Grammy Nominated, Ibra Ake Wants More Africans to Expose Honest Narratives through Photography

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In anticipation of the forthcoming 61st Grammy award ceremony in days and hope that Nigeria’s Seun Kuti brings home the highly coveted award for Best World Album, it may interest you to know that another Nigerian is up for a Grammy nomination. Ibra Ake, a writer, photographer, and creative director who is one of the brains behind Childish Gambino’s controversial video for ‘This is America‘. The visual which set tongues wagging at the time of its release is nominated in the Best Music Video category at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Speaking with Okay Africa, Ake credits his Nigerian upbringing for helping him understand the essence of documentation and story telling.

“Every time I’m looking for a picture of Nigeria in the 70s, I’m never like, ‘let me check National Geographic.’ I’m always like, ‘What pictures did my parents take?’ It’s always true to their eye and what is important to them, which is definitely a different value, but I think there’s something very authentic about that.”

Grammy Ibra Ake
SZA on set of ‘This is America’. Photo by Ibra Ake

Ake further spoke on how his path crossed with Gambino’s:

“I took his pictures, he was like, ‘Shit, I thought you were going to be a white guy’, which was funny to me. After we became friends and just bounced ideas creatively back and forth.”

On African creatives taking the center stage in Photography by exposing honest narratives, he said:

“I’m glad the barrier to entry has finally lowered and I think that has been super important and just exiting personally. I think my biggest concern really is just making sure thar ownership is still coming from us. If I’m naming some of the most famous contemporary African work in Photography, for example, there are actually a lot of white South Africans. I want to make a genuine push to fund and support artistes through success and failures. I think that is my biggest concern because I have already known these trends to lift the face without understanding the culture. I think we are doing a good job of finding the real ones and with time, there will be a boom of young ideas and young people popping here and there.”

Ake also writes on US hit show “Atlanta” and has been featured in prominent publications like Vogue, CNN MTV etc.

While we root for Afrobeats’ royalty Seun Kuti, we’re also waving the flag hoping that Ake wins one for the culture.


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