Alfred Weidinger: The Spirit of Africa – The African Kings, Afro Brasil Museum

The exhibition “The Spirit of Africa – The African Kings”, curated by Emanoel Araújo, curator-director of the Afro Brasil Museum, the exhibition brings together 58 color and B&W photographs of the Austrian Alfred Weidinger, who portrayed contemporary kings and chiefs from different parts of the African continent, in addition to eight works of art African women who dialogue with their own photos.

Among the works of art, the ritual mask of Cameroon, made of beads and shells; crowns of kings from Nigeria, embroidered on beads; the clothes of King Ooni de Ifé (1930-1955), embroidered in velvet with the portrait of the King; wooden and bronze recades; a small throne of the Fon people in bronze, wood and leather and an applique with embroidery from different kingdoms of Benin, between 1620 and 1900.

According to the curator, the exposed photos have great significance for African ancestral history and memory, since the tribal leaders registered by Weidinger’s camera no longer have political power, but are, in essence, advisers to their communities, recalling the memory of an Africa perversely undone by the new territorial divisions, which united different ethnic groups in the colonial period.

“There are many kingdoms discovered in this expansion of the Portuguese by the Atlantic islands and the African continent. With a political, social and religious organization, these sovereigns negotiated and exchanged correspondences with the Portuguese kings and even baptized themselves to receive, not only the Christian blessing, but the protection of their majesties”, says the curator.

The photographer
Alfred Weidinger is an Austrian photographer specializing in Africa, focusing on people. In 2012 he portrayed the remnants of the monarchies of the greatest African kingdoms. This search resulted in a set of beautiful portraits of 21st century African nobility, entitled “Last Kings of Africa”, “The Last Kings of Africa”.

The composition of the photos is inspired by the photographs of African Kings, Chiefs and Elders taken between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Those photographs became famous all over the world through postcards and marked the curiosity about Africa at the same time that they evidenced the beginning of the European colonial domination on that continent, carrying the weight of Africa’s subjugation to foreign powers.

Today, Weidinger’s photos of these monarchs function, above all, as a record of a past that survives without political power, but with the strength of tradition.

The exhibition “Spirit of Africa – African Kings”, by Austrian photographer Alfred Weidinger, brings contemporary portraits of kings and chiefs from all over African continent and offers a dialogue with works from the collection of Afro Brazil Museum. The photographs were taken in the years 2012 and 2013


Mahamat Bahar Marouf, Sultan of Logone Birni, Superior Chief

Lobual Longurakori, Old man of Clã Jie

Fon Abumbi II, King of Bafut

Emir Ajhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, Lamido of Adamawa
There are many discovered kingdoms in Portuguese expansion through Atlantic islands and African continent. With a political, social and religious structure, these supreme sovereigns negotiated and exchanged correspondence with Portuguese kings and even got baptized to receive not only the Christian blessing, but also the protection of Their Majesties.

Togbe Okpekpewuokpe Dagadu VIII, Supreme Chief of Akipni

Oba Egba Kotan II, King of Dassa
African slave trade was a hard blow to many, many ethnic groups, a great business for kings, and, from this perspective, there were deep connections between large allied families with the reigning sovereign.

Fon Ndofoa Zofoa III, King of Babungo
Kings, shows off their recades, jewelry, adornments and carpets.

Fo Sikam Happi , King of Bana

Ahosu Agoli-Agbo Dé djalagni King of Abomey

Kan Iya, King of Gan

Remarkable of Fo from Bamendjou
African Nobility differs in essence from the West, with the apparatus of succession chains, different titles of nobility and their court gossip. In Africa, however, there are still the principles of obedience, fear and serve the king – and even die with him.

Nana Kwasi Asampong II, Regent of Apesorkubi and Okyeame Mfodwo

Nji Monluh Seidou Pokam, King of Bangangte

El Hadi Isse Tize, Lamido de Mogode, King of Kapsiki

Sultan El Hadj Issiton Kpeitori Koda VI
The king hung over his subjects, with social and political power of life and death; many were buried alive.

Alhaji Ali Saleh, Sultan of Makari

Bissagou Mamadou, Lamido de Mokong, and Remarkables
Monarchs survive without political power, but with the force of tradition.

Oba Ala yé luwa Agbò la wolu- Owé Aladé-Ifé – King of Keto

Okakple Nana Letsabi II, Supreme Chief of Santrokofi

Bakary Yerima Bouba Alioum, Lamido of Maroua

Gbesso Adjiwatonou Allodji II, Zanmènou Houndé, King of Abomey-Calavi
They had the power and relied on the loyalty of his army, often made up of women warriors called Amazons. They were always protected from sunlight by huge umbrellas with the King’s insignia.

Achuka Lokochil Paul, Old man of Clã Jie

Fon Ndofoa Zofoa III, King of Babungo

Afro Brasil Museum
Museu Afro Brasil is a public institution, held by São Paulo State Secretariat for Culture and managed by Associação Museu Afro Brasil – Organização Social de Cultura (Museu Afro-Brasil Association – Social Organization for Culture)

It aims to be a contemporary museum where the black people can be recognized.

Over than 6,000 works highlight the importance of African people in the formation of Brazilian culture, heritage and identity as known nowadays. Also, it offers a celebration of the art and accomplishments of the Africans and Afro-Brazilians.

The Collection is considered the largest Afro – American in American with more than 6,000 masterpieces, sculptures, documents, engravings, ceramics, paintings, contemporary arts, jewelry, objects, reliefs, photographs and textiles.

Over than 70% of the collection is in the long term exhibition, portraying mainly Brazil, some countries from the African Continent, Cuba, Haiti and the United States.