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Fela Kuti Afrobeat legend's native white chalk makes a return

In the latter stage of his career, Fela was known with having native white chalk on his face. In 2016, the native white chalk is back in mainstream consciousness.

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In 1983, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti met Professor Hindu, the man who will be responsible for the third act in his colourful life.

Fela's life can be broken into three parts, Fela the musician, Fela the activist and Fela the spiritualist. Professor Hindu who claimed he could raise the dead (which he did when he visited Fela in Lagos) was one of the major players in the third stage of Fela's life.

A poster of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Professor Hindu of their show in London play

A poster of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Professor Hindu of their show in London



Professor Hindu (a Ghanaian whose names are Kwaku Addai) came to Lagos in 1981 at Fela's expense. The enigmatic musician would be struck by Hindu's parlour tricks and claims that he could communicate with spirits.

Later on, Fela also claimed that he communicate with the spirits and the dead thanks to Professor Hindu.

Fela with white chalk on his face play

Fela with white chalk on his face



In the book 'Fela: King of the Invisible Art by Jay Babcock, the musician would say this about Hindu. "He’s the man who started showing me the way to truth, to myself, to my mission and to…my mother! He revealed to me that one has to put this white spiritual powder on the face to communicate with spirits."

At shows, Fela would go on stage with white spiritual powder around his eyes.

Reminisce and Olamide in London play

Reminisce and Olamide in London

(Instagram/baddosneh )

ALSO READ: Laolu Senbanjo's works to be displayed in a Grammy museum

Years after Fela's death, the white spiritual powder is back in the mainstream once again. On Sunday, October 9, 2016, Olamide performed in London. Before getting on stage the rapper posted a photo of himself with white paint on his face. "Kalakuta things .. don't mess with my culture/heritage/tradition" he captioned the photo. Olamide's appearance with white paint on his face comes at a time when the trend is at its peak.

Laolu to make Air Max inspired art play

Laolu to make Air Max inspired art



Laolu Senbanjo, the Nigerian born and bred artist as brought back the white powder or white paint into popular consciousness. He first made noise when Nike picked him to create a special Air Max with African themed design in March 2016.

His big break would come in the following month when Beyonce released the visuals to her album Lemonade. In one of the videos, Beyonce's dancers were painted in Laolu's patent white swirling and enchanting designs which he calls Sacred Art of the Ori.

Laolu Senbanjo's work featured on Beyonce album play

Laolu Senbanjo's work featured on Beyonce's album



Since working with Beyonce, Laolu has painted on the likes of Seun Kuti, Jaden Smith, Davido, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Ibeyi, and others. Getting the cool Sacred Art of the Ori is the new cool among American celebs.

According to the Ifa website, "Ori has two roles: the physical and the spiritual. The physical functions of Ori will be familiar to us: our brains think, our eyes see, our noses smell, and our ears hear. Our mouths speak and eat and breathe. Our faces are different from all others and provide our physical identities. Our spiritual Ori are themselves subdivided into two elements: Apari-inu and Ori Apere. Apari-inu represents character; Ori Apere represents destiny."

Swizz Beatz and Laolu Senbanjo play

Swizz Beatz and Laolu Senbanjo



On Laolu's website, he breaks down his stylistic drawing on the face and body. "In my language, Yoruba "Ori" literally means your essence, your soul, your destiny and also comes with a mantra. When I work with a muse, the muse, their Ori, and I become one. My Art form is physically drawing what's on the inside, what's in your soul, and your essence and being;  on your canvas which is the skin.  It's the deepest most spiritual experience I've ever had with my Art as an artist. It's amazing and energizing. The connection is phenomenal."

Laolu Senbanjo wearing an Ori mask play

Laolu Senbanjo wearing an Ori mask



The renaissance of the mystic white paint art falls in line as many African-Americans are listening to songs from the Motherland. As Laolu Senbanjo is the Warhol of African pop art, Drake goes to West Africa to get his first number one hit.

There is a buzz right now for African culture. Maybe our African-American cousins are indulging in the Sacred Art of the Ori to connect with their African heritage and spirituality which was eroded by the slave trade era.

For the Nigerians, the spiritual white paint or powder is a way of reconnecting to our spiritual culture tucked away by white faced Christianity.

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