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Editorial: Premier Issue

Nkiru Nzegwu


African sculptures are making major public appearances as dor pieces in hip television shows, Fraser, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Will and Grace, in the homes of affluent and less affluent citizens, in glamour magazines, on the covers of journals, publishers' announcements, and on conference/colloquium schedules. In the New World, notably Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the United States, Candombl Orisha Worship, Santeria, and Vodun have become powerful expressive forces of change, compelling the emergence of new aesthetics and new kinds of artistic expression and interpretations. On the continent, by contrast, the reverse is the case. African indigenous religion, social values and norms are under assault, through sweeping constructions of them as reprobate, unprogressive and obdurate. This attack is justified by disseminating pictures of atrocities inflicted upon the local populations by depraved soldiers who invoke spurious cultural traditions to justify monstrous act. Matters are further complicated as the stringent economic programs recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), drive people into intolerant fundamentalist strains of Christianity and Islam. Living under extreme social conditions that, ordinarily would constrain the full flourishing of human imagination, artists on the continent are valiantly producing works that are either reflective of, or transcend the existential madness of their lives. As vital documents of Africans' responses to contemporary processes of globalization and the effects of "free" trade, these works of will power are very much sort after.

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Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editor: Nkiru Nzegwu; Film Review Editor: Phyllis J. Jackson; Exhibition/Curator & Book Review Editor: Azuka Nzegwu

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