When Gold West Africa launched, in June 2019, a conference to develop the West African gold economy, bringing together Nigerian, regional and international gold players, there is no doubt that it would return in 2020 for its second edition.
In 2020, the conference is back, but with an expanded reach and presence in other West African countries.
No longer just a conference event, but also a celebration of the renaissance of gold, with festivities such as markets, an art exhibition and an auction to bring together actors, decision-makers, stakeholders, investors, jewelry makers, goldsmiths and even artists, whether in real time or digitally, to reflect the critical importance of developing the region’s gold value chain.
This year there was a creative addition to the famous Kano Durbar festival – the Gold Durbar.
With Worth the Weight of Gold: The Language of West African Culture (the Kano series) as its theme, the exhibition showcased the objects and ideas that celebrated Africa’s historical and unrecognized global significance. Where is.
Held at the Ado Bayero Mall in Kano, the Gold Durbar is an organized marketplace for trading and buying gold jewelry, as well as showcasing inspired design and lifestyle products.
The show, which began on August 1, 2020, ends on August 22, pays homage to Kano’s rich cultural heritage while integrating economic development and tourism through the Gold Corridor into history and for trade. in northern Nigeria.
Nigeria and Kano series
Another market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso at the end of September, this time serving as a meeting point for artisanal gold producers with jewelers and traders. November marks the culmination of the Gold Festivities with the Gold West Africa Conference and the Gold House Art Exhibition and Auction in Lagos.
With one of Africa’s largest economies and populations, Nigeria is one of the top contenders as the largest emerging market for luxury goods in Africa, especially gold.
In Kano, Sabon Gari Market was the first place where most of the women who served as brokers, working from home with over 2,000 separate visitors from all over Africa per day, conducted conventional gemstone business. Other Kano markets where gold is sold include the Rimi and Hajj Camp Markets, which strengthen Kano’s position as the primary gold market in Nigeria by supporting the ecosystem and economy of the gold with its business boom.
Kano had grown very rapidly by the 15th century, sending military expeditions south and becoming a regional hub connecting trade networks from southern Nigeria to what is now Mali and beyond. The characteristic wealth of the region has strong links between culture and gold.
To do justice to the Kano series, Sadi Washington, a multidisciplinary visual artist working in a variety of mediums, questions the elements, forms, style, and the contextual relationship between art and commerce.
His passion for facial expressions and moods embroidered with stories is reflected in the works.
For the exhibition, he presents works spanning several centuries and a vast geographic extent. The exhibit featured stories about interconnected stories.
It takes its visitors along the roads crossing the Sahara Desert at a time when West African gold fueled an expansive trade and stimulated the movement of people, culture and religious beliefs.
Sadi uses what archaeologists have called “the archaeological imagination” – the act of tracing the past through surviving traces – to present a critical rethink of West Africa’s romance with gold, the Grand Mansa Kanka Musa of Mali, reputed to be one of the richest human beings to ever live, and his wife, Inari Kunate, the queen of gold.
Here, rare and valuable archaeological fragments are seen side by side, bringing new understanding to complete works of art from Mansa Musa’s period on his journey from Mali to Mecca in 1324.
In West Africa, wearing gold, a rare and precious material, demonstrates power and prestige, taste and fashion and Inari was the guardian of such values in her creativity with fashion and jewelry. West African gold was the engine that drove the movement of things, people and ideas across Africa, Europe and the Middle East in an interconnected medieval world.
As the incredible works in this exhibition show, it is not possible to understand the emergence of the first modern world without this West African history.
Medieval Africa begins with the spread of Islam in the 8th century AD and recedes with the arrival of Europeans along the continent’s Atlantic coast at the end of the 15th century.
Artists such as Olga de Amaral, Eric Baudart, Carlos Betancourt, Chris Burden, Ebony G. Patterson, Todd Pavlisko, Robin Rhode, Cristina Lei Rodriguez and Rudolf Stingel are known to physically or conceptually use gold in their practice. Sadi has finished. He experiments with Patterson’s visual seduction.
As a professional painter, able to paint over anything he finds around him and using any medium available, Sadi’s works juxtapose the visual beauty of gold with the unsettling form in which it has been. molded, referring to the relationship between a heavily embellished tapestry of images. are mature and downright revealing.
Sadi tells the story of West African romance with gold. “At one time, West Africa was one of the biggest gold producers in the world. A succession of great African empires arose out of the gold trade, as salt, ivory, and slaves were just a few of the goods traded for the precious metal that eventually found its way into most coins. gold from southern Europe.
“For more than 1,500 years, gold has shaped West Africa’s political economy and its relations with the outside world. This West African gold fueled the global economy centered on Europe and the Indian Ocean before gold was discovered in the Americas. West African gold, dug by farmers, supported the caliphates of North Africa, Arabia, Asia, and southern Europe following the Islamic conquest. The lure of West African gold has fueled exploration trips emanating from the Iberian Peninsula, ”noted the program’s brochure citing Sada Malumfashi.
According to the organizers of the exhibition, “our goal with each of our initiatives is to develop a sustainable and self-sustaining gold value chain in West Africa. These range from the ability to raise capital for gold exploration, production and trade to an understanding of how gold is part of local culture and traditions; that there is a significant consumer market for gold jewelry or savings products, to finally integrate gold into an ecosystem where there is economic impact and benefits.
Why a new cultural language in West Africa?
In 2011, West Africa became the hub for African gold mining when total gold production from West Africa exceeded gold production from South Africa. While global gold mining production has declined, West African gold production has increased.
Of the 15 ECOWAS countries, Cape Verde, Benin and Togo are the only countries without significant gold reserves. However, Benin and Togo are notable for the gold trade.
All other ECOWAS countries have significant documented gold reserves, internationally listed gold mining companies, or a significant artisanal gold mining footprint.
At that time, the Sahara Desert was the center of a global network of exchanges. As networks have spread, cultural practices have also spread, fostering the wide circulation of distinctive Saharan aesthetic and intellectual traditions related to Islam. The significance of trans-Saharan exchanges is revealed in the excavated fragments of archaeological sites, now uninhabited, that were once vibrant communities.
Sadi studied creative arts at the University of Lago. He has been practicing art since 2012 and has worked with masters who have carved out a place for themselves.
He is inspired and finds joy in the daily life of humans. His grandmother’s words inspire his artistic practice: “If you want to be a fish, be a big fish.