There are moments in time that set you off on a journey that won’t start until many years in the future. This photo was taken during a family trip back to Lagos, Nigeria back in 1992. My Dad’s place in Festac Town was not far from this hotel. The outdoor pool at this hotel was one of the places to hang. On this occasion, I was escorting my young next-door neighbours for their fun day out (in reality - they were really escorting me!). Holiday reading book was 'The Autobiography of Macolm X'.
It was on a previous Nigeria visit that I first encountered the image of the 15th century ivory pendent mask of Iyoba Idia sometimes called (to my dislike) ‘The Festac Mask’, or the ‘Benin Mask’ (better). The image was something I was really drawn to, and probably had more of an impact on me than I realised at the time.
I developed a long-standing goal of making a t-shirt featuring this image. The journey started many (many) years later with learning about Iyoba Idia and her roles as a warrior, spiritual guide, protector, and adept politician.
Fast forward to 2014, and after my re-motivation by Inua Ellam’s play’ Black T-Shirt Collection’, and by travels to Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Aṣọ brand was launched at Africa Fashion Week London.
Aṣọ is used as metaphor for all people of African descent around the world: something built from common fibres, adaptable, woven into many forms, but without loss of its original essence.
The journey continues. Destination: unknown.