11 Jan Going Places – On the Radar Vol.2 Cover Star: Jojo Abot
Introducing Jojo Abot: the Ghanaian global fusionist and genre-bending artist poised to take the world by storm with her uniquely coined Afro-Hyno-Sonic sound and otherworldly perspective. And, have we mentioned that she recently completed a successful US tour with the much sought-after Lauryn Hill?
Words: Nadine Oosthuizen
The concepts “new birth” and “new discovery”, or FYFYA WOTO as it is called in her native Ewe (and also a rewrite of her grandmother’s name Fifiawoto), has become an ever evolving philosophy, explored and manifested by Abot by way of contemplative practice, which over time, has come to serve as the basis of all her work.
Photography: Liz Maney
Through music, Abot challenges and provokes her listener to question themselves and the limitations of their inherited ideas of class, gender, and race. Swinging vicariously through hip-hop, Afrobeat, reggae and soul – evident on her first EP, also titled FYFYA WOTO, Abot creates a certain kind of discomfort that makes one realise and question the “taught” judgements passed on from one generation to the next. With her infectious energy, originality and power, Jojo forces even the most cynical listener to empathise with both relatable and unfamiliar experiences and feelings.
“I want to build a sonic framework that convinces one to want to mend a divided society”
Photography: Justice Mukheli
Off stage, Abot turns to Nairobi, Kenya, where she founded Africa-Na-Ladi, a multimedia collective that aims to create a community of young underground and alternative African artists.
“I’m just so tired of hearing that African artists don’t collaborate.This project aims to stress the importance for artists to have a safe space to create while maximizing on limited resources and with an understanding that art and innovation begin with the SELF as the greatest asset a person has. From here comes the theme ‘Making something out of nothing but ourselves’.”
Afri-Na-Ladi is Abot putting her money where her mouth is. Having recently completed her tour with Lauryn Hill and an incubator programme at NYC’s New Museum, Abot returned to Africa for a few months where she put together a successful exhibition in Joburg, which was titled MANIFESTATIONS OF A GOD.
This exhibition, which took place in November, further explored the theme of SELF, as a re-imagination of the feminine as divine, powerful and Godly in the process of SELF-actualisation.
Exploring the unspoken harmonies that exist between the feminine energy and the masculine in the spaces between a gentrifying world and a perceived old world, Abot seeks to rediscover SELF and one’s role in this universal plane as it relates to evolving and corroding identities, spirituality and community/culture.
In the South African context where the female body is a political symbol, invisible at times and rarely considered on one hand yet a formidable spiritual symbol, feared and revered on the other, FYFYA WOTO in these incarnations provides a portal and veil through which we can recognised, access and reconcile our SELVES. Bringing harmony to the core. Past, present and future.
POWER TO THE GOD WITHIN:
Mediums- costume design/textile art, photography, film, Literature.
Styling, direction, photography, makeup, hair by JOJO ABOT
Model – Thifhuriwi Nephawe
Shot in Maboneng and Jeppestown