Lagos to Pioneer End Slavery Now Campaign for Africa


Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Lagos has been selected as the pioneer African city to spur the End Slavery Now campaign that began in Germany last month.

The art project is to forge a common front against the evil of slavery. The photography piece will be splashed on billboards in many locations across the city.

Exponent of the campaign, German artist, Barbara von Enger, informed THISDAY that Lagos will be awash with the posters starting in May.

The artwork will also appear on billboards in Hong Kong, China; and Basel, Switzerland.

Von Enger said the campaign was influenced by the unfortunate episode in Libya, where many Black African migrants, passing through the North African country, were captured and openly auctioned as slaves.

Libya is a transit route for economic migrants from West Africa, who embark on the perilous journey to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

“The situation in Libya is sad. It is quite dreadful that in this age, slavery is still roaring on the African continent. We can’t stand and look. This is why I made this piece, to bring a voice to the voiceless and raise the African flag. Slavery is very psychological and its damages can cause blindness of culture. We can no longer be obedient in the face of slavery,” von Enger said.

The End Slavery Now artwork was created this year and has already graced billboards across Germany. It was displayed at the Karlsruhe Art Fair and was featured last month in German’s leading Art magazine, MONOPOL. This month, the art billboards will be hoisted at the Art Basel Hong Kong, while later in June, it will be unveiled at the Art Basel, Switzerland.

She said the self-funded project was already getting global exposure as the message had been seen and heard, while giving a positive face to culture.
Von Enger specialises in painting, sculpture, drawing and installation art.
She studied art at Oxford University and then Goethe Institution in Germany.

After graduating, she worked at the Guggenheim Museum in Berlin and several other art institutions in Europe. von Enger’s media for creative expressions vary from cement, zinc, leather, resin, paper, wood, textile, glass, aluminium or a combination of each, which she uses to create statement pieces.

Her heritage is German, Jamaican and Ethiopian. She has lived in eight countries, among which are Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana.

She said decision on Lagos was out of emotional attachment to Nigeria, as she had once lived at Ibadan and even crafted an artwork “Ibadan”.

“I lived in Ibadan, a rustic city with its ascending hills and warlike in history, for several years. I see Africa under one umbrella. Though different languages within a language and different tribes upon tribes, Africa must be united in order to stand strong. Together- peoples and countries.”