Modern & Contemporary African Art | and CCA Lagos Benefit Auction

Modern & Contemporary African Art | and CCA Lagos Benefit Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 83. Sisiku AyukTabe, the Martin Luther King Jr. of Ambazonia.


Adjani Okpu-Egbe

Sisiku AyukTabe, the Martin Luther King Jr. of Ambazonia

Lot Closed

March 22, 04:25 PM GMT


12,000 - 18,000 GBP

Lot Details


Adjani Okpu-Egbe



Sisiku AyukTabe, the Martin Luther King Jr. of Ambazonia

mixed media on canvas mounted on customized wooden bookshelves with varied object installation

191.5 by 200.6 by 23cm., 75¼ by 79 by 9in. (excluding globe)

231.5 by 200.6 by 23cm., 91 by 79 by 9in. (including globe)

Donated by the artist

“I have worked hard over the years to build a foundation for my practice. I was coming to a point where l knew that l was ready for more visibility, and an organisation like ISCP would contribute to facilitating that. After 3 months in residence, I am pleased to say that I still harbour those thoughts. I am grateful for the platform, and for the many occasions ISCP went out of their way to support me towards my goals.” 

100% of the hammer price will go to The International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), the acclaimed non-profit visual arts residency program in New York, to fund career-enhancing residencies for artists from Africa. Founded in 1994, the ISCP supports the creative development of artists and curators, and promotes exchange through residencies and public programs. Housed in a former factory in Brooklyn, with 35 light-filled work studios, two galleries, and a project space, ISCP is New York’s most comprehensive international visual arts residency program, and has organized exhibitions, events and offsite projects, sustaining a vibrant community of contemporary art practitioners and diverse audiences for the past 27 years.

With this body of work, Adjani Okpu-Egbe aims to raise awareness about Ambazonia, also known as Southern Cameroons or English Speaking Cameroons, where the artist was born and lived until 2004. Okpu-Egbe’s antiracist and decolonial visuals, along with written, spoken, and musical contextualization, shed light on the ongoing war waged in Ambazonia by the French neocolonial regime in Cameroon. The artist observes, “United States taxpayers also unwittingly fund terrifying colonial violence―even the killing of children—in my homeland and have a right to know and have a say about this devastating War that started in 2016.” 

In the present lot, Okpu-Egbe crowns the first president of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia on an imagined cover of Time magazine. The Federal Republic positions itself outside the Françafrique influence and remains internationally unrecognised, making it unclear whether the inclusion of this corporate magazine aims to be devotional or ironic. Further, portraying AyukTabe as the “Martin Luther King Jr. of Ambazonia” begs the question of what the late Civil Rights leader might have accomplished if he had the chance, and whether mainstream media would have treated him the same.

Okpu-Egbe's compositions are replete with symbolism inspired by the natural world, including pregnant fish, vines bearing lemons, and semi-abstract beasts, which refer to specific people and histories of oppression as well as celebrations of freedom. Often painting on nontraditional supports, like doors, and incorporating everyday objects including books, mouse traps, and bubble wrap, the artist layers materials to convey irreducible complexity. Prior to becoming an artist, Okpu-Egbe studied archaeology and the history of political thought, which informed his practice.