Obama: Africa’s Icon


While millions of Americans are voting today, another nation across the globe awaits the result of the 57th US presidential election with bated breath. Many Africans have adopted Obama as their own, his iconic image representing hope, ambition, and possibility adorning clothing, buildings, and across much of the nation.

Photographer Harry Hook explains:

“Travelling in Africa these past few years time I’ve time and again found Barack Obama’s image displayed in the most remote and unlikely places.  This series of photographs from 6 African countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burkino Faso and Mali shows Obama’s image on walls, clothing and jewellery. 

Africa is made up from a mosaic of many patrilineal societies. Who your father is is vitally important in most parts of rural Africa.  Barack Obama’s father was a Luo from Western Kenya.  It’s rural Africans and small town low-earners, in particular, who seem to have taken Obama into their hearts. 

The fact so many parents dress their children in Obama shirts and T-shirts, confirms that Obama is an inspirational figure.  And his popularity in this part of the world appears to me to be on the rise.  Some people I photographed suggested that the US President is not just their role model.  Wearing Obama’s image holds an almost totemic power for them.  He’s someone they’ve little hope of ever meeting but they can look up to him and believe that he, in turn, will watch over them.”

Obama: Africa’s Icon is a free exhibition at the RWA, open until Sunday 11 November. Harry Hook will be giving a free talk about his work on Wednesday 7 November at 6.45pm – book by calling 0117 973 5129.

Find out more about the exhibition by visiting the RWA website.


1 Comment

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One response to “Obama: Africa’s Icon

  1. Kate Steele

    I loved this exhibition. The photography was stunning, thought-provoking. The music was brilliant. Truely inspirational.

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