11 African artists to know on Instagram


Following the buzz created from February’s Social Media Week Lagos – now in its fourth year, here is my list of the most interesting African artists to follow on Instagram. Along with Tumblr and YouTube, the site is becoming a popular platform for visual artists to showcase their work.


The street photographer based in Lagos captures everyday scenes in the city. His images also appear on @everydayafrica. In an interview with Time magazine he highlighted the platforms ability to allow photographers to show the images they want irrespective of global pressure. “Still today we, African photographers, often have to fulfil the West’s preconceived ideas of our continent in order to be published internationally. This is something I don’t find particularly refreshing and many times conflicts with my own sensibilities,” he said, continuing that “today, with the use of platforms like Instagram, we can circumvent the traditional gatekeepers and we can publish immediately our images”.



Amaal Said is something of a global diasporan. Born in Denmark to Somali parents, she grew up and still lives in London, England. Her images create a discussion around belonging and young female Muslim identities.  



Zanele Muholi is a South African photographer that has really pushed LGBT issues to the forefront of the country’s media output. Choosing to focus on these themes in a conscious way, her work focusses on history, memory and representation.



Not African but most will be familiar with Peter Dicampio and Austin Merrill’s project especially since it’s spurned many incarnations such as Everyday India, Everyday Middle East and Everyday Eastern Europe. If you are not – the site features the works of photographers such as Ghanaian artist and blogger Nana Kofi Acquah and Ethiopian art director Girma Berta offering a glimpse of daily life from across the continent.



I have blogged about photographer Fati Abubakar’s work previously and the former nurses’ images have also been the subject of Africa is a Country’s #InstantArchives series. Her Instagram page aims to show another side of Maiduguri, in Borno State Nigeria, one which moves beyond the continuous Boko Haram attacks of which the city is now notorious for.



Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah, mentioned previously,  has described himself as an editorial photographer but his works are much broader than this veering into storytelling. His images are bold, colourful and ultimately beautiful.



Based in New York, French and Senegalese visual artist Delphine Diallo is an avid Instagramer, frequently posting her photography works, mixed media collages and 3D creations on the site. Her 3D printed masks are part of a recent collaboration with 3D artist Nate Kolbeck. She was named by the Smithsonian as a rising star, and has been featured in the New York Times. Drawing on her background – she mixes African themes with American pop culture.



The brainchild of photographer and curator Tochi Ani, as its name suggests Humans of Lagos hopes to capture the vibrancy of people living in one of the continent’s most populous cities. The feed’s inspiration came from the blog Humans of New York capturing street portraits and interviews within New York and garnering more than 4.7 million followers on Instagram.



From the Ivory Coast, Joana Choumali’s portrait photography mostly feature strong African women – more recently in  traditional clothing. Her series Resilients aims to capture just that – formidable females. African women have an “ability to mutate and adapt, while remaining anchored to their roots and traditions”, she writes.

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"Resilients" series. ©Joana Choumali. The perception of African women, historically and in the contemporary visual culture, is limited to the commonly considered sacred traditions. But there is a gradual evolution in the reality of African women. The ability to mutate and adapt, while remaining anchored to their roots and traditions, able to remain true to themselves, just like the earth from which they came. Elasticity that turns into resilience. In this project Joana Choumali focuses on the appearance of these issues: the traditional clothing. The women portrayed in pictures by Joana are modern women, emancipated professionals, perfectly integrated in contemporary society. Taken out jeans, tailleurs and high heels shoes, each of them was portrayed wearing the clothes of their ave. Each portrait session represented a real ritual, an almost religious moment, meditation. Rediscovering, through the gestures of dressing, tissues and hairstyles, the indissoluble bond that associate all women with the women of previous generations, but above all the importance of rediscovering and keeping in touch with the roots to fully build their identity.(Text by Azu Nwagbogu) #identity#africa#contemporaryafrica #photography#finearts#tradition#beauty#africanwoman#traditional#clothes#pastpresent#generations#culture#joana_choumali#african#photography#portraiture#princesseakan#royaumedebassam#appolo#confidence#strenght#attitude#majesté#grâce#dignité#beauté#forcetranquille#profondeur#personnalité#femmeakan

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Yannis Guibinga’s images of beach culture in Libreville – Gabon’s capital – will make your feed instantly cool. Just 20-years-old, he currently lives in Toronto, Canada where he’s studying for a University degree. “When it comes to African photographers, I realized that most of them are either West African or Kenyan,” he says. “I feel like it is my duty to represent Central Africa and especially Gabon, which is a region that is not necessarily known by the general public.” 



Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu is a vanguard of Afrofuturism – an aesthetic which reimagines science, technology and the future from an African perspective. For example, her short sci-fi film Pumzi deals with our changing ecosystem and re-imagines a world plagued by water wars.

Feature Image by Nana Kofi Aquah – Ghana, Top image by Andrew Esiebo – Nigeria.
Words – Nosmot Gbadamosi.