore the question of what African art (of the contemporary flavour) does or can do within various local contexts across the continent
Amos Tutuola’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1964) is the story of a five-year-old Nigerian boy who escapes into the bush when his village is attacked by soldiers. The bush is a magical territory where no humans are allowed and where the Yoruba spirits live and fight. The story is told by the boy himself in a very basic, direct, naive and repetitive style that manages to convey the magical and absurd reality that war and religion added to Nigerian life. The series This is what hatred did (the mysterious last sentence of Tutuola’s book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of this story, adapting the characters, the space and the environment to the Nigeria of today. The bush is now the Lagosian neighbourhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by kings and community leaders: a place where no logic seems to prevail and that is equally forbidden for those who do not belong.
Cristina De Middel is an artist based in London.
This article was first published in the October 2014 issue.